A bike this big and this heavy shouldn’t handle this smoothly or this consistently. How, you find yourself constantly asking, can this be possible?
There should, for example, be a tangible difference between how it rides, brakes and turns when fully-fuelled with 30 litres of unleaded and when it’s near empty. But there isn’t – it simply takes the extra burden in its stride.
Add some weekend luggage and a pillion and you’d never know either. Tester Bruce was blown away: “I can’t believe how good the BMW is, it’s idiotproof. It doesn’t matter what you load it with or how aggressively you ride... it simply glides along effortlessly.”
The Dynamic ESA semi-active suspension takes care of anything you throw at it. Each riding mode changes the characteristics, but the results are the same magic carpet ride. While you can feel the Ducati’s semi-active suspension adapting and trying to improve the handling, on the BMW the ride is always plush and sophisticated.
The downside is that the feedback from the tyres is one step removed, meaning the GS asks you to trust in its clever suspension and electronics rather than the seat of your pants, which takes a little getting used to. Enduro racer Michael didn’t favour the detachment but agreed the Adventure was almost idiot-proof – up to a point.
The Adventure’s sophistication continues. The 6.5in TFT dash is one of the best I’ve ever used, hugely informative yet simple and easy to read. Touches like the adaptive redline, which, like the ground-breaking HP2, moves up the rev range as the engine temperature rises, make this bike feel special.
The GS remains the king of comfort, too, and with big miles to chew was every tester’s first choice. That 30-litre tank and frugal engine allow 250 miles between stops, or over 300 if ridden carefully. Flick on the cruise control, manually adjust the large screen, sit back and enjoy the ride.
The sense of enormity created by the fuel tank and the boxer’s girth are amplified by the prominent crash bars, a constant reminder that the GS is not a bike for darting around town. Despite being the heaviest bike here, it doesn’t feel it as the weight is carried low in the chassis. But for shorter riders like me, the GS was the hardest to live with on a daily basis, and though the drivetrain updates carried over from the 2017 R1200GS have resulted in a smoother shaft drive and gearbox, the changes weren’t as slick as I expected.
‘It’s idiot-proof – it just glides along effortlessly’
Everyone wanted the big Beemer for eating up the road miles