Living with a BMW R1150GS Adventure

Alex Hearn reviews BMW's 1150 Adventure with mixed views

July 2002

The R1150GS Adventure is the bike I've been waiting for BMW to build. Why? Lots of reasons - for a starter the upgrades (like the 30 litre tank) have turned an already useful mile cruncher into a real distance machine - 250 miles @100mph? Done, easily, and the comfort and practicality (heated grips, proper seat, big screen) add to the good karma. These days I spend a lot of my life trundling up and down motorways, always late, so two-wheeled mental well-being is very important to me.

But if that were the total story then there are a few other - boring - bikes that'd suit my purposes. Luckily the Adventure is far from being a dullard, for a start it's the ultimate big-bitch-battle wagon and looks the utter bollocks. Car drivers move out of its imperious path and belittled peddos stare up in disbelief at the gargantuan silver beast that's dwarfing their high street. With the ally panniers on its nearly as wide as it is tall, and twice as imposing. What a monster.

Mine had 600 miles on when I picked it up back in mid-March. It's got over 5,500 on it now - 1,600 of which I did on the trip back from thunny thpain. The moment I got it back in the UK I swapped the knackered (but surprisingly useful) Conti knobblies for a pair of Bridgestone Trailwings and had a lightning swoop through mid-Wales. With decent road rubber the Adventure blitzed A-roads with swift efficiency and on the B-roads hitched its ample skirts and cut the rug big style. Perched up high you've loads of visibility (perfect for reading roads) and the tiller-like handlebars provide instant leverage. The chassis copes with anything, anytime, anywhere and the engine? Just keep it tapped, and it punts hard.

It's gone back to BMW for a freshen up and I really miss it. We have bonded, over the miles, the Adventure and me, and there's a big hole in my life without her - a very big hole. Also my plans for an Arctic camo paint scheme have been somewhat delayed... for now.

November 2002

After completing 1,100 klicks (mostly) off-road in Africa - see the September issue of TWO - I've got a new found respect for what my R1150GS Adventure is capable of. I thought I had before, as we did a couple of days off-roading just after I picked mine up back in April, but nothing compares to what I went through with that bike in South Africa and Mozambique. And, frankly, I was amazed. Still am, in fact. Mind you, I've still got a lumpy left shin from one soft sand ejection too many.

So what about mine? Well, with 7,500 miles on the clock it still scrubs up like an efficiently new pin. I'm still waiting for a pannier mounting bracket and lock set, but there's a delay because the ally panniers are being revised - I scraped my left box against a French Peage wall and wrecked it. It's held on now with luggage straps. Seems to work, I'll recommend it to the factory...

I do feel the need for an end can, having borrowed an R1150GS with a Remus slip-on recently - this bike felt much punchier through the middle of the power curve. Rumour has it that uncorking the flat twin engine and binning the cat gifts a GS 5-6bhp of midrange wallop. I'll be wanting some of that free (ish) power, methinks. Range-wise I get roughly 260 miles out of five and half gallons, which equates to about 47mpg. Not bad for something large enough to have its own gravitational pull - push it hard over 100mph and (obviously) the fuel consumption falls to bits. Oh well.

So good is the Beemer at munching miles I've sacked my usual transport (Honda Goldwing) for my annual Tour de France and will be indulging in a little blitz-touring in and around the Pyrenees. Fantastic. I do need a worthy adventure for me and my BM as winter draws in, and it's gotta be a tough one. Ideas on to the back of thirty used pieces of silver please, to the office.