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2010 BIKE REVIEW – BMW 1200 GS Adventure

May 6, 2010

If a tall, dark haired, slightly dangerous looking man in a tuxedo walks up to you in a Monte Carlo Casino and introduces himself as “Bond” you can pretty much guess the rest. GS means one thing – BMW, Bayerische Motoren Werke. Big, bad assed, ride it around the world, and load it with so much aftermarket junk as to equal the cost of the bike itself. Why these motorcycles are so much part of the popular culture that The New York Times had an article about the off-road school in last Sunday’s paper. I had a test ride on Cinco de Mayo and wanted to keep heading south. This is a fantastic touring motorcycle.

Pickup any motorcycle magazine in the last 30 years – they all say the same thing about the GS. It’s superb. I’m not even going to try to go into much detail about the electronic suspension, heated grips, ABS, etc.  The internet is filled with eye bulging, sweaty palmed reviews praising the capability of the bike.  Here are a few links:

Quirky by design. Functional? I think not. I wish someone from Baja Designs could have some input with the Germans.  It seems that one accessory every owner immediately installs is additional lights. I think BMW should come up with something a little less clever and produces a TON more light.

Simple gauges are a combination of digital and analog. Surely BMW must be able to design something more functional and better looking.  The tach and speedo need a re-design.  The digital portion of the instrument panel is fine.  I like the big “N” and the gear indicator. All in all not bad but for something costing $20,000 better gauges would be nice. The brakes are servo assisted and offer ABS. Using the front brake provides 100% application of both the front and back brakes. The rear applies the rear only. Having ridden BMW’s with an earlier version of assisted brakes I hated them. Not so with the GS – it’s a significant improvement and the feedback and feel is superb.

Underway, the GS is just fantastic – mostly.  Easy to ride, great engine, I even like the exhaust sound.  Vibration is minimal and there is plenty of power anywhere you want it.   I dialed up sport mode and hit the gas.  The road heading towards Westford, VT has some serious frost heaves and broken pavement.  Surprisingly, the GS was a handful over broken pavement at speed.  I actually had to dial my speed back.  It was uncomfortable on any of the other ESA settings (Sport, Comfort, Normal).  Over everything else it was fine.  One thing I hear from owners and sales staff is that you have to spend serious time with the GS to learn to love it.  I agree.  The bike has a ton of adjustments.  The most immediately striking was the adjustable seat.  Just remove the rider seat with the key and turn it over and choose your setting – FANTASTIC!

This bike is a seriously capable weapon for long distance touring and adventure riding (if you are not afraid of firing your nice shiny $20k bike into the ground). It is one of the few motorcycles I’ve tested that I could confidently toss a leg over and come back 50,000 miles later and still love it. Legions of GS riders the world over seem to agree.

NEXT UP – Triumph Tiger review

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