Game-changer

Trib­ute to R1200GS

Motorcycle News (UK) - - NEWS -

Some bikes win races, oth­ers trans­port peo­ple around the world, be­come best-sell­ers, star in TV shows or in­spire a host of im­i­ta­tors and yet only one, as far as we know, has done all of those and more… BMW’S in­cred­i­ble R1200GS.

Born out of the Dakar-win­ning orig­i­nal GS, be­fore be­com­ing a glo­be­trot­ter for a whole gen­er­a­tion and star of The Long Way Down, the big BM proved so suc­cess­ful it’s been a peren­nial chart-top­per – so much so that it’s in­spired ri­vals from Tri­umph, Du­cati, Aprilia and oth­ers.

Yet that ba­sic ap­peal boils down to one thing – sim­ply how well the R1200GS works, both off-road and on. Or, as the co-star of The Long Way Down, Charley Boor­man, told MCN when the lat­est up­dated ver­sion of the BMW came out in 2013:

“It’s amaz­ing what these bikes can do. Off-road, ev­ery­body says the same. Folk will ride up a steep moun­tain and look back at rocks and boul­ders and go: ‘I can’t be­lieve I got up there’. They’re in­cred­i­ble. But as well as that, when you go out on the road, they’re re­ally im­pres­sive, es­pe­cially down twisty coun­try lanes.

“Get a good rider on a GS and there’s not much that will catch it.”

In short: the GS does it all: tour­ing, off-road, sporty scratch­ing and more. No won­der, then, that it’s also proved so pop­u­lar, not only with tens of thou­sands of rid­ers world­wide, but even with other celebri­ties such as biker and Rush drum­mer Neal Peart, Lord of the Rings star Or­lando Bloom and even Har­ri­son Ford.

But what’s most im­pres­sive about the GS is not how it came about – as a suc­ces­sor to the R1150GS and be­fore that the R1100GS go­ing all the way back to the orig­i­nal R80G/S that was some­thing of a no-brainer. No, in­stead what im­presses is how BMW have kept it on top for over a decade.

Launched in 2004 with 100bhp, the R1200GS has never stood still. Joined by the big-tanked Ad­ven­ture ver­sion in 2005 it was then sig­nif­i­cantly up­dated in 2007 and 2010 (first to 105bhp then 110) be­fore get­ting a com­plete makeover with new liq­uid-cooled en­gine (and now with the shaft on the other side), a host of elec­tron­ics and more in 2013.

Dur­ing all that time, and de­spite the ar­rival of ever more so­phis­ti­cated and im­pres­sive com­peti­tors in­clud­ing Du­cati’s Mul­tistrada 1200, KTM’S big Ad­ven­ture, Tri­umph’s Tiger Ex­plorer (which was specif­i­cally tar­geted at the GS) not to men­tion of­fer­ings from all four Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers, the big Beemer has al­ways been there or there­abouts at the top of the tree. That in it­self is im­pres­sive.

More im­pres­sive still is the whole GS own­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Although the bike has never been per­fect, its abil­i­ties, the unique range of fac­tory and af­ter­mar­ket ac­ces­sories avail­able, BM dealer ser­vice, high resid­u­als and more add up to make GS own­ers very loyal in­deed, as more than a few told MCN.

“I own a 2005 R1200GS that I ride rain or shine as my daily com­mute or for ex­ten­sive trans-amer­i­can trips,” State­side owner Tan­guy Adri­aenssen told us. “It’s a great ma­chine and the best thing I own!”

Uk-based Gra­ham Bell is an­other. “I owned a 2007 GS for eight years and it was in­cred­i­ble,” he told MCN. “I used it all year round and it was, bar one oc­ca­sion, ut­terly re­li­able and the fin­ish was like new when I sadly came to part with it.”

But maybe Will Wil­lis, an­other 1200GS owner from the other side of The Pond, put it best.

“It’s not the kind of ma­chine that you pull up a chair with a box of popcorn and gaze at it for hours on end,” he told us. “It’s the kind of bike that will go any­where and do any­thing you ask of it. For the past two years it has turned into my daily com­pan­ion, my coun­try road carver, off-road at­tacker, and long-dis­tance hauler. This is my first BMW and def­i­nitely not my last.”

The R1200GS – and the rest of the GS fam­ily – has that af­fect of peo­ple!

‘It’s my coun­try road carver, off-road at­tacker, and long dis­tance hauler’ WILL WIL­LIS, MCN READER AND R1200GS OWNER

There's not much it can't do

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