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After creating the adventure touring market more than 30 years ago, BMW released a new GS last month, at the Intermot motorcycle show. The current R1200GS, introduced 9 years ago, quickly became not only the adventure touring standard but also the default, all-round, do everything motorbike, racking up more than 170,000 bikes sold. Seeing the new R1200GS today at EICMA in Milan was the first chance I've had to see the new bike in the metal, and having Chris Pfeiffer, world champion stunt rider, take it down a couple of flights of stairs made a great impression.
Having only seen a few photos online, I was not fully convinced that the all- new R1200GS would be a worthy successor of the outgoing model. I'm happy to report the motorcycle shows much better in the flesh, taking the classic handsome GS lines in a more modern direction. The riding position continues to fit my 6'2” frame perfectly, however the revised handgrips hold a bewildering number of switches. Many riders will rejoice and BMW's decision to finally adopt the standard, single switch turn signal control, however I couldn't tell you what any of the other switched do. The overall quality of the machine is impressive, it's an expensive bike and it feels like it. It is well presented, the switches feel smooth and solid, the paint looks deep and it feels all-day comfortable.
Horsepower has been upped to 125, but the real story is the shift from air cooling to water cooling. I took a peek under the cowling, and sure enough, the were 2 small radiators keeping things cool under there. In truth the bike uses both liquid and air cooling, using Formula 1 inspired ‟precision cooling”, so the opposed cylinder arrangement and character remain intact. BMW has also moved to a wet clutch, so the burning clutch smell so familiar to GS riders who venture well off road may be a thing of the past. The drive shaft has also switched sides, moving to the left hand side of the bike, allegedly to make the bike look better on the side stand, although I can't confirm that.
The new 2013 R1200GS features a ride by wire throttle, or E Gas as BMW calls it. In addition to the myriad of efficiencies that can be achieved by moving to electronic throttle actuation, 5 riding modes (‟Rain”, ‟Road”, ‟Dynamic”, ‟Enduro” and ‟Enduro Pro”) and electronic cruise control are also included in the addition of E Gas. The motorbike incorporates many of the other electronic rider aids like Automatic Stability Control and (ASC) and Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) and the standard Anti-lock Breaking System (ABS), making for seamless power delivery and improved control.
BMW chose to unveil the new F800GT at EICMA, which is essentially an updated version of the venerable F800ST. The biggest change is the redesigned body work which is said to provide improved wind and weather protection. The parallel twin motor is now pumping out 90hp, an increase of 5hp over the old motor. ABS is now standard, and a host of rider aids, such as Automatic Stability Control and (ASC) and Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA) and no available.
The new F800GT looks good, and the huge array of luggage and touring options ensures it make an excellent cross country companion. In addition to the enhanced aerodynamics, a new seat and revised riding position means more comfort and (hopefully) longer days in the saddle. The suspension has also been tweaked, with the swing arm gaining 50mm resulting in a plusher ride and lower ride height. Although the tire sizes haven't changed, the wheels are lighter reducing unsprung weight and further improving handling.
2013 will mark 90 years as a motorcycle manufacturer for BMW (many people don't know they've been building bikes longer than cars) and today at EICMA, BMW announced that it will launch a new air cooled model to highlight the anniversary. BMW didn't offer many details on what the mystery motorbike will be, but they did show an illustration of a retro styled styled motorcycle which looked similar to some of the concept bikes they were showing a couple of years ago. If the future 90th anniversary motorcycle looks anything like the drawling, they'll have another winner on their hands.