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How Good Can The New 2013 BMW R1200GS Be?

Context is good.



The new 2013 BMW R1200GS is coming. Nothing can stop that now, not even the thousands of bleeding hearts of current GS owners who think it’s fine the way it is. All we can do now is try to prepare. Here at MC, we decided the best way to prepare was to get our hands on a 2012 R1200GS and remind ourselves what BMW is trying to improve on.

Astride the 2012 GS—in this case, the appropriately named Adventure variant—I set out to find some twisty, bumpy, unforgiving dirt roads. Mr Editor Cook and Ari Henning came along, Cook aboard his beloved and almost outrageously farkle’d Suzuki DR 650 and Ari on the new Husqvarna 650 Terra. I like riding with my friends better anyway, but I didn’t know this route and plus it’s nice to have some manpower on hand when your dirtbike weighs as much as a small moon.

The short trek from our office near LAX to the aforementioned dirt roads did well to illustrate the 2012 GS’s all-encompassing street manners. Freeway, canyon, suburbs, no problem. There’s no escaping the mass of the R1200GS, or the fact that it’s perched way up high, but once it’s moving it doesn’t take long to forget.

IMG 1841 300x225 photo

The R1200GS; otherwise known as Der Gelande Strasse icebreaker. The Husky 650 Terra that Ari Henning brought on this ride went across this same puddle without breaking through. Physics don’t lie, kids.

When we finally got to the dirt, I was nervous. Cook and Ari skipped confidently off the pavement and across the first stream we saw, while my life flashed before my eyes. All of that pavement behind me was making me think about what I was doing. We’re going off-road? Really? Just like previous iterations of the GS, this one was all I remembered and more. I stood comfortably on the pegs, blasted over water bars, held powerslides through corners, and tip-toed through washed out ditches. What a machine! Was this really the bike that had warmed my hands and kept the wind off my chest while Cook and Ari suffered northbound on the 405 freeway? And now it was navigating washes and fording half-frozen water crossings? Keeping up with dual sports half its size on a fire road? Surely not.

It was nostalgia and motorcycling paradise rolled into one. Just as every iteration of GS has expanded my horizons so too has its descendant. Over lunch we discussed the general complaints that people have about the current GS—it was a short discussion. We couldn’t really think of any, in fact. Sure, it’s a little oxymoronic, trying to be a big, luxurious dirt bike. But it’s also the gold standard by which all other adventure touring bikes are measured. That’s a scary thing to alter, but BMW is confident. In a recent discussion with BMW Motorrad USA Vice President Hans Blesse, the MC staff briefly brought up the irony of big, heavy ADV bikes. Blesse quickly laughed, shook his head and said, “Just wait ‘til you ride the new one.”

And in just two weeks, I will.

Categories: BMW , Editorial, Motorcycles