Words and photos by Wull (Faithir)
The other day my bike (1200Adventure) went into Motorrad Dalkeith for a service and as agreed with Dave Broon (Chief Sales) I picked up the new 1200 GS to take it out for spin.
On looking at the bike I could not make up my mind if it was ugly or just bland. What makes BMW choose colours like black and battleship grey to paint their bikes? Why not choose bright colours as per the Paris Dakar or Kalahari Yellow or even the blues and reds mixes without the garish graphics.
Dave explained the controls to me and set the mode to 'Road' so off I went heading for home in the pishing rain. I had heard a lot of hype and scepticism about this water cooled version but decided to keep an open mind when comparing it to the 1200 Adventure.
Firstly, the bike feels a lot smaller than mine but it definitely feels like a GS.
The seat had been left on the low setting which was a tad too low for me (I am 5ft 11 ins) but none the less proved comfortable for the short time I was on the bike.
The noise from the exhaust note came across louder than mine.
Most of the controls remain unchanged. However, the one exception was the indicator switch which is now on the left handle bar and toggled by the thumb. This resulted in the occasional mishap as I went for the old arrangement only to find there was fuck all there. All controls felt very light so even Andy McDonald should manage them!
The screen which offered ample protection was set at the highest setting and is easily adjustable even on the move, which will be useful in warmer weather. Sadly no adjustments were required today!! However, I prefer the screen on the Adventure, which is bigger and has side deflectors and so offers better protection and reduces wind noise.
The handling was a lot 'tighter' and very responsive probably due to having a lower centre of gravity and bigger tyres (Metzeler Next).
The suspension suited my everyday riding and there was definitely more feedback from the front which I like on a motorcycle.
Obviously the bike is lighter and slimmer and this could be felt everywhere. First impressions were very impressive so over a cup of tea to thaw out I planned my trip for the next day.
I got up to a nice crisp November sunshine. The roads were quite wet so I decided to go to Dunbar via the motorway. The engine plods along happily in the high gears but it also likes to be revved. The gearbox was slick enough and very positive albeit a tad heavy on the lever at slower speeds and the wet slipper clutch was very effective and did exactly what it was designed for.
I headed along the coast to North Berwick where I stopped for a fish supper - sit in of course!! Then back home to take the dug out for a walk.
Mutt walked and it was back on the bike and heading for Gala via the A68.The roads were drying out which made the ride more enjoyable. Overtaking proved not to be a problem especially in Dynamic mode, due to the extra surge and zip of the very responsive engine, which was an improvement to the older twincam.
The new clock set up was a bit busy for this auld fud and the smaller numbers, especially on the speedo required a bit of focusing!!
Heated grips are a must and they were certainly earning their corn on this run. A heated seat would have been a pleasant luxury but sadly is not an option on this model.
I decided to head home on the A7 - big mistake!!!! The roads were covered in all sort of shit due to the installation of the new rail link to Edinburgh but TCS/ABS did inspire confidence in the bike and it was certainly sure footed in the shite road conditions. Road cleaners were doing their best to keep the road clean but they were fighting a losing battle. When I did eventually get back to Dalkeith the bike looked as though it had gone through a stage on an enduro track!
I thought the bike was good at motorway speeds and it felt very stable indeed. However, there was no luggage fitted to this bike and so it would be interesting to see how it drives with panniers and a top box fitted.
To sum up - I really enjoyed this bike and liked the feel, sure footedness and back up of the electronics, yes I would consider this version rather than the new adventure but Hey! - I haven't test driven that one yet!!
Dave Broon tells me the flywheel on the new GSA is going to be heavier than the standard GS. This is possibly to improve traction and stalling low down the rev range. We will see the official reason once the BMW sales blurb is released!.
BMW did lighten flywheels on the later R80 range in the 1980's.The outcome of this was that they lost character and did not have the same thud thud low down torque of the old ones.
Thanks to Dave Broon at Motorrad Dalkeith for the demo ride.
Words and photos by Wull (Faithir)