2013 BMW R1200GS | First Look

Der Wasserboxer is Here

BMW's original GS invented the adventure-bike category in 1980, and continues to define that segment more than 30 years later. The R1200GS is also BMW's best-selling motorcycle, with more than 170,000 sold since the 1200cc version debuted in 2004. Any redesign of such a successful model was bound to be risky, but BMW looks to have done a masterful job modernizing its classic enduro without compromising any essential character.

An all-new air/water-cooled engine--only the second major update to BMW's iconic Boxer since the four-valve "Oilhead" defined the modern era in 1993--substitutes a glycol/water mixture for cooling oil. Better heat dissipation improves performance while reducing noise and emissions, BMW says. Bigger changes come to the transmission: The six-speed gearbox is now integrated into the engine housing for the first time, and the dry, single-plate clutch has been replaced with a wet, multi-plate slipper unit now located at the front of the engine for easier service access.

Ride-by-wire throttle control is used for the frst time, enabling new electronic options including cruise control, switchable ride modes, and semi-active, dynamic suspension damping, in addition to standard Integrated ABS, Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA), and Automatic Stability Control (ASC). The optional ride-mode selector allows switching between five ride modes--Rain, Road, Dynamic, Enduro, and Enduro Pro--that alter throttle response as well as ABS, ASC, and ESA parameters to suit different riding conditions.

Changes don't stop there. The steel trellis frame with Telelever front suspension has been stiffened for increased stability and improved steering precision. An EVO Paralever rear suspension utilizes a longer swingarm for improved traction offroad, and the shaft fnal drive has been relocated to the left side. The bodywork has been completely redesigned too, with a toothier "beak" below signature asymmetric headlights, stylized shrouds to conceal the new, side-mounted radiators, and a larger, manually adjustable windscreen. The look is all new and undeniably all-GS, up-to-date but still clearly connected to the model's storied past.


Capacity of the new air/water-cooled Boxer remains unchanged at 1170cc. The cylinder heads have been rotated 90 degrees, relocating the intake above the cylinder chamber and the exhaust below, for more efficient combustion flow. Claimed horsepower increases 15 percent to 125 bhp.


The GS braking system gets a major upgrade in the form of radial-mounted Brembo calipers. integrated ABS (the front lever also engages the rear brake) is standard equipment, with new settings for improved off-road performance in Enduro mode. wheels are 17-inch rear/19-inch front, cast or spoked.


New instrumentation combines an analog speedo and tach with a digital display to present trip computer and ride-mode selector data. a multifunction wheel on the left handgrip, adapted from the K1600, lets riders quickly navigate different function screens. The windscreen is manually adjustable using the knob at the lower right.

Did you Know?

GS is an abbreviation for Gelande/Strasse, which loosely translates to off-road/road or, more specifically, terrain/street.