These days, it helps to be multi-talented. It’s something BMW has known for the past 40 years with the mighty GS.
Photos by Rennie Scaysbrook
Isn’t it incredible that BMW’s GS has been around for four decades? That’s longer than I’ve been alive, and yet, it seems not all that long ago.
The GS is absolutely BMW’s golden goose and is the machine that saved BMW Motorrad as a company from the financial gallows in the early 1980s. The GS and this $20,395 MSRP GS Adventure that I’ve just finished testing, are the original do-it-all motorcycles. I’ve got a pretty deep love of both bikes, especially the bigger-tanked GSA—If you told me I could have just one bike for the rest of my life, a GSA would be right at the top of my list. That’s because I’ve witnessed this thing in action all across the globe and seen just what this beast of a bike is capable of. Yes, it’s massive and therefore restricted to a certain height of rider, but it’s so damn good at pretty much everything it does, you must give BMW credit for creating it in the first place.
At the end of 2018, BMW released the new R 1250 GS and R 1250 GS Adventure, this new edition sporting the Bavarian giant’s ShiftCam technology for the horizontally-opposed boxer motor.
ShiftCam is BMW’s version of variable valve timing. Using a shift gate on the end of the camshaft, the intake valves are opened at different times in the combustion cycle when on partial throttle at lower revs, resulting in less valve lift, but better control of the combustion.
When you open it up to full throttle, the shift gate moves the cam onto a different lobe that allows for the full lift and duration of the valves to be reached. The result is more air, more fuel and more power.
That power figure is a handy 136 horsepower, more than enough power for off-road conditions and plenty of punch for the street. The throttle application is absolutely as smooth as silk—there’s no hit of torque, no jerkiness in the first part of acceleration—this is a BMW boxer at its finest. This is particularly handy because at a claimed 591 pounds with a full 7.9-gallon tank of gas and a seat height of 35 inches, it’s right at the top of the big bore adventure bike category. You’re dealing with a lot of motorcycle here and the GS Adventure is loaded with electronic extras (some would say too many, like me), as BMW attempts to keep you safe from yourself.
Standard fitment on the GS Adventure includes twin riding modes, Automatic Stability Control (basic traction control), cruise control and Hill Hold Control to name just a few, the latter a handy feature that holds the motorcycle on the brakes until you let the clutch out on a steep incline.
Our test bike was fitted with the Ride Modes Pro feature, housing Dynamic Traction Control and Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), and the new Dynamic Brake Assistant feature, which reduces the motor’s torque delivery and adds a little rear brake in emergency situations, so that when the front brake lever is applied and you accidentally roll back on the throttle (sometimes it happens), you get braking and all available engine brake—and not any unwanted acceleration.
However, strip all the electronics back and you’ve still got the ethos and character that BMW has banked on for nearly half a century. It’s genuinely difficult to criticize the GSA when it comes to riding experience. You can pick on the bike’s size, weight, overload of electronics, cost of entry, insurance, whatever, but when it all boils down, the GSA is a motorcycle that can do more things decently than many bikes can do brilliantly once. It’s absolutely the benchmark when it comes to jack of all trades motorcycles.CN
2020 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure Specifications
||Horizontal twin boxer, 4-stroke, 8-valves, DOHC
|Bore x stroke:
||102.5 x 76mm
||136 hp at 7750 rpm
||105 lb-ft at 6250 rpm
||Two-section frame, front and bolted on rear frame, load-bearing engine
||37mm BMW Motorrad Telelever, central spring strut (Dynamic ESA)
||Cast-aluminum single-sided swingarm with BMW Motorrad Paralever (Dynamic ESA)
||Dual 305mm discs, 4-piston caliper, ABS Pro
||Single 276mm disc, 2-piston caliper, ABS Pro
||120/70 R19 in.
||170/60 R17 in.
|Weight (wet, claimed):