BMW R1200 GS Adventure (2014 - ) review
The most off-road orientated version of BMW's iconic adventure bike
Interested in buying a BMW R1200GS Adventure?
The silhouette of the GS has a typically tall and athletic stance, though the bold body colourways (Racing Red in the video, Blue Fire in the gallery) hide a major mechanical evolution: this is the first GS to use a partially-liquid cooled 1170cc horizontal twin, replacing the traditional air-cooled unit. The aggressively raked beak and optional daytime running LED headlight also help offer a very distinctive front-end treatment.
At first glance, the size and scale of the BMW R1200 GS may impress and intimidate in equal measure. However, shorter riders should not feel nervous. The seat is set low into the frame so you really feel like you’re sitting in the GS rather than on it. There’s a small level of adjustment (20mm) on the standard seat that can lower the seat height to 850mm, but BMW also offers low seat and low suspension versions that sit at 790mm. The dash is clearly presented with a mixture of analog and digital dials and the upright riding position is very comfortable with wide bars, soft seat, sturdy mirrors and a tall windscreen that shields you from the majority of wind buffeting. That said, the small speedometer can be difficult to read accurately, especially at lower speeds, while standing on the pegs could be made more comfortable if the handlebars were slightly raised.
The GS is an effortless tourer for both rider and passenger, thanks to a combination of great comfort and plenty of storage. The optional plastic panniers (pictured) are easy to lock, load and expand, with right, left and top boxes offering a maximum 29-, 35- and 39-litres of storage, respectively. The smallest right-hand case has been designed around the high-mounted exhaust system and is the only box that cannot accommodate a full-face helmet. The dash has a 12v power socket for sat nav, grips can be heated and the easily adjustable screen does a fantastic job of preventing any buffeting for those riders under 6ft. Pillion space is generous and comfortable too, with sturdy pegs and grab handles, though mounting and dis-mounting isn’t particularly elegant when the panniers are attached.
Performance & braking
The new partially liquid-cooled engine shares only its bore and stroke with its predecessor, offering a more efficient burn and it develops 123bhp. The GS has a rev-happy energy not normally associated with its dutiful, dependable origins. Pick-up is instant and throttle response so well measured, you almost forget it’s ride-by-wire. On road-biased rubber, you can have plenty of fun hustling the R1200 GS, working through the robust-feeling six-speed gearbox, but if you prefer to short-shift and ride on the bike’s wave of bottom-end torque, you can.
A few button strokes and a pull of the clutch lever will help you engage a variety of rider modes, helping set the GS up for almost any terrain imaginable. Wet mode mutes the engine response and raises the level of traction control, Dyna (for Dynamic) turns the response dial up, while Enduro and Enduro Pro, allows much more lurid slides before the traction control system kicks in. Stopping power comes courtesy of 305mm front discs clamped by radially mounted Brembo monobloc callipers, with a 276mm rear disc and Brembo two-piston calliper.
Ride & handling
The boxer design helps place the engine mass lower into the chassis, so the GS feels surprisingly light and nimble for a 238kg adventure bike. The chassis reacts very quickly to your inputs, yet it still feels unshakeable on high speed motorway runs. Add the hugely effective Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) that successfully isolates you from bumpy B-roads and you and your passenger can enjoy superb all-day comfort.
Every component on the GS feels well-built and thoroughly engineered, although some early 2013 bikes did report episodes of ‘steering weave’. This has since been remedied by BMW with the standard fitment of a steering damper and two-mode ASC.
Warranty & servicing
The extensive range of electronic rider aids make official dealer servicing a necessity, but having intervals based on either 6,000 miles or every year doesn’t sound too overbearing. The R1200 GS comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, as well as two years’ European roadside assistance.
Standard versions of the 2014 R1200 GS come with ABS, handguards, pannier fastenings and a steering damper. Our Touring Edition test bike also added cruise control, LED headlight, heated grips, ESA, Automatic Stability Control (ASC) and the optional waterproof sat-nav system. However, you can also raid the official parts brochure for more continent-crushing accessories, including a tank bag, Akrapovic exhaust, tinted windscreen, adjustable footrests, cross-wire wheels, aluminium engine guard and crash bars.
The GS has become the poster boy for adventure bikes. But not only are you buying an adventure bike, you’re buying into a lifestyle of BMW ownership, thanks to a strong dealer support network and excellent on- and off-road rider training programs to ensure you become the best rider you can be.