2013 BMW R1200GS Review - Second Ride

The Born Again Boxer is nothing short of spectacular

Chief Editor, Kevin Duke, flew to South Africa to ride the 2013 BMW R1200GS at its world press launch. A recent follow-up press ride found me crossing Los Angeles during rush hour en route to not-so-exotic Valencia, California. While Duke bivouacked among South Africa’s wild fauna and flora on his ride, my next-day ride was textured with cactus and roadkill then punctuated with a rush-hour slog back to Long Beach.

Despite the obvious disparity of our two trips, we both returned home with consonant impressions of the new Adventure-Tourer: What a remarkable bike BMW has wrought.

VIEW: Read Duke's review of the BMW R1200GS (with video)

2013 BMW R1200GS Action Off-Road

While on our respective rides we both enjoyed the upgraded conveniences of the Premium Plus package – raising the standard model’s relatively low MSRP of $15,800 to a lofty $18,870 – but even without the bells and whistles the new Boxer engine would have earned our accolades.

Fuel Economy and Range
Tank Capacity Observed MPG Fuel Range
5.3 gal 39 207 miles

Duke covered all the technical changes to the new Twin in his article, so I’ll forego echoing that information here, but it should be obvious from the dyno graph below, comparing last year’s GS with the 2013 model, that the improved performance of the new engine could have alone continued the GS’s dominance in the Adventure-Touring category.

BMW R1200GS 2013 vs. 2012 Dyno

The new engine, however, demanded changes such as a longer swingarm and swapping the Paralever to the opposite side of its traditional placement. Then there’s the unstoppable progress of electronics that BMW would be obtuse to ignore, hence, upgrading to the Standard package for $800 gets a 2013 GS owner cruise control.

COMPARE: Read our Ducati Multistrada 1200 S Touring vs. Triumph Explorer Shootout

2013 BMW R1200GS Packages
  Standard Premium Premium Plus
Price $800 $2190 $3070
Heated Grips X X X
Cruise Control X X X
Saddlebag Mounts X X X
Dynamic ESA X X
On-board Computer Pro X X
GPS Preparation X X
Hand Guards X X
Enduro ASC/Riding Modes X X
Chrome Exhaust X
Tire Pressure Monitor X
LED Headlight X

But, honestly, it’s the Premium Package and the dynamic ESA, ASC (traction control) and riding modes it includes that you really want. For starters, operation of all electronic adjustments is intuitive, and better yet, all, except for electronic preload tuning, are adjustable on the fly. ASC and ABS can be turned on or off, rider modes selected according to changing conditions and suspension damping selected all without halting forward motion.

2013 BMW R1200GS Suspension

Five riding modes are available and each changes the parameters of ABS, ASC, ESA and throttle response. However, you can adjust pre-selected ESA settings to your personal preference and turn ABS and ASC off. In all modes except for Enduro Pro your custom settings will be lost by turning the ignition key to off. To maintain your settings use the kill switch.

VIEW: Read about KTM's new 1190 Adventure R

Riding Modes
  Rain Road Dynamic Enduro Enduro Pro
ASC Early Intervention Optimal traction Minor drifts possible Reduced ASC intervention Minimal ASC intervention
ABS Tuned for on-road use Tuned for on-road use Tuned for on-road use Tuned for optimal deceleration with on-road tires on loose surfaces Tuned for optimal deceleration with on-road tires on loose surfaces. Rear brake ABS deactivates when using rear brake.
Throttle Response Smooth Optimal Direct Smooth Optimal
Dynamic ESA Soft Normal Hard Soft Hard

I found the pre-selected settings for Rain, Road and Dynamic to be nicely configured other than occasionally preferring the Normal ESA damping setting over Hard when in Dynamic mode. In Enduro mode BMW severely reduces the traction-control intervention, but during hard acceleration up a steep fire road the ASC was constantly retarding wheel spin causing an uncomfortable herky-jerky motion, so I simply switched ASC off and was happy with the result. Duke reports TC intervention in Enduro Pro is much less intrusive. The ABS setting in Enduro mode was to my liking and so I left it on after turning it off and finding no real benefit to having it not functioning.

2013 BMW R1200GS Action Left

On the road the 525-lb (claimed curb weight) GS transitions and holds tight lines better than the bigger sport-tourers weighing 100 pounds or more than the GS. Some testers commented that the new GS exhibits a slower turn-in due to its slightly wider tire profiles (120/70 front and 170/60 rear vs 110/80 front and 150/70 rear), but this stopped no one from pushing the Beemer to the limits of its tire adhesion. The good things is, anyone lamenting the loss of the previous model GS can stop because for now all three GS models remain available for purchase and BMW is ensuring that an Adventure version of the 2013 model is forthcoming.

Model Price
R1200GS $16,150
R1200GS Adventure $18,350
New R1200GS $15,800
New R1200GS Adventure TBA

However good the new GS may be, it’s not perfect. Numbers on the analog speedo are small and hard to read. And, while the adjustable windscreen does modulate windblast, for some reason German engineers decided to locate the adjusting knob on the right side of the bike, forcing a rider to reach across with a left hand or set the cruise control to use a right hand. There’s also the fact that even when paying $18,870 for the Premium Plus package, a customer wanting BMW saddlebags must cough up another nearly $1,000, taking the GS right up to the $20k threshold.

VIEW: Read our 2012 Adventure-Touring Shootout

2013 BMW R1200GS Gauges

We give BMW props for not only implementing a slipper clutch to help control back-torque during spirited road riding, but also the clutch’s other, self-energizing feature, that reduces clutch pull to that of a 450 motocrosser. Introduced on the K1600s, the self-energizing clutch has been tweaked to reduce the pulsation at the lever reported on the initial design.

Having said all this it’s no secret we’re mostly enamored with the 2013 GS. But... we’re also salivating to get a KTM Adventure in our possession – a bike that promises to give the new Beemer some stiff competition. As far as we’re concerned that can’t happen soon enough!

MSRP $15,800
Horsepower 111 @ 8000 rpm
Torque 78 ft-lb @ 6700 rpm
Engine Capacity 1170 cc
Engine Type Air/liquid-cooled flat twin-cylinder, four valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke 101 mm x 73 mm
Compression 12.5:1
Fuel System EFI
Clutch Wet multi-disc slipper clutch, hydraulically operated
Final Drive Six-speed constant-mesh
Frame Continuous tubular steel bridge-type
Front Suspension Telelever
Rear Suspension EVO Paralever
Front Brakes Dual floating discs, four-piston radial calipers
Rear Brakes Single disc, two-piston floating caliper
Front Tire 120/70 x 19
Rear Tire 170/60 x 17
Seat Height/TD> 33.5/34.3 inches
Wheelbase 59.3 inches
Rake/Trail 25.5°/3.9 in.
Curb Weight 525 lbs
Fuel Capacity 5.3 gal
Electronics Heated grip, cruise control
Colors Fire Blue, Racing Red, Thunder Gray Metallic, Alpine White
Warranty 3 yrs., 36,000 miles

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