BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

What is it?

It is BMW’s biggest “travel enduro” as they call it. Basically it’s the R 1200 GS with some changes made to make it a more suitable adventure bike for long gravel travels. The 2014 model is brand new and shares the new liquid cooled 1170cc boxer engine of the standard 1200 GS.

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It is the same 1170cc flat-twin engine (boxer) as before, but it’s now air- and water cooled and not air- and oil cooled as the past 30 years. So-called precision cooling (a principle similar to that used in Formula One) is used in the engine. This means only those engine elements that are particularly exposed to thermal stress are cooled with coolant. The engine still continues to use air cooling, thereby preserving the characteristic appearance of the opposed-twin boxer engine.

The engine’s output is substantially higher than before and the boxer now delivers 92kW and 125Nm instead of 81kW and 120Nm.

For the first time, the engine housing integrates the six-speed gearbox as well as a wet clutch with anti-hopping function, instead of the dry clutch as was used previously. What is more, the secondary drive now runs via the well-established drive shaft on the left-hand side of the bike.

Style, instruments and equipment

As with the new R 1200 GS, the Adventure model comes with a lot of electronic gadgets and rider aids.

The 1200 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 very smooth and although the full power and torque potential could be reached, the bike won’t accelerate as 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 sportiest face of the new BMW R 1200 GS 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 bring the full potential of the machine to bear.

Enduro mode gives you a softer throttle response again. The ASC, ABS and suspension are now set for optimum performance on gravel.

Enduro Pro mode gives you all the power, stiffer suspension, no control from the ASC and only ABS on the front brakes.

You have the choice to switch off all the electronic rider aids if you want to – and you can now switch between the different settings while riding. And when the bike is switched off and on again, everything stays where it was.

The new user interface gives you an analogue speedo and rev counter. All the other info is displayed on a very clear LCD screen, which is easy to read.

You have the option of LED daylight running headlights on this bike.

A bigger windscreen, extra wind and weather protection, crash bars, bash plate, hand guards and wide enduro footrests all help to finish off the Adventure as a very comfortable off-road tourer.

The new Adventure is available in three colours; Olive matt, Alpine white and Racing blue.

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It’s the performance of this bike that makes it feel totally different from before. It feels as if much more than 11kW and 5Nm were added. The throttle response from the E-gas system is incredible and acceleration is lightning quick. Whenever you twist the throttle there are heaps of power and torque propelling the bike forward. But if the power feels like too much to handle, you just select a riding mode that tames it all a bit.

Gearshifts are smooth as soft butter. And the new exhaust sounds very different, but much sportier than before.

Ride and Handling

I don’t like the bigger adventure bikes as they usually feel like school busses when you ride off road: Too heavy and impossible to enjoy on technical rides. When I first saw the new GS Adventure I thought it’s going to be terribly bad in the Baviaanskloof where we rode it on the launch. This is a huge bike and at 260kg (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 (the Adventure’s suspension has 20mm longer travel in the front as well as rear than the normal GS) soaked up all the nasty ditches, rocks and the bumps without bottoming out.

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 head shake. The new Adventure also comes with a steering damper, which is a good move from Motorrad.

On the open road the bike felt very both smooth and stable and the windscreen helped a lot to make the ride comfortable, even at high speed.





Like: The great throttle response from the ride by wire. And the acceleration.
Dislike: The fact that you have to buy yourself 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 to mess around with on sandy tweespoor tracks or over hars and very technical terrain. But it is very capable off road and so comfortable on the open stretches. It’s also one the most tecnologically advanced adventure bike out there. 9/10

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BMW R 1200 GSA 204

Also consider

KTM 1190 Adventure, Yamaha XT 1200 Ténéré, Triumph 1200 Explorer, Honda VFR 1200 X Cross Tourer Adventure

Specifications for the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

  • Engine  1170cc flat-twin engine (boxer), water and air cooled
  • Gearbox  Six-speed gearbox with slipper clutch, shaft drive
  • Power   92kW@7700r/min
  • Torque  125Nm@6500r/min
  • Weight  260kg, ready to ride
  • Seat height  890/910mm
  • Fuel capacity  30 litres
  • Fuel consumption  Average of 5.9litre/100km
  • Warranty and servicing  Two-year, unlimited km warranty, 10 000km 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
  • Ridden by Bikeroutes  April 2014
  • Review by Willem van der Berg
  • Pictures by Greg Beadle (action) and Willem van der Berg (static)



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