RIDING DIFFERENT BIKES. RACING SOME
The BMW R 1250 GS Adventure. It sounds big and it is big. And the experience while riding this machine is even bigger than the reputation of the machine itself. Said by a die-hard sports bike rider!
When I think of ‘big motorcycles’ I always thought of heave race bikes. Those fast, 1000 cc lap time slayers. But this bike adventure bike casts a shadow over those heave sports bikes. When it comes to size at least. But how does it ride? I tell you everything in this review about my experience with riding the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure for a full week.
The GS is waiting for me when I arrive at the BMW Fleet Services in Berkel and Rodenrijs. It stands tall next to many other iconic motorcycles of the brand. This of the new R18 cruiser, but also of the S 1000 RR. And the newer and even lighter M 1000 RR. Being a fanatic sports bike fan, those bikes make my heart skip a beat. But none of those lightweight race bikes come home with me. I get the keys of the BMW GS. “You’ll be fine, I assume?” says the lovely lady who helped me with the paperwork. “Ehm, yes. I think so” I say bravely, but with a bit of doubt.
I have to roll the bike back and forth a few times and then make a tight turn to the right to ride the BMW out of the Fleet Service garage. ‘Roll it back and forth a few times’ might be easy for the average motorcyclist. But it becomes quite a challenge when you can’t flat foot this bike. Balancing all that weight when you stand next to it, is also a different thing compared to handling my sports bike. So even if I can’t reach the ground with both feet, I decide to stay on the bike and to hop from one foot and butt cheek to the other. A few minutes and a pair of sweaty hands later, I ride out of the garage. “Phew!” I sigh with relief. Baby steps, ladies and gents!
It takes a bit of time to get used to this big motorcycle. But one thing immediately stands out; this motorcycle demands respect. Not just due to its size, but also by the way it handles. It feels light, smooth and very agile. I didn’t expect that. Yes, this motorcycle was made for adventure and doesn’t shy away from some off-road riding. A certain level of agileness comes in handy in those riding conditions. But still it surprised me. And riding this bike feels very comfortable. Not “King of the Road”-comfy. No, “I feel almighty and I can take on the world”-comfy. It’s like nothing can stop this bike.
The impressive amount of lighting also adds to that feeling. Cars quickly change lanes when you ride up to them, especially while riding in the twilight or in the dark. This motorcycle doesn’t just demands respect, but also claims its rightful space. Especially when you filter between traffic. I have to admit; I felt a bit nervous when lane splitting for the first time on this bike. I filter my narrow Suzuki GSX-R between traffic jams without any trouble. But maneuvering such a big bike like the BMW GS between cars is a different story. However, the GS surprised me again. Drivers seem to create space for you instantly. Some caution is still required, of course.
The BMW GS is the most rented motorcycle at MotoShare. And the BMW R 1250 GS is the best-selling motorcycle of the Netherlands in 2021. So it is a popular bike. And I slowly start to understand why. Besides the surprisingly easy handling and the high level of comfort, it also comes with lots of options and fancy tech. It is simply very complete. I rode the Adventure Rallye edition of the BMW GS. The biggest advantage of the Adventure edition? The larger fuel tank which offers storage for no less than 30 liters of petrol (that’s 10 liters more than the non-Adventure edition). So you’ve got enough petrol with you for hours of touring!
All those options and technical features ensure a very comfy ride. Think of cruise control, heated grips and even a heated passenger seat. But also lots of settings which can be fully personalized, the option to connect your phone to the TFT colour display and navigation preparation. Thinking of buying a brand new BMW GS? Then you can configure it completely to your own liking.
Sadly, there’s hardly any sunshine to be found during my rides on the GS. It’s chilly and rainy. But still I enjoy every seconds, thanks to the waterproof motorcycle clothing from RST, the tall windscreen and the heated grips. The throttle respons is quick, especially when set in Dynamic riding mode. The several different riding modes offer something for everyone. I skipped the Rain mode, but did test the Road and Dynamic mode. The Road mode is also very pleasant to use in rainy conditions. After a bit of fooling around I left it on Dynamic mode. When set to this riding mode, the GS shows its sporty character. And in my humble opinion, this mode shows the full potential of this bike.
I’m all smiles while riding this beastie. I enjoy a sporty riding style and was always a bit skeptical about adventure bikes. But I have to be honest; the BMW R 1250 is a true charmer. It slowly steals my heart. Comfort is great, but if motorcycling was about comfort for me, I wouldn’t ride sports bikes. For me, it’s all about working together. To wrestle a bit with the bike until you figure it all out and become some kind of super team together. And it all shouldn’t come too easy. Do you recognize that? Then you are guaranteed to have lots of fun with BMW GS.
In my case, the wrestling mostly comes down to the seat height and putting the bike upright. Getting on the bike isn’t the problem. But when you are shorter than 1.70m, it requires some dexterity to get the bike off its side stand when seated on the bike. I can’t reach the ground with both feet at standstill on the GS. So the ‘free-fall’ when hopping from one foot to the other feels a bit scary at first. The weight of a full fuel tank is a bit intimidating. But you get used to it. You could also lower the BMW R 1250 GS quite easily. I found out at the end of the week, just like when I rode the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport. By then, I was already used to the height and the size, so I didn’t change it. And secretly, I always think “It’s that tall for a reason”. The most ideal balance and geometry probably require that height. But it is possible to lower the bike to only 79 cm in seat height. Or raise the seat height up to 91 cm!
Riding different types of motorcycles is lots of fun and very educational. Still I always look forward to ride my sports bike again. This time, I forgot a bit about my sports bike. And I have to admit I had a hard time bringing the GS back to the BMW Fleet Services. The BMW GS gives such a complete riding experience that every motorcyclist is guaranteed to enjoy it. I wasn’t the only one at the MotoShare team who was sad to see the GS go. This impressive adventure bike sure made a big impression.
The BMW R 1250 GS Adventure is a huge motorcycle, especially for the average motorcyclist. Of course, BMW isn’t crazy. So they’ve packed the GS full with options for you to personalize it to your own preferences. Also when it comes to seat height. Basically, this bike has everything you could wish for. Think of lots of comfort and a very pleasant riding position for your body. Does that all make the BMW GS a bit dull? No. Riding the GS feels sporty. The quick throttle response, the special engine and the agility of the bike make this bike a very sporty motorcycle. I also secretly thought that the GS was a bike that you start to ride when you get older. For everyone who still thinks that; then you have something to look forward to. Because the BMW GS is everything but a ‘boring bike for old farts’.
Are you curious whether this motorcycle is a great match for you? You rent the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure here at a certified BMW dealer. Or rent the GS of a fellow motorcyclist. Go on a trip with this gentle giant. Get ready for miles of smiles!