Bigger vs. better

2010 BMW R1200GS or Adventure?

If the prospective adventure tourist's first question is which bike do I buy, question number two usually comes down to which BMW GS. If you're asking me, the next question is standard 1200GS or Adventure? Judged strictly by the numbers or a quick visual once over, the more heavily armored Adventure looks an obvious choice for any serious adventurer.More fuel, more suspension travel, more wind protection, a more intimidating arsenal of protective accoutrements and a two-tone seat. Everybody wants to ride something that looks like it could bunny-hop a Chevy Tahoe. Bigger is better. The 1200 Adventure a slam-dunk, right?
That's what I thought before the 2010 1200GS coming out party and Donner Party reenactment in Yosemite last month. Climbing from the standard model to its superficially superior brother after lunch, I was about to learn otherwise. The Adventure is 44 pounds heavier before you top off its 8.7-gallon tank. Those 3.4 extra gallons bump the total difference to about 64 lbs. Just to keep things…interesting, longer suspension travel lifts the seat another inch and a half above whatever surface you're dealing with. And when you're fighting off a post-lunch food coma through rock-infested ruts followed by a bona fide blizzard, the big boy isn't worth the extra $2550 you pay for a fully optioned example.

If you really are taking the long way up, down or round, that extra fuel can and probably will save your bacon and the frustration of pushing Das Boot to the nearest petrol outlet. The big fairing blows a bigger hole in rain that turns to sleet that turns to snow, and the auxiliary driving lights are nice. But for adventurers of more modest means – me for instance – a standard R1200GS with heated grips, handguards, ABS and the cross-spoke wheels you shouldn’t leave the road without is by far the better bet.