BMW R 1300 GS First Ride Review Impressions: Still The Benchmark ADV?

Published on 13 Jun, 2024, 7:18 AM IST
Updated on 13 Jun, 2024, 7:18 AM IST

Jehan Adil Darukhanawala
Jehan Adil Darukhanawala
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Here are five areas that the Bavarian brute is still the top dog when it comes to large capacity ADVs

Think BMW motorcycles and the thought of two cylinders jutting out on either side of the wheels instantly comes to mind. Afterall, the GS is the world’s most popular motorcycle, adopted and adorned by adventure seekers across the globe. Hence, I was quite excited to get astride the new R 1300 GS, the latest generation of the big daddy GS ADV bike which has become more focused and welcoming at the same time. So, here are the five bits that really stood out in our limited time with the motorcycle in the Himalayas and that still make us believe it is THE benchmark big-capacity ADV.

Area 1: Lovely Handler

At 237 kg, BMW has managed to shed a whole lot of weight from its big GS. The steering has been sharpened, the suspension components have a lot less dive induced in them and the new welded sheet metal chassis is a lot more stiffer and communicative. All of this adds up to making the R 1300 GS as nimble as an 800-900 cc ADV. It gives you that confidence of taking bends more spiritedly. You can attack corners zestily and switching directions requires minimal effort. Also, if there's a mid corner bump that you might not have anticipated, the GS says don't worry, I got your back. 

Area 2: Marshmallow-y Tourer

There’s no reason to be in this dynamic and frantic mode always. Thanks to the revised suspension tuning, you can switch the electronic damping settings from Dynamic to Road and enjoy a soft, mushy, and easy going touring experience. It becomes a rather transcontinental marshmallow that one can use to ride from Delhi to Mumbai in a day without breaking a sweat. And because the swingarm is now longer while the wheelbase remains the same, it feels a lot more stable and planted at speeds of 110-120 kmph or more.

Area 3: Easy Elephant

There’s no escaping the fact that the R 1300 GS is still a rather large motorcycle. 850 mm seat height is tall, 230+ kg is still heavy and it still is a nervy affair when you want to take tight U-turns. However, the GS has a few tricks up its sleeve to help you out. For starters, the new ‘Sandwich’ button allows you to control the heated grips, windshield height, traction control, suspension damping and the ride height system (only on the Triple Black 2 variant in India) on the fly. It is simple and intuitive enough to get the right systems engaged on the fly.

More so, with the ride height system (only on the Triple Black 2 variant in India), propping this behemoth on the main stand is an easier task than before. All you need to do is just step on the main stand extender, the suspension components will raise themselves a fair amount and that will make it easier to complete the task. 

Area 4: Smarter Accessories

No, GS motorcycle is complete without protection and luggage accessories and this time round BMW's panniers are quite intelligent as well. You can central lock each one of them in one go, each item bears an internal light, and they can be expanded or compacted to just about how much space is actually necessary. 

Area 5: Clever, Functional Look

There's no question that the older 1250 with its asymmetric fascia had a more imposing look. However, this chiselled approach for the R 1300, makes it just as welcoming as German Shepherds are. I do particularly like the relatively compact feel of the new GS. It has a very purposeful and function-oriented design. And of them all, the Trophy edition colour scheme looks the most smashing.

Sportier Engine Tune

The two things that we really couldn’t explore thoroughly on the ride were the new engine’s characteristics and the off-roading capabilities. On paper, the new 1300 cc boxer twin is making 143.5 bhp and 149 Nm, which is 10 bhp and 6 Nm more than before. While there are seven riding modes – Eco, Rain, Road, Dynamic, Dynamic Pro, Enduro, and Enduro Pro – to choose from before you set off, you can only toggle between four. 

I had preselected Rain, Road, Dynamic Pro and Enduro Pro of which I rode in the middle two modes primarily. Rain was just plain boring and would’ve been handy in inclement weather that the following day’s riders experienced. Road had the necessary punch to keep me happy for the rather settled chilled riding phases while Dynamic Pro turns up the throttle response and makes everything more energetic. Sadly, we really didn’t have enough road or the surroundings didn’t really favour fast mile munching and hence, we shall only comment on the same once we get the bikes back home for a proper test.

What did stand out is that the engine’s character has switched from a chuggable tractable mill to a rather sporty, quick spooling motor. It felt strong post 2500-3000 rpm and built up pace rather rapidly. 

Balanced Off The Road

On our journey, we experienced a few rough road stretches and not proper gnarly bone-crunching terrain, which is where the GS is supposed to shine and it did. What stood out is just how planted and flat it remains when the surface underneath starts to get tricky. One of the major contributing factors to this confidence-boosting feeling is the way the mass is centralised on the new GS. The gearbox is now located beneath the boxer twin cylinders, which are also a lot more symmetrical than before. Plus, there’s almost 20 mm more suspension travel at both ends. This makes the bike feel a lot more planted and encourages you to traverse the tricky sections with ease.

Given the fact that the GS has far more competent and potent rivals now than ever before, BMW has had to take the necessary steps to keep its crown intact. And the upgrades pan out well, making the new R 1300 GS a lot more wholesome. It still gives off that aura of a motorcycle that is built to conquer every terrain with more energy and enthusiasm than before. An engineering marvel on two wheels, yes it still is.

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