Whether I’m picking up a curry on a Saturday night, filling up with petrol somewhere, or answering calls from readers who are thinking of buying one (or never buying one) – I’m regularly bombarded by the sure assertion that the R1200GS must be rubbish when the Tarmac gives way to the soft stuff.
It’s a slightly odd assertion considering the roots of the GS, but maybe the refinement over the years has driven the assumption that it’s become something of a Chelsea tractor. This new model seems to attract this line of questioning even more than the old, too.
There’s little point in trundling down a green lane and claiming to have ridden the new GS off road, and with my off-road skills needing a bolster, I thought I could tickle two birds with one stone, and booked myself onto Level 1 of the BMW Off Road Skills course in Wales (http://www.bmw-motorrad.co.uk/world-of-bmw/off-road-skills/level-one/ or freephone 08000 131282).
The course is a pleasing blend of instruction, confidence building, feedback and repetition of drills, following a rigidly planned – but informally delivered – syllabus of skills training. It works, too. I only ride off road a couple of times a year, losing any accumulated natural feel between goes, but I came away feeling that I’d added strongly to my base skills, giving me a higher start platform for the next time I venture into the dirt. Incidentally that’ll be for Level 2 in a few months’ time.
Moreover, I feel far more able to give a better-informed view on how the GS copes away from the Tarmac on which it excels. I was amazed by it. From slow, trials style control sections, to ruts, water, hill climbs, mud and loose gravel – the GS gets you through with compete composure. And you wouldn’t elieve how good the traction control is in Enduro mode. When given the chance to let it off the leash at speed on wide fire track style sections, jumps and all, its size never made it any more of a handful, or any less amusing to hustle. If you want to try it for yourself, you don’t even need to buy the bike – just book onto the school, and use theirs. It’s the ultimate test ride opportunity.
But if you just want to make the bet, I’ll take the odds – because the GS will get you anywhere.
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