Since returning from South Africa in January, where I was among the first wave of journalists at the world launch of BMW’s all-new, air/liquid-cooled R 1200 GS, I’ve had a jones to ride the bike again. As I wrote in my first-ride report, “The new, more highly evolved R 1200 GS is better in nearly every way, and in those ways in which it isn’t BMW left well enough alone.” We’re still anxiously awaiting the U.S. press launch, which usually involves a ride-away on a test bike. Of course, dealers and customers are also chomping at the bit to have the R 1200 GS arrive on our fair shores.
To help promote the new bike, BMW Motorrad launched the “One World. One R 1200 GS.” tour. Motorcyclists were invited to submit applications to participate in one of five tours—Laos, New Zealand, South Africa, USA and Europe—and the contestants were selected by a panel of celebrity judges: Dakar Rally champion Jutta Kleinschmidt, actor and “Long Way Round/Down” star Charley Boorman, actor Rick Yune and actor Adrien Brody—all of whom are passionate BMW motorcycle riders.
The Asia, New Zealand and Africa tours have already been completed (read tour reports and about the riders here). Yesterday the USA tour kicked off at BMW Motorcycles of Long Beach in California, where rider Stephane Gautronneau of France received the keys to the R 1200 GS that he will pilot through various western states and national parks over the next ten days. On Saturday, March 16, the USA leg of the tour will conclude at RawHyde Adventures, the Official BMW Training Center located in Castaic, California, in the mountains north of Los Angeles.
Back home Stephane rides an R 1200 GS Adventure and has completed a 10,000-plus-mile trek from Paris to Goa, India. His personality is infectious. He orbited around the dealership, shaking hands and smiling constantly, clearly excited to be participating in a trip of a lifetime aboard a much improved GS.
The Wednesday afternoon kickoff party was well-attended and had all the trimmings–balloons, free T-shirts and complimentary grub from Famous Dave’s BBQ. This morning, during my morning commute into the office, which is located 80 miles north of Long Beach, I saw the One World team riding north on U.S. 101, on their way to the craggy cliffs of the Pacific Coast Highway. They’ll be riding nearly 2,000 miles over the next 10 days, much of it off-road. Wish I could join ‘em….