Harleys and soviet bloc machines aside, the BMW R1150GS Adventure is probably the largest motorcycle you’re ever likely to swing a leg over. CARtoday.com correspondent Neil Harrison checks it out.
For the test of the BMW R1150GS Adventure we spent much of our time at Country Trax, BMW’s Amersfoort facility. There we were introduced to the dusty and often muddy art of off-road riding. It was, as it turned out, a canny move on BMW’s part…
Harleys and soviet bloc machines aside, the BMW R1150GS Adventure is probably the largest motorcycle you’re ever likely to swing a leg over. It’s over 2 m long, almost a metre wide and weighs in at just over 253 kg. With its wide upright handlebars and a lofty saddle height of 90cm, the Adventure allows a commanding view of road. However, if you’re at all vertically challenged, it’ll also provide you with some interesting moments when you first try to put a foot down. Happily, a lower saddle is available.
The Adventure’s styling sits well with its size. Like a grown-up Tonka toy, it looks tough and capable, and has a road presence that commands nods of respect from taxi pilots.
The alternately carved and curved 30-litre tank laps down low over the engine flanks, with nomenclature and badge prominently displayed. The fairing and front mudguard combination nudge the visual weight of this motorcycle up and to the fore so overall it has a well-balanced look about it. The saddle, tappet covers and wheel rims are black or dark blue, adding to the Adventure’s purposeful air.
Essentially a variant of the best-selling R1150 GS, the Adventure has been modified for long-distance travel and prolonged off-road use. Suspension travel has been increased by 20mm front and rear. Both first and sixth gears have been shortened, and the engine has slightly different engine management mapping; allowing the Adventure to run on low-octane fuel with a change of spark plugs.
In addition, a new single-section seat allows a wider range of movement and comfortably seats two. Hand guards and a larger windshield are fitted and an aluminium bash plate and a set of sturdy crash bars protect the motor. The alloy rims sport block-tread enduro tyres and interestingly, wheel spokes are edge-mounted.
On the freeway, the Adventure’s touring competence came quickly to the fore. The 1 130cc flat twin pulls strongly from 1 500 r/min, the power picking up smoothly up to the red line at 7 500 r/min. The boxer’s characteristic budduh-budduh-budduh-budduh blurring out to a throaty roar as you roll on the throttle.
While the single-plate hydraulic clutch is smooth, some may find the gear change a little too deliberate. The super-short first gear delivers acceleration that’ll spook many a road bike and once cruising in the shorter sixth gear there are very few roads that’ll require a gear down; the Adventure reached its top speed of 192 km/h without any undue fuss. Taller riders found the windshield didn’t offer much protection above shoulder level; we trawled various GS discussion groups and this seems to be a common complaint.
Applying the EVO brakes is an adventure all on its own. With the optional ABS, stopping power was prodigious. In front, twin four-pot callipers allowed for easy two finger braking while the single disc at the rear supplied a reassuring amount of bite. Under hard braking the whole bike would settle an inch or two while the scenery un-blurred itself at a startling rate. This anti-dive behaviour comes courtesy of BMW’s now-famous Telelever front end.
Surprisingly, considering its brawn, the Adventure is meerkat-nimble through the corners with the tall chassis offering up superb angles of lean. The suspension soaks up most irregularities easily, the harder pre-load and rebound settings delivering the most rewarding ride.
Our off-road training began with lessons on low speed and static balance. We also learnt the correct way to pick up a fallen motorcycle. Given the right technique, it’s possible to lift the Adventure’s 250 kg unaided, but the experience leaves one with a firm resolve to avoid a recurrence.
As training progressed and our off-road skills sharpened, the supersized Adventure began to shed centimetres and kilograms. It became altogether smaller and more manoeuvrable.
With the rider standing tall, head up to the horizon, there were very few places the Adventure wouldn’t go. It’s more likely you’ll run out of courage before the Adventure runs out of ability.
By Neil Harrison [email protected]
Original article from Car