Goat Riders in the Sky: BMW R1200GS vs. Ducati Multistrada 1200S

MC Comparison

By Tim Carrithers, Photography by Kevin Wing

BMW R1200GS | $18,629 (as tested)


Chain-driven overhead cams ride horizontally in the new heads, cueing one intake and one exhaust valve each via lightweight rocker arms. Meanwhile, two spark plugs ignite combustibles inside the compact new 12:1 combustion chambers. Larger valves and new cam timing allow more fuel and air in, so more power comes out.

BMW's Integral ABS is brilliant on the street. Switch it off in the dirt. ASC traction control is less sophisticated than the Ducati's, and equally useless off-road. Enduro ESA adjustable suspension offers fewer options than the Multistrada, but it's easier to use and nearly as effective for most riders.

With some help from a few steel tubes, the Boxer's über-stiff engine cases effectively double as its frame. The Telelever front suspension's pivoting A-arm and the robust single-sided Paralever swingarm/driveshaft bolt up to it. Light? No, but it shrugs off a Dakar-style pounding better than anything short of an M1A1 Tank.

The standard cast hoops look nice in brochures, but BMW's optional cross-spoke wheels-standard on the GS Adventure-are what the bike was meant to roll on. Tough enough to fend off rocks that would destroy their cast-aluminum counterparts, the wire wheels are worth every nickel of the extra $500 you'll pay.

Adding 5 peak ponies and another 3 lb.-ft. of torque to the herd is nice, but the DOHC Boxer's all-surface edge comes from the useable quality of its power. Perfectly seamless fuel delivery helps the cause as well.

Tech Spec
Engine type: a/o-c opposed twin
Valve train: DOHC, 8v
Displacement: 1170cc
Bore x stroke: 101.0 x 73.0mm
Compression: 12.0:1
Fuel system: EFI
Clutch: Dry, single-plate
Transmission: 6-speed
Measured horsepower: 89.1 bhp @ 7500 rpm
Measured torque: 68.9 lb.-ft. @ 6000 rpm
Corrected 1/4-mile: 11.68 sec. @ 115.24 mph
Top-gear roll-on, 60-80 mph: 3.15 sec
Fuel mileage (high/low/avg.): 46/33/42 mpg
Frame: Steel trellis with single-sided aluminum swingarm
Front suspension: Telelever featuring Showa shock with electronically adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension: Paralever featuring electronically adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Front brake: Dual Brembo four-piston calipers, 305mm discs with ABS
Rear brake: Brembo dual-piston caliper, 265mm disc with ABS
Front tire: 110/80R-19 Bridgestone Battle Wing
Rear tire: 150/70R-17 Bridgestone Battle Wing
Rake/trail: 25.7°/3.9 in.
Seat height: 33.5/34.2 in.
Wheelbase: 59.3 in.
Fuel capacity: 5.3 gal.
Weight (tank full/empty): 569/537 lbs.
Colors: Black, gray, red, white
Availability: Now
Warranty: 36 mo., 36,000 mi.

Contact: BMW Motorrad USA
300 Chestnut Ridge Rd.
Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677

Roomier in every direction relative to the Ducati, the BMW feels about 50 percent bigger from the saddle as well. The reversible handlebar clamp and adjustable seat make the GS cockpit more amenable to different riders and riding styles.

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