- BMW is daring a revolution with the cult motorcycle GS
- First cooled with water
- Competitive models are even lighter
- Electronics iron out mistakes made by the driver
- Broad GS customers order a lot of technology
- New skills for driving off-road
BMW is daring a revolution with the cult motorcycle GS
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With the BMW R 1200 GS, BMW has revolutionized the motorcycle world. The fifth generation of the travel enduro was presented at the Intermot trade fair in Cologne.
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Despite the many technical changes, the appearance of the fifth generation hardly differs from its predecessor.
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The biggest innovation is the motor of the travel enduro, which is liquid-cooled for the first time.
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Only areas subject to high thermal loads are flowed through with liquid.
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The twin now has 125 hp and a torque of 125 Newton meters.
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Also new is the construction of the tubular steel frame, which offers more strength.
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A driver’s seat and pillion seat that can be adjusted in height and angle ensure greater comfort.
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Globetrotters and touring riders in all corners of the world have relied on robust motorcycles for years.
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To date, more than 170,000 copies of this bike have been sold worldwide.
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GS has meant “terrain and road” in BMW language since 1980. The BMW could go off-road, but most drivers tend to stay on the road.
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Cruise control, ABS, various driving modes: the GS driver can regulate a lot via the electronics. In rain mode, for example, all chips rule as much as possible to get on rutsc…higer road to compensate for mistakes made by the driver.
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BMW has not yet announced a price for the fifth GS generation. The new one, however, fully equipped (with full LED headlights) should blow the 16,000 euro mark.
After eight years, BMW has completely overhauled its bestseller GS. They want to maintain the long-standing success of the market leader among motorcycles – and leave no screw unchanged.
E.There are products that, through their success, define their own category, a whole class: Apple’s iPhone is such a case, or Volkswagen’s Golf. In the motorcycle segment, BMW’s travel enduro GS is the benchmark: it has been defining the standard for large enduro bikes for more than 30 years and, according to BMW, has been the best-selling large motorcycle in the world for years.
GS, that once stood for off-road / sport, for a tough, sporty off-road motorcycle without compromises. The GS from 2012 is far from it, is considered the egg-laying woolly milk pig among two-wheelers.
A few years ago, their success even gave BMW the financial leeway to overhaul the entire motorcycle division. If such a box-office hit is about to be overhauled, manufacturers usually proceed very cautiously: the new Golf only differs from the old in some details, with the new iPhone 5, a slightly larger screen is already considered a revolution.
BMW, on the other hand, breaks with this rule completely: On Tuesday, the Bavarians presented their new R1200 GS at the Intermot trade fair in Cologne, and leave no screw unchanged. Revolution instead of evolution seems to be the motto of the developers; the seven years of development left time for a completely new design of BMW’s bestseller. Product manager Reiner Fings comments in an interview with the world: "Only the name has remained the same."
First cooled with water
The heart of the new GS is a new two-cylinder boxer engine that only has a displacement of just under 1.2 liters in common with its predecessor: For the first time in over 90 years of construction history, the BMW boxer is no longer cooled with air and oil, but with water.
The conversion is inevitable: The old concept couldn’t achieve much more than 110 hp, explains Fings, the old engine was already running very lean and therefore very hot due to strict emissions regulations. "Water-based coolant transports the heat from the engine much more efficiently – this enables us to increase performance while reducing consumption at the same time."
The new GS now has 125 hp, catching up with the competition – the power arms race has now also begun with the travel enduro bikes, Ducati has long been building its Multistrada with 150 hp, so BMW had to go further.
Competitive models are even lighter
Fings dispels concerns of fans that watering the engine will bring more weight: "The new GS weighs exactly the same as its predecessor with the same equipment". The GS weighs 238 kilos with a full tank, a respectably low figure – but the competition from KTM in Cologne shows with their new Adventure that it can also be much lighter.
The new engine requires a whole series of other changes: From the design to the electronics to the transmission and the chassis, everything has to be adapted for it. The designers now have to accommodate the water cooler, relocate the air intake, need a new bridge frame, a new landing gear. The new design is angular, but every fan will recognize the new one at the gas station as a member of the GS family.
Electronics iron out mistakes made by the driver
The most important innovation, however, is BMW’s electronics offensive: the GS brings more chips with it than some mid-range sedans, the motorcycle manufacturers in the Berlin plant convert the GS into a two-wheeled robot for a surcharge. The new Dynamic Esa suspension, developed by Sachs and BMW, is designed to automatically adjust the damping to the road conditions and driving style.
The engine now receives the commands from the accelerator electronically, so BMW can keep the rear wheel more or less tightly under control with a stepped traction control, depending on the driver’s wishes, and also deliver a cruise control.
There is also an adjustable ABS. The old GS already offered almost all setting options, but the new one controls much more finely, and the driver can change all settings at the same time while driving at the push of a button: In rain mode, all chips control as much as possible to avoid mistakes made by the driver on slippery roads balance and keep the load under strict control.
Broad GS customers order a lot of technology
In sport and off-road mode, on the other hand, the chassis, engine and ABS are let off the leash and allow a much harder pace. BMW implemented the idea of the various driving modes years ago in the M5 sports sedan, and Ducati’s Multistrada has been thinking in terms of modes for some time in motorcycle construction – including the GS.
The hardcore faction among the GS fans moaned about too much electronic bells and whistles with the predecessor from 2004, and should now finally be looking for well-preserved models from the 90s.
But the sales success of the predecessor proves that the broad mass of customers spends a lot of money to cram their travel enduros with every chip that the surcharge list provides. That won’t change with the new model either, on the contrary: Hardly a GS will hit the road without the new full LED headlights and without the dynamic chassis.
New skills for driving off-road
The gimmicks allow BMW to set itself apart from the competition from England, Japan and Italy for the first time. For tough operations in the Mongolian steppe, this may bring new sources of error, but the GS mostly shares the fate of the many SUVs in German garages: They could all go off-road, on the desert trip – but will probably only get to see a dirt road at most. Nevertheless, Reiner Fings asserts: "The GS has also gained skills in the field."
The hearts of the many GS buyers should be warm: You could, if you wanted. Regardless of whether it is a home route or a trip around the world, everything goes every time the garage is opened. But it can then cost more. BMW does not want to reveal prices and dates for the launch yet, but a look at the predecessor shows: The new one should break the 16,000 euro mark with full equipment, a lot of money even for an egg-laying woolly milk pig.
Only the test drive in spring can show whether the Bavarians have done everything right and have retained the character of the GS. If so, as the German registration statistics show, customers will also pay for the new one without hesitation.
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