When you first stand next to the GS 1200 Adventure it looks enormous and intimidating, but once you get moving it shrinks under you and becomes very manouverable.
The GS series has a rich history of overland adventures and started the big trail bike class with the R80G/S back in 1980. A few Dakar wins helped build the bullet proof image it has today and, Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman rode this bike from John O’Groats in Scotland to Cape Agulhas in 2007. All this does not mean that the BMW GS 1200 Adventure is only for the off-road enthusiast. Many an executive rides this GS to work in rush hour traffic every day and only goes on the odd breakfast run or BMW organised event.
The signature boxer twin cylinder motor, now displacing 1170cc, churns out 77kW and 115Nm of torque. It will reach 100km/h in less than 4 seconds and will easily pass the 200km/h mark. In any gear, the tower of power propels you forward, but it won’t scare your passenger. The power delivery is smooth and very controllable, and more than enough to pass anything that might hold you up.
My wife and I took the bike over a couple of passes over the weekend and it was astonishing how comfortable is this bike. Yet it carves through the mountains like a super bike, managing some mean lean angles on the Bridgestone Battlewings fitted to the test unit. It retrieved a commendable 15.8 km/l during our trip of mixed roads and the odd stand-still-and-wait due to road works.
The GS 1200 Adventure is a gorgeous machine from every angle and the crash bars and spotlights give it a macho look. It has a long list of standard extras over the standard GS 1200, including a high adjustable touring screen that protects you from the elements at speed, wider foot pegs for standing up in tricky off-road situations and a 33 litre long-range fuel tank to name but a few. Optional heated grips for those winter morning commutes, and very comfortable separate seats for rider and pillion make long journeys a pleasure. Even with the optional side panniers and top box in place, it is still possible to move around on the seats to avoid having to stop every hour to stretch your legs.
Then there’s the optional electronically adjustable suspension, called ESA. With the push of a button you can set up the suspension for different loads, be it rider only, rider with luggage or two-up. You can also choose between COMFORT for city riding or bumpy roads, NORMAL, and SPORT, which firms up the ride for a dash over those twisty mountain passes. There is also a setting for normal off-road and hard off-road. Complicated as it sounds, it’s actually very user friendly and it works. I had it on the COMFORT setting for most of our scenic ride.
Another option is automatic stability control (ASC), a traction control system that prevents the huge amount of power spinning the back wheel on wet or slippery surfaces and helps avoid accidental power wheelies when you grab a fist full of throttle. You can switch between on, off and 50%, and it works by cutting the power when the ABS sensors detect the rear wheel spinning faster than the front.
ABS is available on all new GS models and the huge 305mm diameter twin floating discs up front will bring this 256kg beast to a standstill without white knuckles. With ABS, the front and rear brakes are linked, so that when you pull on the front lever, the back end gets braked automatically, to prevent the tail end losing shape.
The on-board computer is easily readable and displays useful information such as the time, trip kilometres, average speed and fuel consumption, range left, tyre pressures and the outside temperature. It also shows the ESA, ASC and ABS settings selected.
All of this makes for a confidence-inspiring ride, and you could easily forget you’re not in a car. A new GS Adventure without the extended options carries a price tag of R143 500. This is only R10 500 more than the standard GS. With the level of standard equipment on the Adventure, it is definitely worth the extra cash. The optional ESA, ABS, ASC, heated grips and tyre pressure monitors will add another R20 000 to the price.
All new BMW motorcycles come standard with a three year factory warranty and roadside assistance. If you ever get stranded, even with a dead battery, just phone BMW Assist and it will send someone out anywhere in South Africa. Service intervals are 10 000 km or annually, whichever comes first. Another big benefit is the relatively maintenance free drive shaft and tubeless tyres, thus no more messy chain adjustments and the frightful possibility of a tyre blow-out in the back of your mind.
This bike is the perfect all-rounder, be it for commuting between the office and your clients, or a two week camping trip through Namibia with your better half on the back. If you’re looking for an extremely comfortable bike with all the safety features and round-the-world capabilities, this is the bike for you.
Motorcycle courtesy of Donford Motorrad Stellenbosch.
Francois Steyn CA(SA), is Lecturer: Department of Accounting at the University of Stellenbosch.