First Ride

BMW 2019 BMW R1250 GS Adventure – First Ride

Hardcore version of BMW’s giant traillie gets more grunt from bigger engine and variable valves for 2019

Details
Manufacturer:
BMW
Category:
Adventure
Price:
£ 18100
Overall
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)
More tech and more cubes for BMW's flagship adventure bike
Great engine, loads of high-tech options
Big old price tag

WE STOP at Almeria circuit for a spot of lunch, and I give the GSA another once-over before we head off for some light off-road miles. The bikes we have on test are Rallye TE versions and are fairly well-equipped with optional riding lights, the top electronic suspension packages, and the ‘Pro’ rider modes and IMU-assisted ABS/traction setups. The most obvious chassis change for 2019 is to the brakes – the front calipers are now made by US firm Hayes rather than Brembo. Hayes is best known for its bicycle disc brakes, but the radial-mount four-piston calipers we have here look good – and have been working a treat on the road so far. 

The Adventure isn’t hugely different from the stock R1250 GSs which the BMW guide riders are using today. The differences are in the chassis – the suspension has extra long travel – 10mm more at the front and 20mm extra on the rear. Wire spoke rims are standard compared with the cast aluminium rims on the GS, and the fuel tank is 30 litres instead of 20. Wheelbase and steering geometry are also different, and the bodywork is bigger, wider, and has those imposing protective alloy engine/fairing crash bars fitted. Fully fuelled, the Adventure is 19kg heavier, much of which will be down to the extra 10 litres (7.5kg) of petrol in the bigger tank.

The guys at the track have fitted some knobbly rubber to two GSAs, and Kev takes us off on a trail round the local farmlands in pairs. It’s nothing too extreme – just quite rough, rocky dirt roads really, but a nice little intro to how the GSA manages away from the asphalt. I’ve done some dirt riding on the GS last year, so remembered how good stuff like the ABS works off-road.

The Metzeler Karoo 3 tyres make a big difference of course, and the biggest problem I have is seeing through the dust thrown up by Kev’s bike up ahead. Hanging back a bit though gives more visibility, and the big BM makes easy work of the trails. As ever, the size and weight of it would put me off taking on anything really extreme dirt-wise – but it’s fair to say it’s capable of much more than I am, in the right hands.

Back to Almeria, and I jump onto a normally-tyred GS Adventure for the early evening ride back to the hotel. I’ve got into the GSA wheelie groove by now, and so every straight is another practice strip, hoisting the daft big adventure weapon up in second, and sailing along into third and (sometimes) fourth before landing, slowing down, and doing it all again. Silly stuff, but massive fun. Hustling through some tight, twisty bends, the wide bars give plenty of leverage to swing from side to side, and you can push the front hard on the brakes too. Warm, dry roads and spiffing Bridgestone A41 rubber means there’s no worries about grip, and with stacks of ground clearance, plus the electronic suspension giving amazing wheel control, the GSA is a proper hoot.

So – the new ShiftCam engine is a big step forward for the Boxer range. It’s added a heap of low-down grunt that makes for superb, relaxed progress, while also adding a soupçon of madness, should you need it. Elsewhere, there are mods to the cooling system, and a new wet slipper clutch setup, plus other minor tweaks.

The rest of the GSA is largely as you were, but the new Hayes brakes work a treat, and the continuing expansion of BMW’s high-tech equipment armoury gets even more impressive. The integrated colour dashboard, extensive, user-friendly switchgear, slick quickshifter, and stuff like electronic suspension adjustment and cruise control all points to a very accomplished bike indeed. And mad new stuff like the ‘SOS’ button which will call for help if you have a crash or other emergency, points to a brave new biking future.

Of course, you pay a fair price for all this – the Rallye TE versions we were riding cost £18,100 – but it’s a very effective, comprehensive package all round.

Will the big GS continue to sell in truckloads, and define the top-spec adventure bike class then? On today’s evidence, you certainly wouldn’t bet against it…

PRICE: £14,415 (basic R1250 GS Adventure), £18,100 (R1250 GS Adventure Rallye TE version on test)

SPECS

Engine: 8v Boxer flat twin, DOHC, ShiftCam variable valve operation, liquid cooled, 1,254cc

Bore x stroke: 102.5x76

Compression ratio: 12.5:1

Max power (measured at tyre) 136bhp@7,750rpm

Max Torque (measured at tyre) 106ft lb@6,250rpm

Transmission: six speed gearbox, wet slipper clutch, shaft drive

Frame: two-part subframes, engine as stressed-member 

Front suspension: BMW Telelever monoshock, 37mm stanchions, electronic suspension adjust options

Rear suspension: Paralever single-sided swingarm, monoshock, fully adjustable, electronic adjust options

Brakes: Dual 305mm discs, four-piston Hayes calipers (front), 276mm disc, twin-piston Brembo caliper (rear), Motorrad ABS, optional ABS Pro

Wheels/tyres: Tubeless wire-spoked/Bridgestone A41, 120/70 19 front, 170/60 17 rear

Rake/trail: 24.9°/95.4mm

Wheelbase: 1,504mm

Kerb weight (fully fueled): 268kg

Fuel capacity: 30 litres (11.8 gallons)

Rider Aids: BMW ABS, traction control, rider power modes, hill start assist. Optional electronic suspension, ABS Pro, Pro riding modes, quickshifter pro.

Great engine, loads of high-tech options
Big old price tag

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