If there’s one motorbike that could possibly be described as really genre defining, then it will 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 powerful engine to the power to hold unattainable quantities of bags and travel monumental distance both on and off-road, the BMW has defined adventure motorcycling for nearly twenty years.
So, the strain on the designers again in Bavaria to take care of this enviable position is similarly monumental. While it’s ridiculous to recommend that that the German brand 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 is clearly a particularly competent and efficient machine and keep its position on the prime?
Step forward the bigger GS
The launch of the 2019 GS Journey came scorching on the heels of the standard GS, and with good cause. Gross sales of the 2 bikes are virtually similar, so to take care of the 2 choices for the tons of of hundreds of loyal and potential 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 within the altogether more agreeable setting of Almeria in the south of Spain. Blue skies, empty roads and a cool glass of Sangria at the finish of the day – it sounded good.
The first thing to note concerning the Journey is simply how a lot measurement and presence the large GS has. Even after you’ve adjusted yourself to the standard GS as being your benchmark, the Journey is that and more. From the huge 30-litre tank, the superbly crafted crash bars that wrap themselves across 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?’ while swinging a cue ball in a sock…
Select your weapon
There are two totally different contenders to check, and like the previous GS launch deep within the Welsh Valleys, there’s an apparent favourite. Within the purple corner we’ve got the Journey TE, completed in silver and gray with pink accent colours and black wheels – just about the entry degree machine though it did have options of the aluminium tank, an alarm and the ‘name 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 naturally, the all-important HP moniker in the aspect cowl. Adding in the identical alarm and Batphone-style emergency name trickery, there still solely an insignificant £300 between the 2 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 color options, graphics and the odd bit of plastic trim, all of which make a distinction, cosmetically the bikes are unchanged since last yr. And that’s principally true although the addition of the LED headlights and the TFT dashboard (more about that later) are vital inclusions that might have set you again the thick finish of a grand as aftermarket options on the 2018 mannequin. However the lack of modifications to the BMW’s bodywork are intentional, as what has actually modified for 2019, and what is the fundamental focus of the new bike, is the engine.
New engine tech
BMW has been utilizing the identical four-valve know-how in its bikes for over 1 / 4 of a decade. Yes, 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, but 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 come bang up-to-date with their Shift Cam system.
Now It will be straightforward to describe the brand new tech as merely variable valve timing, but to do so can be a disservice to the amount of labor that has gone into the motor. The brand new system varies not solely the timing of the inlet valves but in addition the size 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.
However the actual great thing about the new system is simply how easily the know-how manages the transition between the two states. When the bike is beneath low load, the valves are solely opening by a paltry 2mm, conserving the unleaded however nonetheless offering nice performance. Go past the 5,000 rev mark, or certainly simply crack open the throttle, and the hounds of hell are unleashed as those valves at the moment are opening an enormous 11mm to ship the complete gasoline load to those 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 an opportunity to open the faucets 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 capacity improve of some 84cc from 1170 to 1254, the brand new motor delivers a powerful 9% more power than the 1200 (now as much as 136 bhp) and maybe extra importantly, almost 15% extra torque. The change between the two cams is completely unnoticeable and, to be trustworthy, with such a shocking experience, you shortly cease making an attempt to notice. Quick corners might be devoured effortlessly, and lengthy straights turn into licence-threatening drag strips. Don’t get me flawed, it nonetheless looks like a boxer engine, just a actually, actually quick one.
Cockpit and controls
Onto the smaller roads away from the motorway, the slower speeds give a chance to evaluate the Journey’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 commonplace, displaying a clean arc rev counter over the central velocity show. Around the periphery, there’s a number of different information, from journey mode and kit chosen, to ambient temperature, journey meter and time.
In case you do need to range any of this, there’s a menu change and a straightforward to make use of thumb wheel on the left-hand bar that lets you scroll by way of options from connectivity to suspension set up. On the same left bar there’s also an analogue cruise management for straightforward switching in and out on long rides, and with a variety of around 400 miles in that tank, you’ll be able to have some very, very long rides!
The display is considerably greater than the stock GS and could be adjusted by turning the knob on the right-hand aspect. The larger 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 challenge but nonetheless there, particularly 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 may be linked into the display and managed by way of the thumbwheel. General, this is likely one of the greatest dashboards we’ve examined.
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 across the barrels, up to the radiator cowls and terminate just in front of the acquainted roundel on the aspect of the tank. At the rear, the sturdy frames are in place to carry the inevitable exhausting baggage that may accompany a superb proportion of the bikes bought.
The suspension is identical mixture of telelever at the entrance and paralever at the rear, which delivers a rock strong and dependable journey it doesn’t matter what you do to get it out of form. As we have been driving the TE variations of the bike, we had the added benefit of the Dynamic ESA suspension to maintain issues adjusted routinely on the fly in response to load, driving fashion and nearly every part else. As soon as set, that is very much a ‘change on and let the pc do its thing’ choice.
With ESA suspension controlling the springers, the BMW’s also received ASC, Automated Stability Management, which manages and optimises the traction and, a real bonus for such a physically massive bike, there’s a clever Hill Start Management perform as commonplace. Stop on anything more than a 5% gradient and the software program hits the anchors until you pull away, with out you bothering to the touch the brakes your self. It’d sound a tad Huge Brother, nevertheless it works nicely.
Positive tune the efficiency
As a further choice on the day, and obtainable as an aftermarket add on, there is a plug in that goes underneath the seat that accesses the Professional driving modes, with Dynamic Traction Management, ABS Pro, Hill Start Pro, and a configurable Dynamic Professional driving mode that lets you fine-tune every facet of the bike’s efficiency via the TFT display and the thumbwheel. With limited time on the bike, we didn’t even scratch the floor of what you are able to do with this degree of tech, however in case you purchase the GS Adventure, there are countless days of joyful fiddling to look ahead to.
For both this bike and the inventory GS, BMW has modified brake provider, electing to go together with American company Hayes, higher recognized for its mountain bike brakes, for the BMW branded radially mounted front calipers. The change could be extra comprehensible if they’d completely outsourced the brakes to Hayes, however the rear brakes stay Brembo and the curves of the Italian models look mismatched to the blocky American-made calipers up entrance. Each work faultlessly with loads of feel on the lever and pedal whether or not on or off-road, however the mixture of suppliers and design seems anathema to the anticipated Germanic logic.
Good street manners
Again to the driving and the run in the direction of the lunch stop was affected by sluggish hairpins and brief point and squirt straights. The GSA responds with confidence inspiring suggestions 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 position and low centre of gravity signifies that even when you do go in too scorching, the bike will clean things out and get the job finished without drama. Although an adventure bike, using the 19” front and 17” rear helps here and retains the stability in the direction of street manners fairly than sacrificing stability for off-road heroics.
We stopped for a break from the noon solar on the sweeping Circuito de Almeria, where a procession of leather-clad heroes have been carving their means around the sweeping curves and flat-out straights of the race monitor. Wanting around the pit garages, it was an fascinating comparability between the glossy and slippery race bikes and the brutalist architecture of the GSA. Subsequent to an S1000RR, the divergence in the type and performance of the 2 BMWs is stark, but both of them are each on the prime of their recreation – that’s a reasonably spectacular achievement.
Hitting the trails
As 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 appropriate set of Pirelli Scorpion Rally for our foray into the tender and sandy trails traversing the centre of the extensive Almerian valley. With the motor clicked into enduro driving mode, the rear ABS switched off and the rear brake pedal swapped to the raised position, the GS and I are shortly in our joyful place and completely enjoying each other’s firm.
The dynamic suspension smooths out the rough stuff as greatest it will probably and permits the Journey to cover the panorama effortlessly. On the trail, the motor is operating the decrease cams most of the time to ship caramel clean energy but give it a handful and the bike will mild up the rear wheel immediately and rocket you forward in a shower of Spanish gravel.
You’ll be able to undoubtedly really feel that the front is a tad less secure than if there were a 21-inch wheel there, however it’s really just a case of creating an adjustment in the trickier stuff to keep things 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 adventure range typically head for the smaller bikes, but the stability of the larger machines is arguably much better. Both means, the vast pegs grip nicely, and the traditionally broad GS bars make piloting the BMW off-road an entire hoot – something this huge actually shouldn’t be this fun! You’ll be able to trickle by means of the nadgery sections with virtually trials-like precision and as soon as the paths open up, set the throttle to warp velocity and let the Adventure do what it does greatest.
The new boss – the BMW R 1250 GS Adventure
Heading again to the lodge by way of a collection of trails after which onto the sun-baked roads, the GSA continued to point out simply how good at both 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 nearly every little thing you need it to and do it properly. In case you are a quick rider, it should reward with rock-solid dealing with, large power and impeccable street holding. In case you are glad to cruise and benefit from the journey at a more modest tempo, then the snug driving position and clean power supply of the GSA will cosset you all day with a smile in your face. And if you want to take it off -road, the new 1250 takes issues to the subsequent degree.
So, is the 2019 GS Adventure worthy to proceed the brand’s hard-fought dynasty? Hell yes.
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