BMW's 2010 R1200GS


BMW's brochure copy is 99% right. Neither rain nor sleet nor snow, rocks, ruts, mud or a deranged hillbilly/rancher could stop the 2010 R1200GS at its North American press debut this week. Only the California Highway Patrol brought us to a standstill. When the CHP says the road is closed, it's closed: 3.9 miles short of dry clothes and a warm fire at the Tenaya Lodge. Carve a shivering u-turn in the snow, and backtrack 10 miles to Oakhurst. Recognizing that we were on the 2010 edition, one patron of the miraculously warm/dry El Cid Mexican eatery - worth a stop next time you're in Oakhurst - figured the guy shivering in soaking gear might know something about that muddy, snow-caked GS parked outside. "Good bike?" Very. Otherwise, I'd be in some Mariposa County emergency room after a 255-miles on and off these roads in this weather.

Nothing new there. The GS has been pulling people with sufficient skills and tolerance for pain through bad weather and worse for thirty years. This year's bike looks pretty much like the last one, at least until you look a little closer. New DOHC heads carry four bigger valves above matching pistons. A heavier-breathing intake tract feeds the whole thing. A servo-controlled exhaust valve controls flow into a new muffler. The result is a noticeably more enthusiastic 1170cc boxer with a healthier bark and noticeably more bite. Especially below 5500 rpm. The rest of the package is essentially status quo. If it ain't know what they say.

After covering 647 miles of bouncing over most anything I've aimed it at, the result is good. Very good. Better than last year? Yes. And with all due respect to the California Highway Patrol, unstoppable.