BMW R1150GS Adventure (2001 - 2005) review

The Adventure is the ultimate GS – it’s got the sheer usefulness of the stocker, but with bolt-on practicality and a stack more attitude

Ben Cope's picture
By Visordown on Mon, 1 Jan 2001 - 12:01

Details
Manufacturer:
BMW
Category:
Adventure
Price:
£ 8495
Overall
5
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One of the most capable motorcycles ever, would really rather take you around the world than to Homebase.
Can be a daunting prospect due to its size, especially with a full tank.

It’s certainly not beautiful, but every line and awkward angle has a purpose, which lends it an air of total efficiency. Making it attractive, in a machine sort of way.

I’m soon contemplating my beast. The view from the new, one-piece seat is very GS – but the bike does feel taller, just plain more, than the stocker. So it should – with an extra 20mm of suspension travel both front and rear it’s taller, and a full 30 litre tank of gas (that’s over six and a half gallons) this is one hefty piece of hardware. 253kg wringing wet, actually. The familiar tiller-wide handlebars, jutting clocks, chunky switchgear are all in place, as is the muted flat twin twitch that grips the bike on start up. Fantastic.

An hour of motorway later and we’re into the mountains. After a highly entertaining 60 miles of canyon carving we take an abrupt turn, onto sodden gravel. Four hours later we roll into the hotel car park. Knackered, wet, but very happy. We’ve just looned around snaking dirt tracks, forded three feet deep rivers, slid and slithered sideways at 70mph on some very unmade roads and generally had a spectacular laugh.

And the GS? Coped with the lot. Yes, it’s big but keep it balanced and its weight drives the tyres hard into the loose ground, finding the grip to keep it upright. With the ABS turned off you can really haul on the brakes and the flat barrowload of grunt (which starts at 2,000rpm and never seems to stop) delivers plenty of forward motion and/or long, languid, easy powerslides.

The next day delivers much of the same. More trails, rivers and rain. I’ve got more time to take in the Adventure’s modifications over the standard GS; the rear Paralever swingarm has been blessed with a WP shock unit and progressive damping and both it and the Telelever front really take the hits. Over a sea of potholes stretching over a mile the GS could be ridden at more or less any speed – in fact the faster you went the more comfortable it got, the suspension both ends a blur of activity, but with barely a ripple getting back to the pilot. Now that’s very clever.

The new gearbox? Sixth is no longer an overdrive (or E as it used to appear on the digital display) and is now a shorter gear, while if you opt for the the £300 overland package you can specify a shorter first gear too. Both work well, first is very handy for tight, tricky situations and in top the GS Adventure responds much faster to your right hand and’ll pull from 1,500rpm. It is still on the clonky side mind.

Purely as a roadbike, the GS Adventure is a very useful tool – it handles well enough to stay with loads of much more focused tackle, does at least 250 miles on a tank of gas, is dead comfortable and will, undoubtedly, last forever – it’s that well built. And the offroad capacity of the GS Adventure is much larger than you would – on the surface – credit for a 253kg bike.

So it’s roadbike, dirtbike and (if you fancied it) around-the-world adventurer. That’s not bad for eight and a half gees.
It’s certainly not beautiful, but every line and awkward angle has a purpose, which lends it an air of total efficiency. Making it attractive, in a machine sort of way.

I’m soon contemplating my beast. The view from the new, one-piece seat is very GS – but the bike does feel taller, just plain more, than the stocker. So it should – with an extra 20mm of suspension travel both front and rear it’s taller, and a full 30 litre tank of gas (that’s over six and a half gallons) this is one hefty piece of hardware. 253kg wringing wet, actually. The familiar tiller-wide handlebars, jutting clocks, chunky switchgear are all in place, as is the muted flat twin twitch that grips the bike on start up. Fantastic.

An hour of motorway later and we’re into the mountains. After a highly entertaining 60 miles of canyon carving we take an abrupt turn, onto sodden gravel. Four hours later we roll into the hotel car park. Knackered, wet, but very happy. We’ve just looned around snaking dirt tracks, forded three feet deep rivers, slid and slithered sideways at 70mph on some very unmade roads and generally had a spectacular laugh.

And the GS? Coped with the lot. Yes, it’s big but keep it balanced and its weight drives the tyres hard into the loose ground, finding the grip to keep it upright. With the ABS turned off you can really haul on the brakes and the flat barrowload of grunt (which starts at 2,000rpm and never seems to stop) delivers plenty of forward motion and/or long, languid, easy powerslides.

The next day delivers much of the same. More trails, rivers and rain. I’ve got more time to take in the Adventure’s modifications over the standard GS; the rear Paralever swingarm has been blessed with a WP shock unit and progressive damping and both it and the Telelever front really take the hits. Over a sea of potholes stretching over a mile the GS could be ridden at more or less any speed – in fact the faster you went the more comfortable it got, the suspension both ends a blur of activity, but with barely a ripple getting back to the pilot. Now that’s very clever.

The new gearbox? Sixth is no longer an overdrive (or E as it used to appear on the digital display) and is now a shorter gear, while if you opt for the the £300 overland package you can specify a shorter first gear too. Both work well, first is very handy for tight, tricky situations and in top the GS Adventure responds much faster to your right hand and’ll pull from 1,500rpm. It is still on the clonky side mind.

Purely as a roadbike, the GS Adventure is a very useful tool – it handles well enough to stay with loads of much more focused tackle, does at least 250 miles on a tank of gas, is dead comfortable and will, undoubtedly, last forever – it’s that well built. And the offroad capacity of the GS Adventure is much larger than you would – on the surface – credit for a 253kg bike.

So it’s roadbike, dirtbike and (if you fancied it) around-the-world adventurer. That’s not bad for eight and a half gees.

It’s certainly not beautiful, but every line and awkward angle has a purpose, which lends it an air of total efficiency. Making it attractive, in a machine sort of way.

I’m soon contemplating my beast. The view from the new, one-piece seat is very GS – but the bike does feel taller, just plain more, than the stocker. So it should – with an extra 20mm of suspension travel both front and rear it’s taller, and a full 30 litre tank of gas (that’s over six and a half gallons) this is one hefty piece of hardware. 253kg wringing wet, actually. The familiar tiller-wide handlebars, jutting clocks, chunky switchgear are all in place, as is the muted flat twin twitch that grips the bike on start up. Fantastic.

An hour of motorway later and we’re into the mountains. After a highly entertaining 60 miles of canyon carving we take an abrupt turn, onto sodden gravel. Four hours later we roll into the hotel car park. Knackered, wet, but very happy. We’ve just looned around snaking dirt tracks, forded three feet deep rivers, slid and slithered sideways at 70mph on some very unmade roads and generally had a spectacular laugh.

And the GS? Coped with the lot. Yes, it’s big but keep it balanced and its weight drives the tyres hard into the loose ground, finding the grip to keep it upright. With the ABS turned off you can really haul on the brakes and the flat barrowload of grunt (which starts at 2,000rpm and never seems to stop) delivers plenty of forward motion and/or long, languid, easy powerslides.

The next day delivers much of the same. More trails, rivers and rain. I’ve got more time to take in the Adventure’s modifications over the standard GS; the rear Paralever swingarm has been blessed with a WP shock unit and progressive damping and both it and the Telelever front really take the hits. Over a sea of potholes stretching over a mile the GS could be ridden at more or less any speed – in fact the faster you went the more comfortable it got, the suspension both ends a blur of activity, but with barely a ripple getting back to the pilot. Now that’s very clever.

The new gearbox? Sixth is no longer an overdrive (or E as it used to appear on the digital display) and is now a shorter gear, while if you opt for the the £300 overland package you can specify a shorter first gear too. Both work well, first is very handy for tight, tricky situations and in top the GS Adventure responds much faster to your right hand and’ll pull from 1,500rpm. It is still on the clonky side mind.

Purely as a roadbike, the GS Adventure is a very useful tool – it handles well enough to stay with loads of much more focused tackle, does at least 250 miles on a tank of gas, is dead comfortable and will, undoubtedly, last forever – it’s that well built. And the offroad capacity of the GS Adventure is much larger than you would – on the surface – credit for a 253kg bike.

So it’s roadbike, dirtbike and (if you fancied it) around-the-world adventurer. That’s not bad for eight and a half gees.

Length (mm) 2180
Width (mm) 980
Height (mm) 1435
Dryweight (kg) 232
Seats 0
Seat Height (mm) 900
Suspension Front BMW Motorrad Telelever;stanchion diameter 35 mm, central strut
Suspension Rear Die-cast aluminium single-sided swinging arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping),
Adjustability Front Spring pre-load 5-times mechanically adjustable
Adjustability Rear Spring pre-load adjustable to continuously variable levels by means of hydraulic handwheel, rebound damping adjustable
Wheels Front 2.50 x 19
Wheels Rear 4.00 x 17
Tyres Front 110/80 ZR 19
Tyres Rear 150/70 ZR 17
Brakes Front EVO brake system with dual disc, floating brake di
Brakes Rear Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, double-piston
Tank Capacity (litres) 22
Chassis Three-section composite frame consisting of front and rear section, load bearing engine.
Length (mm) 2180
Width (mm) 980
Height (mm) 1435
Dryweight (kg) 232
Seats 0
Seat Height (mm) 900
Suspension Front BMW Motorrad Telelever;stanchion diameter 35 mm, central strut
Suspension Rear Die-cast aluminium single-sided swinging arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever; WAD strut (travel-related damping),
Adjustability Front Spring pre-load 5-times mechanically adjustable
Adjustability Rear Spring pre-load adjustable to continuously variable levels by means of hydraulic handwheel, rebound damping adjustable
Wheels Front 2.50 x 19
Wheels Rear 4.00 x 17
Tyres Front 110/80 ZR 19
Tyres Rear 150/70 ZR 17
Brakes Front EVO brake system with dual disc, floating brake di
Brakes Rear Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, double-piston
Tank Capacity (litres) 22
Chassis Three-section composite frame consisting of front and rear section, load bearing engine.
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1130
Max Power (bhp) 85
Max Power Peak (rpm) 6750
Torque (ft/lb) 72
Torque Peak (rpm) 5250
Bore (mm) 101
Stroke (mm) 70.5
Valve Gear Single cam
Compression Ratio 10.3
Valves Per Cylinder 4
Cooling Air/oil cooled
Fuel Delivery Electronic intake pipe injection
Stroke Type Four Stroke
Drive Shaft
Cubic Capacity (cc) 1130
Max Power (bhp) 85
Max Power Peak (rpm) 6750
Torque (ft/lb) 72
Torque Peak (rpm) 5250
Bore (mm) 101
Stroke (mm) 70.5
Valve Gear Single cam
Compression Ratio 10.3
Valves Per Cylinder 4
Cooling Air/oil cooled
Fuel Delivery Electronic intake pipe injection
Stroke Type Four Stroke
Drive Shaft
Max Power 74.8
Max Power Revs 6500
Max Torque 58.1
Max Torque Revs 7000
Standing Quarter Mile - Terminal Speed MPH 102.27
Standing Quarter Mile - Time 13.91
Time to Top Speed 40.56
Top Speed 135.2
Max Power 74.8
Max Power Revs 6500
Max Torque 58.1
Max Torque Revs 7000
Standing Quarter Mile - Terminal Speed MPH 102.27
Standing Quarter Mile - Time 13.91
Time to Top Speed 40.56
Top Speed 135.2
Score Breakdown
Overall
5

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