Motorcycle Review of the 2012 BMW R1200GS

roadtest

Dave Hatch | Host 

david-hatch-whistle

 

2012 BMW R1200GS | Motorcycle Review

2012-bmw-r1200gsc

When it comes to adventure riding, over the past 3 decades BMW Motorrad has continued to define the duel sport-riding category. Back in 1980 they launched their first GS, an air-cooled 800 cc R80, basically a big dirt bike for the street. Fast forward now some 30 odd years to behold the flat twin powered R1200GS. At the heart of this machine is BMW’s classic fuel injected four-stroke “boxer” power plant mated to a single disc, dry clutch and a six-speed gearbox. Soaking up the bumps in the suspension department, up front the R1200 uses BMW’s adjustable single spring telelever fork, while out back, the bike’s die cast aluminum, single sided swingarm sports BMW’s multi adjustable paralever system and shaft final drive. Heated grips and center stand are standard, but you can also order up trick features like ABS, automatic stability control, tire pressure control, there’s even an on-board computer and electronic suspension adjustment. In the brochure and on the show room floor it all looks good but how does the R1200GS work in the real world? Well here now is this week’s guest road tester, Jeff Keay.

David Hatch
So Jeff, we kind of threw you for a loop this morning, I know you were planning on riding the LT but instead we threw you on the GS at the last minute. What was your first impression when we rolled it out of the trailer?

Jeff Keay
Well, you know what, I mean it is my first time on this bike and it’s an absolute classic machine and I think that there’s a reason that it’s a classic, it’s because it’s the motorcycle that can go anywhere and do anything. I mean, it does it all and it’s got everything. The motor, I had this thing down to less than 60km an hour in 6th gear just to see if I could get it to lug and you know you roll the power on and it’s all there. [01:04:02:14] You know it’s just got a wide, wide power band so really regardless of what speed you’re at or what gear you’re in, you know, you grab a handful of throttle and it’s all there. So it’s a very user-friendly machine.

David Hatch
So let’s talk about that motor for a moment. It’s horizontally opposed, it’s been around for donkeys years as my dad would like to say, what are the feelings, the sensations you get as you ride this bike, from the motor standpoint? Is it loud? Quiet?

Jeff Keay

Well, for me it was sort of counter-intuitive because you think that a big twin-cylinder like that is gonna vibrate, you know, that boxer, you know, the back and forth reciprocating pistons. But it’s not, it’s a very smooth motor, it’s got a beautiful sound, it’s got like a nice bottom end kind of a gurble- rumble to it- yeah! You know, like it sounds the way a motorcycle motor should sound and you can feel it as you’re riding and you can hear it to a degree but it’s in a very pleasant way.

David Hatch:
Runs nicely, shifts?

Jeff Keay
Yeah shifting is- it’s kind of like clicking a ballpoint pen. I mean, the transmission is tight, the throw is very short, it’s very economical. It doesn’t take much effort to do, you know, shifting up, shifting down. So it’s one less thing that you have to worry about, you know, because it happens easily, you don’t have to worry about missing a shift, you can concentrate on other things, you know? So it’s great that way.

David Hatch
Dual discs, ABS, breaks; how’d you find the stopping power?

Jeff Keay
Well, you know what, the other thing I like too is some of the high-tech suspension on the front-end, so that even if you’re grabbing a real handful of break, it really doesn’t dive. So it’s very progressive, it’s smooth, and very level. So if you need to get stopped in a hurry, easy to do. Similarly with sitting up high like that, if you’re, you know, doing the quick turning radiuses, you’re on some gravel and stuff, it makes you feel very secure that you’re not gonna lose the front end or you’re not gonna push the back wheel out. So the breaking is also just excellent.

David Hatch
How did you find the suspension and the handling of the bike itself through the corners? We hit some tight, rough roads today, so how’d you find the suspension?

Jeff Keay
Well, that’s an interesting question because it’s got three different settings. You’ve got a comfy setting, you’ve got a normal setting and then you’ve got the sports setting and you can notice the difference. On the comfy setting it’s spongey but again the engineering is such that the handling’s not effected even though the ride is softer and then you know, if you dial it up, really just with a quick press of the thumb, to the sports setting, you feel the suspension tighten up, firm up, it changes the character of the handling, you know, not dramatically but enough so that, you know, it’s worth changing depending on the road conditions.

David Hatch
How did you find the cockpit lay out and more importantly the mirrors themselves just where your hands fall for the switchgear with this little compound here, what did you think?

Jeff Keay
Well, you know what, I mean, if you look at it, it’s almost like the mirrors are almost kind of low-tech, right? I mean there’s nothing fancy about these mirrors. They’re classic and they work. They’re up, you know, high enough so that you can see, wide enough so that you’ve got a good range of vision behind you. The instrument cluster, again, very simple, you know, you’ve got a little digital read out here. The tac, you know, easy to see. Speedometer, it’s all right there. I mean it’s utilitarian. There’s not a whole lot of fancy stuff there, but there’s everything you need.

David Hatch
Jeff, you had a big grin on your face when you got off the bike. Was there anything you didn’t like?

Jeff Keay
You know what? I’m really hard pressed to find anything that I don’t like about it. I think it’s just a great bike. Like I said, it’s a classic bike and I think it’s a classic bike for a reason.

David Hatch
Okay, well I’m gonna take that as a thumbs up.

Jeff Keay
Absolutely, a thumbs up.

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