Review: BMW R 1200 GS Adventure - The Long Distance GS
File under Product Review BMW
Author: Damien Bertrand
Location: Paris, France
Since this is a translation directly from French, some of the colloquialism may seem a bit strange at time, for which I apologize. It's not easy to translate. Any mistakes below are mine, and mine alone.
Long Distance GS
The last representative of the machines dedicated to travelling across the planet, if not just by their style, the R 1200 GS Adventure makes of "extreme" its reason for being. However you can cross them in the urban jungle as well as the virgin jungle. An ability to seduce any, and a necessarily welcome to all travelers.
Having already presented the R 1200 GS about a year ago, BMW is now proposing the "extreme" version of its successful dual purpose motorcycle; the Adventure. The evolution of this shapely flagship model of the German manufacturer exists since 2006, further enhancing the all-road capabilities of this vehicle. Adventurers and other followers of the distant horizons and more or less tortured souls, have since adopted it. As well as, more strangely, many urban commuters, seeking additional protection, autonomy and recognition ...? This explains a breakdown of sales at almost 50/50 between the standard and the Adventure model. The newcomer will certainly not weaken this trend and even who knows, could be amplified by the remarkable ease of use.
Immediately recognizable by its imposing silhouette, the GS Adventure (GS A) fills out. Extra volumes, luckily protected by several, rather esthetical, protection bars. Elements that also house the twin from the dangers of the trail.
The front spoiler receives a frontal outgrowth and massive side vents. The latter are based on expanded sidewalls themselves flanking the 30-liter fuel tank; values down by three units compared to the preceding model, but 30% more than the classic GS. All made from satinated aluminum, the container alone conveys a spirit of "Adventure" to the machine. But, at the top, a very practical "glove compartment" keeps it all very civil.
Lights, light unit support made out of magnesium and the windshield retain their sharp lines. The lights incorporate the same innovations as with the GS. A disconnectable daytime running lights element, with automatic or manual switching can be added to the other two. The optional integral LEDs, including an innovative DRL in a lying down U position, includes a cooling and a defogging system. The whole is surmounted by a larger windshield and wedge to further protect the rider. And her adjustments uses the patented wheel of her sister bike.
Using the same engine, the bi-cylinder imposes refined shapes retaining several large fins on her cylinders. These esthetic ribs are involved in indeed more than half the cooling, always combining both air and liquid principles. The circulation of heat focuses only on the hot spots of the "flat" and especially the head.
The GS Adventure adopts a heavier flywheel by 950 grams . This additional inertia should soften throttle response when riding off road. With the same objective, a vibration damper is also present in the powertrain (inserted between the output of the gearbox and cardan shaft). Bore and stroke (101x73) and the compression ratio (12:5) do not change. To recap, the twin features new camshafts and lightened and stiffened crankshaft, an injection of 52 mm (formerly 50), a simple ignition and the gas flow is vertical. The optimized exhaust with motorized valve includes a signature sound. Narrow and equipped with a double anodized black output, the silencer passes to the right side. Thus the flat develops 92 kW (125 hp) at 7700 rpm and 12.5 da.Nm at 6500 rpm (+ 15 hp and 0.5 torque units over the older model).
The crankcase includes the six-speed gearbox and finally the clutch is in an oil bath, instead of the traditional dry clutch, and even equipped with a slipper. Its diameter changes from 180 to 147 mm, compacting more the whole. The interventions on the block are greatly simplified (and therefore less expensive in terms of labor) by this new provision.
The differences with the standard GS affect mostly the chassis. The caster angle closes from 99.6 to 92.7 ° limiting the increase of the wheelbase by 3 mm (longer swingarm by 50 mm) and enhancing the maneuverability. The front and rear suspension travel is increased by 20 millimeters or 210 and 220 mm respectively. An increase which benefits the ground clearance, increased by 10 mm compared to the previous model for better off-road abilities.
GS A retains the perimeter frame of her sister, steel tubes and now a current line from the steering column to the axis of the swingarm. Its rear part is only bolted allowing its replacement in case of a fall. The role of the German block is therefore reduced, allowing to lightening its casings less constrained for the effort.
Despite everything, the Adventure inevitably gained weight: 260 kg (with 90% of full fuel). She therefore admits to having 22 kg over the standard version but remains 3 kilos lighter than the 2013 adventurer.
The suspensions with combined front and rear spring dampers incorporate the optional ESA Dynamic, an evolution that now offers an adaptive profile for the riding delivered by the rider. Finally, the secondary transmission cardan shaft continues to stay at a swingarm, but now located on the left side. Extended by 50 mm, it will provide a better traction in rough terrain. Especially since the anti-skid ASC (Automatic Stability Control) as standard ensures the slightest avoidance, a disconnectable system of course.
To curb the moodiness of the new Bavarian block, four-piston radial calipers bite into two 305 mm discs at the front. At the rear, two pistons pinch a 275 mm disc. The whole is managed by an integral ABS fitted as standard but which can be deactivated. The wheels, sizes 19" front and 17" rear, receive Metzeler Tourance Next tires, respectively 120/70 and 170/60. Finally, hand guard, large enduro-type footrests and reinforced controls and adjustable, complete the equipment resolutely dedicated to manly escapades.
In The Saddle
At the base, the saddle rises to 890 mm, privileging access to the motorcycle to taller riders. 20 units can be gained by the simple adjustment of the rider's saddle: a plate to reverse, a rocker to rotate. You can as well adjust the tilt. The standard is ideal for my 1m84 and the high position is reserved for 1m90 and higher, including off-road riding. These important values are mitigated by a crotch arch that is further refined, further improving the ground support.
A pillion can also easily adjust their distance from the rider ... once perched on a wide seat flanked by respectable handholds uniting as a cargo carrier. This group is attached to a solid aluminum assembly including space for optional pannier attachments. Particularly ergonomic, the GS receives its crew carefully. The pillion footrests are sheathed with rubber and their plates perforated to receive possible cargo hooks. As for the saddles, their high resilience foam calls for no criticism nor for their profile.
We find the BMW house ergonomics, legs slightly bent and arms slightly apart from the wide handlebars with variable diameter. Eyes then set on a neat cockpit incorporating the new adventurer-style dashboard. Quite large, asymmetrical, it takes that of the simple GS and includes analog speedometer and tachometer. All overlooking a good size monochrome digital window. And for good reason ... there is a lot of information. On the left: fuel level, gear indicator, clock and especially the engine mapping selected via the "Mode" button. Two profiles are available: "Road" and "Rain". The inevitable options box provide access to the modes of "Pro Control" ("Dynamic", "Enduro" and "Enduro Pro") accompanied by further extensions "ABS Enduro" and "Enduro ASC" adapted to off-road riding. These engines modes require the new throttle type "Throttle by wire" and enslave ABS settings, optional anti-skid ASC and ESA.
On the right you can read the retained display, via the "Trip" buttons, "Infos" and "ESA". The first concerns the odometer (total, two partial, autonomy, personalization) and the second includes date, oil level, outside and engine temperature, both consumptions and average speed and tire pressure. The latter allows the damping adjustment assisted by six interrelated variables : Hard, Normal, Soft and pilot alone, pilot and passenger, driver and luggage.
The levers can be spacing adjusted and the rotating selection knob appears on the left handle, controlling the optional GPS. The center stand is standard for the bike and the mirrors, easily adjustable and return a large image, free from vibrations. Adjustment and quality fairings, finishing, paint ..., the R 1200 GS Adventure offers a balance sheet with almost no faults. Like the simpler model, some of the weldings and junctions of the tubes around the steering column deserve better attention.
In The City
We find with pleasure the new "crispy" sound of the GS. And the new block brings up the revs at the slightest touch of the throttle, and a total absence of inertia. Therefore weight and size of Adventure are forgotten as soon as the motorcycle begins to move. The dual-purpose bike weaves naturally enough into traffic, helped by an excellent turning radius. We regret to say that the display's readability has room for improvement, due in particular to the contrast being too low the sun.
The flat does not show a really different profile despite its heavier flywheel. The unmistakable and indispensable velvety feel for lovers of the "flat" cylinder is still there but may want to make room for the dynamic "liquid" boxer. Responsive at the tips of the gloves, she knows how to respond similarly, with elegance and smoothness before getting upset by progressing up the tachometer. Making speed is then accomplished without any downtime, letting the traveler go to distant horizons.
Reaching in a few moments the legal speed limit on motorways (Ed: 130 kph in France), the revs stabilize at 4600 rpm in 6th. Time to activate the cruise control (available for extra), then we will adjust the height of the windshield up to its maximum position. The protection is then very correct. Legs and torso are particularly well protected by the enlarged volumes of Adventure.
Despite its castration at 107 horsepower (Ed: France has limited all motorcycles to a maximum of 107 hp), the GS flaunts its new temperament but hardly needs to glean at the latest graduations of the tachometer. The extra weight and wind resistance also encumbers the performance a little bit. However, the stability at high speeds is very good. Finally, the remarkable overall comfort of the GS A can leave you imagining trips restricted to the size of its lavish fuel tank. This will not prevent us in any way from leaving the toll lanes in order to test other parts of the chassis.
On Country Lanes
The secondary road network is the playground providing the GS Adventure with much of its laurels. This is also the place to test the engine mapping and multiple interactions with the electronic aids. Our bikes are equipped with full options of course (you can only dream), the possibilities are endless. Like last year, the little roads around Sartene (Ed: town in Corsica) are sometimes humid and dirty. A good reason to select the "Rain" mode. The engine response becomes smoother and ABS, ASC and ESA show clear differences in their implementation. A damping set to Hard softens significantly. The ASC is more intrusive, limiting any loss of grip and the rear caliper benefits from the play of the anti-lock.
Once the asphalt become more welcoming, I put her into "Dynamic" mode. Again, the choice effectively influences the chassis. Stiffer, the suspension prepares for a sustained pace, the ABS tolerating more violent braking and the ASC becomes more discrete. These effective assistances provide the opportunity to ride more confidently in any occasion ... as long as we have done the right settings for the encountered conditions and the desired riding.
In the curves, the bulky GS A asks for more downforce on the large flat handlebars. The new RT accompanying us is easier to switch from one angle to another. Riding at a furious pace, the bike however shows an ease that few road machines have. The twin responds almost violently in its deepest mapping and so naturally, that more than one curve is sometimes taken too quickly. It then suffices to increase the lean angle to continue with the Adventure without difficulty. One can also maintain the braking in a curve without the bike straightening or locking up. A model of transparency and obviousness. And the soundtrack that accompanies the wild ride does not calm down. The voice of the flat and her enduro motorcycle accent, actually encourages sporting ambitions. On long trips, a good soundproof helmet will be welcome.
Thanks to its alliance chassis / electronic assistance, nothing disturbs the road handling of the GS with a capital A. It collects all roads defects without flinching. Rigid, alive but logically showing more inertia than the GS, the Adventure supports brilliantly its overweight on long distances.
Progressive, powerful, the semi-integral braking provides an excellent "feel" of the lever. The clearance of the rear brake could be increased in order to limit the intrusion of the ABS, quickly implemented.
The new GS gives pride to the comfort for both rider and pillion. Ergonomics, soft saddles, no diving during mass transfer ... the Adventure is an ideal vessel for distant expeditions. The protection of air induced by its higher flow size increases the pleasure on all long haul trips.
30 liters in the fuel tank ... almost 500 km of autonomy. The consumptions vary according to the weight taken. In urban use, 6.5 liters per 100 kph seems a maximum. A real bonus for jaded service stations and riders thirsty for far away places.
Esthetics and equipment combine to make this a real GS "Adventurer". In addition, chassis and powertrain maintain an accreditation close to the standard GS model. These qualities that will undoubtedly be of interest to the opposite clan: the RT'ers. The new R 1200 RT is indeed the other choice for flats addicts. Civility against versatility, this seems to be the familiar choice. Also, the roadster is clearly more accessible for less long legs. And € 1.550 separates them. The trail, priced at €16.650, ABS and ESC included, can also receive significant optional luggage. 32 liter top case, panniers (right 36 l and left 44 l) and other additional lights (€330). Finally, three packs enrich its services.
Optimized, easy to take in hand for bikers with the right morphology, the R 1200 GS Adventure boosts its dynamics with the new flat-twin. Rewarding and well equipped with basic equipment, she will comply every day, ensuring safety and comfort. With the added bonus of a more or less dusty dream of accessing adventure, which only the real adventurers will go and find.
|Strong Points||Weak Points|
- Engine character and availability
- Behavior and versatility of the chassis
- Interactive electronic assistance
- Successful esthetics
- Instruments readability
- Sound level of the exhaust
- Inevitable Option packs
Via: Le Repaire des Motards