Motorcycle Review of the BMW R1200 GS

roadtest

Dave Hatch | Host 

david-hatch-whistle

 

2016 BMW R1200 GS Motorcycle Review

“It founded the dual-sport motorcycle segment – and is still leading it confidently today.The diversity – roads, cross-country, urban, countryside, comfort, performance – combined with the legendary robustness and the expertise from over 36 years of GS development result in a motorcycle which shies away from no competitors.” – BMW Motorrad

When it comes to adventure riding, over the last three decades, BMW Motorrad has continuously set the bar in the adventure riding category. Going back as far as 1980 when they launched their first GS which by the way stands for Gerland Strauss, or Terrain-Street. The air-cooled, 809CC R80 was basically a big dirt bike repurposed for the street. Fast forward some thirty odd years to behold this flat twin powered R1200GS – the same terrain/street concept is here but this is a dramatically different machine. At the heart of this puppy is BMWs newest fuel injected four stroke boxer powerplant mated to a single disc dry clutch and six speed gear clutch. In the suspension department up front, the R1200 uses BMWs adjustable single spring telelever fork. While out back the bike dye cast aluminum single sided swing arm sports BMWs multi adjustable paralever system and shaft final drive. Heated grips, center stand, and shaft ABS are all standard but you can also order up key features like an automatic stability control system, tire pressure control, on board computer and electronic suspension adjustments are all there for the taking. So how does all that work out there in the real world? Well here now is this week’s guest road tester Jeff Keay.

 

David

So, I know you’ve ridden other adventure bikes before and you’ve had some experience around the concept of adventure touring – this is clearly one of the grandfathers of sport, sorry, of adventure touring.

 

Jeff

Well, you know what, I own a Vstrom 650 as you know which is a light, nimble, swiss army knife of motorcycles. But this is the big dog, the final word in adventuring touring and I guess it’s been one of the most successful motorcycles in the world in the last thirty years. You know, and the 1150 before that. It’s just an extraordinary bike, it’s not a light bike, it’s a heavy bike – it’s a bout five hundred pounds but the center of gravity with this flat twin motor, that massive engine is quite low and the seat is quite low. It feels like you’ve got a low center of gravity which makes it super super nimble, more nimble in fact, in my view, than the 650 vstrom which is quite a nimble bike for getting around the city.

 

Dave

That’s quiet a testament.

 

Jeff

Yeah. The other thing I would say is the responsiveness of the throttle is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You know, fly by wire so there’s no cables there so there’s no slack there,

 

Dave

Yeah.

 

Jeff

And the different modes are sort of in ascending order. You know from rain which is quite soft and kind if subdued, to dynamic which is…

 

Dave

Sport mode.

 

Jeff

Yeah and boy you’ve got to be paying attention because it is absolutely razor sharp. TO the point where you think about a throttle input and it happens almost before you’re ready for it. You kind of have to be careful with it that way.

 

Dave

I agree with you on all levels with this motorcycle except for one thing I would add to that is it fits. It’s such a comfortable bike, like where your hand sits, you feet sit, the width of the saddle, the comfort of the saddle. This is truly an all day motorcycle.

 

Jeff

Yeah. Big wide spread handle bars which first you think, that’s pretty big for the city but it gives you that extra leverage for that maneuverability. The other thing is the turning radius. Lock to lock it’s actually quiet dramatic which for a reasonably big bike you can move the thing around in a very small space. And that’s great if you’re out in the woods, or in a gully somewhere but boy it’s great when you’re in the city too.

 

Dave

Yeah. With this new generation engine it just spins up and goes but it also has great stopping power.

 

Jeff

You know what? It’s one finger stopping and it’s linked ABS system so you can… actually, you’re inputs can be here or the foot pedals. If you’re on gravel, as we were today, if you’re on the gravel you stay off the front brake, you can do it all with the back brake to, you know, so you’ve got to hand it to the guys. They’ve refined this bike but it’s almost, like what they say about the Gold Wing and the sort of luxury cruising market – it’s perfect, there’s nothing more to do to it.

 

Dave

Yeah, yeah yeah.

 

Jeff

And this kind of owns the field in it’s own particular way.

 

Dave

So you said sort of right at the beginning, when we started to chat about the bike, that you were amazing at just how nimble it was, how much torque it had and how you would recommend that it be used as a commuter in something to sort of zip through the city and yet the iconic vision for this bike is some guy riding to Alasak and back, right?

 

Jeff

Yup. Which goes to show you that you can ride to Alaska and use it as a commuter when you get there.

 

Dave

Anything disappointing Jeff because I know you’ve spent five minutes just raving.

 

Jeff

And you know what, I was thinking about this for the last couple of days and I was thinking, what do I not like about this bike and I do notice that at highway speeds, these things wiggle a little bit. You know…

 

Dave

You’re trying.

 

Jeff

Yeah I’m looking for stuff. I’ve got nothing.

 

Dave

Great job.

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