For the last 14 years, the BMW R 1200 GS has been racking up impressive sales figures for the German company. The go-anywhere nature of the bike is what appeals to buyers. Even if a large portion of them never venture off-road, the mere idea that you can, sealed many deals on BMW showroom floors. The last upgrade to the 1200 was a minor tweak and that signalled the end of the R 1200 GS model. As it took its final bow last year, BMW readied the all new R 1250 GS.
BMW endowed the 35 year old boxer engine with a new lease of life by increasing the capacity to 1254 cc and adding their new ShiftCam technology. This system has two separate cam profiles and depending on the load, switches between the two. This gives the bike smoother engine power in the lower rev-range while improving emission and fuel consumption levels. To give us all a taste of the new bike, we went down to the beautiful Kwa-Zulu Natal for a two-day riding experience.
The first day I was on the 1250 GS Adventure. The GS Adventure is a big bike. The tank holds 10 litres more than the standard bike and the addition of crash-bars and a larger screen makes the bike look even more imposing. The brand new TFT display took centre stage. I never fancied the 1200’s dash, so to see a full colour screen got a thumbs up from me. The TFT can connect to your phone and other Bluetooth devices and you can control most of the bike’s settings from the multi-controller on the left handlebar. The system is intuitive and easy to operate. The bike has two riding modes, Stability control and Hill Start control as standard.
Once on the move, the Adventure’s size seemed to shrink as the day progressed. Two-thirds of our route consisted of beautiful gravel roads and this is where this bike belongs. With all the electronic aids the bike inspired a lot of confidence. The power has been upped to 100 kW and the delivery is just relentless. Traditionally you don’t touch your front brakes on gravel, but with the Enduro Pro riding mode switched on, you can grab a handful of front brakes and the bike will come to a controlled and stable stop. The electronics on the 1250 has raised the bar even further now.
The next day, I was on the Standard GS and the bike felt noticeably smaller than its sibling. This was a good thing, as we tackled a fairly technical section with mud, rocks and steep gradients. The GS though, delivered me safely on the other side. On the winding gravel roads of Kwa-Zulu Natal I was reminded why this is such a popular bike.
The 1250 GS is a worthy successor to the 1200 GS. Your only decision will be between the Standard or Adventure. The bikes are so similar that I would have the Standard GS, but I would fit the larger screen of the Adventure. On this bike you don’t need a destination. You just need a direction. The prices range from R263 000 to R299 500 depending on model and trim.
Words: Brian Cheyne