BMW R 1200 GS ADVENTURE RALLYE X | Bike Tests | Latest Tests | Top Sellers in Australia
If ever there was an adventure bike you couldn’t exactly call subtle, it has to be BMW’s R 1200 GS Adventure Rallye X. In the bush, its distinctive, loping, flat-twin exhaust note signals its presence well before you even see it. Then its sheer physical presence busts through the undergrowth, casting a shadow into the next postcode. No wonder it’s nicknamed the rhino.
The standard R 1200 GS and Adventure models have long led the big-bore adventure bike market Down Under (before Honda’s Africa Twin recently took over top-seller status), and are the benchmark by which rival machines are immediately judged. As the competition has increased, BMW has more than kept pace, never more so than with the Australian-developed R 1200 GS Rallye X model introduced last year (with longer-travel suspension and a suite of off-road-biased electronic rider aids that simply worked), which kept the German brand one step ahead of the pack.
Now BMW has turned its attention to the 30L-tanked Adventure model. Four 2018 R 1200 GS variants are available: the Adventure, Adventure Rally, Adventure Rallye X and Adventure Tour.
BMW Motorrad Australia lobbed us an Adventure Rallye X, resplendent in eye-popping light white and cordoba blue graphics, with a blue frame and eye-catching gold brake calipers, plus a chrome exhaust and LED indicators. It also comes with a slimmer one-piece Rallye seat, radiator and frame protectors, short windscreen and tank bag, while the electronics package includes cornering ABS, Dynamic ESA, Dynamic Traction Control, Riding Mode Pro (with no fewer than six riding modes: Rain, Road, Enduro, Enduro Pro, Dynamic and Dynamic Pro), Gear Shift Assist Pro, hill start control and cruise control. Also included are heated grips, full-wrap plastic hand guards, and wire-spoked 19- and 17-inch wheels shod with Continental Twinduro TKC80 tyres.
Also new for 2018 is a 6.5-inch TFT dash that supports an optional new connectivity package, allowing access to turn-by-turn smartphone-based navigation, phone calls, media and more information than ever before.
Our test bike also came fitted with BMW’s optional Navigator VI unit, which mounts behind the windscreen above the TFT dash and provides more detailed satellite-based navigation information. The TFT dash, connectivity and navigation systems are operated via BMW’s rotating multi-controller positioned next to the left grip and the handlebar switchgear. If this is all beginning to sound like technology overload, best you get used to it – or get your teenage daughter to sync it, set it all up for you, and explain how to use it!
With its girthy 30-litre fuel tank dominating the machine, wrapping around the upper reaches of BMW’s long-proven liquid/air/oil-cooled 1170cc Boxer motor that pumps out 92kW of power, the Adventure Rallye X is no shrinking violet. Our test bike weighed in at 259kg ready to roll with a full tank but no luggage. It certainly is a sizeable beast, but once you get the bike rolling it’s a revelation just how well it hides its weight.
Cruising the streets and mixing with traffic, the BMW’s presence earns you plenty of respect from fellow road users, while surprisingly light handling is made possible by the wide, flat ’bars, and chassis geometry combined with the front Telelever and rear Paralever suspension systems. The Telelever set-up in particular helps prevent the front from diving under brakes, and plays a big part in the Adventure Rallye X’s renown tarmac-carving ability. All this is boosted by the engine mode and electronic suspension systems being entirely capable of taking the bike’s performance to the highest levels.
Of course long distance touring is the Adventure Rallye X’s obvious forte, the big tank good for some 480km (tested), and the seating position, ergonomics and weather protection are all conducive to punching through high-mileage sessions with minimum fuss. Riding mode selection can be adjusted on the run, allowing easy changes to suit changes from tar to dirt.
Dynamic mode skins the proverbial cat on the tar, while Rain mode entirely tames the power delivery when conditions get sketchy. Enduro Pro mode is really well configured for riding on dirt roads and tracks – especially if you have the confidence to take charge and get over the front end to help the 19-inch front hoop bite and utilise the massively torquey and tractable power delivery to keep the rear wheel planted and driving. Meanwhile, TC can be switched off entirely when you strike soft and sandy sections so as to get constant drive – just bear in mind deep sand is precisely where this bike’s weight and bulk combine to really test you.
Given the wide range of optional accessories and technology available from BMW, it doesn’t take long to configure the Adventure Rallye X as a $30,000-plus juggernaut, putting it in the same big-budget league as the Ducati and Triumph in this group. But it delivers a very comprehensive and very refined package for the price.
The GS model lineage stretches back to 1980, when the original R 80 GS was launched. The GS badge refers to the German words Gelande/Strasse, which translates
Impressive power delivery can be subdued and tractable or deliver scintillating performance at the click of a mode button. ESA makes for easy suspension adjustments to suit changing riding conditions and loads. Dash angle is adjustable, the multi controller intuitive. A thoroughly refined machine.
With the optional Navigator VI unit fitted, the dash can’t be viewed when standing. Sheer size and weight of the bike demands a confident approach, and the wide, low-slung cylinder heads intrude on your feet and shins when you have to start paddling on soft or sandy ground.
TEST Andrew Clubb
PHOTOGRAPHY Josh Evans