BMW R1250 GS & GS Adventure:

bmw r1250 gs

The BMW R1250 GS popularity in the UK and Europe isn't down to just its looks or the badge on the tank. It's about what it offers under the hood and how it stands up to the demands of both the seasoned adventurer and the daily commuter.

The celebrity endorsement undeniably brought the GS series into the mainstream consciousness, but its sustained popularity stems from its intrinsic qualities. Riders appreciate its versatility, reliability, and comfort on long-distance rides. It's the combination of these attributes with the adventurous spirit showcased by McGregor and Boorman that cements the BMW GS series, including both the R1250 GS and the R1250 GS Adventure, as icons in the world of adventure touring.

The BMW R1250 GS is the base model, if you can ever call a bike as sophisticated as this "base". It's the more street-oriented version of the two, designed with both urban commuting and off-road capability in mind, but with a lean towards being more manageable and slightly lighter for everyday use. The GS is nimble, with a lower seat height and a smaller fuel tank (20 litres), making it ideal for those who split their riding time between city streets and the occasional off-road adventure.

Now, enter the R1250 GS Adventure (GSA), the more rugged, long-distance traveller of the pair. The GSA takes the formula of the R1250 GS and cranks it up a notch (or three) for hardcore touring enthusiasts. It's equipped with a larger fuel tank (30 litres), offering a significantly greater range, which is a godsend for long stretches between fill-ups, especially in remote areas. The GSA also boasts increased suspension travel, giving it superior off-road capabilities. It's taller, heavier, and comes with additional protection, such as engine guards and a larger front beak, to handle the rigours of off-road riding.

The Engine

bmw r1250 gs engine

At the core of both models is the 1254cc Boxer engine, a masterpiece of engineering that's as much about power as it is about smoothness. The real magic, however, comes from BMW's ShiftCam technology. This system varies the valve timing and valve stroke on the intake side, optimizing performance and efficiency regardless of RPM. What does this mean for the rider? A beefier torque curve and more oomph across the entire rev range, ensuring that whether you're overtaking on a motorway or climbing a steep off-road trail, there's always power when you need it. Plus, the added efficiency means you're not constantly on the lookout for the next petrol station.

Riding Modes

BMW didn't skimp on customization, offering a suite of riding modes that cater to nearly every condition and rider preference. From "Rain" mode, which softens the power delivery for slippery conditions, to "Dynamic" mode, which unleashes the full potential of the bike's performance on clear roads. There's even an "Enduro" mode for when the going gets rough, adjusting the ABS and traction control settings for off-road riding. This level of adaptability ensures that the R1250 GS and GS Adventure can tackle anything from urban jungles to uncharted territories with ease.

Tech Features

bmw r1250 gs engine

The tech fest doesn't stop with the engine and riding modes. Both models boast an impressive array of features designed to enhance the riding experience. The full-color TFT display is not just a pretty face; it's a command center that allows riders to navigate through settings and information effortlessly, even with gloves on. Connectivity options mean you can pair your smartphone, turning your bike into a multimedia hub with navigation, music, and call handling capabilities.

Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA)

The Dynamic ESA is another gem in the BMW tech crown. This system automatically adjusts the damping of the shock absorbers to the current riding conditions and maneuvers, ensuring optimal traction and comfort. It reads data from various sensors and adjusts in milliseconds, meaning whether you're on a smooth tarmac or a bumpy trail, the bike maintains composure, enhancing safety and ride quality.

Traction Control System

Safety is paramount, and the advanced traction control system on the R1250 GS and GS Adventure ensures that the bike's power is always delivered to the road in a controlled manner. It prevents the rear wheel from spinning under acceleration, especially on slippery surfaces, giving riders confidence to power through without fear of losing control.

LED Lighting Technology

Enhanced brightness, better visibility, and standout presence: The advanced full-LED swivelling headlamps along with adaptive lighting ensure top-notch illumination, covering all angles - sideways, upwards, and downwards, adapting dynamically based on the terrain slope, load, and lean angle during cornering.

With this setup, you're guaranteed optimal lighting in any direction your journey takes you. The LED indicators, enhanced with a Cruising Light feature, offer a distinctive look with a subtle, constant glow at the front. At the back, the versatile LED indicators bolster passive safety.

Value for Money

When you're eyeing up a BMW R1250 GS or the R1250 GS Adventure, you're looking at premium bikes, and their price tags reflect that. They're not just motorcycles; they're BMWs, which means you're investing in a blend of engineering excellence, brand heritage, and that all-important adventure capability.

In comparison to their rivals, such as the Ducati Multistrada, Honda Africa Twin, and the Triumph Tiger 1200, the BMW R1250 GS models are generally positioned at the higher end of the price spectrum. This isn't just a reflection of the brand prestige but also of the technological advancements, build quality, and comprehensive feature set these bikes offer.

The R1250 GS starts at a slightly lower price point than the R1250 GS Adventure, given its positioning as the more road-oriented, slightly less equipped variant. The Adventure model, with its larger fuel tank, increased suspension travel, and additional off-road oriented features, commands a premium. This premium is not just for the additional hardware but for the extended range, capability, and comfort it offers for serious touring enthusiasts.

When comparing to the competition, the price difference can often be justified by BMW's robust dealer network, extensive warranty and service packages, and the high resale value that BMW motorcycles traditionally enjoy. Moreover, the level of standard equipment and the available technology on the GS models are often superior or comparable to their rivals, which can make them seem like a more attractive package overall.

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Known Problems

Final Drive Issues

Some riders have reported issues with the final drive on earlier models, including leaks and bearing failures. It's less common on the newer R1250 models, but it's something to be mindful of, especially if you're picking up a second-hand bike.

Gearbox and ShiftCam System

There have been occasional reports of rough shifting and noise from the gearbox, particularly on early R1250 models. The innovative ShiftCam system is a complex piece of engineering, and while it delivers impressive performance benefits, it has had a few teething problems that BMW has been quick to address.

Electronics and Sensor Glitches

With the R1250 GS models packed with advanced electronics and sensor-driven systems, occasional glitches can occur. Issues like the TFT display freezing, sensor malfunctions affecting the riding modes or suspension settings, and other electronic niggles have been reported. These are usually rectified with software updates or sensor replacements.

Recall Actions

BMW, like all responsible manufacturers, issues recalls for any problems that could affect safety or performance. Owners are advised to check their bike's recall history and ensure that any necessary corrective actions have been completed.

Mitigating Risks

The best way to mitigate the risks of encountering these problems is regular maintenance and inspection, especially if you're planning on using the bike for what it's designed for — adventure touring over varied and demanding terrain. Buying from a reputable dealer, whether new or used, and keeping an eye on the service history can also go a long way in ensuring you get a bike that's as trouble-free as possible.

It's also worth noting that the BMW owner's community is vibrant and supportive, with a wealth of knowledge on common issues and fixes. Joining forums or local clubs can provide invaluable insights and tips on keeping your R1250 GS in tip-top shape.

bmw r1250 gs

Main Features, Spec and Considerations

Specs - Main Features
ENGINE 1254cc, BMW Boxer, Twin cylinder, ShiftCam variable valve timing, 4 valves per cylinder, Air/liquid cooled
MAX TORQUE 143 Nm @ 6,250 rpm
POWER 136 HP (100 kW)
FUEL CONSUMPTION Approx. 4.75 litres/100 km (21 km/l or 49.5 mpg)
TRANSMISSION 6 speed with shaft drive
DRIVE Shaft, Enclosed driveshaft with universal joint
FRONT SUSPENSION BMW Telelever, 37 mm diameter
REAR SUSPENSION BMW Paralever, WAD strut (travel-related damping), spring preload hydraulically adjustable, rebound damping adjustable
FRONT BRAKES Dual disc brake, floating brake discs, diameter 305 mm, 4-piston radial calipers
REAR BRAKES Single disc brake, diameter 276 mm, double-piston floating caliper
TYRES (FRONT - REAR) 120/70 R 19 - 170/60 R 17
WHEELBASE 1,514 mm (59.6 in)
SEAT HEIGHT 850 mm (33.5 in), adjustable lower and higher options available
FUEL CAPACITY 20 l (5.3 US Gal) for GS, 30 l (7.9 US Gal) for GS Adventure
WET WEIGHT 249 kg (549 lb) for GS, 268 kg (591 lb) for GS Adventure

Pros and Cons

  • Unmatched Versatility: Excellent on both road and off-road conditions, making them true all-rounders.
  • Advanced Technology: Features like the ShiftCam engine, dynamic ESA, multiple riding modes, and a full suite of electronic assists.
  • Performance and Efficiency: The 1254cc Boxer engine offers a perfect blend of power and improved fuel economy.
  • Comfort and Ergonomics: Ergonomics designed for long rides, adjustable to fit various rider sizes and preferences.
  • Build Quality and Resale Value: Renowned BMW build quality and high resale value in the second-hand market.
  • Price Point: Higher cost compared to competitors, reflecting premium features and brand heritage.
  • Weight: Can be heavy, especially the GS Adventure, posing challenges for less experienced riders off-road.
  • Complexity: Advanced tech and electronics can be complicated and expensive to fix, requiring specialist attention.
  • Maintenance and Repair Costs: Premium maintenance and repair costs, with potential high costs outside of warranty.


In the grand scheme of things, the BMW R1250 GS and R1250 GS Adventure stand as towering figures in the adventure touring landscape. These bikes are not just machines; they're passports to uncharted territories and long stretches of open road. They cater to a wide spectrum of riders seeking thrill, performance, and reliability. Whether it's the daily commute, a spirited ride on winding mountain roads, or a rugged off-road adventure, these bikes are engineered to deliver.

However, the privilege of owning such sophisticated machinery comes with its considerations. The premium price tag, complexity of the tech features, and the heft of these models might pose challenges to some. Yet, for those willing to embrace these aspects, the rewards are immense. As we weigh their pros and cons, it's clear that for the right rider, these motorcycles offer an unparalleled blend of adventure, performance, and style, setting the benchmark for what an adventure touring bike can be.

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Fun Facts

Did you know the world's longest motorcycle was over 26 meters long. It was presented and measured at Lakhota lake, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, on 22 January 2014. The bike was more than 4 m (13 ft) longer than the previous record holder's.

To ensure that his super-stretched motorcycle would be able to perform like a conventional motorbike, the constructor rode it along a road for 100 m (328 ft) without putting his feet down.

Tip of the week:

Never grab the front brake; squeeze it!

Grabbing the front brake abruptly can cause the front wheel to lock, as it doesn't allow time for the bike's weight to shift forward.This significantly reduces the front tyre's grip on the road and may result in loss of control, posing a serious risk of an accident.

Did you know?

The aerodynamic drag on a motorcycle can increase by up to 40% just by the rider sitting upright instead of in a tucked position. It's a wind-resistance thing—like trying to walk through a pool vs. gliding through it!

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Riding a motorcycle is like savouring a five-star Michelin meal when you're absolutely famished. It's an experience that not only satisfies an immediate craving but also leaves a lasting impression. Just like that first bite of an extraordinary dish makes you forget the world around you, so does the initial twist of the throttle. Your focus narrows to the sensation of the bike, the road, and the rhythm of your breathing. It's an immediate way to bring mindfulness into your day.

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So next time you feel weighed down by the demands of life, remember that your two-wheeled 'Michelin experience' awaits you. One session on the road can recalibrate your mood quicker than you can say 'Michelin star.' It's the sort of lifelong journey that never disappoints, always offering new flavours for your soul to relish.

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