BMW R1200GS Exclusive
From Sunday blast to byway to trackday to continental tour, our GS has crammed a lot into seven (alright, eight) days
Sunday 85 miles
Meet up with mate Ben and his BMW Rninet for a 90-minute B-road blast, slicing slickly through Lincolnshire, Leicester and Rutland like a synchronised Boxer display team, before rewarding our derring-do with a lunchtime fry-up. Set to Dynamic mode, the GS is huge fun to throw about, surprisingly fast and the two-way quickshifter feels far slicker when the motor’s used harder.
After parting ways with Ben, I pick up an easy byway home. Swap to Enduro mode, stand up on the pegs and cruise along in second gear, clonking gently over the potholes, crunching over the dirt and gravel, then trundle on tickover past a herd of cows lying lazily across my path, who refuse to mooooove.
Monday 189 miles (274 total)
Set off at 6am for the two-hour ride to Mallory Park and a Bennetts customer trackday. In the pits, circuit prep goes like this: let 6psi out of the rear tyre; connect the red coding plug stashed under the seat to unlock the Dynamic Pro riding mode; wind the screen down as low as it goes; remove sat nav and topbox. Lining up for the noise test, onlookers’ sniggers drown out the modest 92db exhaust. I cautiously opt for the Intermediate group, given a) I’ve only ridden Mallory once before, more than 10 years ago and b) well, it’s a GS. But the BMW is a total dark horse – it holds confident kneedown lean round the fourth-gear Gerards, changes direction sweetly at speed through Lake Esses, then stops SPEC BMW R1200GS EXCLUSIVE £15,930 + 1170cc flat twin + 123bhp + 244kg + 20-litre tank + 850/870mm seat + Miles so far: 4202
with eye-popping force into the hairpin. The ABS and traction control are good enough to leave switched on and the GS finds itself passing other bikes a lot more often than it gets passed.
“Sniggers drown out the modest 92db”
Tuesday 42 miles (316 total)
Total change of pace as today the GS transforms into a workaday commuter. My daily 42-mile round trip is 50% flat, dull A-roads, 30% dual carriageway and 20% filtering through traffic. The GS makes easy work of all of it. On the open roads, it sits patiently and politely, with plenty of midrange in reserve for smooth, swift overtakes. In busier stuff, it’s well-balanced and obedient, with a light
clutch and perfect low-speed manners. It’s a bit wide for dealing with really fiddly gridlock – I could definitely nip past faster if I was riding something smaller – but that’s the GS’S only shortcoming. Sandwiches and shoes stay dry in the waterproof topbox, the motor averages an affordable 50mpg in daily use and shaftdrive frees me from the weekly tedium of chain lube and spanners.
Wednesday 177 miles (493 total)
After work I fit the three-piece BMW Vario luggage, filled to the brim with clothes, waterproofs, spare gloves and visors, an emergency hi-vis vest and my passport, then head for a hotel near Folkestone. The extra weight is detected by the snazzy new-for-2017 self-levelling shock, which responds by automatically adding preload
to compensate. Utterly, effortlessly, fantastically ingenious.
The three-hour ride becomes a four-hour ride when the M20 is shut. A diversion up to the M2 and back down again gives the sun time to set. When I arrive after 11pm it’s cold and dark and I should be feeling pretty grumpy about everything - but the GS is a great big comfort blanket, a sponge soaking up all these problems. Heated grips defeat the chill, the tank range is enough to manage the trip without stopping and that superb LED headlight floods the night with crisp bright white. Board the Eurotunnel just after 7am, then pick up the péage from Calais past Reims, Metz and make Germany by early afternoon. Then it’s Autobahn 8 from Karlsruhe, past Stuttgart and Ulm. I’d expected the autobahn to be a haven of perfect progress, with no speed limits and faultless manners. But it’s all roadworks and stationary traffic for mile after painful mile and on the brief squirts of movement, the lane discipline is just as bad as it is at home. On the GS’S dash, I watch the air-temperature reading build to a choking 37°C. But the bike itself keeps its cool, comfortably outlasting me: several times I have to stop long before the fuel light comes on, just to guzzle bottles of water.
Towards the end of the day, the autobahn finally fulfills its promise of empty, limit-free lanes. At 110mph, the GS’S bars start to shimmy gently under the bike’s extra load, but things stay solid enough to hold on for 137mph on the sat nav, with revs to spare.
Friday 96 miles (1159 total)
Another hour takes me to Munich, home of the exceptional BMW Museum. Two hours is all I have time for, which isn’t nearly enough – I could spend all day there. Looking at the original R32 and the Dakar Rally boxer reminds me of the GS’S heritage, but the raw awe of an HP2 Enduro tells me it’s definitely time BMW made a pukka, hardcore, off-roadable variant of the GS today.
Another hour south of Munich is Garmisch-partenkirchen and the 2017 Motorrad Days festival. I park the bike at the hotel and take a cab up to the site. I head into the infamous Party Tent where I consume my bodyweight in beer and grilled chicken, then shout along to the band banging out the best (and worst) of the 1980s at ear-splitting volume.
Saturday 60 miles (1219 total)
Wake up feeling decidedly delicate. But I don’t want to miss the chance to see some of the area – Garmisch nestles in the middle of the stunning mountains and forests of the Bavarian Alps and it’d be a crime to let this scenery pass me by. I leave it until noon, then climb back onto the GS and cross the border into Austria, stumbling across the breathtaking Plansee lake. I’ve never seen water like it – up close it’s crystal clear but from a slight distance it’s a vibrant, almost fluorescent turquoise.
I complete a loop back to Garmisch on a different set of roads and head up to the Motorrad Days site to explore the exhibitor stands, custom bikes and stunt shows. I stay away from the Party Tent. Until the evening.
Sunday 808 miles (2027 total)
On the bike at 7:30am with sat nav set for home. It leads me on the same road into Austria I took yesterday, which is a treat to repeat. But after that it’s just relentless, repetitive motorway again – up to Ulm, past Stuttgart and back into France, stopping only for petrol, sustenance and waterproofs. After 12 hours and 640 miles I’m back at Calais, boarding the Eurotunnel. I’m fairly tired but not outrageously achey – an enormous testament to the GS’S well-balanced riding position and plush seat. I don’t know that I’ve ever covered ground so easily on two wheels before.
The last blast home from Folkestone should be an easy cruise but the traffic gods have stopped smiling. First there’s an accident on the M20, then another on the A2, so I find a backroad route to the Dartford Crossing… which is stationary. I filter through and get on the M11… which is promptly shut. After the highway wombles have shuffled some cones around, they send me off into Harlow with no further help. More backroad nose-following finally gets me back on track, and I eventually reach home just before midnight, head gently spinning. There aren’t many bikes that could handle an 800-mile day with such grace and fewer still that could lap up the huge range of riding it’s faced in the past eight days.
“I park the bike and take a cab to the site”
Meeting the GS’S great-great-greatgreat-grandfather at the BMW Museum
Unfortunately, it was the closed season for oompahband hunting Sat nav picks a route past the stunning Plansee lake in Austria
MFG heads home cross country. The self-levelling suspension compensates for the lunchtime fry-up
“In 200 yards, you have reached your dairy station...”
Motorrad Days is a long way from home but a very worthwhile journey
“Yeah, I’m sure I parked it in here. Somewhere...”
Oh, the joys of the péage toll faff...
Knee down? No bother. The GS gets to show off its surprisingly sporty side at Mallory Park
MFG deals with traffic hold ups in a cool, relaxed way
The GS works for work as well, making an easy daily commuter