If there’s one motorbike that might be described as really style defining, then it might be the BMW GS Adventure. While nearly every other producer might now supply various interpretations, the mighty GS remains the blueprint for a way an adventure motorbike ought to be put collectively. From the aggressive styling and the massively highly effective engine to the power to carry unattainable quantities of bags and journey monumental distance both on and off-road, the BMW has defined journey motorcycling for nearly twenty years.
So, the strain on the designers back in Bavaria to take care of this enviable position is equally monumental. While it’s ridiculous to recommend that that the German model might lose its dominance overnight, there’s nonetheless a heavy burden of expectation each time the subsequent era of the GSA is revealed. Can BMW hold enhancing what’s clearly a particularly competent and effective machine and keep its place at the prime?
Step ahead the bigger GS
The launch of the 2019 GS Adventure got here scorching on the heels of the usual GS, and with good cause. Gross sales of the 2 bikes are virtually similar, so to take care of the 2 options for the a whole lot of hundreds of loyal and prospective consumers the world over is essential. Just a month or so after BMW had entertained Europe’s motorcycling press in sunny Portugal (and the UK press in considerably cooler and wetter South Wales), we have been invited to pattern the delights of the brand new GSA in the altogether extra agreeable setting of Almeria within the south of Spain. Blue skies, empty roads and a cool glass of Sangria on the end of the day – it sounded good.
The very first thing to notice concerning the Adventure is simply how a lot measurement and presence the large GS has. Even after you’ve adjusted your self to the usual GS as being your benchmark, the Adventure is that and extra. From the huge 30-litre tank, the superbly crafted crash bars that wrap themselves around the flanks of the bike to the long-lasting beak thrusting forward, this machine has some critical angle. Assume Ray Winstone screaming ‘Who’s the Daddy?’ whereas swinging a cue ball in a sock…
Select your weapon
There are two totally different contenders to check, and like the earlier GS launch deep within the Welsh Valleys, there’s an obvious favorite. Within the pink corner we now have the Adventure TE, finished in silver and gray with purple accent colours and black wheels – just about the entry degree machine although it did have choices of the aluminium tank, an alarm and the ‘call an engineer’ button on the right-hand bar. Within the blue nook, it’s the completely beautiful Rallye TE variant, dripping with racing cool from the huge GS emblem and the white, pink and blue livery to the white handguards, white body, gold wheels, and of course, the all-important HP moniker within the aspect cowl. Including in the same alarm and Batphone-style emergency name trickery, there nonetheless only an insignificant £300 between the two bikes. Which one would you decide?
But in fact, the more observant BMW aficionados on the market will level out that apart from slight variations in colour choices, graphics and the odd little bit of plastic trim, all of which make a distinction, cosmetically the bikes are unchanged since last yr. And that’s principally true though the addition of the LED headlights and the TFT dashboard (extra about that later) are vital inclusions that might have set you again the thick finish of a grand as aftermarket options on the 2018 model. But the lack of modifications to the BMW’s bodywork are intentional, as what has really changed for 2019, and what is the principal focus of the brand new bike, is the engine.
New engine tech
BMW has been utilizing the identical four-valve know-how in its bikes for over a quarter of a decade. Sure, there might have been gradual improvement of the boxer engine through the years, from the introduction of water cooling and gasoline injection to the inclusion of polar-bear-friendly catalytic converters, however primarily the core of the motor has remained unchanged. However, for 2019, the engineers have thrown the infant out with the bathwater, ditched the previous engine and are available bang up-to-date with their Shift Cam system.
Now It will be straightforward to explain the brand new tech as merely variable valve timing, however to do so can be a disservice to the quantity of labor that has gone into the motor. The brand new system varies not only the timing of the inlet valves but in addition the length of the stroke; in addition, the 2 valves open asynchronously (not in co-ordination with one another) to create a swirl of gasoline inside the chamber and hence optimise combustion. If this all sounds too difficult, then it’s value testing BMW’s useful video on YouTube.
But the actual great thing about the new system is simply how smoothly the know-how manages the transition between the two states. When the bike is beneath low load, the valves are only opening by a paltry 2mm, conserving the unleaded however still providing nice performance. Go past the 5,000 rev mark, or indeed just crack open the throttle, and the hounds of hell are unleashed as these valves at the moment are opening an enormous 11mm to ship the complete gasoline load to these two large cylinders.
Ok, so how does this know-how truly really feel on the new GSA – can the Adventure’s imposing dimensions deal with this improve in the motor? Grabbing the Rallye mannequin as the apparent bike of selection, I head out of the confines of the golf resort onto a small stretch of motorway and right away it’s a chance to open the taps and spin up the motor. And it’s a very life-affirming and grin-inducing experience as the BMW surges forward deliciously.
With not only the Shift Cam system but in addition a capability improve of some 84cc from 1170 to 1254, the brand new motor delivers a powerful 9% more power than the 1200 (now up to 136 bhp) and maybe more importantly, almost 15% more torque. The change between the two cams is completely unnoticeable and, to be trustworthy, with such a shocking journey, you shortly stop making an attempt to notice. Quick corners might be devoured effortlessly, and lengthy straights turn into licence-threatening drag strips. Don’t get me incorrect, it nonetheless looks like a boxer engine, only a really, really quick one.
Cockpit and controls
Onto the smaller roads away from the motorway, the slower speeds give a chance to assess the Adventure’s cockpit and controls and as with the previous GS, it’s a nice place to be. Central to the fairing is the big and fantastically clear 6.5” TFT dashboard, now fitted as normal, displaying a clean arc rev counter over the central velocity show. Across the periphery, there’s a choice of different information, from experience mode and kit chosen, to ambient temperature, trip meter and time.
When you do need to differ any of this, there’s a menu change and a straightforward to use thumb wheel on the left-hand bar that lets you scroll by means of choices from connectivity to suspension arrange. On the same left bar there’s additionally an analogue cruise management for straightforward switching in and out on lengthy rides, and with a variety of round 400 miles in that tank, you possibly can have some very, very lengthy rides!
The display is substantially greater than the inventory GS and may be adjusted by turning the knob on the right-hand aspect. The bigger measurement signifies that it isn’t as strong as you may wish, and there is a little bit of a shake happening – not a serious concern but nonetheless there, especially when it’s on the very best setting. There’s a frame between the display and the TFT unit where the SatNav mounts, and this can be linked into the show and managed by way of the thumbwheel. General, this is among the greatest dashboards we’ve tested.
When it comes to the chassis, the 1250 is unchanged from the 1200, with a steel trellis wrapping across the motor and a separate subframe picked out in black stretching out in the direction of the rear of the machine. The crash bars snake around the barrels, up to the radiator cowls and terminate just in front of the familiar roundel on the aspect of the tank. At the rear, the sturdy frames are in place to hold the inevitable exhausting baggage that may accompany a very good proportion of the bikes bought.
The suspension is identical combination of telelever on the front and paralever on the rear, which delivers a rock strong and reliable experience it doesn’t matter what you do to get it out of practice. As we have been driving the TE variations of the bike, we had the added advantage of the Dynamic ESA suspension to keep things adjusted mechanically on the fly based on load, driving type and nearly every part else. As soon as set, that is very a lot a ‘switch on and let the computer do its thing’ choice.
With ESA suspension controlling the springers, the BMW’s additionally received ASC, Automated Stability Control, which manages and optimises the traction and, an actual bonus for such a bodily huge bike, there’s a intelligent Hill Begin Management perform as normal. Cease on anything greater than a 5% gradient and the software hits the anchors until you pull away, with out you bothering to the touch the brakes yourself. It’d sound a tad Massive Brother, however it works nicely.
Positive tune the performance
As a further choice on the day, and obtainable as an aftermarket add on, there is a plug in that goes beneath the seat that accesses the Pro driving modes, with Dynamic Traction Management, ABS Pro, Hill Begin Pro, and a configurable Dynamic Pro driving mode that permits you to fine-tune every facet of the bike’s performance by way of the TFT display and the thumbwheel. With limited time on the bike, we didn’t even scratch the surface of what you can do with this degree of tech, but should you buy the GS Adventure, there are infinite days of joyful fiddling to sit up for.
For each this bike and the inventory GS, BMW has changed brake provider, electing to go together with American firm Hayes, higher recognized for its mountain bike brakes, for the BMW branded radially mounted entrance calipers. The change is perhaps extra understandable in the event that they’d completely outsourced the brakes to Hayes, however the rear brakes remain Brembo and the curves of the Italian models look mismatched to the blocky American-made calipers up front. Each work faultlessly with loads of feel at the lever and pedal whether or not on or off-road, however the mix of suppliers and design appears anathema to the anticipated Germanic logic.
Good street manners
Again to the driving and the run in the direction of the lunch cease was suffering from sluggish hairpins and brief point and squirt straights. The GSA responds with confidence inspiring feedback from the suspension and with the huge torque of the engine, the bike will pull from low revs in no matter gear you chose. The ABS keeps heavy braking underneath management, and the impartial driving place and low centre of gravity signifies that even for those who do go in too scorching, the bike will clean issues out and get the job executed without drama. Although an adventure bike, using the 19” entrance and 17” rear helps right here and retains the stability in the direction of street manners moderately than sacrificing stability for off-road heroics.
We stopped for a break from the midday solar on the sweeping Circuito de Almeria, the place a procession of leather-clad heroes have been carving their method round the sweeping curves and flat-out straights of the race monitor. Wanting around the pit garages, it was an fascinating comparison between the glossy and slippery race bikes and the brutalist structure of the GSA. Subsequent to an S1000RR, the divergence in the type and performance of the 2 BMWs is stark, yet both of them are both on the prime of their recreation – that’s a reasonably spectacular achievement.
Hitting the paths
Because the bikes have been operating street rubber for the morning, the identical pit garages have been pressed into use by our hosts to swap over the tyres to some much more suitable set of Pirelli Scorpion Rally for our foray into the tender and sandy trails traversing the centre of the vast Almerian valley. With the motor clicked into enduro driving mode, the rear ABS switched off and the rear brake pedal swapped to the raised place, the GS and I are shortly in our completely satisfied place and completely having fun with each other’s firm.
The dynamic suspension smooths out the tough stuff as greatest it may and allows the Adventure to cover the panorama effortlessly. On the trail, the motor is operating the lower cams more often than not to ship caramel clean power however give it a handful and the bike will mild up the rear wheel immediately and rocket you forward in a bathe of Spanish gravel.
You possibly can undoubtedly feel that the entrance is a tad less secure than if there were a 21-inch wheel there, nevertheless it’s really just a case of creating an adjustment within the trickier stuff to maintain issues planted. The size between the seat, pegs and bars make the transition from seated to standing very straightforward and, as soon as stood up, the stability of the bike is faultless.
Newbies to the BMW journey range typically head for the smaller bikes, but the stability of the larger machines is arguably much better. Both approach, the vast pegs grip properly, and the traditionally vast GS bars make piloting the BMW off-road an entire hoot – one thing this massive really shouldn’t be this enjoyable! You possibly can trickle via the nadgery sections with virtually trials-like precision and as soon as the trails open up, set the throttle to warp velocity and let the Adventure do what it does greatest.
The brand new boss – the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure
Heading again to the lodge by means of a collection of trails after which onto the sun-baked roads, the GSA continued to point out simply how good at each environments it really is, and just why this bike has bought in such prodigious volumes and evokes virtually spiritual loyalty. From weekend bimbles to genuine trans-global adventures, the Adventure will do just about every thing you want it to and do it properly. In case you are a quick rider, it can reward with rock-solid handling, large power and impeccable street holding. In case you are completely satisfied to cruise and enjoy the experience at a extra modest pace, then the snug driving place and clean energy delivery of the GSA will cosset you all day with a smile in your face. And if you want to take it off -road, the brand new 1250 takes issues to the subsequent degree.
So, is the 2019 GS Adventure worthy to continue the model’s hard-fought dynasty? Hell yes.