Back in 2004, actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman embarked on a 20,000-mile trip aboard a pair of BMW R 1150GS Adventure motorcycles for a documentary TV series called Long Way Round. Once the show aired, sales of the bike soared. BMW recognized the potential and in 2006 extended its R line, which began production in 1980 with the 1200GS. The company added the 1200S, a sport bike; the 1200GS Adventure, a larger and slightly more powerful version of its 1150GS Adventure; and the HP2, which is more nearly an off-road bike than the other offerings. Other models in the 2006 BMW R line were the 1200ST and the 1200RT.
All but the 1150GS Adventure are powered by 1170cc, air/oil-cooled, two-cylinder, four-stroke, flat-twin engines. The 1150GS Adventure has an 1130cc flat-twin engine. The 2006 1200GS Adventure has a huge fuel tank—8.7 gallons, almost a gallon more than the 1150GS’s tank holds—giving it a range of roughly 450 miles. This makes it a perfect choice if you plan to ride across the United States on back roads, especially since the bike is well equipped to handle gravel roads. The HP2 is better suited to off-road riding, however; it’s a much lighter, more agile machine, with a suspension system designed for trail riding.
BMW stocks an enormous list of accessories for its R line, ranging from a navigation system—potentially very useful if you find yourself offroad in the middle of nowhere—to a luggage-rack system, an onboard computer, an accessory power socket kit, fog lights, and an alarm system. Ewan McGregor and his buddy rode from John O’Groats in Scotland to the southern tip of Africa, but any of the BMW R bikes will do just fine on your local back roads too.