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If the adventure motorcycling world is the beautiful jungle from Avatar, the BMW R1250GS Adventure is the goddess Eywa for most people. It is that proverbial spirit of the wild that guides you through the wilderness, acquainting you with it and keeping you safe from it too. We recently got a chance to take one out for a ride and the Bavarian Adventure-Boxer seems like it is the real deal.
Text: Karan Singh Bansatta
Photos: Sunil Gupta
One look at the R1250GS Adventure invokes two thoughts; it is purposeful and it is massive. It is 2,270mm of length massive and it is 268 kg (wet) of weight massive. It is also 980mm wide massive and 217 kg of payload massive! And yet, the execution of the design is flawless and the motorcycle looks dynamic even with dimensions like that. Even more so in the HP colour scheme.
BMW has always been known for its radical and quirky motorcycle designs and this one is no exception. Starting with the front, the LED headlight has been designed in the same radical (and very technical) manner. The beak and the high windshield (super sturdy too) continue the I like’em big, I like’em chunky theme.
The massive shrouded fuel follows the same end with the sturdy engine and frame protectors adding to the visual bulk. GS insignia on the tank, BMW insignia on the tank shroud and the R1250 marking on the beak are there to help you guess the name of the motorcycle… and HP written in addition to the R1250 tells you that it is even more ‘besondere’ than the base model.
The dynamic lines continue towards the rear but the size tapers off a tad bit. Despite that, the chunky exhaust, saddlebag mounts and a beefy carrier ensure that the bike does not look disproportionate from any angle. And if all that was not enough, the spoked wheels and single-side swingarm complete what we refer to as a typical BMW-sexy package.
Saddle up and… the difficulties kinda start. The motorcycle is tall even on the lowest setting of the adjustable seat height. The suspension is electronically adjustable and you can set the preload to minimum to help the matters.
Even then, taking it off the stand and backing it out of your parking is a test of your worthiness of this machine. But then, that is typical of most adventure bikes and this is the only time you’ll feel the kerb weight of the R1250GS Adventure. We say that because once on a roll, you’ll witness pure German magic. More on that later.
The ignition is keyless and welcome to 2020. One push of the button brings on the radiant 6.5” TFT screen. This is not a smartphone review but that screen is so vibrant and the colours are so punchy. With the next sentence, it may seem like a smartphone review yet again but it is a BMW so we cannot help it. The home screen is crowded with a bar-graph style tacho, a digital speedo, and gear selection indicator.
But that was just the home screen and the dash provides a multi-page menu with a plethora of options and genius intuitivity. The latter is a made-up word. With the fun-to-use jog dial, you can navigate through the various options ranging from trip computer to rider aids including suspension adjustment. The pièce de résistance is Bluetooth connectivity with support for smartphones and headsets using the BMW Motorrad Connected App, one of the best in business.
Since we are on the topic, the R1250GS Adventure, like many other BMW motorcycles, is almost indefinitely customizable. An example is the BMW Premium Package that equips your R1250GS Adventure with IMU-based rider aids such as cornering ABS, lean-sensitive Dynamic Traction Control, incline-sensing Hill Start Control, electronically adjustable suspension, quickshifter, cruise control, heated grips, tyre pressure monitor, and of course, keyless ride. Phew… the motorcycle is big and the catalogue, bigger.
The one gripe that we have with such loaded motorcycles is that the part where you actually talk about the ride is delayed. But just like Thanos, it is inevitable. We would like to start off by saying that flat engines or Boxers are perhaps the sweetest engines out there. Smooth as silk, forever distinguishable from the crowd and with a very likeable soundtrack.
The one on duty on the R1250GS Adventure is a 1,254cc flat-twin that makes 134 bhp of power and 143 Nm of power. It comes to life with a silken rumble and settles into a steady thrum. The numbers are just as good in the real world as they are on paper. Slot into the first gear and get going, no drama at all.
The anti-hopping clutch feels great as it is hydraulically operated and so, it is pretty concise too. The action is soft and your hands are spared the pain even on congested roads. As soon as you find an empty stretch, the acceleration and the progression through the gears is very smooth and natural.
The quality of Boxers where they are almost perfectly balanced makes itself apparent when you reach triple-digit speeds in no time at all. Keep going and it can propel this beastly motorcycle to over 200 km/h. Riding the 1250GS Adventure on open roads is a vibration-free and joyous experience and perhaps that is why the big GS garners praises from long-distance travellers from all over the world.
We did mention that the heft of the motorcycle is not palpable on the move and that is because of the fantastic tuning, ample torque, and most importantly, BMW ShiftCam. Bavarian speak for variable valve timing, it ensures that you are never out of grunt whether you are cruising along in the lower revs or bruising along in the higher revs. Overtaking other vehicles at a considerable speed is effortless.
We had no qualms with the gearbox either with only slight abruptness noticed while shifting up from 1st gear without using the clutch. The rider modes work as advertised with Dynamic being the most fun and Rain watching your back in slicker conditions. It is probably down to the immaculate tuning of the throttle response, peak power, traction control and so on. Too much to keep up with…
Did we say Dynamic was the most fun mode? If we did, it was perhaps because we forgot about the Enduro Mode! While we did not get enough time to utilize it fully, nothing could stop us from getting a taste at least. This mode lets the rear slide safely for those controlled (and pro-like) drifts and with the ABS disengageable on the rear, it is not very hard to show off on the R1250GS Adventure.
There is also an Enduro Pro mode which allows even more slip of the rear tyre and even lets you lock up the rear fully. But it is meant for off-road tyres and the Michelin Anakee III (120/70-R19 and 170/60-R17) sparsely belong to that category. They work great on the road and just fine on light trails though. We said it before and we’d like to say it again, the engine is what makes the R1250GS Adventure such a fantastic tourer and a thoroughly capable off-roader.
The handling department of the R1250GS Adventure both, on the road and off it, is a surprising combination of a technological marvel and an organic experience. The way it rides in varying conditions and terrains reminds of a certain… Cullinan. The suspension of the GS is capable of soaking up even the worst of bumps and surface anomalies on the road and yet, it will go through corners almost like a more purpose-built motorcycle.
Even more surprising is the Dynamic Damping of the ESA. It gauges the conditions and adjusts the suspension according to the need. It almost ensures that you enjoy every bit of the ride the way it is meant to be whether it is a bad patch or smooth and curvy mountain roads.
Even off the road, it keeps working in the background so provide you with the best possible feedback so that you can ride it to the fullest. It is perhaps one of the most accommodating motorcycles that you can ride standing up in terms of both, the purpose and dimensions.
With the IMU doing so much in the background, the R1250GS Adventure almost actively tries to keep you safe, protected, and upright. An example could be the cornering ABS which takes care of any nasty surprises that may encounter during the course of negotiating a corner. The well-calibrated ABS just adds to the already stellar braking performance of the GS.
Dynamic Brake Control is another nifty feature added to the already robust safety net of this Beemer. Basically, it closes the throttle regardless of the grip position in case of panic braking, a situation where sometimes riders open the throttle instead of closing it. An honest mistake for the most part taken care of by a nifty trick on BMW’s part.
For the R1250GS Adventure, I don’t think we need to talk ergonomics. After all, it is a very well thought out motorcycle and a mistake in that department is almost impossible. But still, just for the sake of it let us point out that the motorcycle is exceedingly comfortable. The seat is roomy and comfy, the rider’s triangle is suited for long hauls and the windshield also does its job commendably. And this motorcycle takes long hauls very seriously with a 30L fuel tank.
A closing statement? There may not be any and even if there is, it may not be a convincing one. Why? Because when you talk about a motorcycle this thorough and this engulfing, you are bound to miss out on something. Did we cover all you need to know? Yes. Is there a chance that something minor was missed out on? Again, yes. If you were to ride a BMW R1250GS Adventure tomorrow will you remember what we missed out on? We don’t think so. And that’s all a good motorcycle is all about. The only thing that you’ll remember and hear long after you have returned the motorcycle is the Call of the wild… which sounds very similar to the peaceful thrum of that Boxer.