BMW R1200GS (2004 - 2012) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£270|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The BMW R1200GS breezed into the motorcycle world in 2004 and changed it forever. It’s a genuine all-round motorcycle that’s equally at home on a trackday as it is on a grand tour. The BMW R1200GS' 1170cc Boxer engine is a pleasure to use, while the handling, braking, usability and comfort put this motorcycle in a class of one.
Watch the BMW R1200GS take on the Moto Guzzi Stelvio, KTM's 990 Adventure and the Triumph Tiger
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The BMW R1200GS exudes perennially unflustered excellence. The chassis is superb. The Telelever front end initially feels remote, but once you’re dialled in to the motorcycle and confident the BMW R1200GS can be leant and leant and leant. It’s 30kg lighter than the preceding model, the BMW R1150GS, and the servo-assisted brakes and (optional) ABS help haul the BMW R1200GS up with ease.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The BMW R1200GS' trusty oil/air-cooled SOHC Boxer motor is flexible, punchy and revvy all at the same time. The motorcycle's throttle is light, the response is instant and the power is all you could hopefully use in the real world. There are pleasantly few vibes, too, thanks to new-for-BMW balance shaft fitted to the BMW R1200GS.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
BMW motorcycle reliability is legendary, but it’s as much down to the comparatively gentle use the BMW R1200GS tends to get and the meticulous attention to the service schedule of BMW R1200GS owners . Avoid any motorcycle that can’t back up its history with a full, dealer-stamped, motorcycle service book.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
BMW R1200GS typically command top dollar for either new or secondhand motorcycles. But the good news is that you get back much more of your money when you sell the motorcycle than virtually any other motorcycle brand. Mileage is normally the bugbear of residuals, but BMW R1200GS buyers are much more tolerant, with only motorcycles showing over 50,000 considered high mileage. Find a BMW R1200GS for sale.
A man could beggar himself lavishing kit on his BMW R1200GS. Heated grips, ABS, crash bars, hard and soft luggage…but at least you get an ignition-based immobiliser and a height adjustable seat as standard on the BMW R1200GS. Compare and buy parts for the BMW R1200GS in the MCN Shop.
|Engine type||8v Boxer-twin, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Steel trellis subframe|
|Fuel capacity||20 litres|
|Rear suspension||Preload, rebound|
|Front brake||Twin 320mm discs|
|Rear brake||220mm disc|
|Front tyre size||110/80 x 19|
|Rear tyre size||150/70 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||47 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£270|
|Used price||£3,600 - £8,500|
13 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||100 bhp|
|Max torque||85 ft-lb|
|Top speed||136 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||12.4 secs|
|Tank range||206 miles|
Model history & versions
2004: BMW R1200GS motorcycle launched.
BMW R1200GS Adventure (see separate listing).
MCN Long term test reports
MCN Fleet: BMW R1200GS Rallye reaches the end of the road
I’m not a monogamous rider. It doesn’t matter how good a bike is, I really struggle with the concept of only having one. I currently own four (a Ducati 996, Suzuki GSX-R750 ‘Slabby’, Honda VFR800FiW and Honda CB750 SOHC), but if you backed me into a corner and threatened me with the concept of singl…
Owners' reviews for the BMW R1200GS (2004 - 2012)
32 owners have reviewed their BMW R1200GS (2004 - 2012) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£270|
Annual servicing cost: £70
Corrosion all round but I use it all year
Although it is 15 years old brakes are excellent and it comfortable for long journeys
Meets my needs
Corrosion, fuel regulator, indicator switch but used in all weather
Service my self not including brake pads and tyres
Buying experience: Bmw dealer good service Douglas Park motrad East kibride great staff
Version: Triple Black TU
Annual servicing cost: £250
Would prefer more toys and integrated electronics.
ABS works very well. I’m biased towards the rear brakes and use pads up a lot.
A good torquey motor with reasonable economy
Good quality and reliability.
Self servicing saves money.
Buying experience: Was bought for me by my children 😆
Annual servicing cost: £250
Cant give 4.75, had a few issues but overall does everything better than average.
Can't give 6 out of 5. I live in Cornwall, rode up to Scotland in one hit at high speed in comfort (can't say how fast but well over the border in 8 hours) then took twisting B roads down to the ferry port in Heysham, then on the ferry to the TT, once there spent a week watching the racing and GREENLANING, i had many people wondering how i managed to get up the rocky lanes over there but with weight comes grip. I find the Mitas E07 tyres very good. Around the roads in the west country i have left many faster bikes behind, I'm sure those wide handlebars and telelever suspension help through the bends. Does everything better than it should.
Transmission takes a bit of getting used to, but for an air cooled twin it can shift on when required, loads of torque makes overtaking easy, and also has a bit of extra go over 7000 rpm. The front of the engine can suffer from corrosion but a fenda extenda can help with protection. The cylinder heads act as great leg rests for short times on the motorway.
Built well but the torx fastenings can be prone to round out if poor quality torx keys are used.Had the common ABS problem at about 35000m, but i had it removed for a fraction of the cost of repair. (have been riding for 37 years and never had ABS before unless you count an old tiger cub which you could never make the brakes lock no matter how hard you pulled the lever) Also had seals leak between engine and clutch housing (problem on early 1200s). These two issues cost me £750 but no issues in the last 15000m apart from wear and tear.
Even though BMW are not cheap when it comes to hourly charges, the servicing is not too expensive as you don't have to remove loads of bodywork to get to the engine. A full service with valves, balancing throttle bodies, fluids and filters cost just over £300.
The best thing i have is heated grips and a pair of tucano urbano handlebar mitts. (awesome) I now have a second set of wheels so i have knobblies (E07+) for laneing the winter roads down here in muddy Cornwall and road tyres for the rest of the year. As for accessories,if you think the bible is a big book, check out the Touratech catalogue.
Buying experience: Private purchase from a caring owner. Paid £3700 nearly three years ago. Bargain .
Annual servicing cost: £500
Generally very pleased with the bike, it has taken me all over Europe but like most things is not without it's issues.
Ride quality excellent, let down by ABS issue mentioned which from research is a common problem that should have seen a recall to remedy.
Excellent, tons of torque.
Broken down twice, both electrical but put me in a difficult spot. That's in 33,000 miles so could be worse. Some corrosion on bolts but main issue is the ABS that failed and was repaired but recently failed again.
Used main dealer for the first few years but very expensive. I found an ex-BMW trained mechanic who does an excellent job for half the price.
Buying experience: Bought from main dealer, the initial experience when buying was excellent, but then tailed off.
Annual servicing cost: £400
Character has it in droves, awesome when you drive it like you dont have to pay for it.
Problems more with the dealers pointing out what should be done, rather than what needs done. costs are extortionate but internet saves £ on ABS fixs, fixed mine for £24 against dealers 1200! and brake bleeding is easy not like it says on internet, just start at top and work down.
New battery, shaft seal, but been quoted for rear disc and pads, rear wheel bearings and ABS which would have added £2000 if i had not been wise and checked out if they were really required. Sure there worn but, so am I.
Buying experience: Would buy another and would recommend, engine is a peach, if you are normal, and dont want 130+ Great bike for B roads and twisty As, you get home with your licence.
Annual servicing cost: £400
Nice bike but.......
Premium brand - premium prices 😐
Effortless perfomance at any speed
Buying experience: Main dealer parts and servicing expensive. Considering brand reputation, the stupidest things fail - fuel gauge twice, final drive unit on a bike carefully ridden with low mileage. Could do better me thinks
Annual servicing cost: £150
Excellent condition. Full luggage New tyres. A bike built to tour.
Excellent touring bike. At its true best in the country, mountain passes day ride outs to extended European trips. Comfortable cruising on motorways Great riding position.
Does everything I ask of it on any roads from Finnish gravel roads to motorways. Never misses a beat
Annual service with BMW
Many extras on the bike, full pannier set, crash bars, spot lights, gps,
Annual servicing cost: £150
Perfect bike. I have ridden and owned all kinds of makes, models, types of bike and nothing has come close to be being as good as this bike at everything. Engine pulls throughout the Rev range, handles like its on rails, breaks are more than sufficient, comfortable on motorways, A roads, B roads, lanes and off road. Handles any situation you can throw at it.
Never missed a beat. 10 year old machine, looks factory new.
No more power than my '96 R11gs
Claimed 20 hp more than my '96 R11gs, couldn't feel any difference
Hydraulic cam chain tensioners did not work at temps over 70 degrees Fahrenheit!!! Engine leaked oil, brakes warped, BMW wouldn't stand behind it, couldn't get rid of it quick enough.
Too many trips to the dealer who would then say "they all do that".
Buying experience: Poor dealer service, BMW said that their dealers didn't have to work on it if they didn't want to!?!?
Bought this bike as I'm an instructor and wanted an all round bike to replace my Fazer 1000 and Pan European 1100. At higher speeds and handling it's superb but due to the lean fuel injection mapping, it's terrible in town and at steady throttle setting. I tried de catting the headers, fitting a boosterplug electronic richener amongst other things and the local dealer said this is how they are so I sold it and kept my other bikes. If you like the smoothness of a Jap 4, leave this bike alone and if you say you don't like it in a review, you'll upset a lot of blinkered BMW owners.
I really don't understand when people slag-off the GS. The bike is the "ULTIMATE IRON HORSE". It was built for high mileage in comfort with enough power to take you and your luggage almost anywhere. It comes standard with steel hoses, hydraulic clutch, spoked wheels but tubeless and unique front suspension. It's a big bike but it weighs less than a Suzuki bandit and all the weight is in the lower part of the bike. Why do you think all the other manufacturers are TRYING to copy it? BMW have never claimed the bike can do what a trail bike can, it is for doing serious miles, ask kevin Sanders whom I think is the king of adventure biking, do you think if he thought the bike was unreliable he would set off from London to China on it? Get off your high horse and get on the iron horse mate! :)
1 word sums up - Unreliable. Engine - sounds like a sewing machine but is surprisingly useful. Annoying flat spot though. R&H - Handling surprisingly good. You get used to telelever very quickly. Ride - standard sreen buffets your head. Equipment. Good, if you spend a bundle. Heated grips hotter on one side than the other. Q&R - Disasterous. Will never buy another BMW. Fuel pump relay issue appears to have finally been addressed. Only left me stranded 3 times (that point - add in all the other failures and it's the most unreliable machine I'veever owned) Value - Given Q&R, very poor. Quite a laugh on dirt tracks too, nut better if its OPM (other peoples machine)
6 words sum up this machine the best bike in the world
Mines a 2007GS. 30k miles. Owned from New.Excellent machine. Only one Nark, Its easy to get the front seat off but try re-fitting it on the quick. What a twat!
Can do most things, and so a bike for all seasons. Very comfortable and in the twisties can easily keep up with most sports bikes. Loads of ways of personalising the bike, and support from a well subscribed dedicated web forum. Should have done it years ago. Mine is a 54 plate, in terrific nick.
Ok if you can get around the stigma of either being accused of being old and wearing slippers, or being a Charlie and ewan wannabe, then this is quite a nice bike. it is very comfy and will go for miles and miles without any need to stop, unlike most bikes with a large tank, you can actually ridit for a full tank load. I still hate BMW switch gear though. burns a bit of oil if you park it up on side stand, but then most BMW flat twins do that. Build quality wasn't quite what I would have expected from the hype of BMW, but it wasn't bad.
My 56 plate bike was only a year old with 4500 miles when I purchased it from a main BMW dealer. The Gripes - So far only the original battery needed replacing under warranty. Anyone in the mid 5' range will have trouble putting both feet on the ground. It my opinion this will limit the sales appeal of this great machine. Being 6'1" I found the bike easy to mount/dismount ( with the seat in the lowest position) and both feet are flat on the ground I love the upright riding position which keeps me free from back and neck aches, and is great for long journeys. The boxer engine delivers a huge amount of torque at low and mid range which means if like me you are lazy, there is no need for too many gear changes - just leave it in 6th and open the throttle !.The claimed 100bhp is more than enough for every day use. With the panniers full, and 2 up the trottle response is still startling. With the original screen in the fully forward position, my shoulders and the top of my helmet tended to get plastered with bugs. I have now fitted a Wunderlich screen which is about 6" higher and makes all the difference. I was not that impressed with the dipped beam headlight, so I fitted an HID unit which has completely transformed the night vision. The exposed cylinder heads are very vunerable to damage if the bike falls over, and are veeery expensive to replace. Mine nearly fell off the stand in soft tarmac - so I fitted a set of engine bars just in case. In my opinion the R1200GS is a brilliant bike to ride, own and enjoy + the depreciation is very low compared to most Jap bikes.
Having read all the reviews ownersMCN included and watched Boorman and Mc Gregor I really wanted to like the bike when I took it out fora test ride today. Owning a Blackbird I was well prepared for to make allowances for the difference in performance etc. But although I only rode it for 50 miles I just could not get dialed into it at all. I loved the ability to be able to look at the scenery but the vibes and roughness of it just did not suit me at all.To be fair even though I have been riding for over 40years I did not feel that I had the capability to ride it how it should be ridden and I wonder if I should have been ringing its neck more.Each to their own though so if you do enjoy riding a GS good luck to you as for me I was glad to get back on my Blackbird.
I'm on my third GS from new, one 1150 and two 1200's. The 1200 is a lighter and more agile motorcycle. An off-roader it ain't. Firstly it is too heavy and it gets heavier each time you pick it up! I spent a muddy wet day in the Brecon Beacons with Simon Pavey(BMW Off-Road Skills) and a 1200GS and by lunchtime I was fantasising about small, cute F650's and crying for my Mammy! Secondly its too expensive to be thrashing around the woods. The off-road capability isn't wasted however as the bike is supremely composed on poor road surfaces. It vibrates, this takes a bit of getting used to if you've come from a 4-cylinder. It goes around corners in a way that flatters the average rider. Of the five BMW bikes I've owned, my current GS is the only one to have caused problems - battery failure(a software problem according to the dealer) and a fuel pump sensor/widget(water damage - a common problem on the GS1200 and sorted on later models) The standard screen is a disgrace and vibrates intrusively at all engine speeds. I changed mine for the Adventure screen which is a huge improvement. Other mods are Wilbers shocks giving the bike a more planted feel and Akrapovic exhaust which gives a meatier sound. In Ireland the bike has been a victim of its own success with so many used models about that prices for second-hand bikes have become quite depressed. Overall I love it despite the flaws. If you have never ridden one, take one for a test ride and don't give it back until you have put 100 of the twistiest of your favourite miles on it. If you still don't get it then its not for you.
I've had the GS now for 2 yrs and put over 30K on. It's fast, very comnfortable and complete stable so a good road bike. It's unreliable and left me stranded once with numerous trips to the shop to fix this and that. The seat is crap so factor in a new Corbin or Bill Mayer seat in to the cost of ownership. Also, adding an underseat gas tank [Touratec] is a must to extend the range. Last but not least add an airflow screen. Bliss! Not wind blast at any speed, I can hear my i-Pod no matter how fast I'm going.
The BMW 1200GS is a cracking machine. It's a versitile, capable bike that provides many a nirvana moment. It's also as reliable, well built and potentially as expensive as a crack addict. Bought first bike in December 2004. Suffered multiple gearbox failures, electrical failures, battery failures (etc, etc, etc). Average distance between breakdowns under 1,000 miles. After gearbox number 3 imploded on the M4 less than 300 miles after installation BMW finally appreciated that this might have been a bit of a "friday afternoon" bike and gave me a rather advantageous trade in for another 1200GS The January 06 1200GS is twice as good as the bike it replaced. This one has almost averages 2,000 miles between breakdowns or failures. Things of note: * gearbox / clutch replaced under warranty (both bikes). Replaced more than once too... * fuel pump electrics failed (both bikes) * battery failed (both bikes) - In fact I've never made it through a winter without the bike dying. * Top boxes - three flew off the back of the bike before I got really fed up & BMW refunded my money. Design has since been changed. *ABS failed *gear position indicator failure (so bike won't start) *neutral indicator failure *sudden loss of power under acceleration *speedo / rev counter failure. *steering lock failure *total loss of electrics (no lights, horn, try stopping that bike without servos......) The only area of ownership that is more disappointing than the reliability is the "customer services" After 8 years BMW ownership I won't be getting another one (2 or 4 wheels). Back to Honda. Maybe they aren't as much fun or as trendy but they do appear to work!
My R1200GS was bought second hand and its been superb. However, looking back through the service manual it has had a few things replaced but for me it is awesome. I've done thousands of miles on it and I don't use my car any more. I have a full set of luggage and it lugs everything with ease. It is the first bike I have had that I want to lavish attention on. I keep it clean and service it on time. I love it.
Tried this out after having loved my superb blackbird for 3 years. Rugby injury to neck meant I needed a more upright riding position, and the R1200GS has a superb upright riding position - but that's where the compliments stop! It is plasticky and full of vibration through the handlebars from the rough boxer engine, especially when cruising at speeds above 85 - that is if you can stay on long enough enduring the wind buffeting and turbulence. It may have been great for Charlie and Ewan around the world, but that's because they were never travelling for any long periods of time above 40mph and passing any lorries! Considering the cost, BMW need to improve the basic screen size rather than expecting people to buy the after market additions; they need to change the engine for their new K engine which is brilliant; and they need to reduce the price! Thank God I didn't sell the Blackbird!!
Well i have read horror stories on many places, yet I have owned 3 of these over the years and currently have a year old 06 model. I haven't had a single issue with any of them over the years so maybe I am lucky! I tend to run the bikes in quite hard and keep my eye on the oil. and stick firmly to yearly service periods. I know one guy who complained about his falling apart and he rode it for 2 years through the winter and salt doing his own servicing and not even cleaning it. sure enough his forks pitted and the machine wasn't prestine, but I get the feeling that some people feel just because its a BMW that it should just last forever without care and attention. This is obviously nonsense. Some tips? use high quality oil, get it serviced properly and coat it just before the winter with ACF 50 and clean it once a week. mine always looked like new! Sure I don't think the build quality is quite as good as the older models however with a little TLC they will keep fresh and the added engine power and lighter weight more than make up for this. Don't be put off by the comments in there, still one of the best all round bikes you can buy, especially if pick up a 1 year old minter with 5,000-10,000 miles on the clock.
As at least 2 other punters below, very disappointed with quality and reliability especially given that this is meant to be a premium product. Bought it with 1,100 miles on the clock from dealer and had it almost a year to the day. Since February replaced gearbox, clutch, rear frame (cracked), fuel electronics (water damage - replaced with 'modified' seal), headlamp failure (electrics), paint flaking off revealing corrosion. Luckily all under warranty and well looked after by dealer. Recovered once. Second time had to find workaround as BMW assist unable to help much at the time. Lost confidence and currently in discussion with BMW. Love it when it goes but in my opinion not worth the money spent and never expected so much to go wrong with a BMW. Never had issues with Jap machines before. Disappointed at being disappointed.
There are a number of things which you need to get used to with these BMWs if, like me, you have been accustomed to Japanese machines. After my 2 hour test ride I was impressed with the handling and comfort below 50mph but still unconvinced that it was the bike for me. Bolstered by all the glowing reviews and the knowledge that 2 hours wasn‘t enough to adapt, I decided to buy one and see if I could get used to it. The bike was very tall which made it and unwieldy when moving it round the garage. The height also made getting on and off difficult - the overall impression was that the bike is too big. I am 5’11’’ and had the standard seat on its lowest setting. I wanted a lower seat but the BMW dealer advised me not to get one as this would have less padding, so I didn’t bother. I found it difficult to get used to the indicators and always felt that having to use my right thumb to cancel robbed me of proper throttle control in a series of corners. Riding smoothly is the key to enjoying these bikes. This is difficult on a neutral throttle as the engine feels lumpy but is ok when accelerating except when you forget yourself and try to change up too sharply and let the revs drop too much, which results in an unsettling lurch to the right as the clutch engages. The front suspension set up keeps the forks from diving, but makes it feel that the rest of the bike pivots up and down behind the headstock. This means that on rough roads your body is bouncing up and down but your hands are not, which makes throttle control difficult, and given the snappy throttle response, a bumpy corner can be a bit of a nightmare without good clutch control. Having said all that, the handling was otherwise excellent, but I cannot say the same about long-distance comfort on the motorway. The wind buffeting and noise caused by the standard screen can be lessened somewhat (but not eradicated) by the use of Tobinators, but I think that BMW should have addressed this problem rather than let owners trying to solve it - chat rooms are full of talk about this issue and as far as I can see there is no universal cure. The bike also seems to be very prone to turbulence from other vehicles, so the bars often shake at motorway speeds. I found the seat no more comfortable than my previous GSX1400 and ZRX1200. Whatever the shortcomings of my previous bikes, they have all had some redeeming quality - style, performance, chuckability, exhaust note etc. which made them fun to ride. After a year I realised that I couldn’t use the word fun when describing the BMW, so I sold it.
A good multipurpose bike for all occassions. BMW should improve the seat and optional footrest availabilty for longer ride.
A great bike with a great engine, very comfy, you could ride it for days without ever being uncomfortable. It handles surprisingly well for such a big heavy bike. My only complaint is BMW insistance of using those cumbersome indicator controls.
I bought a 05 1200GS - i love the looks, handling, ride position etc, the only thing that lets it down is its reliablity, i have been stranded now 3 times (once in Italy) key immobiliser x 2, fuel pump x 1 - BMW Assist are very good at customer care but, a brand like BMW should in my opinion have better quality components on their bikes.
I have just ordered my 2nd GS after doing 14K miles on my 05 model I got 2nd hand. I have had a couple of warrenty issues but each time they have been sorted out without any problems. It is a fantastic bike for 2-up riding and excellant for touring. It could do with 20bhp more but otherwise I love it.
Bought new 03. 2005 had failed clutch, throttle jamming on, brake failure, overheating. Refused to ride it after 2nd brake failure. Negotiated replacement with cash, adjustment, failed fuel pump, stranded again. Bought a 4 year old valadero and sold the beemer 'nuff said, good when it runs though ...never buy out of warranty you have been warned! Strengths: Really good all rounder. Weaknesses: Terrible reliability problems, you have been warned!