BMW R1250GS Review
✓Looks, performance, gearbox, electronics, TFT screen
×Large, heavy, it will probably cost the best part of £20k
What Is It?
The 2019 BMW R1250GS is a premium adventure bike which can be spec'd up with all the toys. It replaces the popular R1200GS and is also available as the beefier R1250GSA.
Engine: 1,254 cc Boxer, 134 bhp
Economy: 50 mpg
Range: 220 miles
Seat Height: 850 mm
What Is It Like?
Over the years I have ridden all sorts of different bikes that I have owned or borrowed from friends. Mainly sports bikes in the early years with occasional commuters and some naked's but never a tourer / adventure bike. That was until a few years ago at the NEC in Birmingham UK when I test rode a KTM 1190 and then again in 2018 when I tried the KTM 1290 Adventure S.
Despite my brother and a large group of friends extolling the virtues of the BMW GS range I had only ever ridden a few miles on a friend's bike a good few years ago. Whilst I had enjoyed the experience I wasn't really sure whether I was old enough to even consider ownership.
I did purchase a BMW F650 which was a great little bike that I used for a couple of years and 5,000 miles of touring, but the bigger bikes seemed to be aimed at older more sensible riders.
Fast forward a few years and things at BMW have changed, or is it me? The jury is out on that one. The R1200GS Rallye in its Blue livery caught my eye at the Excel show in 2017 and I have taken a keen interest in the larger GS bikes ever since, it's amazing what a difference a colour scheme can make. Finally, a decision was made and a test ride arranged, I had originally intended to try a 1200 at the end of 2018 but the new 1250 had just come out and was available so why not.
BMW Fersán in San Juan near Alicante was chosen for the demo ride as I would be spending a day in Alicante on business and they have a large showroom with a great range of bikes and cars to look at, plus I have been there window shopping a couple of times in the last year or so. I applied for the test ride through the BMW Spain website and was contacted by phone to confirm.
Arriving at the dealers early I had a quick look around at the new bikes before handing over my documents for inspection in readiness for the demo. When the bike was brought out it was in the "Exclusive" paint scheme which I had so far only seen in a few pictures, with most people concentrating on the HP motosport colour option. I took an instant liking to this option though with the black cast wheels it is very smart.
Equipped with most if not all of the available options this was a lovely bike, which gave me a great opportunity to test things out. First off I was given a brief rundown of the controls, mainly just the starting procedure.
Normally this would not be an issue however this bike came with the keyless option and had a start sequence to follow. The TFT screen was a joy to look at with everything nice and clear, unaffected by the bright sunlight. Once fired up the GS had a nice sound from the standard exhaust.
The Test Ride
On with the helmet, and at this point I would say gloves however in my haste to set off in the morning I had forgotten to take them, usually this would stop me riding as I am an "All The Gear All The Time" sort of a rider but I did not want to miss the opportunity.
Luckily the bike came with hand guards and heated grips so no issue from the cold air rushing over the fingers, just the feeling of something missing.
Setting off from the dealership straight onto a dual carriageway I was up to speed in an instant, before crossing a couple of roundabouts and finally turning left inland towards the mountains.
I had the bike for roughly 30 minutes of unaccompanied riding which meant that I could go anywhere. Rather than waste it trundling along in traffic, I took the road towards Xixona, apart from a few sections with 30mph limits the road is mainly fast and flowing with a few tighter corners to keep you on your toes.
My initial thoughts were of a large but not too heavy machine, which accelerated well and took roundabouts in its stride. Out onto the faster sections, the bike had a great turn of speed, felt planted and secure in the corners, despite my slightly ham-fisted efforts to upset the apple cart. In "Dynamic" mode the ride was firm and precise whereas the "Road" mode gave a softer more comfortable feel.
The few cars and trucks that I came across were dispatched with little fuss as the bike has a great roll on performance, in most cases I didn't even downshift. The gearbox is a joy to use however, with none of the clunkiness of older bikes.
At the turn around point, I stopped to take a few pictures and take in the details of the bike. The fit and finish is superb as you would expect from a BMW, no sharp edges or cheap looking plastics here. The black finish on the engine, swing arm and wheels was especially appealing and the Exclusive paint scheme in general. It has a more sophisticated look than the racier HP scheme.
Setting off again the "hill assist" came into its own at an uphill T junction, another option I have never tried apart from in a few hire cars. While unnecessary for my purposes, I can see people struggling with a fully loaded touring setup and pillion. Something else you don't realise you need until you have tried it.
Heading back to Fersán BMW, I had a play with the cruise control as I have never had it on a bike before and in all honesty, I couldn't really see the point, that is until I was riding with just my left hand on the bars and resting my throttle hand.
How many times have I had to stop to give my throttle hand a rest in the middle of a long journey? Or struggled turning on my GoPro for that matter. It should be included on all bikes that aspire to be tourers.
The heated grips with bare hands were too hot and I kept having to turn them off, but I can see them being of great use on a cold day in North Yorkshire or on an arctic adventure.
To Sum Up
Arriving back at Fersán I felt quite sad handing the keys back and kept looking out of the window at it as I discussed options and extras with the friendly staff.
There is such a huge range of extras available to enable you to customise the bike to your exact requirements, whether it's for touring, as a Sunday bike riding the mountain roads or ploughing through mud on your favourite trails. It truly is a bike for all seasons.
So is the BMW R1250GS just for old sensible riders? Well, either I have become an old sensible rider or the GS will suit everyone.
- Chris A, 2019, thanks to Bikers Espana
BMW R1250GSA - Larger fuel tank and screen, more protection and longer travel suspension.
Check out this video review from TheMissendenFlyer.