The bold, brash and huge 1200 GS Adventure takes on its dad - the tough, slugging film star 1150 GS Adventure in the wilds of Wales.
BMW made R1150GS Adventures for some three years before Ewbie and Charlie Bikeman blagged a couple, no, sorry, three, bikes for their Long Way Round odyssey. That said, their hugely publicised trek bestowed added superstar status to an already high-profile machine.
Sales of the biggest dirt bike known to mankind went stellar. The R1150GS Adventure became, and remains, an icon. But now it's being consigned to the annuls of history. The R1200GS Adventure, launched last year, has redefined BMW's huge-overlander bike concept. Faster, lighter and certainly flashier (in the most macho manner possible) it's also quite a lot lighter than the outgoing model.
The question is, is it actually better?
Okay this is easy; the 1200 motor aces the 1150's, quite considerably. The spec charts tell it pretty much like it is. And on the dyno the 1200 makes a good 20bhp more than the 1150 and there's around 12 percent more torque too. And as all this extra grunt is propelling a substantially lighter bike it really is a non-contest. Or is it?
Jump on the 1150 and you'll be immediately impressed. Our example, now some five years old (and owned by snapper Oli) has a hefty 41,000 miles on the clock, yet the motor feels as good as new. Tweak the throttle and it bounds energetically up the road. The motor feels solid, dependable with just enough shuddering surge to be interesting. Its forte is low to mid, simply short shift at about 4000rpm and let the torque punt you along.
The 1200 feels immediately different. Despite giving nothing away to the 1150 in low down pull, the 1200's character is typified by a feeling of being quicker revving with most of the thrust coming through the mid range. To quote Oli, it feels, 'airy'. But he's a photographer and should not be trusted with words. We think he means it's a light flywheel feel, free spinning - rev happy (for a BMW flat twin, that is).
We put the two head-to-head for some top gear roll-ons and the 1200 simply tears away, even from as slow as 40mph, which shows that even while the 1150 feels to have impressive bottom end, the 1200 has more. However, if you are off-road oriented then the character of the 1150's motor will still feel the better of the two. It's fair to say when you're hitting the dirt with these monsters you will, by necessity, be doing it in a slower, more considered manner - these are not motocrossers and neither have the suspension to tackle gnarly stuff at speed. And so the 1150's better suited to this pace with its wonderfully rich low to mid range grunt. Again the 1200 will probably surge past like a raped ape but that won't stop the 1150 rider from feeling at peace with his bike and the world.
On the road though, you ultimately have to tip the nod to the 1200. It's in the overtakes you notice it most, with the 1200 you twist the throttle and you're past. On the 1150, you plan ahead, you time the move and then peg down a gear and finally give it the herbs. Okay, it's better than that, but by comparison, it is more work. On the motorway the 1150 feels best at around 85mph, the 1200 at 90mph.
Of course if you exercise a modicum of restraint you'd find these air-cooled flat twins are far more fuel efficient when you drop back to a cruising speed of 56mph (ish) - then they'll go a good 400 miles on their huge tanks, both types. Not that's you'd ever cruise at 56mph.
We should mention the transmissions too. Both feature six speed 'boxes matched to massive dry single-plate clutch units. Surprisingly they feel identical, despite the age of the 1150 and the brand-newness of the 1200. Both shift well for their type, being reasonably positive and accurate when shifted under load. And both make the peculiar dropped-spanner clank when shifting gear mid town centre when there's no load. Both could probably stand to have a longer top gear too.
Should you slip the clutch on either, for a wheelie or to initiate a slide in the dirt, then both will emit a stench akin to a British Rail shunting yard - it must be something in the friction plate material.
Quite simply, we're talking reliability and robustness here. Odd thing is the 1200 is said to have a new gearbox and of course that's a much revised Paralever system - yet is there a quantifiable improvement? Maybe the message is once a BMW always a BMW.
Oh, except for the case of electrical and electronic components. We're talking CAN bus, the onboard digital network come wiring loom fitted to the 1200. This is technology so advanced (apparently) that few understand and certainly no one without BMW's own software and a laptop can repair in the event of a malfunction. For those riders who like to ride to the back and beyond, outside the protective apron of the BMW dealer network, then this is bad news. Overlanders like nothing better than to field fix their bikes using little more than a multi-tool and some baler twine. An inert GS with a flashing digital message 'refer to service manager' is an Outer Mongolian nightmare. So the 1150 is the pick for outback man.
Continue the BMW R1150GS Versus R1200GS Test - 2/2
TYPE - TRAILPRICE - £5000 (USED)ENGINE CAPACITY - 1130ccPOWER - 74.8bhp@6800rpmTORQUE - 66.6lb.ft@5300rpm WEIGHT - 253kg SEAT HEIGHT - 900mm FUEL CAPACITY - 30L TOP SPEED - 121mph
Posted: 29/01/2011 at 01:44
Posted: 19/11/2011 at 22:07
Posted: 31/01/2012 at 23:20
Posted: 14/05/2012 at 22:31
Posted: 18/06/2012 at 06:13
Posted: 11/11/2012 at 08:01
Posted: 08/01/2013 at 23:19
Become a fan of Visordown
Follow us on twitter
Other Immediate Media Sites
Our eCommerce Platform
© Immediate Media Company Ltd 2012. This website is owned and published by Immediate Media Company Limited. www.immediatemedia.co.uk