R1200GS TE Ex­clu­sive

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Road Test -

Don’t be fooled by the spec sheet

The GS has been sit­ting on top of the ad­ven­ture bike podium since defin­ing the class three decades ago and as a re­sult its de­sign­ers have fo­cused on evo­lu­tion of a proven theme. For 2017 it gets self-lev­el­ling sus­pen­sion, cor­ner­ing ABS and trac­tion control but re­tains the 1170cc liq­uid-cooled boxer power plant.

With 125bhp on tap its way down in pure power com­pared to both the Du­cati and KTM. It’s also the heav­i­est at 244kg, but don’t let its on-pa­per stats mis­lead you.

While its mo­tor lacks the top end kick of its ri­vals, it has a bot­tom end and mid-range to die for. With a huge dol­lop of torque in the area where it’s rid­den the ma­jor­ity of the time, it de­liv­ers ef­fort­less per­for­mance, which in turn makes it in­cred­i­bly com­pe­tent at cov­er­ing ground with im­pres­sive speed. The throt­tle con­nec­tion from right wrist to rear wheel re­mains one of the finest and most sat­is­fy­ing things in mod­ern day mo­tor­cy­cling. Com­bined with the op­tional quick­shifter fit­ted to our test bike, ac­cel­er­a­tion is brisk; the power may not be ex­plo­sive but that means there’s never too much be­ing asked of the chas­sis.

While it doesn’t change di­rec­tion like the 17in-wheeled Du­cati, it can be hus­tled along wind­ing A-roads at a de­cent speed, thanks to its wide bars and that im­mac­u­late throt­tle re­sponse.

Its Telelever front sus­pen­sion soaks up bumps while min­i­mal weight trans­fer, aided by the self-lev­el­ling sus­pen­sion, means the GS re­tains its bal­ance and ge­om­e­try un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion and brak­ing. As a re­sult you can take more flow­ing, sweep­ing lines be­fore fin­ish­ing off corners crisply as you are able to get on the gas early. It has no prob­lem liv­ing with its more pow­er­ful com­pe­ti­tion.

A soft seat and spa­cious rid­ing po­si­tion make the GS eas­ily the most com­fort­able bike on test, whether your rid­ing at 30mph or push­ing on.

There’s not a lot to fault on this com­fort­able and plush GS; its only weak­nesses are that the mo­tor gets breath­less at high revs and the ana­logue dash is an­ti­quated in this com­pany.

is me­chan­i­cally noisy, but not in an acous­ti­cally sat­is­fy­ing way. An­other gripe is the lenghthy en­gine cut-out of the quick­shifter, espe­cially no­tice­able at lower rpm or when the load on the mo­tor is low.

The han­dling is sharp but re­mains sta­ble and planted over mid-cor­ner bumps and crests. Aided by the 19in front wheel it gives a sense of se­cu­rity, mean­ing that a sud­den stretch of badly-sur­faced tar­mac on the line you’ve com­mit­ted to is soaked up and dealt with without drama.

The big-pis­ton Brem­bos of­fer an in­spir­ing mix of feel and out­right per­for­mance. And this com­bined with the con­stantly ad­just­ing elec­tronic sus­pen­sion means that brak­ing be­comes some­thing that the KTM sim­ply de­liv­ers. There is no huge front end dive, just pre­dictable weight trans­fer that gives you a re­as­sur­ance that there is al­ways plenty left in re­serve.

Er­gonomics of the Su­per Ad­ven­ture are good, the 23-litre fuel tank (re­duced from the 30 litres of the pre­vi­ous model) makes the bike slim­mer, less top heavy, more man­age­able and easy to ma­noeu­vre. There is masses of leg room, but with the firm sus­pen­sion, even in the com­fort set­ting, and hard seat means that much more than an hour in the sad­dle gets you shuf­fling around to stave off po­ten­tial aches. The ad­justable screen does ex­actly what it should in terms of wind pro­tec­tion and can be raised to cater for the tallest rider and wound down to im­prove vis­i­bil­ity when rid­ing tech­ni­cal ter­rain.

‘The 1200S has grin-grinin­duc­ing ur­gency in any gear and a top end that a sports­bike would be proud of’

With KTM and Du­cati mak­ing such a big play to in­crease their mar­ket share, I thought the GS’S days were num­bered. But that’s not the case.

Both the KTM and Du­cati of­fer higher out­right per­for­mance. They are more pow­er­ful and faster. The Du­cati lives for fast smooth roads, whereas the KTM is a weapon in any en­vi­ron­ment and just wants to be pushed… hard.

On one par­tic­u­larly spir­ited ride in the depth of Wales when it felt like I was us­ing ev­ery one of the 160bhp avail­able on the KTM I kept look­ing in my mir­rors ex­pect­ing to see the GS be­com­ing an ever-de­creas­ing dot in my vi­sion. But it was al­ways right there thanks to the sub­lime throt­tle con­nec­tion and the abil­ity to get on the gas so much ear­lier. Who­ever was rid­ing the GS was al­ways in the mix thanks to be­ing able to ex­ploit ev­ery bit of its per­for­mance 100% of the time.

The GS was also the most com­fort­able, of­fer­ing a plush ride.

On the fi­nal day, af­ter spend­ing just shy of ten hours rid­ing on and off-road in Wales in­clud­ing the ride back to Peter­bor­ough, I still had to ride 65 miles home. I was tired and had to choose a bike. The Multistrada was dis­counted due to its hard, for­ward-slop­ing seat, the KTM was a con­sid­er­a­tion, but it didn’t take long for me to pick up the keys to the GS due to its com­fort and smooth­ness.

Splash out on a new GS

Sure-footed and de­pend­able, the R1200GS is still a bril­liant bike

A quick twist of the throt­tle and the KTM will be ahead again

The KTM’S ‘split’ face di­vides opin­ion

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