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BMW R 1300 GS (2024) - Long Term Review

BikeSocial Publisher since January 2017.




Mileage: 2500 | Economy: 52mpg | Power: 134bhp (measured) | Torque: 104lb-ft (measured) | Weight: 250kg (measured with extras) | Price: £23,270 as tested

Part One - June 2024 

Ninety minutes in, the rain just gets worse and my Pinlock has started to fail. The left side of my visor is fogging, there’s two inches of standing water on the M25 and the spray from the trucks is like being jet washed with greasy cold filth. Splitting the traffic in lanes three and four, I can see cars aquaplaning ahead, gently slithering from side-to side. It’s been a long while since I rode in conditions like this for so many miles.

Somehow, the Big GS plots (or should that be ploughs?) an other-worldly, almost dream-state path like one of those sci-fi action films where exploding cars fly in slow motions over our hero’s head. I feel calm, relaxed and in total control. Apart from the ever-decreasing fog-filled vision I could sit here and enjoy this all day.

Forget the heroic off-road rooster-tail marketing and jumping over muddy bumps, this is why BMW’s Telelever GSs deserve their reputation as best all-round road bike in the world. Because, they are the best all-round road bike in the world and have been since 1999 when the R1150GS gained a sixth gear and 45cc more midrange. 

Back home, drying out, my thoughts gather on whether this is the moment that semi-active suspension comes of age. BMW’s new EVO-ESA system is stunning. I can’t emphasise enough how comfortable and confident I felt and how much feedback I seemed to be getting from a road surface submerged under water for mile after mile. It might not have been the ride we all dream of, but it was certainly my most memorable journey on a bike this year.  

The BikeSocial R1300GS has done around 2000 of its 2500 miles in the last six weeks. I haven’t had chance yet to really play with the settings, and I’m aware that most people reading this will have read dozens of other opinions on it already. Which is why I’ve taken my time, given it some thought to really get to know the bike before warming up my typing finger. 

Here are my first impressions.

R1300GS engine is all new. More compact, more powerful, more speed but not a lot more acceleration



Is the BMW R1300GS engine better than the R1250GS?

The new engine feels more lively, more powerful and more modern (or at least, less old) than the outgoing R1250. Our giant comparison test showed it goes 8mph faster, makes 14bhp more with additional midrange everywhere but doesn’t accelerate significantly quicker. It still has that lovely transition between bottom-end, midrange and top-end that BMW’s ShiftCam does so well. But if power and speed are your criteria for buying an adventure bike there are orange bikes, red bikes and BMW’s own S1000XR that do power, speed and modernity much, much better.

With the prospect of petrol bikes being banned in the next ten years, this might be the last all-new motorcycle engine BMW ever build and if so, they’re  going out with a flourish. It’s a technical masterpiece packed with clever design and when we see it in the R1300RT, R1300RS and R1300R I think we’ll appreciate it more because all those models are sensible, functional choices in a way that the big GS has never been.

The new engine is mechanically very noisy. Those of us that lived our early biking lives with tired, old Honda CB900Fs, CBX550s or CX500s will remember the sound of a grumpy cam chain all too well. The R1300GS appears to have a very happy cam chain but still does a very passable CB900F impression to poke at our irrational nostalgia.

Fitting then that the appeal of the big GS has always been its irrationality. In the days when we rode sports bikes it was the anti-sports bike. In the era of 180bhp adventure bikes it was the 120bhp adventure bike whose friendly charm made the frenzied buzzsaw hooligans look unnecessary.

The whole GS package has always been brilliant in a completely different way to the competition and people who bought them had consciously opted-out of all that regular marketing nonsense that plays to the lowest common denominator of power and speed. GS owners are an odd bunch.

So, by popular measures, the R1300GS is a better engine than the R1250, but is it a better GS? I need more time.

Pillion seat is well padded and plenty of legroom. Only tested for short trips so far but our pillion enjoyed it


Pillion comfort on the BMW R1300GS

Our bike has the pillion pack fitted which has a better padded pillion seat than standard and comfort rear footpegs (whatever they are). My wife rides her own bike and has no desire to go long distances on the back with me, so, I haven’t done a big trip two-up and probably never will. She’s hopped on for a few half-hour blasts including motorways and urban riding that brought favourable comments. Julie doesn’t have pillion experience of a recent 1200/1250GS so can’t compare the new one’s comfort, but her view on the R1300GS pillion provision is as follows.

“It’s easier to get on and off than other big adventure bikes because the seat is lower until the ignition turns on and the footpegs are reasonably low too. This bike doesn’t have luggage so I can’t judge how that might change with luggage fitted. The lack of suspension dive when changing gear and braking reduces helmet bonking and there’s enough room between rider and passenger to feel like you have your own space. The windblast isn’t too bad with the screen fully up, but we only did very short distances at high speed so don’t quote me on that if you’re planning a long trip.”

BikeSocial’s R1250GS-owning John Milbank is planning a proper pillion test on it with his partner later in the year. Watch for updates. For now, all I can add to this discussion is that this rider found the adaptive ride height function very useful at a standstill while your passenger gets on and off.

19 litre fuel tank is good for 180 miles of loopy backroads or 250 when cruising on the motorway

BMW R1300GS fuel consumption and tank range

My overall average for the 2000 or so miles I’ve ridden has been 52mpg but there’s a story behind that number. 

Most bikes take a few hundred miles to bed-in. Fuel consumption for the first 500 miles can be lower than you’d expect and, in my experience running long term test bikes from zero-miles for the last 30 years, I usually wait till around 1000 miles before viewing fuel consumption figures as representative.

Road tests I read on the R1300GS quoted late-40s mpg which seemed very low to me. Road testing isn’t like normal riding. There’s a lot of stop and start for photos and video, a leaning towards fast, twisty back roads using more throttle and gear changes and usually not much motorway or urban riding.

Getting back on a BMW boxer when you haven’t ridden one for a while is a mixture of pleasure and frustration. The R1300GS, took longer than most to enjoy. I found it clumsy, cumbersome and awkward to ride for the first couple of hundred miles. The engine was too revvy, the riding position too sporty, the gearbox was stiff, the quickshifter inconsistent and it used to much fuel for the speeds I was riding.

And then…

And then…

It started to make sense. I remembered how to change gear on a shaft-driven flat-twin. I remembered to use the torque as much as the revs and as I did this the fuel consumption went from 40-something to 50-something. It took about 300 miles before I switched from yelling ‘Why-won’t-you-do-what-I-want?’ at it, to looking forward to any excuse to be there instead of here. And now, I’m enjoying every ride and looking forward to a summer with the most radical re-invention of the GS since 2004. This new version isn’t just an update, but an all-new motorcycle that just happens to look a bit like the old one.

Now, with 2500 miles on the clock I’m getting somewhere around 45mpg on the back roads and into the high-50s mpg on the motorway. If I mostly keep below 80mph on the motorways that figure can go as high as 61mpg over a 150-mile ride while averaging 67mph for the whole trip.

Radar sensor is a styling challenge whether you pay for the optional Rider assistant or not. We think the cruise is brilliant, not so sure about the sensor

Is the radar cruise control worth having on the BMW R1300GS?

The TE spec bike like ours comes with regular cruise control as standard. BMW’s Rider Assistant radar cruise costs £760 extra. It’s a very slick system that gradually decelerates the bike if you come up behind a car in your lane going slower than your set speed. Once that car in front moves over, speeds up or you move out to overtake it, the bike speeds up again quickly. The system feels odd at first, but once you’re tuned in it makes long stretches of average speed camera roads more relaxing than regular cruise control. On long journeys it allows the rider to relax and rest your throttle hand without the on/off/on/off behaviour that regular cruise brings.

The rear radar also illuminates an amber light in the bike’s mirrors when a car is in your blind spot on either side. The system works really well, almost to the point that it worries me that I’ll become reliant on it. Whether those features are worth £760 is your choice. Of all the options available it’s certainly one of the more useful (and most-used so far).

The differences between the new and old GS look tiny but on the road the R1300GS feels like it has a lot less legroom.

How does the adaptive seat height work on the BMW R1300GS?

Climb aboard and the R1300GS feels lower, less wide and easier to manage than other big adventure bikes. With the ignition on the ride height rises 10mm and then another 15mm when speeds reach 55mph. As you slow down it lowers again. It’s a slick system that you don’t notice in operation. At a standstill the GS feels like a manageable bike giving confidence to waddle around a gravel car park. Once moving, you only realise how far off the ground you are when cramp sets in and you dangle your feet to find a few inches between toes and tarmac.

The handlebars feel in a similar position to the previous bike, but footpegs feel higher and further back, which gives the new GS a stance more like BMW’s sports/adventure XR crossovers.

On the picture above the changes look tiny, but on the move the R1300GS feels very different. The new riding position gives plenty of control and ability to move about more on the bike in corners. That’s really useful on twisty roads but the trade-off is that long motorway journeys are harder on your knees. On the R1250GS raising the seat increases the gap between seat and footpegs, giving a little more legroom. On the R1300GS the gap stays the same as the bike rises up on its suspension.

Like the radar cruise control, adaptive seat height seems pricey at £490 when all the hardware is already in place (you need the ESA suspension) but it makes a huge difference in rider and pillion confidence.

All-new chassis, all new suspension and the re-assurance of a steering damper just in case…

What riding modes are on the R1300GS?

Road, rain, Eco and Enduro on the standard bike are boosted by Dynamic, Dynamic Pro and a whole load of clever off-road modes on the TE-spec. You’ll spend much of the first few weeks playing with the riding modes, suspension settings and configuring the many options on the TFT display.

I’ve settled mostly on Dynamic-Pro mode because that’s the one with the sharpest, most direct response and greatest feedback. Even in horrendous riding conditions like the trip described at the top of this article the R1300GS felt easy to control, responsive but predictable and consistent too.

As much as I wish for a mode named ‘Lethargic Idiot’ to suit my abilities, I know that I wouldn’t use it. And even for a fool like me all the other road modes (I haven’t tried the off-road yet) are like riding a bike that has a chest infection. They feel woolly, soggy and unresponsive in comparison, like that used Honda Varadero you bought a few years back thinking it was a cheap adventure tourer.


How does BMW’s Evo ESA work on the R1300GS?

BMW’s electronically adjusted suspension celebrates its 20th birthday by getting even smarter. The new system adds variable spring-rate adjustment to the previous system’s damping adjustments. In reality it’s something that is hard to review because for 99 per cent of the ride you don’t notice the suspension at all. It gets on with the job of helping the tyres stick to the road and manages weight transfer on the way into and out of corners. The bike feels confident in every situation and that’s it. Suspension? What suspension?

The illusion is dented when you hit the three enormous bumps on the M25 clockwise by J17 after 50 miles of relatively smooth motorway (regular M25ers will know them well) which reminds you that the semi-active system is predictive, based on recent data and not quite foolproof.

Handling is also helped by the new chassis. For the last 30 years BMW’s GS has effectively had no chassis. The front suspension and rear swing-arm bolted to the engine with a little additional engineering to connect the hardware. It’s the reason no one else has copied Telelever because you need something tall and flat, like a Boxer engine to attach the front wishbones too. You can’t do it on an across-the-frame engine.

The R1300GS has something resembling a proper frame at the back and a triangulated trellis at the front. It also has a shorter wheelbase and less weight than the old 1250 model. The compact new engine allows the R1300GS a longer swing-arm for more stability. It also has a slightly more relaxed steering head angle and a little more trail than the outgoing R1250GS, all of which adds up to a much more stable chassis that still steers relatively quickly because that’s what Telelever allows (Telelever suspension doesn’t dive under braking so the wheelbase remains constant when you brake) ‘Quickly’ is a relative term here given that the wheelbase is already four inches longer than a sports bike.

Definitely a great bike, definitely an improvement on the R1250GS in measurable terms. But is it a better GS for long term GS lovers?


2024 BMW R 1300 GS Long Term Review - Interim Verdict

The new bike has swapped some of the old GSs character for clinical performance and even more usable technology. Part of the appeal of all the GSs I’ve tested or owned in the last 28 years was how a bike so big and clumsy-looking somehow managed to get you through anything with an animated puppy-dog character of ‘a-bike-that-shouldn’t-handle-this-well-but-somehow-goes-the-extra-mile-because-it-loves-you’. The R1300GS still handles every situation with a clinical competence, but now it's because of the design and that’s a big change. The goofiness has gone.

And that’s it so far. Part one of a long term test that I imagine is going to be enjoyable, functional and a reminder that it might be time to buy another GS. I am really looking forward to bonding with this bike and mostly, it’s all going well. But 30 years of GS genius brings very high expectations. I remember being absolutely blown away with the 2013 liquid-cooled R1200GS when they launched it and this one hasn’t had that effect. Yet. But I suspect it might.


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New frame, longer shaft drive, same old British weather. The new R1300GS chassis and suspension is superb when it rains


Three things I’m loving about the 2024 BMW R 1300 GS TE
  • Do-it-all ability

  • Useful tech makes riding easier and safer

  • New EVO-ESA suspension

Three things that aren’t so good…
  • Feels less like a GS than before

  • Not as roomy over distance

  • Inconsistent quickshifter slickness


2024 BMW R1300GS - Accessories

  • Option 719 Tramuntana package - £2,820

  • Adaptive ride height control £490

  • Seat heating £150

  • Radar cruise control (BMW riding assistance) £760

  • Top case carrier £220

2024 BMW R1300GS TE  - Technical Specification

Column AColumn B
New priceFrom £18,975 (£23,415 as tested)
Bore x Stroke106.5 x 73mm
Engine layoutFlat-twin
Engine detailsAir/water-cooled, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, variable intake valve timing and lift
Power134bhp (100kw) @ 7750rpm (measured)
Torque104 lb-ft (141nm) @ 6200rpm (measured)
Top speed147mph (tested)
Average fuel consumption51mpg tested
Tank size19 litres
Max range to empty (theoretical)213 miles
Reserve capacity53 miles
Rider aidsTraction control, cornering ABS, radar cruise control, rider modes, cornering lights, semi-active suspension (inc variable spring rate), hill-hold control, adaptive ride height
FrameSteel twin-spar
Front suspensionEvo Telelever single shock
Front suspension adjustmentSemi-active damping control and auto preload
Rear suspensionEvo Paralever
Rear suspension adjustmentSemi-active damping control and auto preload
Front brake2x310mm discs with radial 4-piston calipers, cornering ABS
Rear brake285mm disc, 2-piston caliper, cornering ABS
Front tyre120/70/19 Michelin Anakee Adventure
Rear tyre170/70/17 Michelin Anakee Adventure
Rake/Trail26.2º, 4.4in
Dimensions2212x1000x 1410mm (LxWxH)
Ground clearanceNot quoted
Seat height820-850mm
Kerb weight237kg (250kg as tested)
WarrantyTwo years, unlimited miles