The 2018 R 1200 GS Adventure may only have an updated instrument cluster – a couple of new toys and a few aesthetic upgrades – but it’s a good enough excuse for us to saddle up on this renewed German globetrotter.
If there’s a bike that we don’t get bored of riding and writing about, it’s definitely the BMW R 1200 GS Adventure. Sure, the standard GS is a very potent machine, but the Adventure has that extra oomph that puts it ahead of its standard version. Maybe it’s the sense of grandeur that the bike carries or the high sitting position that makes you feel on top of the world, or perhaps it’s the ease with which its masks its heavy weight. Whatever it is, riding the GS Adventure is always a great experience – a discovery of sorts. For the model year 2018, the GS has received some updates. Although there aren’t any drastic changes, just a few new updates were enough to get us on its saddle – yes, we just needed an excuse to ride this bike. The new model is equipped with its fair share of new equipment though. First and foremost, the GS Adventure is available in three different configurations – Standard, Exclusive and Rallye. The first two are meant mostly for tarmac, while the third is for those whose imaginations go beyond the stretches of tarmac. So, naturally, we were partial towards the Rallye edition and decided to take for a spin.
Can’t go unnoticed
Wherever we stopped – whether a coffee shop or a traffic signal – the GS attracted curious gazes from strangers. The Rallye’s colour scheme – white and blue with chunky wheels – only added to its ability to attract a crowd. The unprecedented graphics, along with the brand logo on the sides of the tank, grants it an imposing off-road look. The brake callipers are golden and the dual-tone saddle is flat and compact – which, in all candidness, isn’t the most comfortable seat but is extremely stylish and allows ample room for movement while off-roading. The Rallye version is armed with a few distinctive features, which include spoke wheels, long travel suspension, tank, engine and hand guards. To make our experience with the bike even more exciting, the test bike that we found in our possession, albeit temporarily, had a lot of optional extras – these don’t come cheap as you’ll learn soon enough.
Let’s start with the next-gen Dynamic ESA. The semi-active electronic suspension was already available on the standard version, but now it’s also available on the Adventure version. This electronic suspension can alter spring preload while damping characteristics change automatically according to the engine map. As for riding modes, Road and Rain modes are standard, but with an optional Pro mapping comes Dynamic, Dynamic Pro, Enduro and Enduro Pro modes – the last two reduce the power output to 100bhp and offer a smoother throttle response. It also has dynamic traction control or DTC along with ABS Pro (with cornering ABS) and HSC (a sort of hand brake useful on slopes). You can also opt for an electronic key, LED headlights and indicators, heated grips, cruise control, and much more. There are also optional packages, such as Touring, Dynamic and Comfort that club specific gadgets from the above listed features.
The bike’s connectivity option is completely new – it now comes with a 6.5-inch digital touchscreen, a ‘phablet’ of sorts. You can connect it with your smartphone via Bluetooth to navigate, manage phone calls and listen to music.
A GS is a GS, period!
Why? The answer is simple. Its every ride is enthralling. And, as soon as you park it, you start missing it. Aesthetically, however, it might not suit everyone’s taste. Also, there are those who aren’t that fond of its boxer engine. But, despite a few details that might not be to your liking, the fact of the matter is that the GS Adventure is what it should be or what one would expect it to be – a captivating bike that offers an enthralling ride.
The bike has the girth of a monster, but it’s not intimidating once you’re on the saddle. A guttural roar greets you when you start the bike – mind you, it’s not loud or rude – we find it to be a likeable trait. Once you slot the gearbox in first and let go of the clutch, you can’t help but be pleasantly surprised by its sheer effortlessness. Once on the move, you feel a trust that is both instinctive and spontaneous, perhaps because you know you’re in expert hands – something that we’ve come to associate with the GS family, and perhaps is also reason for its success around the globe.
Coming back to our experience with the Rallye – having removed the luggage and the panniers, we rode the bike in the city for a couple of days. The wide handlebar can be a bit of a hindrance at first, but its superb dynamic equilibrium completely takes your mind off its enormous weight of 276kgs. The more we rode it, the more confident we felt. Once we hit open roads, the experience became even more enjoyable. Around bends it can be as fast as a superbike – provided you shod it with on-road tyres. It feels solid, steady, and precise in the way it takes corners. The extent of the easiness of its ride is inconceivable for anyone who looks at it as an outsider. Of course, it has some issues, such as the fact that changing direction isn’t very smooth and it doesn’t like to be messed around with. However, we must add that with the new Dynamic ESA, its handling has improved to a considerable degree. And part of this improved handling and agility is the result of the boxer engine that constantly delivers punch from 2,000 to 6,000rpm.
What happens when you take it over rough and loose surfaces though? Let’s just say that to ride this thing off the road is a total pleasure, an experience in itself. The photos you see here are in fact a testament to that. A special mention of the new Enduro Pro mode is a must. On muddy surfaces, the Adventure has the ability to fulfil every whim of ours – suffering only occasionally on its way down after a jump. And before you try any of this, keep in mind that to achieve certain feats, you really need to be a professional rider. But overall, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call the Adventure an excellent off-road performer.
What about connectivity?
Now, let’s take a few moments to talk about the functionality of the new all-digital display – which, in order to be exploited to the fullest requires a smartphone app called BMW Motorrad Connected. There are a few limitations of this whole connectivity feature though. First, the app doesn’t offer many services except for the bike diagnostic and the navigation functions. The problem with this turn-by-turn navigation is that it interferes with the whole display and sometimes it’s quite slow to load. Second, the Bluetooth connection only works with BMW systems and not with intercoms, which means that compatibility with all smartphones is not ensured. Third, considering it’s a pretty wide screen, additional information like fuel level and average consumption should’ve been there on the screen by default. After all, you wouldn’t want to continuously search for such basic info. The optional Connectivity system is not a must have, but it packs some interesting toys. You see, the standard equipment more or less works all the time, but this one regularly monitors the bike condition. Its coolest feature is the adaptive redline indicator that tells you when the redline shifts up or down the rev-range depending on the engine temperature. For example, during cold starts, the redline is at 5,700rpm to avoid damaging the engine. But, as the engine warms up, the redline goes higher up the rev-range. Overall, the new system is easy to use, brightness levels are good and whenever there’s something wrong – low fuel, low battery, etc. – the system tells you using uses visible messages.
You can see the GS Adventure in its new Style Rallye configuration – graphics with a light blue background, spoke wheels, engine and tank guard, and a flat and short saddle. Off-road wheels are optional, but at no additional cost. On top, you see the new touchscreen TFT, the tank pad, smart key, serrated footrests and the rear brake command with an adaptor for off-road riding. Lastly, the electronic suspension or Dynamic ESA and Quickshift.
Who says it’s a difficult bike to handle? We admit that jumping it around – as shown in this photo – requires you to be a pro rider, but everywhere else it performs effortlessly.
As can be seen in these photos, when in good hands, the GS Adventure has no limits. It’s one of the most efficient travel companions that a biker can hope for.
- BMW R 1200 GS Adventure Rallye
2-Cylinder Boxer, 1170cc,
Double overhead camshaft with 4 valves per cylinder, electronic injection.
Power: 123bhp @ 7,750rpm
Torque: 125Nm @ 6,500rpm.
Six-speed gearbox, slipper clutch, shaft drive transmission.
2 engine maps (+ 2 optional), Traction control device (opt.), Electronic suspension (opt.), Cruise control (opt.) and switchable ABS.
Steel tubular trellis frame.
Dual front discs (305mm), 4 pistons radial mount callipers, Single rear disc brake (276mm) with dual piston calliper and ABS cornering.
Front tyre 120/70-R19
Rear tyre 170/60-R17
Length 2,255mm, width 980mm, wheelbase 1,510mm, Saddle height 890 – 910mm, 30-litre fuel tank and 263 kg kerb weight.
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