R1200GS Ral­lye Off-road ac­tion

The Ral­lye is no light­weight, but that doesn’t mean it’s a duff in the rough

Motorcycle News (UK) - - NEWS - richard.new­land@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

There’s a rea­son why en­duro bikes are as thin, light and lithe as pos­si­ble, with all ex­tra­ne­ous fat stripped away to re­veal pure muscle and sinew: be­cause the last thing you want of­froad is a lardy mo­tor­cy­cle.

You’d need some pretty im­pres­sive oc­u­lar dys­func­tion to look at BMW’S R1200GS Ral­lye and think ‘oh yeah, I’d love to ride that off-road.’ Its ob­vi­ous mass and phys­i­cal pres­ence be­ing a se­ri­ous concern for most rid­ers – es­pe­cially those with less off-road ex­pe­ri­ence. But the shock weapon in the GS’S ar­moury is that it’s bloody great on the rough stuff thanks to its in­her­ent poise, car­ried­low weight, bal­ance, and a suite of as­tound­ingly use­ful rider aids.

I took the Ral­lye to Wales re­cently to take part in the GS Tro­phy qual­i­fiers, where you com­pete in a two-day as­sault of road ori­en­teer­ing and off-road chal­lenges. Clearly it despatched the wildly var­ied Welsh roads with ef­fort­less aplomb, but it was on big fast for­est tracks and thread­ing through nadgery tri­als sec­tions where it re­ally im­pressed.

At speed the elec­tron­ics – I was rid­ing in En­duro Pro mode – turn you from fum­bling cretin into con­fi­dent at­tack dog, weight­ing the out­side peg and drift­ing through cor­ners, while never hav­ing to worry that in­sis­tent brak­ing will end the party early. The off-road ABS set­tings are so im­pres­sive that even Si­mon Pavey (Dakar veteran and head of

the Off-road School) rarely turns it off. The bal­ance, grip and trac­tion in all sit­u­a­tions al­ways make you feel in­ad­e­quate, and – even as a rel­a­tive novice – the big GS doesn’t feel at all in­tim­i­dat­ing.

The only time I crashed was when I switched all the sys­tems off, and suf­fered an epic fail try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate a tight up­hill off-cam­ber turn. The Ral­lye ended up pretty much up­side down, and I rolled away like the world’s soft­est mar­ble. But with hu­man and mo­tor­cy­cle picked up, it was straight back to the ac­tion. So, can you ride one off-road? Yes, eas­ily. But should you? Well, yes – but only post-re­call.

This week’s ad­mis­sion from BMW that some GS mod­els have suf­fered cat­a­strophic fork fail­ures – usu­ally when re­peat­edly used hard off-road, is a se­ri­ous concern. The prob­lem of­ten man­i­fests it­self ini­tially as oil leak­ing and noise from the fork, but at worst as a full fork tube de­tach­ment where the stan­chion meets the top yoke.

As we went to press, BMW is­sued a safety re­call for all GS mod­els built from Novem­ber 2013 to June 2017 – so make sure yours gets the free re­me­dial work car­ried out. It es­sen­tially en­cases the weak area with a brac­ing col­lar to give it the strength re­quired – al­low­ing fear-free off-road use again.

The GS is a big unit, but the bulk melts away as soon as you’re mov­ing

The GS Ral­lye con­jours trac­tion from nowhere, even on low-speed hill climbs

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