Review of the 2013 BMW R 1200 GS

A few months ago, I finally bought a bike that I’ve had my eye on for years: the BMW R 1200 GS. My initial plan was to upgrade from an older Ducati Hypermotard (fun street bike) to the new Ducati Hyperstrada (even more fun street bike, and better suited for longer distances). But as I sometimes have a tenancy to do when shopping for things I’m passionate about, I got a little carried away.

Once I decided I wanted a “big-bore” 1200cc adventure motorcycle, I had to choose from the following:

Here’s why I ultimately decided to go with the BMW:

  • Ducati Multistrada: Beautiful, amazing, super fast bike with a new semi-active suspension system (the Skyhook feature available on the S Touring model), but it has a chain final drive rather than a shaft. A chain isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but I’ve never had a bike with a shaft before, so I wanted to try something new. (And my last bike was a Ducati.)
  • Triumph Tiger Explorer. Also beautiful (though in a very different way), extremely fast, and has a very good shaft drive, but no semi-active suspension, and the nearest dealership is really far away from my house.
  • Yamaha Super Ténéré. Shaft drive and good value (by far the cheapest of the lot), but not very fast (I demoed one and was pretty disappointed), no semi-active suspension, and worst of all, not good for tall riders. My knees overlapped the front fairing by a couple of inches which drove me crazy after only about thirty minutes of riding.
  • 2013 BMW R 1200 GS. Everything I wanted: ABS, automatic stability control (ASC), semi-active suspension (Electronic Suspension Adjustment, or ESA), shaft drive, heated hand grips, cruise control, quick, comfortable, beautiful, and plenty of accessories available both from BMW, and from third parties.

The Yamaha Super Ténéré is the only one of the bikes I tested/considered that I don’t think I would have been happy with due to the fact that it doesn’t have a sport bike feel to it at all, and the fact that I just didn’t fit on it. I think I would have been perfectly happy with the Ducati or the Triumph, and still hope to own both of them at some point in the future (probably wishful thinking). In the meantime, I’ve put a couple thousand miles on the BMW over the course of a few months, and other than wanted to get slightly larger mirrors, I really have no complaints as of yet. To learn more about the 2013 R 1200 GS, and the accessories I’ve put on it so far, check out my video review above.

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About to leave for the beach with wave boards strapped to the back.

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On Chincoteague Island.

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The first lookout on Skyline Drive.