At some point you forget that you’re riding a 573 motorcycle,
as it seems like a normal trail bike. It’s just that your new
definition of a trail is 40 feet wide.
motorcycle—it’s like two Honda CRF450Rs in both weight
and power. So, you treat it with respect. Having said
that, it takes serious self-control not to twist it hard and
let all that power out of the box. In the street modes, the
traction control won’t let you get too silly, but when you
switch to “Enduro,” or better yet, “Enduro Pro” mode, you
can’t keep from giggling when the wheel breaks loose in
long, crazy slides. The additional flywheel makes the GS-A
more controllable, but we admit that the standard model
has a little more kick, which appeals to the teenager in us.
The flywheel makes the bike more tractable, even when
you have traction control turned completely off, and that
appeals to the adult in us.
If you have a long section of smooth dirt road, the BMW
shows off its stuff. The GS-A is definitely more stable than
the standard version. It makes 90 mph seem somewhat
normal. But, you always have to remember that it takes
a lot more time to slow down than it takes to accelerate,
regardless of ABS. This is the biggest, heaviest bike that
you can take off-road. Just because it makes you feel
comfortable at 90 mph doesn’t mean you should be comfortable.
For the dirt purest, the GS-A’s dirt capabilities probably aren’t as high as those of the standard model. It’s 48
pounds heavier and an inch taller. It’s huge. Part of that
weight is additional fuel, but much more is the cost of all
the additional stuff—the crash bars, the skid plate and the
various accessories. You need all that stuff to make the
bike what it is, which is the ultimate in long-range dirt comfort, but it doesn’t make it into a better motocross bike.
WE STILL LOVE IT
There’s something intangible about the BMW that
we love. It isn’t so much what the bike does, but how it
makes you feel. It can make a flat, smooth dirt road just
as exciting as a Supercross course. And, it makes pave-
ment enjoyable, even if you hate pavement. There are
some things we don’t like, however. For some reason, our
test bike was much thirstier than the standard R1200GS
we tested last year and averaged less than 40 mpg, even
on the highway. And the price is, as expected, breathtak-
ing. In its most basic configuration, the A is $18,200. The
much more common Premium package sells for $21,550.
As expensive as that is, it makes a better value than older
BMW models, which sold for about the same amount and
offered less. In the big adventure bike picture, the BMW
R1200GS-A still sits right at the top. It’s not the best in the
dirt, but it takes the most features, technology and cubic
stuff on any off-road adventure. And, it allows you to come
back with a smile. ❏
TKC80s are our
favorite adventure tires. They
traction off-road, especially
when you drop
the road they’re
okay, but cut fuel
range and eventually wear more
BMW’s suspension control system has hydraulically adjustable
preload and electronically adjustable damping that can be altered on the fly.