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Thami Masemola
Date published: 07/08/2019
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Tags: BMW; R125; GS; Adventure
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BMW R 1250 GS Launch

We may never know whether they used 18 or 19 secret spices on their birds, but what we are witnesses to, is the fact that it is “finger licking good!” You can watch my daughter when she is finished eating for a very theatrical demonstration.

Towards the end of February this year, Bavarian Motor Works launched the new BMW R1250 GS and the BMW R1250 GS Adventure motorbikes nationally. This comes after they also launched the new BMW GS 750 and GS 850 Adventure bikes in the last quarter of 2018. The two younger brothers give a sneak peek into what the German manufacturer has up its sleeves. Against all odds they went for the shortest front screens, in an era where most brands opt for the traditional screen height derivative. Not to overlook the state-of-the-art user friendly TFT screen, which is leading in its class, just to mention a few things.

We landed in Durban and soon after that, the business of the day resumed. The marketing representative gave a brief introduction of the business side of things, while a strong cup of coffee was working its magic to wake me up. “The BMW R 1250 GS and BMW R1250 GS Adventure are the pinnacle models of the brand”, she said, and those words stayed on my mind for the entire launch. Then she introduced the national sales manager who continued to idolise these machines. Brands have a way of being economical with the truth, little did I know what I was signing up for. They also tend to speak highly of their products, but this was not the case, I learned later that day.



A brief history The GS has been with us for about 35 years, and earlier versions of this iconic bike date as far back as 1993. Back then the engine produced 66kW of power (72kW in 1999, 77kW in 2004 and continued this increase up to 92kW in 2013). That was before these current monsters were launched earlier this year. Current power and torque figures will be detailed further down in this article.

Clearly the engineers in Germany are doing something right with this bike that sees the model on this upward and popular trend. According to BMW, the GS range currently enjoys a 33.4% market share, which is amazing to say the least, considering that these are not exactly cheap toys. But then again, one cannot put a price tag on happiness.



Appearance The differences between the two bikes are very noticeable, with the Adventure option being bulkier. It has crash bars (standard on the model), looks more aggressive and ready for a fight, much like those muscular guys at gym who use steroids. From the front-end, the Adventure is also equipped with a set of LED spot lights. Both models have a full LED headlight as standard, which incorporates Daytime Running Lights. Tiny, but efficient LED indicators, flank either side of the frame.

Behind the manually adjustable front screen is the most modern TFT screen from which the rider can read any information and/or status of the bike. Viewing and selecting the different modes and settings is easily done via the rotary dial/selector on the left-hand side. Creature comforts include heated handle bars with adjustable settings for heat (Off, Low and High).


The Adventure fuel tank is huge and intimidating, coming in at 30 litres with 4 litres for reserve. A tiny storage compartment on top keeps regular small necessities nearby – things like plastic cards, keys/remotes, coins, etc., can enjoy this little sealed cubby-hole. I found that the huge tank also helped to keep wind away as I could easily tuck and hug the frame with both inner thighs (inner leg curve 1950/1990 mm respectively). The riding position is comfortable and very intimate, with two seat height options, 890 and 910mm respectively. For a short guy like myself, I was comfortable even with the higher seating position. It was the ladies that had to opt for lower seating. Fully fuelled and road ready, the BMW GS 1250 Adventure weighs a healthy 268kg, which is unnoticeable once in motion. Both models are shaft driven which makes the throttle response even more responsive and potent.

Performance Unlike the chicken which we have no idea why it is finger licking good, the secret of the success of this air/liquid cooled 4-stroke flat twin boxer engine is clear. BMW calls it ShiftCam Technology and boy is it a source of an adrenalin rush! When the BMW representative was giving a brief explanation of how it works, I flinched a bit getting ready for some myths presented as facts, but oh I was so wrong. Essentially, the cam literally moves according to the throttle and rider demand, and at any given gear, speed and/or rev range, a sudden opening of the throttle can see the bike thrust forward and so quickly, that there were moments when I could not keep my mouth closed, purely from disbelief – I was never ready.

At 6 250 rpm the boxer engine delivers 143Nm of torque and a 100kW of pure rush at 7 750 rpm. I am generally not one for figures represented to me on paper, but on the actual performance of the “horses”. You have to believe me when I say this is one hell of an athletic horse, especially where it matters most – off-road.



Biker and ride settings can be set from road, rain, dynamic pro and endure pro mode(s) and this is where BMW sets the bar in terms of performance. So clever is the system that it is self-adjusting the entire time, thus separating the bike/rider from the actual suspension. All you get to see is a suspension hard at work and the upper frame almost not moving above.

When riding on gravel and endure pro mode is selected, handling is superb and braking out of this world – one can easily grab on the front brakes hard and come to a complete stop almost immediately – unbelievable.



The Verdict Someone once said that in life two things are certain; death and taxes. Add to that list in my view, the BMW GS 1250 R Adventure bike as far as adventure circles are concerned. It is that good. We all know that Africa can be harsh, and it is not the sort of place for sissies. I can now also recommend a tool to conquer and tame wild Africa. I want to concur with BMW when they said that the BMW R 1250 GS and BMW R 1250 GS Adventure bikes are the pinnacle of the brand. And in my humble opinion will continue to give their competitors a good run for their money.



By TUMELO MAKETEKETE