WRIST: Aaron Frank
MSRP (2013): $19,520 (as tested)
MODS: Wunderlich crashbars,
It's inevitable that BMW will release an off-road-specific "Adventure" version of its new R1200GS as a 2014 model, but who has time to wait for that? I'm itching to take the water-cooled GS off road right now! Time to roll my own GS-A. My GS is already fitted with optional spoke wheels ($500) and the Dynamic ESA package that includes an Enduro ride mode with traction control and ABS schemes tailored for off-road riding. That left me to source protective crashbars—a mandatory mod given my 31-inch inseam and the GS's 33.5-inch seat height—and dirt-ready rubber.
I selected Wunderlich crashbars, designed in partnership with long-time BMW accessory partner Hepco & Becker, so I could count on OEM-quality fit and finish. Engine protection bars (wunderlichamerica.com; $339) guard the Boxer-twin's opposed cylinders, while tank protection bars ($329) shield the side-mounted radiators. Consisting of welded-steel tubing powdercoated silver to perfectly match the frame, the Wunderlich bars look like they could have come from the factory.
Installation was straightforward, aided by illustrated instructions, with the lower bars requiring just the slightest persuasion to bolt into place. A precise shape provides complete crash coverage without compromising ground clearance, cornering clearance, or maintenance access, and the seven-point mount uniformly absorbs and distributes impact forces to prevent secondary damage to the engine or frame.
Surprisingly, a decent 50/50 dual-sport tire proved harder to find. Calling the usual suspects at Metzeler, Pirelli, and Continental, everything to fit the GS was sold out. Rubber shortage? Midsummer sales run? On the trusted advice of a hard-core dual-sport buddy, I substituted a set of K60 Scout tires from little-known German tire manufacturer Heidenau (heidenautires.com; $172.60 front, $224.90 rear). I can't wait to see how these tires do on the street—and in the dirt.
That just leaves fuel capacity, one area where there isn't an easy aftermarket solution. The current GS Adventure (based on the previous-generation Oilhead) carries 8.7 gallons of fuel to my bike's comparatively measly 5.3 gallons. Still, averaging 42 mpg, I've got a usable range of 220 miles—plenty for civilized adventuring. Beyond that, I could always strap a jerrican on the back.