Author: Jon Urry Posted: 25 Jan 2014
We all knew it was on its way, but has the water-cooled Adventure been worth the wait?
Some riders look at the R1200GS Adventure and think ‘what’s the point?’, which in some ways is a fair enough question. This is a bike designed to take on the world, cross continents even if there isn’t a properly paved way of crossing them and basically monster over any impediment in its way. Well, that’s the feeling you get when you are riding one anyway. But the Adventure is far more than just a very determined globetrotter and the fact that so many never venture much further than Europe (or the UK for that matter) isn’t to its detriment. If you want a bike that has a simply massive tank range and enough road presence to send busses scurrying for cover, then look no further than the R1200GS Adventure. And for 2014 it has become even better.
As was expected, the Adventure gained the GS’s new partially water-cooled engine for 2014. It’s not properly water-cooled, it’s only 35% liquid cooled as BMW like to point out. However aside from a tweak to the engine (which has a slightly heavier flywheel to give it smoother response), an extra 20mm of spring travel in its suspension, sharper geometry, a massive 30-litre tank and styling changes which include engine protector bars and a new nose, the Adventure is very much a beefed up GS. Which is no bad thing at all as the new water-cooled GS is a brilliant bike.
When you sit on the Adventure it feels big. This is a man’s bike and a tall one at that. The seat height is 890mm (or 910mm in high mode) and the huge tank when 90% full of fuel makes the whole bike tip the scales at 260kg. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted and at low speed can be a bit intimidating, however get going and it transforms.
Like the 2013 GS, the Adventure benefits from not only a new motor, but also a revised chassis and tyre sizes. In the same way the new GS went from a good handling adventure bike to a very good handling road bike thanks to the changes, the Adventure has also discovered a remarkable turn of agility. Despite its bulk, the BMW can really be thrown around through corners. The longer travel suspension means it isn’t quite as planted as the GS, and there is a slight feeling of vagueness that takes a bit of getting used to, but once you understand what the Adventure’s chassis is telling you it’s a very impressive ride. Add into the equation the semi-active suspension and you have a bike that not only looks and feels like nothing in the world will stop its progress, it feels civilised and is comfortable to boot. The larger screen and fairing do a decent job of sheltering the rider while the engine is peppy and responsive, easily lifting the front out of second gear corners on the throttle alone. Handily the traction control brings it down to earth again in a very controlled fashion. And speaking of control, what of that new steering damper?
Due to its sharper geometry, BMW have not only fitted a steering damper but also designed the front of the Adventure so that the flow of air pushes the nose down rather than up. The reason for this is that as Adventures are generally loaded up with tons of luggage, they can sit low at the back, taking weight off the front. This, combined with the sharper geometry, could have lead to instability, hence the damper and aerodynamic nose. I took the Adventure up to an indicated 135mph and it was as solid as a rock, which bodes well, although my panniers were empty.
So what is the point of an Adventure if you aren’t looking at adventuring? With its 30-litre tank, BMW reckon you can easily get 300 miles between fill-ups, which is brilliant if you want a bike that you don’t have to fill up every journey. As a tourer the Adventure is perfect, it’s surprisingly sporty when going and the new water-cooled engine is fast yet not overpowering. If you don’t mind having to man handle it around a bit at low speed, the 2014 Adventure is a great bike that is a worthy successor to the Adventure name. It also looks absolutely brilliant in the new green paint scheme!
+ points: Chassis, fuel range, intimidating traffic!
- points: Heavy at low speed, tall seat height
2014 BMW R1200GS Adventure
Engine: 1170cc boxer twin, 8v
Power: 125hp@ 7,750rpm
Torque: 92lb ft@ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 140mph (est)
Weight: 260kg (wet)
MPG: 49mpg (est)
Price: £12,600 in basic spec