BMW Introduces R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid Two-Wheel Drive Motorcycle

BMW R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid two-wheel drive motorcycle
BMW says its two-wheel drive R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid has a 45-horsepower electric motor housed in the front wheel hub.

Editor’s Note: As much as we wanted this announcement to be real when we posted it on March 31, BMW Motorrad has admitted that it was, in fact, an April Fool’s Day joke (the official press release from BMW’s global press site was dated April 1). The press release sounded plausible. All-wheel drive motorcycles already exist (see Christini reference below), and Wunderlich showed the BMW R 1200 GS LC “Hybrid” concept bike at EICMA in 2015, which has “a ten-kilowatt electrical front wheel gearbox.” So, yeah, we fell for it. But it was a fun fantasy while it lasted.

Yes, you read that headline correctly. BMW Motorrad has developed and tested a two-wheel drive version of its R 1200 GS Adventure, claiming it’s “the world’s first series-production all-wheel drive travel enduro with hybrid drive.”

Unlike the mechanical all-wheel drive (AWD) system made by Christini for dirt bikes, BMW’s xDrive Hybrid system uses a 45-horsepower electric motor housed in the front wheel hub. When activated and combined with the air/liquid-cooled, 125-horsepower, shaft-driven boxer twin engine that powers all R-series models, the R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid makes a combined 170 horsepower (claimed).

BMW says that making the front wheel driven provides superior traction in slippery, low-traction conditions, much like all-wheel drive cars, and the xDrive Hybrid system was originally developed by BMW’s automotive division. All-wheel drive can be operated automatically or manually by the rider via the 2WD (2-Wheel Drive) switch located on the left handlebar’s switchgear, activating the wheel-hub e-Drive system that functions both as electric motor and generator.

BMW R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid
The xDrive system is operated via the “2WD” button on the left handlebar’s switchgear.

During braking, the e-Drive system captures and stores kinetic energy—also known as regenerative braking—which helps recharge the batteries and improves braking performance. Sophisticated management software ensures that power is supplied to the front wheel as needed given the riding situation, as traction permits. Riding modes customize how the all-wheel drive system operates and adjusts the hybrid system’s recuperation strategies, with everything controlled via LCD display.

Given the braking function of the xDrive Hybrid system, BMW changed from a dual-disc to a single-disc brake setup on the front wheel, saving 6.4 pounds of unsprung weight, which more than offsets the 1.9-pound weight of the wheel hub e-Drive and maintains the R 1200 GS Adventure’s legendary agility. Overall curb weight of the motorcycle is said to be unchanged.

To prove the capability of the new xDrive Hybrid GS, it was subjected to thousands of testing miles in extreme conditions. Reiner Scherbeck, head of winter testing at BMW Motorrad, rode it to Norway’s North Cape and across the frozen Barents Sea to the North Pole and back again.

“We were absolutely amazed how problem-free and reliable the all-wheel drive worked even at minus 56 degrees,” Scherbeck said. “Thanks to our functional BMW rider equipment, the cold temperatures were no problem for the rider, too. Probably the most thrilling conclusion we can draw from our test runs, is that for the first time we can offer a motorcycle that makes riding a motorcycle a pleasure at snow depths of 1.25 meters [4.1 feet] in high winter with the new R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid. Special front section components have also been developed for this purpose as well as high-speed suitable M+S all-season tires. This was also necessary in order to meet the necessary requirements for high-speed winter operation.”

BMW says the R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid shown to the public in the near future and that it will be available in the second half of 2017. BMW Motorrad will announce special tires, optional equipment and pricing at a later date.

Editor’s Note: This press release was dated April 1. Is it fact or fiction? Leave your comments below.


  1. If the surfaces of the bike aren’t resistant to the corrosion from ice melt it doesn’t matter. I’ve sacrificed a KLX to the ravages of ice melt; I cannot imagine doing that to a GS; unless you’ve like won Power Ball or something like that.

    • WD40 and PAM cooking spray takes perfect care of winters assaults upon our machines. I’ve used these two products for many years and have had no corrosion—–give it a try.

  2. Fiction. “-56 degree’s”, “driving through 4 feet of snow”. Even if the bike does exist, no ones riding through that, not even Chuck Norris…

    • There’s a fellow in Canada who goes by the handle “Ice Man”. The corrosion caused by ice melt is the major issue to me, not the cold.


    How hot does a 45 h. p. , 1.9 pound electric motor run at ?? Problematic at -56 ° F.

  4. Battery to power 45 hp motor and no weight change? 1.9 lb 45 hp motor? On the bike at -56 deg? Snow 4 ft deep driven in? Amazing and great for April 1!!

  5. Fiction. Northern Idaho winters are cold, my GS stays in out of snow. As for going through 4 feet of the white stuff? I have difficulty pushing through 3 feet with four wheel lock on a tractor with an 8′ snow plow. 2 feet is difficult to walk through without snowshoes. I’ve also got a diesel truck with a mess of horsepower and torque. Even this one won’t pull through 4 feet. An as for a -56? Tack on wind chill and forget a ride – except to the ER!

  6. Of course it will work, you only need the extra 45 hp under hard acelleration, which follows hard regen braking, Jungheinrich have used this technology for years on their electric forklifts, extended battery life from 8 to 24 hours. This will also increase their fuel efficiency from 22 km/ ltr to hopefully about 30. What else would you expect from Bayerish.

  7. “So, yeah, we fell for it.”

    So did many others incapable of critical thinking and unable to do basic math. However, you are supposed to be better than gullible masses of brand loyalists and do your homework before you publish such an obvious hoax. You should at least figure out it’s a joke before readers point it out to you.

  8. Seriously the idea of an electrical motor driving the front wheel could be SO awesome! I would not even desire much of a battery personally….just enough to use briefly when needed actually. If you think about it even 10 minutes of function per hour would be far more than normally ever needed… in other words it would simply be “on call” and be totally activated automatically via the motorcycle’s ECU….of course a manual mode for silent running could also come in handy sneaking out of house/neighborhood at 5 am with no one hearing a thing! ALSO could easily function as a reverse just for moving the bike easily….although with that option who would not want to actually see if they could ride the dang thing backwards too in some nice forgiving dirt field etc. But mainly I am imagining that front motor kicking in on a steep slippery uphill section or when the rear starts trying to dig a trench in a losing battle to maintain forward momentum? The computer sees what is taking place and simply puts power to the front wheel efficiently extricating you from all worries….I imagine the computer might even be able to use front wheel power to save one from crashing depending on circumstances….that after all can work with 4wheel vehicles….it is exciting to imagine! Bring it on!!


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