In 2004, actors Ewan MacGregor 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."" Sales of the bike soared as a result, and BMW, recognizing the potential, and promptly began extending its R line. In 2009, the German motorcycle manufacturer added the 1200R Touring Special to the line, which included the 1200R, 1200GS, 1200GS Adventure, and 1200RT.
These bikes, which combine comfortable street riding with some off-road capabilities, are powered by 1170cc, air/oil-cooled, flat-twin four-stroke engines. All five models have an OHV configuration and fuel injectors. They all have six-speed gearboxes that work with a hydraulically operated dry single-plate clutch and a sturdy shaft final drive.
All five models have Telelever telescopic front forks; the two GS models, which are specifically designed for rugged roads, have front central struts, are preload adjustable, and have rebound damping. All five models have Paralever single swing arms in back, with an adjustable monoshock and rebound damping. Dual hydraulic discs in front and single discs in the rear provide stopping power.
The two GS models came equipped with tires designed to deal with dirt tracks or rutted gravel roads, in keeping with the R’s legendary status as a bike to travel the world on, regardless of whether the roads are paved. The GS Adventure has a huge fuel tank; it holds 8.7 gallons, almost twice the amount the Touring Special holds. They also have a vast array of luggage options available, in case you need to pack for a six-month trip across a continent or two.
All five models get high marks for maneuverability and comfort, and with a top speed of more than 100 miles per hour, the ability to get out of the way of a semi or ahead of a pack of SUVs. One reviewer said that he didn’t think anyone would describe these bikes as pretty, but they were definitely useful.