BMW R1200GS Ex­clu­sive

From Sun­day blast to by­way to track­day to con­ti­nen­tal tour, our GS has crammed a lot into seven (al­right, eight) days

RiDE (UK) - - Contents - MARTIN FITZ-GIB­BONS

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

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