Earlier this year, reports emerged that BMW had filed trademark applications for “R12”, with many predicting the name would be used on a new cruiser. The logic made sense, as the naming structure was similar to the R18, and BMW lacked a cruiser model in the 1200-ish range. We were a little less bullish on that theory at the time, and we suspected there was more to the story. And now, new evidence has emerged that may justify our skepticism.
We were sailing along on Moonlight Bay, twenty years ago, betwixt the Twin Towers collapse, the Axis of Evil calling-out, and the going-after of Saddam Hussein. Before all that, you could traipse around the world on airplanes without the shoe removal and body cavity search. After, well, it’s a different world. In those days, my children, you could get a great new BMW R1150 RS naked bike for under $10k and not be too concerned about the polar ice caps. Now, you can still get an R1250R “roadster,” but it’s more like $15k, and your conscience wonders if you should go for the new CE O4 electric scooter instead?
BMW released initial details on its 2023 model lineup, including new colors and minor updates. BMW also announced the base MSRP for most of its models, though that information is rather moot, as it also announced additional packages which will automatically be added on to all models in the U.S.
It’s all the chattering classes can yak about now, but 25 years ago ADV was just getting off the ground! There were BMW GSs before it, but the grand dame R1100GS came around in 1994, and has been holding court ever since. Triumph’s Tiger was one of the first would-be usurpers: Will the new Tiger 1200 launching next month finally make the surp stick? Anyway, this 1997 Adventure Tourers test was a great MOment in time, especially from one Patrick Ciganer, Guest Commentator, at the end.
C’mon, you knew it was going to happen. How could we not put the newcomer to the ADV scene head-to-head with the long standing heavyweight from the Fatherland? Our comparison of the Harley-Davidson Pan America 1250 Special and BMW R 1250 GS kicks off a series of monthly two-bike tests for 2022. Look out for a new scorchin’ comparison from MO every month. Spanning the smorgasbord of genres, your favorite kooky MO characters will ride, review, and bicker about some of the spiciest meatballs on the market today. To kick things off though, America versus Germany!
BMW announced updates to the R1250GS and R1250GS Adventure for 2021, making the boxer models compliant with Euro 5 standards, while also marking the 40th anniversary of the GS line. BMW is calling this a “new” GS, but the changes aren’t as dramatic as that sounds. Even calling it “new-ish” would be a slight exaggeration.
And in those days ten years ago, King Gelandestrasse of Bavaria was just 30 years old and feeling his hafer, a yuuge success throughout the world upon which everyone with encroaching male-pattern baldness wanted to ride to Zimbabwe. On the other side of the Alps, the Romans could not help noticing King GS’s success. It was time, then, to upgrade their simple air-cooled playbike with a bewildering array of technological finery also, along with a bunch more of the King’s horses. Why not, as all roads lead to Rome. Placing the turn signals in the handguards was a stroke of genius that declared the battle was on – but no touching of the hair or face. A reading from the book of Pete, and the apostle T-Rod. Amen.
Sometimes adding new features and software to an existing product works out well; sometimes it doesn’t. Ask Boeing or a Kardashian. Kawasaki’s pre-existing Versys 1000 was a nice-enough but completely nondescript motorcycle until the company decided to throw fresh gadgetry at it for 2019, to the tune of about 50% of the purchase price of the base model. Check the “LT SE+” box, and for $17,999, you’ll be getting: Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS), new ride-by-wire fueling with cruise control and Kawasaki Quick Shifter, new electronics including KCMF and KIBS (that’s Kawi Cornering Management Function and Kawi Integrated Braking System), controlled by the new 6-axis IMU, a new TFT color instrumentation dash like the one on the H2 SX SE, new smartphone connectivity with Kawi Rideology app, sweet new self-healing painted bodywork with LED headlights and cornering lights, heated grips, a centerstand, hard luggage… suddenly the Versys is a contender.
The big GS gets all the love and 27% of BMW’s sales, but when the BMW people asked which one I’d like to ride home after the Palm Springs roll-out party for the new 1250 boxers two months ago, we picked the RT. It only makes up about 10% of BMW’s numbers, but the RT never expects you to ride it through a sand wash.
Well, the first patch of sand I tumped over in was more a result of surprise right after we’d turned down the dirt road a few miles outside of Palm Springs: How dare BMW leave this stuff here on a press introduction route? It was embarrassing but also a learning opportunity: Has the new R 1250 GS Adventure lost any weight? No, BMW’s specs say the new bike weighs 591 pounds fully fuelled to the R 1200 GS Adventure’s 573 lbs. Would I be able to pick it up by myself? Yes! I was able to upright the thing in the sand before hardly anyone spotted me. But I think it was sheer embarrassment adrenaline doing the lifting.
By now, hopefully you’ve already read our street installation of this two-part test. If not, STOP! Please do check it out because it outlines and dissects each and every bike in great detail, and it very well might answer a slew of questions you might have that aren’t addressed here, in the off-road portion of the shootout.
The California Air Resources Board has certified a new BMW engine, confirming an entire new range of 1254cc R models for 2019. According to the new CARB executive order, the engine will be equipped on five models: the R1250GS, R1250GS Adventure, R1250R, R1250RS and R1250RT.
On a humid and hazy southern California morning our cast of misfits began to stir to life from all stretches of the LA basin. Showers were had (by some), coffee was made and consumed, gear was donned. We seven fortunate souls set out on what would be our first true challenge of the next 72 hours, the first gauntlet that our machines would be subjected to, weekday traffic in Los Angeles with a destination of none other than Starbucks. The unofficial meeting place of adventure riders the world over, yet, for so many, the journey’s end before it ever even begins.
This week you might notice Motorcycle.com being a little quieter than usual. The reason is because most of the MO staff are out riding in our Sorta Annual Big Adventure Bike Shootout. For 2018, we’ve gathered seven of the biggest and baddest adventure machines out there. The plan? To put them through their paces on both the pavement and the dirt. To prove we’re serious about the dirt part, each of the contenders here comes to us with wire wheels, except for one, which we’ll get to in a moment.
And in those days there was a cataclysmic El Nino in SoCal, and it rained for at least forty days and forty nights. MO’s leaky roof shorted out the dyno and caused those early MOites to begin building an ark, upon which they loaded all the animals and floppy discs, two by two. But none of that is an excuse for this truncated First Impression of BMW’s first American-style cruiser, the riding of which takes place somewhere dry. There’s not even a photo of the bike. What giveths?
Confirming what we were first to report, BMW is adding two new variants to its R nineT line, introducing the R nineT Pure and R nineT Racer. They join the original R nineT and the previously-announced R nineT Scrambler. The four models form the basis of what BMW calls its Heritage line of classically-styled modern motorcycles.
The one overriding edict in choosing this year’s consortium of adventure bike players is obvious from the story’s title – spoked-hoops, which essentially demonstrates a manufacturer’s commitment to the off-road worthiness of its bike. The introduction of Honda’s new Africa Twin has the potential of re-racking the pecking order in motorcycling’s hottest category, so we gathered five of its likely competitors that are either top-rated or recently updated. The Honda bridges engine displacements, ranging from Triumph’s 800cc Tiger XCx to Yamaha’s 1199cc Super Ténéré ES, and we also included ADV icons like KTM’s 1190 R Adventure and BMW’s what-will-they-think-of-next R1200GS Adventure, plus Ducati’s radical A-T entrant, the new Multistrada Enduro.
Last year’s Ultimate Sports-Adventure-Touring Shootout – a six-day, nine-bike extravagasm – pitted some of the lesser dirtable models (Versys 1000 LT, Multistrada S, S1000XR) against some of the industry’s more formidable off-roaders (1290 Super Adventure, 1190 Adventure, R1200GS) as well as a few inbetweeners (Caponord, V-Strom, Tiger Explorer). With this year’s introduction of Honda’s Africa Twin, Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 Enduro, and Triumph’s Tiger Explorer XCx, three more off-roady models have emerged.
The Ducati Monster 1200S didn’t do so great against most of the other players in last year’s Super Naked Street Brawl, but mostly because two of the other four were our Motorcycle of the Year KTM Super Duke R and the BMW S1000R, which came within a whisker of overcoming the incredible SDR. The Monster suffered more in the track portion of that test than on the street, though, mainly let down by a lack of ground clearance when leaned into Chuckwalla’s endless high speed turns – a non-issue on the road. Back on the street, il Mostro was a highly pleasant thing to ride – as nearly all motorcycles are that deliver 84 pound-feet of torque. The 132 horses up top are like having your burrito wet.
On Day 2 of our little press junket to Ontario, the sun came out, the birds sang, and we rode the new 160-horsepower BMW S1000XR ’til hell wouldn’t have it anymore. Okay, fine, we rode only ’til cocktail hour. On Day 1, though, it rained all day, the mosquitoes made the air hum at every stop, the roads were treacherous and I was very glad to be on the new R1200RS instead.
Instead of two specially-prepped BMW R1150GS Adventures, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman should have split Long Way Round riding duties between stock versions of the GSA and KTM’s (at the time) 950 Adventure. An epic shootout of 20,000 around-the-world miles! Alas, they did not. Leaving moto hacks such as myself and John Burns to venture less than twenty-hundred miles within the confines of the state of California. Kind of the opposite of epic.
Last but not least in BMW’s new line of liquid-cooled Boxers (and not even quite last since the RS variant will be here next year), is the lovely new thoroughly redesigned R1200R you see here. Where the GS and GS Adventure want you to dig out your Boy Scout neckerchief and head off into the boonies, and the RT wants you to abandon your life and make them all three-day weekends, the basic R is the bike for all reasons: This one’s designed to be great everyday urban transport but comfortable and capable enough for long distances with a passenger and luggage as well, and a reasonable dirt road wouldn’t be a problem either. It’s your basic Roadster, the most direct descendant of the first Boxer BMW built nigh-on 100 years ago.
The BMW we really wanted to take along for our epic sport tour to Yosemite back in July was the company’s new R1200RT, but a batch of faulty rear shock shafts on the ESA models put the kibosh on that, so we wound up taking the K1600GT instead. The big six-cylinder is a great bike in its own right, but really falls more into the touring camp than the sport-touring one. Not that that kept us from declaring it the winner. We’re fickle that way. But based upon our own Tom Roderick’s impressions of the RT on his introductory ride way back in April, we went ahead and named it our Sport-Tourer of the Year, anyway. So, there was really no pressure on the new BMW; it was all on Roderick, who responded in his usual way by setting off to down the easiest target first.
The 1976 R 100 RS was the first mass-produced motorcycle in the world to come with a full frame-mounted fairing, a bike that immediately put BMW on the map as a maker of truly sporty tourers, and reinforced its boxer twin as the company’s signature motor. The all-new R1200RS is a continuation of that tradition, powered by the same DOHC boxer that powers the R1200GS, R1200RT and the new R1200R.
One of these three motorcycles is commemorative, the other retrospective, and the third, uniquely orthodox relative to the company’s ethos. Probably not hard to ascertain which bike is being referenced. They seem equally comparable yet disparate in the same moment.
Into the river, through the woods, over the mountains, across the desert, down the rabbit hole. When either daydreaming about or participating in two-wheel world travel, BMW’s R1200GS always seems to be at the top of the list. No other motorcycle captures the imagination then lives up to the hype of an exotic, foreign escapade as does BMW’s blue-chip Adventure-Tourer.
Seems like forever we’ve been waiting for the new R1200RT. A year has passed since we rode the Honda ST1300, Kawasaki Concours 14 and Yamaha FJR1300 to Death Valley and back for our 2013 Sport-Touring Shootout. Since then we’ve been in a holding pattern to take the winner of that shootout, the FJR, and put it up against Triumph’s Trophy SE and the new RT. Well, now that we’ve ridden the new R1200RT the shootout with its contemporaries is on-deck.