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The New BMW R1200GS
Everything you ever wanted to know about the BMW R 1200 GS
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R1200GS Full finial specifications

– BMW R 1200 GS – Page 3

Suspension with adjustable spring base and TDD spring strut at the rear.


To optimise riding qualities off the beaten track, the spring base of the front gas pressure spring strut is mechanically adjustable to 9 different position in order to provide extra reserves even under the toughest offroad conditions. Spring travel at the front is 190 mm or 7.48´´, with a 68 mm (2.68´´):122 mm (4.80´´) ratio in the basic setting between the outward and rebound mode.

Real-wheel suspension incorporates a high-tech gas pressure spring strut with travel-dependent damping (TDD) and infinite hydraulic adjustment of the spring base by means of a hand-wheel. The damping effect in the outward mode is manually adjustable.

The travel-dependent damping principle was introduced by BMW Motorrad for the first time in 2002 on the R 1150 GS Adventure, providing a progress­ive damping effect as a function of spring travel. The machine therefore responds smoothly and comfortably to even the smallest bumps on the road, while nevertheless offering adequate potential for rough terrain with hard jolts and deep holes in the surface.

Spring travel at the rear is 200 mm or 7.87´´, with positive (inward stroke) versus negative (rebound) spring travel being increased over the former model to a new ratio of 135 mm (5.31´´):65 mm (2.56´´) in the basic setting.

Wheels and tires – offering a free choice of cast or cross-spoke wheels for the first time.

The lucky purchaser of the new R 1200 GS has the choice of either high-strength cast light-alloy wheels or BMW’s well-known cross-spoke wheels measuring 2.50 x 19´´ at the front and 4.00 x 17´´ at the rear and running on 110/80-19´´ and, repectively150/70-17´´ tires.

Developed brand-new especially for the R 1200 GS, the cast light-alloy wheels with five double spokes are both stable and light. And while, at 0.1 kg, the reduction in weight at the front versus the spoke wheel is virtually negligible, weight reduction at the rear is a significant 1.6 kg, down by 12 per cent.

A big advantage of cast wheels is that they retain their excellent running smoothness and circular geometry throughout a long running life and are easier to clean. Clearly, this makes them first choice for riding on roads and untarred tracks.

Benefitting from their special design and configuration, the cast wheels on the R 1200 GS are likewise fully suited for moderate offroad conditions. Gravel tracks, nature trails and the usual offroad tracks to be found all over the world are no problem with these wheels as long as the “normal” rider maintains a moderate style of riding observing the elementary rules. In prac­tice, therefore, cast wheels reach their limit only when exposed to very substantial loads over a long period, for example on extreme tracks, at high offroad speed, and when jumping on rough terrain with violent bumps and jolts.

The ambitious offroad rider using his R 1200 GS mainly off the beaten track and often mastering rough terrain at high speeds, should therefore opt for BMW’s proven cross-spoke wheels, which are naturally also a good alter­na­tive for the rider not keen on cast wheels on his enduro. As before, the par­ticular arrangement of the cross spokes also allows the use of tubeless tires and the spokes can be replaced individually.

Brakes – high-performance EVO brake and Integral ABS.

The R 1200 GS is fitted with BMW’s well-known EVO brake system, which has already proven its benefits such as maximum stopping power under minimum manual force on the R 1150 GS and other BMW machines. Brake disc diameter is 305 mm or 12.00´´ at the front and 265 mm or 10.43´´ at the rear.

As an option at extra cost, the R 1200 GS is also available with BMW Inte­gral ABS already well-known on the former model. Complete with on-demand deactivation when riding offroad, Intregral ABS also features a semi-integral function with the handbrake lever activating both brakes on the front and rear wheel. In the conventional mode, by contrast, the foot­brake lever acts only on the rear wheel brake for precise application of the rear brake alone under specific conditions in very tight bends and on rough terrain.

The steel-clad brake lines, finally, not only look good but also offer a slight decrease in weight and ensure an even more stable pressure point.

Innovations in the on-board network – the BMW Motorcycle Single-Wire System (SWS).


Yet another special feature of the R 1200 GS is the all-new on-board electric system. The term Single-Wire System describes a highly innovative on-board network using electronics and CAN-bus technology (Controller Area Network) to offer functions and features never seen before: Reducing the number and length of cables required, this network offers a much wider range of functions than a conventional on-board network, information being transmitted along just one single path (hence “single-wire”) as opposed to the double-wire system otherwise required.

Apart from the wide range of functions, the main advantages of this in­tel­ligent combination of electric and electronics are the lighter wiring har­ness, substantial resistance to interference, and the complete range of diag­nostic functions. A further point is that the system may be flexibly expanded by simple updates.

The basic principle of the single-wire system is to connect all control units, sensors, and power-consuming items via one single, common wire in order to form a complete network transmitting all signals regardless of their sub­se­­quent function. In other words, all information is readily available at all times within this network for all the components attached.

Signals are assigned and transmitted to the respective power-consuming item at junction points in the electronic system of each control unit. Here the signals/data are processed and then used to activate the functions desired in the respective power consumer. This eliminates the need for elaborate cables otherwise required for each function operating through a separate wire, thus reducing potential effects and errors in a conventional on-board network otherwise resulting from the large number of cables. Clearly, this is an important factor contributing to the system’s high standard of reliability.

All control units are connected to one another, thus being able to commu­nicate directly and exchange data in a bi-directional mode. This allows simple and comprehensive diagnosis of the overall system from one central point, the electronics incorporating suitable programs in order to filter out unimportant data and interference signals within a defined tolerance, thus making the system less sensitive to electromagnetic disturbance.

In all, the new R 1200 GS comes in standard trim with three control units (the cluster instrument also representing a control unit of its own). The control unit for the Digital Motor Electronics (BMS-K) is not only responsible for the engine management already described, but also transmits all data to the central diagnostic system. Central Suspension Electronics (CSE), in turn, serves to mastermind the electrical units and functions not specific to the engine. And if the motorcycle is fitted with Integral ABS and an anti-theft warning system as an option, the control units are also integrated in the network.

There is no need for conventional fuses at any point throughout the on-board network, the electronic “brain” simply switching off the function in­volved in the event of a short-circuit or malfunction, subsequent diagnosis serving to quickly trace and remedy the defect. And since the other func­tions are not affected in such a case, the network philosophy featured on the R 1200 GS again offers further advantages in terms of reliability and failsafe operation.

The control units also provide relay functions, only the starter being con­trolled via a conventional relay.

The electrical system on the R 1200 GS is supplied with power by a low-weight alternator developing 600 W at 40 Amps. The maintenance-free battery has a capacity of 14 Ah.

After 20 years of experience in electronic engine management and 15 years of experience with ABS technology, BMW Motorrad, introducing this new on-board network, has taken its next innovative step into a successful future.

Electronic immobiliser for optimum security.

To ensure optimum security at all times, the R 1200 GS comes with an electronic immobiliser naturally fitted as standard. Controlled by a trans­ponder in the key, the immobiliser offers the very best in anti-theft security, main­taining the same high level to be found in BMW cars.

As soon as the rider inserts the key and switches on the ignition, a chip within the key communicates with the electronic immobiliser integrated in the Digital Motor Electronics via the ring aerial integrated in the ignition lock. This allows the systems to exchange and compare the coded chip data, on the one hand, and the electronic immobiliser data, on the other. After confirming that the data and signals comply with one another, the engine control unit will release the ignition and fuel injection, allowing the rider to start the engine. This technology is the best and safest immobiliser system currently available worldwide.

New instrument cluster in digital technology.

The new on-board electronic system featured on the R 1200 GS allows the introduction of a high-tech, extra-light instrument cluster based completely on digital technology. Incorporating the speedometer, rev counter and the Info Flatscreen Display, the instrument cluster replaces the former Rider Information Display, providing permanent information on the oil tempera­ture, fuel level, remaining range on the fuel in the tank, the time of day, and the gear currently in mesh.

Both overall and trip mileage are presented on demand, and any inter­fer­ence or defects are shown on the screen as a printed message. The entire instrument unit is automatically illuminated as soon as the weather gets dark, with precise control by a photoelectric cell.

Electric switches.

Both the switches and controls are new. While the basic arrangement of the switches and BMW’s logic for operating the direction indicators have both been retained, the switches are now even easier to use and reach, and come in even clearer, more distinctive design.


Body and design – superior function combined with clear, distinctive shapes.

Numerous motorcycle components form a close link of function and looks at the outside, much more so than on a car. The fuel tank, for example, is not just a container for fuel, but also a highly significant design feature crucial through its shape to the rider’s seating position and the overall look of the motorcycle.

The same applies to the front fairing together with the windshield not only protecting the rider, but also – in conjunction with the headlight – giving the entire motorcycle its special “face” and characterising the look of the ma­chine also in the front side area.

Using BMW motorcycle language, the faring components, the fuel tank as well as other function and control elements are jointly referred to as the “body” of the motorcycle.

In its overall design and look, the R 1200 GS stands for dynamism, agility and lightness combined with the robustness typical of an offroader. Clearly structured and contoured surfaces create a feeling of tension and excite­ment, interacting to provide clear and harmonious lines. Various surfaces finished in plastic, paint and aluminium are assigned to specific functions, combining elegance and value with the ruggedness rightly expected of an enduro.

All visible technical components are included in the design of the machine, the delicate structure and light character of the rear subframe being enhan­ced and accentuated by the silver paintwork. The slightly curved, oval form of the Paralever swinging arm, finally, combines superior stiffness with a slender and dynamic look all in one.

The colour scheme – aesthetic, individual and full of style.

The colour scheme offers a perfect blend of diversity and aesthetic style, setting unique accents in the process. And with the owner being able to freely combine the colour of the paintwork with that of the seat and side covers, the connoisseur obviously has a wide range of choice.

The three basic colours are elegant and classic Ocean Blue metallic and two special metallisée Rock Red and Desert Yellow non-metallic colour schemes both highlighting the sporting character of the R 1200 GS. Two seat colours (Light Grey and Black) as well as two different colours on the tank side cover (Granite Grey and Black, soft paint) provide a total of 12 different combi­nations, each giving the motorcycle its own particular character.

Front fairing with adjustable windshield.

Through the functions they comprise, the components on a motorcycle also vary in design. Seen from the front, the fairing, for example, is a typical,
strik­ing and distinctive sign of character giving the GS its particular identity. And at the same time this component serves as the air guide for the oil cool­er.

The new BMW R 1200 GS provides a modern rendition of the design fea­tures already boasted by the former model around the headlight. Indeed, the all-new, asymmetric dual headlight unit with the low and high beams varying in diameter gives the GS its characteristic “face”. At the same time the reflectors in free-form technology as well as the clear glass cover make it quite obvious from the start that the entire headlight unit is brand-new. The oval design of the reflectors is indeed not only up-to-date, but also enhances illumination of the road ahead thanks to the large light outlets.

The windshield adjusts to five different angles without requiring any tools in the process, offering riders of different size optimum protection from wind and weather through its design alone. The two plastic side covers right and left at the side of the tank, in turn, come off easily by means of rapid catch­es.

Plastic tank with side covers.

The 20-litre fuel tank on the R 1200 GS is made of special, extra-light and impact-proof plastic. Two side covers made of thin aluminium and a painted top cover give the tank its special shape and look. Appropriately slender to­wards the rear, the tank offers good knee and leg support also when riding offroad whenever the rider is standing upright on the footrests.

The seat – ergonomic design and greater variability of seat height.

Maintaining BMW’s usual standard, the new two-piece double seat offers both the rider and passenger ample space. The seat is not only available in two colours – Grey and Black – but also adjusts to two different height levels for the rider (840 mm and, respectively, 860 mm/33.1´´ and, respectively, 33.8´´). And with a higher (+30 mm/1.18´´) and lower (–30 mm) seat also being available as special equipment, the customer is able to choose among four different height levels ranging from 810 mm (31.9´´) to 890 mm (35.0´´), thus benefitting from unprecedented variability and free­dom of choice. In determining the ideal seat height and contour on the R 1200 GS, BMW’s engineers and designers have applied a new dimensional criterion for the first time: the rider’s step length. Forming the entire distance between two resting points of the rider’s feet (measured across the inner length of his legs), this criterion considers not only the absolute, geometric height of the rider’s seat, but also its shape and width throughout the relevant area at the front. Even where geometric seat height is the same as on the former model (840 mm/33.1´´ and, respectively 860 mm/33.8´´), this new seat design significantly improves the rider’s ground contact while keeping his knee bending angle when riding within comfortable limits.

Luggage rack and removable passenger seat: Carefully conceived stowage options even for bulky luggage.

Made of stable but light plastic, the luggage rack on the R 1200 GS is all-new in design and offers adequate storage space for additional luggage easy to fasten and transport safely thanks to the lashing points. A further option is to fit a topcase, and the plastic cover beneath the removable passenger seat serving as a flat loading area at the same level as the top edges of the case is both functional and practical all in one. Fitting the cases available as special equipment here, the rider has lots of space for addition­al baggage, once again with integrated lashing points for optimum security.

Ergonomic handlebar and handle design.

Made of thin-walled steel tubes, the strong and stylish handlebar easily copes with the heaviest loads and is tapered at each end. Weighing only slightly more than an aluminium handlebar, a steel handlebar is much less prone to damage should the machine fall over to the side (for example on offroad terrain) and allows emergency repairs. A further advantage of the steel handlebar is the lower thermal conductivity of steel retaining the heat where it belongs when the machine is fitted with heated handles available as an option.

The hand levers for operating the clutch and brakes have been optimised for perfect ergonomics and are adjustable in their span. At the same time the diameter of the handles has been reduced to provide an even better grip.

Optional extras and special equipment – cases variable in size and a wide range of customisation features.

A complete systems supplier by tradition, BMW Motorrad has developed a wide range of customised extras and special equipment for the new
R 1200 GS, offering the owner the very best in individual choice. Optional extras are fitted directly at the factory in the production process in Berlin. Special equipment, in turn, is fitted by the BMW motorcycle dealer.

Optional extras.

– BMW Motorcycle Integral ABS (semi-integral and with on-demand deactivation).

– Cross-spoke wheels.

– Heated handles.

– Hand protectors.

– Case supports.

– Anti-theft warning system.

Special equipment.

– High rider’s seat (+30 mm/1.18´´ versus standard seat),
adjustable (max seat height 890 mm/35.0´´).

– Low rider’s seat (–30 mm/1.18´´ versus standard seat),
adjustable (lowest seat height 810 mm/31.9´´).

– Case supports.

– Cases variable in size by single-lever control.

– Mounting plate for topcase.

– Topcase.

– Inner bags for cases/topcase.

– Water-tight tank bag.

– Hand protectors.

– Small cylinder protection hoops.

– Large cylinder protection hoops.

– Anti-theft warning system (also available as an optional extra).

– Additional power socket.

– BMW Motorcycle Navigator.

Both the cases and the topcase are an all-new development. A unique feature is the sophisticated, single-lever control function for adjusting the volume of the cases easily and conveniently: Both the cases and the top­case may be varied in size by 9 litres, allowing the rider to flexibly adjust the luggage system to individual space requirements and reduce the width of the cases as well as the height of the topcase when taking along less luggage.

The left-hand case on the muffler side offers maximum capacity of 37.5 litres, the right-hand case holds up to 46 litres. With the topcase also offer­ing capacity of 46 litres, maximum storage capacity is almost 130 litres.

History of the GS Boxer.

The starting point in developing the GS in the late ’70s was BMW’s support of various teams in offroad events such as the famous Six Days. And in­deed, offroad sports activities of this kind have a long tradition with BMW, extending all the way back to the ’30s, BMW Boxer motorcycles successfully entering the most challenging offroad events time and again.

The final touch came with by BMW’s victory in the German Offroad Cham­pionship in 1979, some enthusiasts at BMW Motorrad GmbH, as BMW’s Motorcycle Division was officially called at the time, advising Management to develop a series machine for homologation based on the experience gained with competition models. Tests with the first prototypes were an immediate success right from the start, convincing BMW Motorrad to begin the series development process.

The world’s two-cylinder large enduro entered a market in 1980, which up to that time had consisted exclusively of single-cylinder models. Displacing 800 cc and featuring both a driveshaft and a single swinging arm, the R 80 G/S was a genuine sensation. Indeed, this new machine opened up a brand-new, previously untapped segment – the segment of large capacity, all-round touring enduros.

The R 80 G/S quickly became the ideal motorcycle for the committed globe­trotter, enthusiasts all over the world soon learning to appreciate the power and performance reserves, the long-distance comfort and the often surpris­ing offroad qualities of this touring enduro. Superior riding pleasure on the road was ensured by the relatively high level of power, superior torque all the way from low engine speeds, equally superior riding stability, and excel­lent handling.

BMW offroad machines participated right from the start in the long-distance Paris-Dakar Rally taking the riders all the way to Senegal in West Africa. And in its third try in 1981 the Boxer with its efficient cooling ensured by the wind rushing by, a low centre of gravity and superior ease of maintenance thanks to its driveshaft finally made its way right to the top, French desert specialist Hubert Auriol winning the motorcycle category and repeating his success two years later in 1983.

Still based on series models as before, BMW’s 1,000-cc two-cylinders also brought home the title in 1984 and 1985, former World Motocross Cham­pion Gaston Rahier from Belgium leaving the competition far behind.

Launched in 1988, the R 100 GS raised the outstanding qualities of BMW’s offroader to an even higher standard. Indeed, this was the largest enduro in the world at its time. And with worldwide sales amounting to 69,000 units, the R 80/R 100 GS was also a huge success in the market.

Introduced in 1994, the GS models powered by a four-valve engine brand-new at the time have become an even greater success in the meantime: The R 1150 GS, for example, introduced into the market in autumn 1999 and benefitting from the additional support of the R 1150 GS Adventure since autumn 2002, was once again the best-selling machine in Germany in 2003, beating the competition by far. And it almost goes without saying that the R 1150 GS continued this success in 2003, once again outselling all other motorcycles in the German market by far.

Since 1980 BMW Motorrad has sold approximately 170,000 units of the GS Boxer to customers the world over.

Like its predecessor, the new R 1200 GS, with its “GS” (Gelände/Straße or Offroad/Road) orientation, offers a wide range of qualities and practical values: Riding the R 1200 GS on moderate terrain is easy and safe, and the experienced motorcyclist is also able to master very tough offroad condi­tions. On the road, in turn, the GS stands out through its impressive handl­ing ensured by the extremely stable and comfortable suspension together with large power reserves making this unique machine ideal for dynamic
riding on winding country roads and mountain passes. And with its effective windshield, the R 1200 GS enables the rider to cover even long stretches on the motorway without undue pressure. So that in practice the R 1200 GS is also ideal as a long-distance travelling machine on the road.

All GS models since 1980 at a glance:

1980–1987 R 80 G/S
797 cc 50 hp

1988–1990 R 65 GS
649 cc 27 hp

1996 R 80 G/S Basic
797 cc 50 hp

1987–1996 R 100 GS
980 cc 60 hp

1987–1996 R 80 GS
797 cc 50 hp

1990–1995 R 100 GS Paris-Dakar
980 cc 60 hp

1993–1999 R 1100 GS
1,085 cc 80 hp

1999–2000 R 850 GS
848 cc hc 70 hp

1999–2003 R 1150 GS
1,130cc 85 hp

2002 R 1150 GS Adventure
1,130cc 85 hp

2004 R 1200 GS
1,170 cc 98 hp

Continued on Page Four

About Michael Le Pard 862 Articles

“Mr. Totalmotorcycle”. Owner and Founder of Total Motorcycle. Supporting Motorcyclists and Motorcycling for 18 great years.

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