Add A Style, Add A Package, Make It Your Own

BMW gave its R 1200 GS a series of tweaks over the past couple of years to deliver a more polished product than ever before. A 1,170 cc boxer delivers well over 100 horsepower, and arguably more-importantly, almost triple-digit pounds o’ grunt that’ll be of utmost concern for riders that opt for the off-road-tastic “Rallye” package and its riding style. The overall looks were updated ahead of MY2017 with a few tweaks to the body panels, and the electronic safety fandanglery such as the traction control, Hill Start control, and more are now bundled into new packages to spread some of the love toward the bottom-tier buyers, relatively speaking of course. Beemer throws on plenty of yummy-goodness here, so even though the R 1200 GS is a platform for more advanced/expensive models, it’s a capable machine in its own right. Don’t believe it? Stay tuned and I’ll prove it.

Continue reading for my review of the BMW R 1200 GS.

BMW R 1200 GS Design

The adventure-bike genre has been fairly well defined, and it has become a game of inches at this point with all the players seeking that perfect balance of features.

There can be no doubt that the overall design of the adventure-bike genre has been fairly well defined, and it has become a game of inches at this point with all the players seeking that perfect balance of features. Said balance points are always relative to the pricing, and the R 1200 GS hits the first rung of the ladder with its combination of features. I say the “first rung” because while the GS comes with a handful of different trim levels and electronics packages, its adventuresome sibling, the Adventure takes it a few steps further, but I’m going to just concentrate on the base model here.

It starts out with a dramatic bird’s beak fairing that sets the tone with plenty of what I consider to be the typical Beemer look. Maybe it’s the air of functionality or the asymmetrical headlight arrangement, I’m not sure, but the GS definitely has a certain QWAN about it, and the headlights come with an offset DRL feature that accentuates that look even more.

Up top, a vented windshield steers the wind over the rider’s head and reduces the fatigue-inducing head-buffet effect that can occur at the border of pocket and slipstream. Below, the cheek fairings form a scoop that forces cooling air over the radiator and on down to the cooling fins on the jugs that protrude out both sides of the bike.

An aircraft-style fuel cap dominates the top of the 5.3-gallon tank that carries a long, gentle slope down the backside to where it meets the saddle; good news if you’re like me and don’t care for a bulky/tall tank that cuts into your personal space. The slight rise at the wide pillion pad forms a butt-stop for the rider and provides an advantageous perch for the passenger with fold-up footpegs and a grab rail on the stock luggage rack for the other points of contact. Beemer finishes off the ride with a minimal mudguard/plateholder that gets backup from a hugger to control the fling from the rear wheel.

BMW R 1200 GS Chassis

2017 - 2018 BMW R 1200 GS
- image 784039
The R 1200 GS has a fluidity in the sweeps that keeps it from feeling the least bit stodgy with some safety to back it up.

Much of the frame is visible; well, the little that remains anyway. Since the engine is used as a stressed member, it displaces much of the frame to leave a steering head and spine to back up the visible members on the sides and the bolt-up subframe. The head itself is set up for a 25.5-degree rake with 3.9 inches of trail and a steering damper to help stabilize the front end. This gives it a fluidity in the sweeps that keeps it from feeling the least bit stodgy with some safety to back it up.

A one-side swingarm finishes out the standing structure and doubles as a housing for the shaft-type final drive. This, along with BMW’s paralever strut, sports remote handwheels that allow you to quickly adjust both the expected spring-preload and the rebound-damping values; minus the dirty knees. Beemer’s 37 mm telelever front end uses a coil-over central spring strut to support and dampen, but surprisingly, offer nothing in the way of adjustments.

Dual front brakes run with 305 mm discs and four-pot anchors ahead of the 276 mm disc and single-piston caliper out back, all under the protection of an ABS feature that can be switched off in its entirety if you’re feeling like a full-raw ride. Cast aluminum wheels help keep unsprung weight down, and the asymmetrical rims run a 120/70-19 hoop up front opposite a 170/60-17.

Frame: Two section frame, front - and bolted on rear frame, load bearing engine
Front wheel location / suspension: BMW Telelever, Ø 37 mm, central spring strut
Rear wheel location / suspension: Cast aluminum single-sided swing arm with BMW Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) via handwheel, rebound damping adjustable via handwheel
Suspension travel front / rear: 7.5” / 7.9” (190 mm / 200 mm)
Castor: 3.9” (99.6 mm)
Steering head angle: 25.5°
Wheels: Cast aluminum
Rims, front/rear: 3.00 x 19"/4.50 x 17"
Tires, front/rear: 120/70 R 19/170/60 R 17
Brake, front: 305 mm, Dual floating disc brakes, 4-piston fixed calipers
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral, can be switched off)

BMW R 1200 GS Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 BMW R 1200 GS
- image 784040
An even firing order gives it a nice, smooth idle that transitions right on up through the rev range with that same buttery cadence that delivers a rewarding howl at high revs.

Ever a fan of the flat-twin engine, the factory shoehorned a 125-horsepower, 1,170 cc boxer in to drive the GS. Full (horse)power comes on at 7,750 rpm, and it’s backed up with a stump-pulling 92 pound-feet of torque at 6,500 rpm with a claimed top speed of “over 125 mph,” so it’s definitely fast enough to get yourself locked up over here since we have nothing to compare to the Autobahn super-slab. (Yet?)

Bore and stroke measure out at 101 mm and 73 mm, respectively, and compression is fairly high at 12.5-to-1 so you can disabuse yourself of the notion that you’ll be pulling up to the cheap pump with this ride. The four-valve head is actuated by dual over-head cams (is it still considered “overhead” if they’re actually hanging outboard of the rest of the engine?) with ride-by-wire control and dual throttle bodies to manage the induction. Sure, boxers tend to have a bit of a shake, but a counterbalancer in the engine helps to minimize the rocking couple associated with the back-and-forth motion of the pistons and rods.

An even firing order gives it a nice, smooth idle that transitions right on up through the rev range with that same buttery cadence that delivers a rewarding howl at high revs, especially with the optional HP Akrapovič sport muffler. The engine management wrings 47 miles out of every gallon with a catalyst to burn off any remaining free hydrocarbons in the waste gas and meet EU-4 emissions standards.

But, where’s the fandanglery, you ask? Well, you get two riding modes (Road, Rain) along with Beemer’s basic traction control, but the extra-fancy stuff is all spread out amongst the various trim and technology packages, of which there are no less than seven, so buyers can mix-and-match at checkout to get that perfect (to them) blend of features.

Engine: Air/liquid-cooled 4-stroke flat twin engine with balance shaft, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft, wet sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm
Displacement: 1,170 cc
Rated output: 125 hp (92 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 92 lb-ft (125 Nm) at 6,500 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.5 : 1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection with ride-by-wire throttle system
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
Clutch: Multiplate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Gearbox: Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical cut gears
Drive: Shaft drive 2.91:1

BMW R 1200 GS Price

2017 - 2018 BMW R 1200 GS
- image 784041
MSRP starts at just under $17k, but adding tech and trim packages will quickly catapult the price over $20k.

Beemer offers the base-model 2018 R 1200 GS for the starting price of $16,895. You can opt for the “Rallye” or the “Exclusive” trim packages that add Lupin Blue Metallic and Espresso Metallic to the palette on top of the base color choices of Black Storm Metallic or Light White.

Package:IncludesAdd-On Price
Style 1: Black engine, Lupin Blue Metallic, Cross Spoke Wheels +600
Style 2: Black Engine, Espresso Metallic +$350
Comfort: Chrome exhaust pipe, heated grips, TPM, Hand protection +$560
Touring: Dynamic ESA, Keyless ride, GPS preparation, Cruise Control, Saddlebag mounts +$1,545
Dynamic: LED headlamp, Gear Shift Assist Pro, Ride Modes Pro +$1,400
Premium: DTC, Dynamic ESA, LED headlight, Keyless ride, Hill-Start Control, On-Board Computer Pro, Gear-Shift Assist Pro, Ride Modes Pro, GPS Preparation, Heated grips, TPM, Cruise control, Hand protection, ABS Pro, Saddlebag mounts +$3,650
Standard: Dynamic ESA, Heated grips, Cruise control, Hand protection, Saddlebag mounts. +$1,500

BMW R 1200 GS Competitors

2017 - 2018 BMW R 1200 GS
- image 784038
2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XR
- image 781622
Triumph would look a bit stodgy against a sexier ride, but next to the GS it suddenly has a bit more swagger.

BMW makes a pragmatic, purpose-driven machine, no doubt about it. While there are plenty of better looking machines out there (think Ducati), the adventure genre demands performance over aesthetics so I wanted a similar machine for my head-to-head comparison. Triumph provides just such a machine with its Tiger 1200 XR, so let’s get to it.

Right off the bat, you can see that these two companies have similar ideas about aesthetics. A bird’s beak leads the way with symmetrical headlights-plus-DRL set below a vented screen. Form follows function up front, and the cheek fairings make the trumpet look quite wide though the rest of the bike narrows considerably from there back as there are no engine parts sticking out both sides. All else falls into place like peas in a pod from the short vertical offset at the pillion pad to the luggage rack and even the single-sided swingarm. Usually, Triumph would look a bit stodgy against a sexier ride (again, Ducati...), but next to the GS it suddenly has a bit more swagger. Just a bit though, ’cause they’re both kinda chunky if you ask me.

Trumpet matches Beemer in the electronics department with switchable ABS and traction control, but leaves the top-shelf stuff like the cornering ABS and active suspension for the enhanced models. Rather than running a twin, Triumph went with a triple that cranks out a total of 141 ponies and 90 pounds o’ grunt against 125/92 for a bit of an edge in performance, but the $16,500 sticker isn’t likely to buy it any business on its own— the BWM ride is just too comparable everywhere, including the price.

He Said

“Never was a big fan of boxers, and I still question the wisdom of having such a vulnerable powerplant, especially on a bike that could possibly see some terrain. That aside, you can’t go wrong with Beemer’s quality and attention to detail even if you can gig them for complicating the process with too many doggone packages from which to choose; all, nothing or a la carte guys, give us a break over here.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The Rallye and the Exclusive, which, I believe, are listed as “Style 1” and “Style 2” were introduced last year with quite a few changes to the suspension and gearbox, and in the technology settings. The Exclusive is the road-oriented version, although those roads can be quite bad, whereas the Rallye is the adventurous sibling that just begs to be in the dirt. The tank is narrower and the side panels are tucked a bit more which makes the R 1200 GS more adventure capable than previous gens. I disagree with my husband on the cumbersomeness of the available packages. I like the options and choices to really make the bike your own.”

BMW R 1200 GS Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: Air/liquid-cooled 4-stroke flat twin engine with balance shaft, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshaft, wet sump lubrication
Bore x stroke: 101 mm x 73 mm
Displacement: 1,170 cc
Rated output: 125 hp (92 kW) at 7,750 rpm
Max. torque: 92 lb-ft (125 Nm) at 6,500 rpm
Compression ratio: 12.5 : 1
Mixture control / engine management: Electronic fuel injection with ride-by-wire throttle system
Emission control: Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, emission standard EU-4
Clutch: Multiplate wet clutch, hydraulically operated
Gearbox: Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical cut gears
Drive: Shaft drive 2.91:1
Chassis:
Frame: Two section frame, front - and bolted on rear frame, load bearing engine
Front wheel location / suspension: BMW Telelever, Ø 37 mm, central spring strut
Rear wheel location / suspension: Cast aluminum single-sided swing arm with BMW Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) via handwheel, rebound damping adjustable via handwheel
Suspension travel front / rear: 7.5” / 7.9” (190 mm / 200 mm)
Castor: 3.9” (99.6 mm)
Steering head angle: 25.5°
Wheels: Cast aluminum
Rim, front: 3.00 x 19"
Rim, rear: 4.50 x 17"
Tires, front: 120/70 R 19
Tires, rear: 170/60 R 17
Brake, front: 305 mm, Dual floating disc brakes, 4-piston fixed calipers
Brake, rear: Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, dual-piston floating caliper
ABS: BMW Motorrad Integral ABS (part-integral, can be switched off)
Dimensions & Capacities:
Length: 86.9” (2,207 mm)
Width (incl. mirrors): 37.5” (953 mm)
Wheelbase: 59.3” (1,507 mm)
Height (excl. mirrors): 55.6” (1,412 mm)
Seat height, unladen weight: 31.5" – 35" (depending on selected package)
Inner leg curve, unladen weight: 70.5" – 77.2" (depending on selected package)
Curb weight: 538 lbs (244 kg)
Permitted total weight: 1,014 lbs (460 kg)
Payload (with standard equipment): 476 lbs (216 kg)
Usable tank volume: 5.3 gal (20 l)
Reserve: Approx. 1 gal (4 l)
Maximum speed: Over 125 mph
Fuel consumption: 47 mpg (WMTC)
Fuel type: Premium Unleaded
Electricals:
Alternator: Three-phase 510 W generator
Battery: 12 V / 11.8 Ah, maintenance-free
Details:
Standard Features: Integral ABS (Disengageable), ASC (Automatic Stability Control), 2 Riding Modes (Rain/Road), Steering Damper, On-Board Computer, LED Rear Light, White Turn Signal Lenses, Accessory Socket, Height Adjustable Rider Seat, Longitudinally Adjustable Passenger Rider Seat, Stepless Adjustable Windshield, Aluminum Engine Guard, Center Stand, Passenger Rider Foot Pegs (Removable for Off-Road Riding), Toolkit
Colors: Light White, Black Metallic Storm (+$100), Espresso Metallic (Style 2), Lupin Blue Metallic (Style 1)
Price: $16,895

References

Triumph Tiger 1200 XR

2018 Triumph Tiger 1200 XR
- image 783005

See our review of the Triumph Tiger 1200 XR.

Ducati Multistrada 1260

Ducati Aims To Bring Front and Rear Radar To The Market
- image 777813

See our review of the Ducati Multistrada 1260.

BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

2016 BMW R 1200 GS / R 1200 GS Adventure
- image 660372

See our review of the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: bmwmotorcycles.com, triumphmotorcycles.com, ducati.com

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