BMW R1200GS. 13 Things I Learned After 30,000 Km [18,000 Miles]

Long-term review of a 2015 BMW R1200GS – the most popular enduro-travel motorcycle in the world.

It’s been two years and 18,000 miles since I own a 2015 R1200GS. I used it both on asphalt & off-road, and I put some serious miles on the clock in two adventure trips: the Great Caucasus Ride and Morocco. 

It’s been four years since the liquid cooled R1200GS appeared and became a market hit. There’s a facelift version presented at this year's EICMA – it goes on sale in short time. Before that, I’ll share my views about the two-year R1200GS experience. 

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Great Engine. It offers plenty of power and torque and lots of character. It doesn’t share the ballistic KTM power, but it’s still competitive. You can feel its vibes at 5,000 rpm, and it’s wonderful between 4,000 and 7,000 rpm. Average fuel consumption: 5.5 l/100 cm [42.73 mpg].

Formidable Suspension. Although complex, it’s still the most comfortable suspension on the market due to the telelever – paralever system. No dive in, no harsh ride. For a sporty ride, just select the hard damping setting [Dynamic ESA Only], and it will transform into a sport-touring bike. When putting your luggage on, you must choose a hard damping setting otherwise, the bike will become unstable in corners. 

Clunky Gearbox. Maybe it was my bad luck, but my R1200GS has a clunky gearbox. It acts better now than in its first 10,000 km, but it’s still not as smooth as other motorcycles' gearbox. On the other hand, BMW Motorrad revised the R1200GS gearbox this year, so the newer models should be better. 

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State-of-the-Art Electronics and Brakes. Although my R1200GS doesn’t have the fancy cornering ABS, I’m happy with my electronics. The intelligent system transforms this Behemoth into an easy to ride bike whatever the terrain. Fit some TKC 80’s on it, and you just have to accelerate and push the front brake lever from time to time. It will do the job for you. 

Wind protection. The R1200GS comes with the best factory-windshield: good protection, no wind-chattering. But it fails to protect your shoulders. You can’t feel the wind at the first ride, but you may realize it as the time goes by. I’m planning to switch it with a GS Adventure windshield. 

Exposed parts. Remember these elements: valve&cylinder, headlight, radiator, paralever. You must protect them if you plan to minimise a crash-related damage. Some decent protection will cost you $1,000. 

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It’s Expensive. A standard R1200GS starts from $16,500. Put some spoked wheels, keyless ride, gear shift assist pro, riding modes and vario cases and the price will go beyond the $23,000 mark. On the other hand, its got a good resale value. I could easily sell mine for $19,000. It’s not just the acquisition price. The original parts and the service labor are also expensive. 

Pick the spoked wheels. If you can choose between the cast aluminum wheels and the spoked wheels, chose the spokes. It’s just $500 more, and you’ll be happier when running over potholes and rough roads. 

Technical problems – beware of the buttons. The only problem encountered in 18,000 miles was the “Info” button. The dealer changed it at the last service interval. I also had a small problem with a windshield holder screw. It screwed off. But that’s it. My BMW R1200GS proved to be a very reliable motorcycle. 

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Keyless Ride – You must pick this option. When BMW introduced the keyless ride system on the R1200GS, I considered it to be just a caprice. But soon I realized that those moments when you put your gear on (including your gloves), and you don’t remember where you put your key are gone. 

Change your air filter often. Although the BMW mechanics will change your air filter once at two service intervals (12,000 miles), it's better to change it at every 5,000 miles, especially if you ride in dusty conditions. 

Solid construction. I had a couple of easy-crashes these two years. One of them recently, in off-road. Nothing broken. If you put some crash-bars and shields on the exposed parts, the R1200GS will be a very tough partner. Otherwise, some parts as the cylinder heads could be damaged in a crash. 

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I’m still in love. Although I met faster, more comfortable and more beautiful bikes, I’m still in love with my BMW R1200GS. I’ll write another report at 40,000 miles. 

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