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Updated February 2020

BMW, Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works – however you want to say it, is Germany’s storied motorcycle manufacturer since 1923 (five years before the Munich-based manufacturer built its first car). Now going on 100 years later, BMW’s line-up still includes a complete range of bikes using that original flat-twin boxer engine architecture (“boxer,” since the pistons in the flat twin move in and out from the crankshaft in unison like the fists of a boxer warming up). The most famous of those boxers powers the GS line, for Gelande and Strasse (land and street) adventure bikes, which co-starred in the travel adventure movies Long Way Down and Long Way Round with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.

In addition to the GSs, there are also excellent sport-touring RTs and R-model roadsters also powered by boxers, as well as an in-the-works Big Boxer of 1.8 liters or so, which will power an all-new BMW American-style cruiser/bagger. Speaking of baggers, there’s also the inline-Six powered K1600B, using the powerful and amazingly smooth engine BMW first used in its K1600GT and GTL touring/sport-touring machines beginning in 2011.

For most of its history, BMW seemed content to build motorcycles for, ahem, mature riders, but beginning in 2009 it blew that reputation into the weeds with the introduction of the S1000RR, a 999 cc sportbike built to win the world’s premier production racing championship, World Superbike. The Germans never quite achieved that goal, but did win the 2010 Superstock championship; the closer-to-stock S1000RR won all but one race in the process. More importantly, in its very first year the S1000RR topped Motorcyle.com’s annual literbike shootout.

Int the last decade, BMW’s only gone from strength to strength, continuing to build a broad range of motorcycles for all people and occasions, including a pair of entry-level models produced in collaboration with Indian manufacturer TVS: The G310R and G310GS are powered by a 313 cc single-cylinder engine, and both sell for less than $6,000.

Here are a few of our current favorite BMW models.

G310 GS

The smallest of BMW’s adventure bikes still has plenty of power and performance to take you on all kinds of, ah, adventures, even if it’s better suited to ones a bit closer to home. It’s a great little bike (literally, only 380 pounds gassed up) for those looking to get started or maybe just looking to simplify and downsize.

K1600 B

“Baggers” are big business in the USA, and BMW is nobody’s fool. Hence, the K1600 B, a blacked-out and lowered special version of the original K1600 GT,  powered, very unbaggerly, by BMW’s ridiculously smooth and powerful inline-six engine instead of the typical big V-twin. Feel free to cruise casually around town, or light out for parts unknown and let the 132-horsepower (at the rear wheel) engine eat. It’s a bagger and a high-performance sport-tourer in one.

R1250 RS

Direct descendant of the very first R32 boxer of 1923, the new-for-2020 R1250 RS brings everything BMW’s learned in 97 years to bear in this latest, 1254 cc, 136-horsepower version of its signature horizontally opposed boxer twin. Check “Select Package,” and you’ll get electronic suspension adjustable via the full-color TFT display, lean-sensitive antilock brakes and traction control, cruise control, heated grips, quickshifter… locking hard saddlebags, heated seats, and too many options to keep track of are also available to make the RS suitable for everything from commuting to transcontinental traveling. Possibly the most highly evolved motorcycle of all time.

Read more about the History of BMW Motorcycles.

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