These days there’s no shortage of purpose-built motorcycles. However, for the motorcyclist seeking a do-it-all streetbike, BMW Motorrad sure makes a solid case with its versatile 2021 R 1250 GS ($26,281.98 as tested).
BMW has been crafting its GS adventure motorcycles for more than 40 years and it shows in the exquisite polish and attention to detail. Swing a leg over the 549-pound GS and it feels like a big dirt bike, only with a much more comfortable seat for rider and passenger. The cockpit is slim and the handlebar has a pleasing upright bend that’s a good balance between on- and off-road use. Our only gripe ergonomically is the footpegs are a tad small. However, we appreciate the easily removed rubber inserts for better grip against the sole of the boot during wet or off-road riding escapades.
Press the starter button and the horizontally opposed 1,254cc boxer twin purrs to life. Again, BMW Motorrad has a long engineering history with this engine configuration (well over 90 years) and it has demonstrated how effective it is, in terms of performance and sporting character.
Rev it high or lug it low, and the engine delivers a smooth stream of power, to the tune of 91.5 pound-feet torque at 6,510 rpm and over 117 hp at 7,770 rpm. All while providing a pleasing engine and exhaust note. BMW’s boxer twin is easily among the top 10 of the best-sounding modern motorcycle powertrains.
The Gear Shift Assist Pro option (Motorrad-speak for an bidirectional electronic quick shifter—included in the $3,925 Dynamic/Premium package) makes for immediate clutchless up- and downshifts through the six-speed gearbox. Power is transmitted to the 17-inch gold cross-spoke wheel (included in the $1,750 40 Years GS Edition package) via a clean-looking single-side shaft final drive. The setup is virtually maintenance-free, aside from recommended differential oil changes every 12,000 miles. On a related note, a centerstand eases maintenance chores.
Throttle response is well metered and, like BMW’s other models, offers adjustable combined engine and throttle response maps (Enduro, Road, Rain, Dynamic, and Dynamic Pro, the latter setting available as part of the Ride Modes Pro option inside the Dynamic/Premium package). Each mode works well, however, unlike other manufacturers’ setups, it doesn’t offer a noticeable jump between settings. The engine drinks from a generously sized 5.2-gallon fuel tank which offers a range of nearly 200 miles between fill-ups. Unlike a traditional motorcycle, the fuel tank cap and ignition are keyless, requiring a proximity key fob for vehicle start and to open the fuel cap.
Keeping tabs on it all is a bright and crisp 6.5-inch color display. The screen benefits from sharp fonts in line with the rest of BMW’s two- and four-wheel vehicle line. Display settings are managed through BMW’s tried-and-true multi-wheel controller, originally debuting on the then all-new 2011 K 1600 GTL.
The vehicle is also Bluetooth ready, allowing riders to pair the motorcycle to their smartphones using the BMW Motorrad Connected iOS and Android app. This facilitates smartphone-powered turn-by-turn directions on the display. You can also track route and ride history, vehicle settings, including fuel level, tire air pressure, and service information. The app is super slick to use and, best of all, it’s free. The R 1250 GS is also compatible with Bluetooth-enabled headsets for both rider and passenger.
We’re always impressed with how nimble the R 1250 GS is for a motorcycle of its size. Despite employing an unconventional Telelever front suspension design, in motion it feels similar to a traditional fork-equipped motorcycle, only better.
This allows the BMW to float over rough surfaces offering nearly 8 inches of suspension travel. Yet, when it’s time to eat up a series of turns the front end offers a pleasing level of feel, with good support under deep braking, even with a larger-diameter 19-inch gold cross-spoke wheel. Our Black Storm Metallic GS was outfitted with BMW’s dynamic electronic suspension adjustment (ESA) which automatically adjusts damping settings based on selected riding mode.
Speaking of brakes, the triple disc brakes offer pleasing lever/pedal sensation front and rear with apt stopping power. IMU-powered cornering ABS is also included, and rear ABS can be disabled based on rider preference (Enduro mode).
Although we didn’t have an opportunity to ride off pavement this time, we’ve spent considerable time off-road on the current GS during our 2019 BMW R1250GS Adventure First Ride Review and 2019 BMW R1250 GS Adventure Second Ride Review articles and videos and have fond memories of its lofty level of performance, even in extreme conditions.
Easy-to-use cruise control and a windscreen that’s manually height adjustable let the miles melt away with ease, and heated seat (five levels), grips, and hand protection make for added comfort when the mercury drops. On a side note, cruise control and heated grips with hand protection are also included in the must-have Premium package. Our GS was also outfitted with easy-to-use semi-soft-case luggage which tacks on another $2,066.98. It isn’t cheap, but we love its copious storage and the ability to take the luggage with us, away from the bike.
Bright LED lighting helps the Motorrad rider see where he or she is going after dark, however we were unimpressed with the function of the adaptive (cornering) headlights (part of the $50 Lights package), especially compared to other current Motorrad models.
From running errands around town to gobbling up interstate highways, the R 1250 GS does it all with ease. It offers the right mix of utility, versatility, and sporting attitude to be capable in almost any type of terrain. Factor in its lofty level of comfort, standard three-year warranty with roadside assistance, and this GS makes a strong argument for the only motorcycle needed in the garage.
Helmet: Shoei Hornet X2
Jacket: Rev’It Offtrack
Gloves: Rev’It Cayenne Pro
Pant: Rev’It Jackson
Boots: TCX Jupiter 4 Gore-Tex
2021 BMW R 1250 GS Technical Specifications and Price
|PRICE||$26,281.98 (as tested)|
|MOTOR||1,254cc, DOHC, air/liquid-cooled boxer twin; 8-valve|
|BORE x STROKE||102.5 x 76.0mm|
|FUEL DELIVERY||Electronic twin jet fuel injection w/ ride-by-wire|
|CLUTCH||Wet, multiplate; hydraulically actuated|
|FRAME||Two-section steel tube|
|FRONT SUSPENSION||37mm BMW Telelever; 7.5 in. travel|
|REAR SUSPENSION||BMW Paralever, spring preload and rebound damping adjustable, optional electronically adjustable ESA; 7.9 in. travel|
|FRONT BRAKE||Radial-mount 4-piston calipers, dual 305mm discs w/ ABS|
|REAR BRAKE||2-piston caliper, 276mm disc w/ ABS|
|WHEELS, FRONT/REAR||Die-cast aluminum; 19 x 3.0 in. / 17 x 4.5 in.|
|TIRES, FRONT/REAR||Michelin; 120/70-19 / 170/60-17|
|SEAT HEIGHT||33.5/34.3 in. (standard seat); 31.5/32.3 in. (lowered suspension)|
|FUEL CAPACITY||5.2 gal.|
|CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT||549 lb.|
|WARRANTY||3 years, unlimited mileage|