BOUND FOR SUCCESS
BMW invented the two-cylinder Enduro in 1980. Since then 170,000 GS's have been built. The new model must now inscribe this tradition of success on the future. Will it succeed?
Anyone who knows the R 1150 GS will notice at the first twist of the throttle that the new motor is different. The deep exhaust note, the willingness to start easily and the absence of torque reaction from the motor are all changed from before.The macho Boxer, 1150 cm big, 85 HP strong - past its expiration date! The best-selling motorcycle in Germany - obsolete!
The future began three years ago, when BMW accepted that the GS needed a thorough and comprehensive revision or revolution, to put it better. The new bike should be 30 kilos lighter, much more powerful and run more smoothly, a move away from the usual adventure-travel enduro towards more sporty off-road bike, with a shot of Supermoto thrown in. A countermove to KTM's 950 Adventure that also makes a little more distance between the GS and the upstart Honda Varadero and the Suzuki V-Strom. And this all needs to be done without sacrificing BMW's typical attributes of Safety, travelworthiness and long lifespan. A task fit for Hercules, and one that necessitated a completely new model.
Now it has come to pass. The world motorcycle press, assembled in South Africa, were collectively astonished by the more athletic lines of the 1200 GS, as well as the more than 100 horsepower, 115 NewtonMeters of torque, and the 225 kilogram weight, with a full 20 liter tank of fuel. And they were delighted that the new Boxer has gotten such a tune-up! At 1500 rpm the bike pulls steadfastly and starts to shove you forward emphatically. Around 5,000 rpms it still runs strongly, with a bit of clatter, but is noticeably smoother again as it pulls through 6,000 rpm, and spins willingly again; it makes one want to take it all the way to the 8,000 rpm redline. It is agile and loves to rev, in a way that the old GS only achieved through a lot of tuning. No doubt, the new Boxer has plenty of punch!
It is true that the supersport V-twins from Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, KTM or Suzuki spin better to high rpms, but none of them pull so well from the bottom of the rev range.
The Boxer motor's biggest source of unpleasant roughness comes from the offset of the two conrodbearings, which produce an irritating vibration as displacement and rpms increase. The use of a balance shaft gives the big twin a smooth, cultivated character without taking away all engine vibration completely.
100 horsepower... (In Germany the production GS will have an insurance-friendly 98 horsepower) this figure seems true in relation to the old GS, and although noone has tried it with a crankshaft dyno, the riding impression gives us no reason to doubt it. It is truly a joy the way the GS flies through the gears, and now the rider can hear only the wind and the thump of the motor; they've finally taken the usual clunking out of the transmission. No more metallic crunch when downshifting or shifting through the gears under full throttle, not even when shifting into first gear from a standstill. Further, there is no longer any doubt whether or not you're in the next gear. The new transmission is worlds better than anything to come out of the BMW factory up to this point.
In spite of so much that is new and improved, the new 1200 GS retains the typical impressions of a GS... the tight turning radius, the low first gear, the comfortable saddle, the balance and the secure feeling that everything is under control The unique mixture of all of these characteristics has even been amplified in the new GS. It is not just the new drivetrain that makes the difference; the whole motorcycle behaves like a real, human boxer, who has been on a diet to make the next lower weight class. He is still the same person, but thanks to the slimming down, has gained in speed and punching power. The 30 kilo weight reduction is not just a topic for academic discussion or bench-racing. It is noticeable when riding, especially when maneuvering the bike around at low speeds.
The slimmer and better proportioned shape of the tank and a narrower handlebar were the starting point for a completely new revision of the seating position. The narrow "waist" of the bike makes it possible to touch the ground with your feet in spite of the seat height. Because the motorcycle has gotten narrower, the footrests can be positioned lower, and even provide increased cornering clearance. The lower footrests offer a very comfortable bend at the knee. The narrower handlebars did not bother anyone. To the contrary, turning with the bars has become easier.
With these ergonomics, it is possible to combine the requirements of the chassis dynamics with the desire for comfort. Not to forget also that the windshield produces noticeably less turbulence at higher speeds, and the shocks, though tuned for springing and damping in a stiff sport mode, are still happy to swallow any bumps. At the rear a propgressive rate suspension system keeps the bike from bottoming under the highest loads.
The powerful braking system with Integral ABS and lightly modified electrohydraulic servo system is about the only area where the advances of the R 1200 GS are only noticeable in a back-to-back comparison with the R 1150 GS. In all other areas the new GS is a powerful leap forward. Thus the history of success will continue onwards. Our hats are off to BMW!
Translated by Kari Prager with help from Anton Oenning.
This is translated for fun and interest of BMW enthusiasts. It may not be used in
any commercial manner.