WORDS BY: Matt Hull (in Sunny Portugal).
The new BMW R 1250 GS was never going to look dramatically different – why change the best-selling large motorcycle? But the competition has been introducing more and more powerful engines, so BMW allowed their engineers some free space in the engine department for this updated model.
The engine has been bored and stroked out to 1254cc from 1170cc, but the biggest change is in the cylinder heads – where the boxer engine now features variable valve timing; or ShiftCam.
ShiftCam is a simple system that enables the engine to benefit from the best cam timing and duration for what it’s being asked to do. For part-throttle openings, or lower in the rev range the cam has a shorter lift and less duration, meaning the inlet valves are open less. But ask for more throttle or higher revs and the cam shifts sideways, bringing into play a higher lift, longer duration cam lobe, more suited to performance. At the same time, swirl in the combustion chamber is better by having the two inlet valves open different amounts to each other.
The R 1250 GS is unusual to ride at first. Thanks to the small amount of change, the bike feels the same; the large TFT dash being the only instant difference. Suspension, seating and even the bodywork are similar at least to look at to the current model.
But pull away and the bike thrusts forward. Any revs. Any gear. Much of engine technology is a compromise – not anymore. Overtaking is a doddle, pulling out of corners is hilarious. In fact, this bike could easily pull a seventh gear. This engine can be docile, or it can be ferocious. Power is up from 125bhp to 136bhp but torque is up 14% and that’s what you feel. And those who owned a Honda VFR800 VTEC? You can’t feel a step on the GS; the change from one cam lobe to another happens within 5 milliseconds and you’re too bust holding on anyway.
Suspension is the same as the current model with a few electronic tweaks. The hillstart control is fully automatic now – I found it quite handy I’ll admit. But overall the powerful, thrusting engine, allied to one of the best suspension systems and one of the most practical riding positions has now made the R 1250 GS a formidable weapon; like a two-wheeled Super estate car. You could spend a long time looking for sportsbikes that could get away from you on a GS. Or you could be two-up, fully loaded to ride around for a couple of weeks. With the new GS, you really have got a Swiss army knife on wheels.
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BMW R1200GS (2019)
ENGINE: 1,254cc air/liquid-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke boxer engine with two overhead, spur gear driven camshafts, a counterbalance shaft and BMW’s ShiftCam variable intake camshaft control system
POWER: 136bhp @ 7750rpm
TORQUE: 105lb-ft @ 6250rpm
FRAME: Two-section frame concept consisting of main frame with bolt-on rear frame, load-bearing engine
BRAKES: (F) Twin 305mm diameter floating disc brakes discs with 4-piston radial brake calipers (R) Single 276mm diameter disc brake with 2-piston floating caliper
TRANSMISSION: Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox with helical gearing system
SUSPENSION: (F) BMW Motorrad Telelever central spring strut 37mm diameter forks with 190mm of travel (R) Cast aluminium single-sided swing arm with BMW Motorrad Paralever rear spring with 200mm of travel (with adjustable spring preload and rebound-stage damping – and optional Dynamic ESA)
WHEELS: (F) 3.00 x 19 (R) 4.50 x 17″
TYRES: (F) 120/70 R19 (R) 170/60 R17
SEAT HEIGHT: 850/870mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 20 litres
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 4.75 litres to 100km
WEIGHT: 249kg (wet)
R 1250 GS £13,415
R 1250 GS Rallye £13,950
R 1250 GS Rallye TE £16,975
R 1250 GS TE £16,200
R 1250 GS Exclusive TE £ 16,500