2010 BMW R1200GS Review
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BMW’s GS is a stout, jack-of-all-trades bike that’s the steed of choice for many well-heeled, adventure-seeking riders. Its devotees boast epic levels of zealousness, and the bike’s 30th anniversary this year and nearly 30 percent share of BMW sales suggest that GS mania shows no signs of waning.
So with a light touch and a quiet nod to customer input, BMW Motorrad has made slight alterations to their winning R1200GS formula for 2010: they’ve implanted the valvetrain from their more aggressive HP2 Sport model, while adding a few more subtle incorporations like windshield adjustment knobs that are easier to turn, new instrument graphics, and revised brake and clutch fluid reservoirs.
The 2010 model’s new dual-overhead cam valvetrain is outwardly differentiated by two cylinder head bolts instead of four, and keen eyes will also notice the addition of an exhaust valve, intended to give the GS a bit more growl. Revised pistons have been matched to the combustion chamber’s upgraded flow characteristics, and sodium-filled valves have been added for better cooling. The engine’s revitalized personality adds five horsepower for a total of 110, and 3 more lb-ft of torque, which brings total twist to 88 lb-ft… but the incremental spec sheet boost is less consequential than the seat-of-the-pants gains, which include smoother revving, greater low and mid-range torque, and a more aggressive willingness to rev to the 8,500 rpm redline, now 500 rpm higher than before.
The standard R1200GS is available in three levels: a base model ringing in at $14,950, a $16,400 Standard Package which includes heated grips, handguards, and ABS, and a $17,695 Premium Package that adds ESA (electronic suspension adjustment), an onboard computer, and saddlebag mounts. A long-distance oriented Adventure model offers 3.4 more gallons of fuel capacity (for a staggering 8.7 gallons), and 0.8 more inches of suspension travel (for 8.3 inches front, and 8.7 inches rear.)
The Adventure version also adds crash bars, aluminum cylinder head covers, standard cross-spoke wheels and handguards, and greater wind protection thanks to small deflectors and a taller windscreen. The tradeoff for the Adventure model’s husky proportions is a seat that’s 1.5 inches taller (bringing total tush altitude to 35 inches), and a porky 564-pound wet weight. The GS Adventure starts at $17,000, jumping to $18,700 for the Standard Package which includes heated grips, ABS, and saddle bag mounts.) The $20,245 Premium Package adds ESA, an onboard computer, and fog lights.
The GS and GS Adventure are both relatively tall bikes, so climbing aboard can be a bit of an issue for the inseam-challenged. Once saddled up, the big twin-cylinder engine fires up with a brief jolt, exhibiting the so-called “torque reaction” phenomenon, where revving the engine makes it tip slightly to the right due to the rotational inertia of the longitudinal crankshaft.
Heave the bike upright, pull the clutch, and click the shifter lightly into gear, and the GS launches forward with ease, thanks to the impressive low and mid-range torque of the twin-cylinder engine. An upright seating posture and a commanding view of the road lends confidence to high-speed street riding, and though our tester wore knobby-style tires, handling generally felt stable on tarmac. Sporbike riders might criticize the Paralever suspension as lacking the tactile feel offered by a traditional telescopic fork, but it’s easy to get accustomed to the BMW’s setup and eventually build the confidence required for more extreme lean angles.
Switching from tarmac to trails surrounding the Yosemite area, we adjusted the GS’s ESA to “Offroad” mode, immediately noticing the softer suspension damping and greater travel, which accommodated rocks, branches, and surface irregularities rather effectively. ABS is best disabled here, as it proves virtually ineffective over gravel and dirt. Since our test bikes weren’t equipped with optional traction control, it took a bit of self-discipline not to twist the throttle too hard while traversing muddy and dusty sections of trail; the bike’s grunty torque has a tendency to kick the tail out rather nicely, and it’s a luxury that can be easily abused when adrenaline tempts you push the bike harder.
After back-to-back rides on 2009 and 2010 models, the improvements to the engine became more apparent; in contrast to the outgoing bike, the 2010 model’s throttle response felt crisper in the mid-range, and pulled more strongly towards redline. The added eagerness does make the new bike more fun to ride aggressively, though the difference isn’t pronounced enough to make owners of ’09 models regret their purchases.
Switching to the GS Adventure model reveals a different beast altogether, as its wider tank, taller seat, and more imposing size make it a bit more cumbersome to handle than the standard GS. On the flip side, though, its added wind protection proved handy when temperatures dropped and a snowstorm moved into the Yosemite valley. Optional heated grips warmed up our hands nicely, though letting go for more than a moment quickly dissipates heat, especially when temperatures dip into the mid-30s as they did during our ride.
When the snowfall thickened and ice threatened higher elevations, it was finally time to cut short our test ride. Though conditions were rough, the GS ‘s performance was difficult to fault. It may lack the laser-sharp on-road ferocity and cohesive electronics package of the 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200, but its offroad abilities are significant enough to attract an entirely different type of buyer, one who wouldn’t hesitate to take his bike on a globe-hopping expedition. On those grounds alone, BMW’s enduro flagship offers a unique skillset that distinguishes it from the competition. Criticize its high pricepoint and quirky characteristics as you may, but remember that the GS’s three decades of success are rooted in a level of engineering quality that has enabled it to stand tall in a market where durability and versatility reign supreme.
In keeping with our usual format – we present the review from three separate perspectives: 1) a Beginning Riders , 2) an Intermediate Rider , 3) and an Expert Rider . We hope you find this format helpful…. The BMW R1200GS Review for Beginning Riders - Click Here . BMW R1200GS review for Intermediate Riders- Click Here . BMW R1200GS review for Expert Riders- Click Here.
Due to its relatively tall seat height of 33.5 inches for the GS and the stratospherically high 35.0 inch measurement for the GS Adventure, most beginners will want to opt out of their big BMW adventure touring fantasies, and perhaps consider more compact Beemers like the F800GS, or smaller-displacement offerings from other manufacturers. With wet weights of 504 and 564 pounds, the GS and GS Adventures are a lot of mass to handle, even for some more advanced riders. Buyers do, however, have low suspension and seat options for the non-Adventure model; regardless, newbies are encouraged to steer clear of these bikes, perhaps with the consolation that they’ve got something to aspire to down the line.
Large-framed riders and those with a bit more experience might be better equipped to handle the BMW GS, though the taller and heavier Adventure model can prove a handful for intermediate level motorcyclists. The boxer-style engine provides plenty of low-end torque that’s manageable on the road, but can require a deft hand on trails where traction levels are low. BMW GSs in any form are generally large bikes with commanding footprints, but confident riders with greater-than-average upper body strength shouldn’t have too much difficulty lifting the GS off its sidestand and heading off into the open road.
If there’s a segment of riders the BMW GS is aimed towards, it’s the experienced subset with plenty of miles under their belts. From its large proportions to its relatively tall clearance, the GS and GS Adventure is built for almost anything the open road (or trail) might throw at it, and likewise, its rewards can be great for those who aren’t daunted by its plus-sized scale. In fact, the biggest challenges for the GS rider come when it’s at a standstill; lifting upright when parked on an angle can take quite a bit of effort, and tippy toes at stoplights are a reality, even with the optional low seat and/or suspension. But at speed, little effort is required at the handlebar, and the easy clutch and powerful brakes make higher performance riding a breeze for the more experienced rider.
The 2010 BMW R1200GS and GS Adventure are adventure touring-style motorcycles that start at $14,950 and $17,000 respectively. An air and oil-cooled, 1,170cc boxer-style twin cylinder engine with electric start meets a six-speed transmission, and total fuel capacity is 5.3 gallons for the GS, and 8.7 gallons for the GS Adventure. BMW’s Telever front suspension features a coilover shock and a proprietary wishbone-style setup for reduced brake dive, and the monoshock rear suspension is mated to a Paralever rear shaft drive on a single-sided swingarm. The suspension can be manually set for pre-load and compression, or electronically adjusted on the fly with the optional ESA (Electronic Suspenion Adjustment.) Braking power is supplied by Brembo via a dual disc, 12 inch setup at the front wheel, and a single-disc, 10.4 inch arrangement at the rear.
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