What is it?
This is BMW’s gran turismo in mountain-running shoes. It’s the R 1200 GS “LC” with enhancements for extra-long journeys, on road and off. The 2014 model is brand new and shares the new liquid-cooled 1 170 cc boxer engine with the standard R 1200 GS LC.
It is the same 1 170 cc flat-twin (boxer) engine as before, but now air-and-water cooled. Precision cooling was introduced for this mostly new engine, meaning only engine elements highly exposed to thermal stress are cooled with liquid. The engine continues to employ air-cooling, thereby preserving the iconic appearance of the BMW boxer engine.
The LC engine’s output is much higher than before and now delivers 92 kW and 125 Nm, as opposed to the air-cooled engine’s 81 kW and 120 Nm.
The engine housing integrates the six-speed gearbox and a wet clutch with anti-hopping function, instead of the dry clutch as before.
Style, instruments and equipment
As with the R 1200 GS LC, the Adventure model (also called GSA) comes with many electronic gadgets and rider aids.
The 1200 LC Adventure’s ABS was upgraded and is now better suited to off-road use. In the Enduro Pro riding mode the ABS function is disengaged at the rear and only active at the front.
The bike comes standard with two riding modes; Rain and Road. Three further riding modes can be added by ordering the optional Riding mode Pro feature, which is accompanied by the Enduro ABS and Enduro ASC (Automatic Stability Control) add-ons for off-road riding. The three extra riding modes Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro (which can be activated with a coding plug) make it possible to adjust the settings of both ASC and ABS and, if fitted, the semi-active suspension Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) to suit the specific requirements of off-road operation.
Every riding mode has a different set-up, which determines the E-gas setting (the throttle and engine are connected electronically and there are different settings which determine the throttle response and acceleration), the ASC and the Dynamic ESA in specific ways. There are Rain, Road, Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro modes to choose from.
In Rain mode the throttle response of the ride-by-wire system is subdued and the bike won’t accelerate very hard. The ASC responds more readily in Rain mode and the electronic suspension is set to be softer at the front and rear.
Dynamic mode reveals the sports-tourer side of the new BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, for road riding. An even more spontaneous and direct throttle response, restrained ASC intervention and tighter damping in the case of the Dynamic ESA option unleash the full potential of the machine.
Enduro mode gives you a softer throttle response. The ASC, ABS and suspension are now set for gravel. Enduro Pro mode gives you all the power, stiffer suspension, no control from the ASC and only ABS on the front brakes.
You can switch off all the electronic rider aids if you wish and you can now toggle the settings while riding. When the bike is switched off and on again, the bike leaves them as before.
The elegant new user interface consists of an analogue speedo and rev counter. All the other info is displayed on a clear LCD screen.
A bigger windscreen, extra wind and weather protection, crash bars, bash plate, hand guards and wide enduro footrests complete the Adventure as a very comfortable but heavy off-road tourer.
The new Adventure LC is available in three colours; Olive matt, Alpine white and Racing blue.
Ride and handling
I don’t like the bigger adventure bikes as they often handle like school buses off road: Too heavy and impossible to enjoy on technical rides. When I first saw the new GS Adventure, I expected it to be terrible in the Baviaanskloof, where we rode it on the national media launch. This is a huge bike and at 260 kg (wet weight) quite something to keep upright. But, I was pleasantly surprised by the bike’s handling through the Kloof. It felt much lighter than it is and I easily rode it hard over very rough terrain.
I kept the ESA on soft and the riding mode in Enduro Pro and it did a great job. The suspension soaked up nasty ditches, rocks and bumps without bottoming out. The Adventure’s suspension has 20 mm more travel in the front as well as in the rear compared to the standard GS.
The steering behaved very well and there was no head shake. BMW has fitted a steering damper to the R 1200 GS after complaints about handlebars that seem possessed. The new Adventure also comes with a steering damper, which is a good move from BMW Motorrad.
On the open road the bike felt very smooth and stable, and the windscreen helped a lot to make the ride comfortable, even at high speed.
Like: The instant throttle response from the ride-by-wire system. And the acceleration.
Dislike: That you have to buy that throttle response and acceleration because three riding modes – Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro – are not standard equipment.
Verdict and rating
It is a huge bike and not the type of thing you want to wrestle on sandy twin-track paths or over harsh and very technical terrain. But it is very capable off road and oh so comfortable on the open stretches. It’s also one the most technologically advanced adventure bike out there. 9/10
Specifications of the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure LC (2014)
- Engine 1 170 cc flat-twin engine (boxer), water and air cooled
- Gearbox Six-speed gearbox with slipper clutch, shaft drive
- Power 92 kW @ 7 700 r/min
- Torque 125 Nm @ 6 500 r/min
- Weight 260 kg, ready to ride
- Seat height 890/910 mm
- Fuel capacity 30 litres
- Fuel consumption Average of 5.9 litres/100km
- Warranty and servicing Two-year, unlimited km warranty, 10 000 km service intervals.
- Price Base model – R164 200, to get extras you should choose from various packages like the Touring package – R22 200, the Dynamic package – R11 750 or the Comfort package – R5 650
- Review by Willem van der Berg, April 2014
- Pictures by Greg Beadle (action) and Willem van der Berg (static)