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BMW R1200GS RALLYE X | Bike Tests | Latest Tests | Top Sellers in Australia

It’s an imperious feeling you get parting traffic on the big GS, and as the only bike on test with satnav as standard, the BMW R1200GS Rallye X assumed its rightful place at the head of the pack. The guidance system took the adventure theme a little too far by dictating a fairly erratic route through the city outskirts, but once we hit the good roads I was surprised how easy it was to punt the Rallye X along rapidly. The wide ’bars, balanced chassis and buttery fuelling made it a pleasure to hoist from side to side through the shaded highland bends, despite the dirt-oriented rubber. On the boring straight roads before we reached our destination near Mansfield I flicked on the heated grips and sailed along in cruise control, smug as a kaiser in his chariot. Mint.

Stump Hill is to adventure bikes what Playcentre is to toddlers, with places to climb, slide and jump literally everywhere. But although I rode dirtbikes a bit back in the day the $27K, 244kg Beemer was a very different proposition to the zip-tied together KX125 I used to lob at the scenery as a kid. With Steve Martin’s prophetic warning – these things feel great … until they don’t – ringing in my ears, I had visions of the GS cartwheeling down a slope or stuck at the bottom of a creek bed. But the Rallye X turned out to be a dance partner that forgave my mistakes when I was clumsy, and spurred me on as I gained experience. Probably the biggest contributor to this is that thumping 1170cc twin-cylinder heart. On one particularly rutted hill climb the Rallye X slewed sideways as the front wheel encountered a rock the size of a small horse, killing my upward momentum. But the big boxer specialises at feeding you heaped shovelfuls of torque off the bottom of the tacho, keeping the bike moving forward as if there’s an invisible winch rope attached to the fork. All that grunt means it’s rare to find yourself in the wrong gear, but if you do need to swap cogs in a hurry BMW provides a superb multi-directional quickshifter, a fact I was thankful for the next day…

Dick, the owner of the property, had promised us a scenic forest tour to see the local crystal mine, which he said shouldn’t be too challenging provided it didn’t rain. Twenty minutes into the journey with rain falling steadily, what began as a leisurely strop along some smooth gravel roads had become a series of steep, slippery shale-strewn tracks and super-slick clay switchbacks. The Rallye X’s weight had it crabbing sideways down off-camber slopes, with the front end threatening to tuck at the faintest whiff of brake lever. But we got through, and the mere fact the Rallye tackled territory that would have given a mountain goat pause is a huge tick.

Riding the Rallye X through the rolling Victorian countryside rates as one of the top motorcycle experiences I’ve had. If motorbikes are about freedom and fun then the GS Rallye X has to be the ultimate escape vehicle.

I liked

One of the by-products of electronically adjustable preload is the ability to adjust the ride height on the fly. Selecting Enduro Max from the suspension modes raised the ride height by a couple of inches, keeping my boots high and dry through one icy-cold creek crossing.

Not so keen on

In certain situations the sheer size of the Rallye X can make it awkward to manoeuvre. I’m not a giant, but I reckon if I was much shorter it might have been a challenge to keep the GS upright in situations where I had to come to a stop on the some of the farm’s steep or uneven ground.

If I had my time again

My confidence on the Rallye X increased with every ride, and I would have loved another day or so to put my skills to the test further and see where the bike could coax me. Adventure riding is challenging but addictive, and churning up great clods of earth on a 90kW dirtbike is awesome!

By Damien Pelletier