UPDATE: Here’s my review on ADV Pulse!
I’ve said for years that if I was forced to only have one motorcycle, it would most likely be the newest BMW R-GS that I could afford. I will admit that I’ve had some reservations about my opinion as the big GSes have been getting way more complicated from a technological standpoint over the years – it’s easy for me to recommend a bike when I get a brand new example for a month, but I’m not dealing with long term maintenance or the replacement cost of a full TFT dashboard out of warranty.
The current GS is a little boring compared to the Ducati Multistrada, and it’s not as good in the dirt as what KTM or Honda have to offer. Still, my preferred style of riding is long distance touring with a little bit of dirt (like my trip from Los Angeles to the top of Alaska on back on my personal BMW R1150GS), and while there’s plenty of big ADV bikes from just about every manufacturer nowadays, my first choice would be the R1200GS. But this week, I’m getting the chance to ride the soon-to-be-released BMW R1250GS, and I’ll be reviewing it for ADV Pulse. What would you like to know about it?
Cosmetically, the bike looks very similar to the outgoing model. The big difference is the motor, which gets a 84cc displacement bump that translates to an extra 11 horsepower and 13 pound-feet of torque. The output bump comes from BMW’s first application of variable valve timing. They call it “ShiftCam”, and the idea is that you can have one cam profile at low throttle inputs for better throttle response and gas mileage and another cam profile for maximum power. For more details, check out this technical profile from Kevin Cameron over at Cycle World. Or, check out the video below from BMW for a simplistic overview. I like to make fun of manufacturers because it seems like they feel obligated to release multiple videos with every new bike launch just for the sake of putting stuff on YouTube, even though the videos usually do nothing to help a consumer understand a bike better. This video is a rare exception:
Seat height (Standard/Lowered Suspension):
Black Storm, Cosmetic Blue, HP, Exclusive
1,254cc flat twin
136 at 7,750 rpm
105 at 6,250 rpm
Paralever with preload and rebound adjustability
305mm floating double discs
276mm floating single disc
Standard, can be switched off
33.5 inches/31.5 inches
Here’s a minute-long teaser of the new bike, which gives a quick peek of the “Style HP” and “Exclusive” packages as well as the TFT dash. There’s so much going on with the dash that if you’re really interested in it, you should just go directly to BMW because a screenshot or two won’t be enough for right now:
The “Style HP Package” includes the red/white/blue livery (obviously, the best looking one), gold spoked wheels, a black engine, shorter windscreen, bench seat, and optional longer-travel suspension. Presumably, it’s trying to give more of an off-road vibe.
The “Exclusive Package” has a black and gold livery, black engine, and cast wheels. It’s more of a touring option for people that aren’t as interested in leaving the pavement.
Of course, there will also be an Adventure model, which adds crash protection (upper radiator/cylinder heads, radiator cowl, and oil intake snorkel cover) as well as a larger fuel tank (7.9 gallons versus 5.3). The Adventure model starts at $19,945, and it will be available in Ice Grey, Kalamata Metallic Matte (Exclusive Style), and Light White/Racing Blue Metallic/Racing Red (HP Style).
My gut reaction is that the ShiftCam setup isn’t worth the additional power. The previous gen of the GS had more than enough grunt, and the new system is going to be more complex and expensive to maintain. Maybe it was what BMW needed to meet increasingly stringent emissions requirements (and there are always going to be people that want more power) but I’d personally rather see a reduction in weight than an increase in power. The new bike is 11 pounds heavier than the model it replaces.
Photos from BMW.