The 2014 BMW R1200GS
The new BMW R1200GS is BMW's go-anywhere bike, striking a good balance between old models and new.
The bike has a pointed front end and recessed headlamp that makes it look like a fierce road contender. Yet it remains true to the central design ethos of BMW, adding some additional technologies to core features that have been to the liking of customers, both returning and new.
The bike is powered by the next generation air- and liquid-cooled 1,170cc boxer twin engine. It features vertical flow heads and an eight disc wet clutch complete with an integrated six-speed gearbox. The new engine improves fuel efficiency whilst at the same time provides increased power and torque across all rev ranges. The gearbox and clutch work together to provide for smoother gear changes. The engine is more compact than its predecessors, giving the rider more room.
Electronically controlled power management comes in the form of five distinct riding modes - Rain, Road, Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro. The controls are implemented by way of a ride-by-wire throttle system, which has a good responsive feel when twisting and perfectly mimics the driver’s wrist movements.
The different ride modes modify the actions of the ASC traction control system, the Dynamic Electronic Adjusted Suspension, and the ABS system. Enduro Pro turns off the ABS at the rear, allowing for the rear wheel to spin in off-road conditions. Enduro mode keeps this ABS on, but still is built for off-road riding. The Enduro Pro mode would likely be the mode of choice when not on tarmac, but BMW have sought to add safety features in all dynamic riding modes. The engine is punchy enough to handle street riding with plenty of torque at all speed. Dynamic mode allows for rapid acceleration from standstill whilst still giving good grip.
It is easy to change riding modes by just the touch of a button, although Enduro pro mode requires a coupler to be plugged in under the seat. The suspension changes are very evident with each mode and the Electronic Adjusted Suspension has three distinct settings - soft, medium and hard - that can be set whilst riding. The changes are quite noticeable and so the riding modes are very much responsive to road conditions.
Steering is light but responsive. It suits off-road as well as touring on winding roads and is equally at home in city streets, where you can take corners at speed and then accelerate into a straight road with ease and confidence.
The RG1200GS Adventure model is an even more refined beast. Although it is modeled around the same power plant and gearbox, it has a larger flywheel, higher capacity fuel tank and enhanced riding modes. The flywheel is 2.1 lbs heavier and the engine has an additional vibration dampener between the drive shaft and the gearbox to improve the smoothness of the ride. The fuel tank is more than 40 per cent larger, providing a capacity of 7.9 gallons instead of 5.3 gallons and the chassis is slightly extended.
With almost a full tank, the bike weighs in at 573 lbs and allows for a maximum load of 485 lbs. Its dimensions come in at 88.8 inches in length and 38.6 inches in width. Fuel economy at a steady 55 mph is 54.7 miles per gallon, whilst at 75 mph it is 39.9 miles per gallon.
Rain mode offers better handling on slippery surfaces, allowing traction and stability control systems to come in to play more rapidly than otherwise. In Road mode, stability control and ABS are tuned for dry conditions where better grip is occurring.
Other highlights include a tapered windscreen that is set at an angle in keeping with the front headlight structure, handguards and wider foot rests as well as stronger shift lever and brake pedals. There are chassis changes in place to protect the petrol tank and engine with a lattice effect noticeable from the sides.
Side guards are wider and protect both bike and rider in case of any side fall. The seat is tilt adjustable and allows for seat heights from 35 inches to 35.8 inches. The pillion riding position is comfortable and grip rails are evident at the back and around the rear sides of the seating area.
Optional saddle bags and rear enclosed rack make the bike a good choice for longer journeys. Indeed, BMW takes luggage storage seriously as it has done on all of its models and offers either soft saddle bags or aluminum top and side cases for maximum protection.
On the side, BMW places it badge in a prominent position and the R1200GS labeling can be easily seen on each side of the front fender.
Lighting is all LED, including the tail lamps, headlamps and indicator lights. Wing mirrors stretch out to a provide a wide angle view and are set at a sensible height so as to be easily monitored.
Options available include a chrome-plated exhaust system, cruise control, heated grips, and a tyre pressure monitor system. The bike can also be fitted with off-road tyres for those looking to ride in the dirt. The Enduro and Enduro Pro riding modes also feature on the options list.
Other extras possible include a tinted windscreen, a BMW Motorrad Navigator V satnav and communication system, an HP sport silencer by Akrapovic, and a rally seat set at a height of 35.2 inches.
Overall, BMW looks likely to enter the market later this year with a reliable, sought-after machine that really can be used anywhere.