On Two Wheels: The Original BMW R80 G/S vs. The New R1200GS

Riding the Original Airhead Adventure Motorcycle

We’ve said in the past that if we were set to take a road trip starting tomorrow—with no info on where we were headed or for how long—the bike we’d choose for that mystery adventure would be a [BMW][] GS. It might be heavy, and expensive, but it’s also the closest thing to a Swiss Army knife on two wheels that we’ve ever ridden. It is an insanely competent and tremendously rewarding motorcycle to ride, whether you’re engaging cruise control and adjusting the windscreen on the freeway or slicing through the woods and picking it up off the crash bars. It is an awesome machine.

Riding the R80, the original G/S, alongside the new [R1200GS][] gave Ari and Zack a chance to see just how related the two are, as well as soak up some of motorcycling history. Special thanks to collector Hing Yeung, a Southern California resident, who loaned us his 1981 R80. His passion for the G/S runs so deep that he not only let us ride his original GS but let Ari and Zack jump it through an OHV park and skip down dirt roads at speed. Seeing the R80 in action made everyone on staff smile and we hope that you, the internet, enjoyed it too!

When BMW rebuilt the GS for the model year 2013—with a new, water-cooled engine and countless refinements—it handily won our Motorcycle Of The Year award. Being BMW’s flagship model, the GS is typically on the cutting edge of technological advancements, which the current model has en masse; from electronically adjustable suspension to terrific off-road traction control and ABS. It has been the clear leader since we first rode the “water-boxer” in January of 2013 (click here to see that First Ride review).

We tested it against the KTM 1290 Super Adventure (another terrific bike) in a tour across California, where the BMW impressed us with how well balanced and versatile it is, even against the KTM's stellar competition. For that story, you can read the article or watch our episode of On Two Wheels. ([watch this OTW episode here][]).

In 2015 it went on to win “Best ADV Bike” in our MOTY awards, as well as countless other awards from other publications. (click back to the 2015 Best ADV MOTY Award here).