The wait is over. After years of hand-wringing by the Bavarian faithful, months of rampant speculation and numerous leaked spy shots, the all-new BMW R 1200 GS has been officially unveiled at the International Motorcycle, Scooter and Bicycle Fair—better known as Intermot—in Cologne, Germany.
It has been nine years since BMW gave its top-dog GS a major overhaul, and in that time the R 1200 GS has faced serious competition from new entrants to the adventure-touring scene, such as the Ducati Multistrada 1200, Yamaha Super Ténéré and Triumph Tiger Explorer. As a market segment leader and BMW’s top-selling model, reinventing the R 1200 GS was no small feat. BMW had to bring the bike to the forefront of performance and innovation without alienating the thousands of diehard GS owners (more than 170,000 R/GS units have been sold since 1980).
The most radical change is the introduction of liquid cooling for the venerable boxer engine. Whereas the previous engine was air/oil-cooled, the new engine is air/liquid-cooled, where the liquid is a glycol/water mixture. It employs “precision cooling” that applies liquid cooling only to those parts of the engine exposed to the most severe thermal stress, while retaining air cooling for other parts of the engine and preserving the iconic look of the boxer engine. Two radiators have been added, but they are small and well hidden.
Despite rumors of a 1,250cc GS, displacement remains the same at 1,170cc, though overall the engine appears more compact. The cylinder head’s through-flow is now vertical instead of horizontal for improved filling, and a new intake system uses 52mm throttle bodies. The vertically separated case uses open deck construction, and the engine housing integrates the 6-speed transmission with a wet slipper clutch instead of the previous dry clutch. The single-sided swingarm with cardan shaft drive is now on the left side of the motorcycle. BMW claims output of 125 horsepower at 7,700 rpm and 92 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm—significant increases over the previous model (110 horsepower and 88 lb-ft).
The new R 1200 GS gets E-gas (throttle-by-wire), optional electronic cruise control and multiple riding modes, like the K 1600 GT/GTL. Integrated with optional ASC (traction control) and standard ABS, the five riding modes are Rain, Road, Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro.
Debuting on the S 1000 RR HP4, the R 1200 GS also offers optional BMW Motorrad Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), a semi-active suspension system that also integrates with the riding modes. Based on inputs from sensors for the front/rear wheels and front/rear shock springs as well as other parameters, Dynamic ESA automatically adjusts front and rear damping via electrically control valves.
An all-new tubular steel bridge frame with bolt-on rear subframe is said to offer increased torsional stiffness. The front Telelever and rear EVO Paralever have also been redesigned, with revised chassis geometry and a longer swingarm for better traction. Tire sizes are now 120/70-R19 (front) and 170/60-R17 (rear). The front brake calipers are now radially mounted Brembo Monobloc units, with a single rear disc brake as before.
Other new features include an LED headlight with an optional daytime running light, a new vehicle power system adapted from the K 1600 GT/GTL, and instead of a single control unit for the CAN bus and LIN bus, there are now two. Like other BMW models, the GS gets a Multi-Controller, a dial just inside the left hand grip that operates the optional BMW Motorrad Navigator IV GPS unit. A new instrument cluster includes a standard onboard computer (PRO computer is optional), a more aerodynamic windscreen can be manually adjusted with one hand, bodywork is more aggressive, ground clearance has increased by 8mm and ergonomics have been optimized. The rider’s seat can be adjusted up/down, fore/aft and for tilt, the handlebar can be rotated upward, and accessories include high and low seats and adjustable footpegs and foot controls. BMW claims a ride-ready weight of 524 pounds, including ABS.
The new BMW R 1200 GS will be offered in Alpine White, Racing Red, Blue Fire and Thunder Grey Metallic. Pricing and availability are TBD.