BMW R1200 GS Review – Mossy Rides (2007)
Source: Crash.net Road Tests
Mossy’s been riding Ewan McGregor’s bike of choice, the R1200 GS and finds it to be even better than he was expecting.
Words/pics by: Chris Moss/Mike Weston (Crash.net)
BMWstarted the GS trend over twenty years ago with its R80GS, but it’s taken until recently for the superb off-road styled workhorses to catch on with us Brits. Interested more in academic power-to-weight-ratios and superfast racebike-styled sportsbikes, we have largely overlooked the GSs. But at last we’re coming to our senses, and are now buying the rugged Bee-Ems in quantity.
Last year, the R1200GS was the nation’s tenth best-seller, and even outsold the R1. Combined with its brother, the more heavily-equipped Adventure model, the 1200GS was the best selling bike of 2006. Even more impressive is the fact that the GS has recently become BMW’s most successful bike of all-time with the 100,000th machine rolling off the production line.
It’s a wonder why it’s taken so long for the GS to become as popular as it has in the UK really. Anyone who’s ridden a GS for more than a few miles will soon understand what they’re all about. And although they have some typical quirks to get used to, their core qualities of being easy to ride, useable, practical, and comfortable, not to mention highly entertaining, quickly shine through.
The 1200 is a big old bus, so you’ll have to be quite committed to get the best from it; some challenges start even when the bike’s at a standstill. With such a tall seat height (though its height is adjustable, and there’s a lower version available as an option) and big tank, not to mention a few kilos to control, the GS can feel cumbersome just to push around and then get on board.
But once you become familiar with things and get the show on the road, your confidence in mastering the bike will grow quickly and with every outing. Whether you’re in town or not, the relaxed, lofty riding position and high, wide bars let you dominate the Bee-Em and manhandle it with ease, whatever the speed. It doesn’t matter that the 1200 can’t boast light and fast-steering chassis specs synonymous with sportsbikes. The fact is, the GS has far more ability round corners than you’d expect.
Its soft, long travel suspension smoothes out bumps beautifully and gives the bike great control when the going gets rough. Where a sportsbikewould start to shimmy and flap, the GS just laughs and gets on with the job unflustered. It’s one of its very best and useful real world qualities. It’s even half decent at tackling some off-road work.
And although its size and weight will mean big repair bills if you do lose control, if you have a bit of experience on the dirt and don’t get too ambitious with the terrain, then there’s plenty of safe fun to be had. They don’t come much more versatile than this bike.
As well as responsive and predictable handling, the GS has a motor that’s happy to obey your every command too, with the big-bore flat twin jumping at the chance to move forward each time the throttle is opened, regardless of what the digital gear indicator is saying and just how fast the crank is spinning.
With all that torquey and instantly produced power being spread well throughout its rev range, the 1200’s engine is friendly, flexible, relaxed, and great at making some solid progress without having to be worked too hard to achieve it. Combined with enough comfort to spend many a day on board, thanks to a plush but supportive seat, roomy riding position and superb screen, the GS has loads of scope for tackling long-distance trips at a high average speed. Add to that a 200-mile tank range that means refuelling stops aren’t frequent, and you’ve got yourself a real mile-eater.
With a huge range of extras available including luggage, crash bars, and sat nav, all of which can be factory-fitted should you prefer, you can tailor the bike to feel even more at home on it. But even in standard trim its all-round ability has almost become the stuff of legends, and my time spent on it reminded me well of this virtue.
There are still the typical trademark BMW quirks to get used to however. First is the engine torque reaction that kicks the bike to one side when you rev it hard. Though in fairness this is much more noticeable at a standstill than it is when you’re riding. Joining that is the over-complex indicator switch arrangement that requires more fingers and effort to operate than it should do.
None of these idiosyncrasies can spoil your admiration for the GS overall though. It’s simply too good a machine for that to happen. And no matter whether your destination is Dakar or just the local Co-Op, the 1200 will get you there with ease and efficiency. One hundred thousand buyers worldwide can’t be wrong.
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
Arguably, one of the main reasons the GS has become so popular in recent years is the publicity afforded it by a certain Ewan McGregor and his riding accomplice, Charley Boorman
In 2004 the pair rode the forerunner to the 1200, the 1150GS Adventure, round the world. Their exploits during the 20,000mile journey, captured in the film ‘Long Way Round’ have helped to raise the profile of the bike massively.
Since then the two biking explorers have just finished another epic trip riding through Africa from John O’Groats to Cape Town, a three-month 15,000mile trek accomplished on 1200GS Adventures. The journey will be screened on BBC2 in later this year.
The 1200GS Adventure is essentially a standard GS with a bigger tank, crash bars and longer travel suspension. It costs £9,895
R1200GS 2007 Specification
2007 BMW R1200GS Price: £9,095
Type: air/oil cooled, 8-valve, sohc, flat twin
Bore x Stroke: 101 x 73mm
Maximum power: 100bhp @ 7000rpm
Maximum torque: 85lb/ft @ 5500rpm
Carburation: electronic fuel-injection
Gearbox: six-speed, shaft drive
Suspension:Front: Telelever fork, adjustable preload
Rear: Paralever monoshock, adjustable preload and rebound damping Brakes:Front: twin 305mm discs with four piston ABS calipers
Rear: single 265mm disc with twin-piston ABS caliper Wheels/Tyres:Front: 110/80 -19
Rear: 150/70 -17 Chassis: Steel tube subframes
Rake/trail: 25 degrees, 7 minutes/101mm
Seat height: 840/860mm
Fuel capacity: 20 litres
Dry weight: 199kg
Contact: 0800 777155 www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk