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Adventure is in the new BMW R1200GS's blood


ASK ANY motorcycle enthusiast what the best adventure bike currently on the market is and they will proudly mutter the words “the BMW GS,” much like in the heydays when the Suzuki Katana was the king of the road for many.

But that’s a bygone era now and I think I finally understand why BMW believes that the new R1200GS is the perfect machine, no matter what the occasion.

The example we were given was that if a customer was looking for a track bike, they could take the new GS, the reason being that it’s a fantastic machine to ride and its handling prowess is nothing to snicker at. Throw into the mix a hearty dollop of power and torque with a respectable top end and rampant acceleration and suddenly you have a rather fun toy for your track days.

It doesn’t end there, however, because should you want to break away from the clutches of society, the R1200GS is a worthy explorer on- and off-road.

So how did BMW develop such a well-rounded machine? Well, the GS concept has been in the brand’s stable for over 30 years. As the German powerhouse tweaked, it evolved the GS motorcycles over time, but it kept the fundamentals that have made it an icon.

The most notable is the opposed twin ‘boxer’ engine. With an output of 92kW at 7 700rpm and 125Nm at 6 500rpm, this new powertrain offers superior power and performance in the travel-enduro segment and beyond.

Having spent well over 350km in the saddle, I can see why so many rave about the GS’s ride quality. On the open road it’s unmatched, soaking up every lump and bump you come across.  This is largely due to the upgraded new suspension, with a torsionally stiff tubular steel-bridge frame and bolt-on rear frame.  Add to this a newly developed and optimised Telelever at front and EVO Paralever shock at the rear, and the rider benefits from a more precise ride.

Besides being an immaculate machine with great road capabilities, the ease-of-use riding modes catapult the BMW ahead of the rivals. The freely selectable riding modes - rain, road, dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro - can all be selected and changed on the fly via the buttons on the left of the handlebars. It’s as easy as flicking a switch and engaging your clutch to select the chosen mode, while a lot of the competitors will, for instance, require you to come to a standstill and head into the main menu bar via the on-board computer to select your required mode.

It’s this simplicity that I really admire on a motorcycle, because let’s face it, that’s what a lot of us want from our machines - simple riding pleasure. I have praised the GS for its road abilities, but a good part of the 350km launch route, however, did consist of some torrid dust and sand roads. And this is where the R1200GS and I seemed to clash. The model we rode was certainly more tar orientated, which made navigating through the loose sand tricky. It was no easy task leading the 238kg mule with a 19-inch front- and 17-inch rear tyre through such rugged terrain and I do think the new KTM 1190 does fare better in the dirt. But I’m a realist, and I do believe many South African adventure riders wouldn’t attempt anything close to the roads we explored.

Ultimately, with the new R1200GS, BMW perfected a machine that was already close to perfect. Very little has changed on the styling front but it’s still a remarkable machine. It’s almost as if BMW saw its competitors trying to take the fight to them, only to be silenced by this new model.

The new R1200GS will retail for R140 800. The Touring spec can be added on for an extra R14 100 and the Dynamic guise will set you back an extra R19 995.

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