BMW R1250GS (2019 - on) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
Annual servicing cost: £340
Power: 134 bhp
Seat height: Tall (33.5 in / 850 mm)
Weight: High (549 lbs / 249 kg)

Prices

New £13,845
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

With identical styling to its R1200GS predecessor and a chassis left unchanged, not a lot seems to be new with the with the BMW R1250GS at first glance. Delve a little deeper and you’ll find a higher level of standard equipment and if you tick the options boxes, more advanced electronic rider aids, too.

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  • But the big change comes from BMW’s venerable Boxer engine, which gets ‘Shift Cam’ variable valve timing for the first time and a capacity increase, drenching it with more power from top to toe.

    If you own an R1200GS it’s probably not worth an immediate trade-up but ride it back-to-back with the 1250 and you’ll notice the newer machine’s extra lowdown grunt and added urgency up top. If we’re honest it still isn’t the most exciting adventure bike out there and its looks aren’t to everyone’s taste, but you can’t deny just how talented it is – a comfortable tourer, off-roader and scratcher, all rolled into one Tonka Toy-like package.

    It isn’t the cheapest out there, especially if you want all the goodies, but a full-spec GS will also hold its value well and it’s proven to be reliable, despite its complex engine tech. It’s also won every MCN group test and award since it was released and it’s never hard to see why.

    BMW R1250GS most popular bike in the UK in 2019

    The BMW R1250GS became the UK’s most popular bike above 500cc with 1827 sold, and a further 1773 R1250GS Adventures were registered, too. These figures combined make the R1250GS in all forms the most popular bike of 2019 across all categories.

    BMW R1250GS in the rain

    Ride quality & brakes

    Next up: Engine
    4 out of 5 (4/5)

    With no changes to the chassis it’s no surprise the R1250GS rides and handles just like the R1200GS and isn’t flustered by its extra power, but that’s fine by us. It may be a quirky, clumsy looking beast, but it isn’t and is actually a spacious tourer, performance bike or mud muncher, depending on your mood.  It exudes poise, grip and has superb wind protection and despite the change from Brembo to BMW-branded Hayes calipers, you’re never left short of solid braking power.

    Off-road it doesn’t have the outright speed or playfulness of rivals like the KTM 1290 Super Adventure, or the character of the Honda Africa Twin, but the motor’s extra grunt and delicious throttle response give you more control over a GS than ever. Its standing-up riding position is natural and the optional ‘Enduro Pro’ electronics offer off-road tailored traction control, ABS and suspension settings.

    MCN's Neeves tests the BMW R1250GS off road

    Engine

    Next up: Reliability
    5 out of 5 (5/5)

    Forget the clever engine tech for a moment, because from the comfort of its skyscraper-tall cockpit, all the ride-by-wire controlled ‘Shift Cam’ does is give you a GS with more low-down grunt than ever, with the softest throttle pick-up this side of a factory race bike. As a result, the R1250GS has so much grunt that sixth gear is all you need around town, on the open road or even powering out of slow, uphill hairpins.

    Yoga teachers struggle to be as flexible as this engine and it’s impossible to feel the Shift Cam doing its thing. There’s no step, jolt or hesitation, just a flood of perfectly delivered power and a nice, throaty exhaust note.

    But pile on the revs and the BMW becomes less pipe-and-slippers and more crowbar-and-Doctor Martens – fast by any standards with enough poke to clutch-up easy third gear wheelies with the electronics turned off. It may still not have the power of its big orange rivals, but the BMW has more than you’ll ever need on the road.

    Shift Cam: How it works

    To give the 1254cc Boxer twin its seemingly magic powers, each of the boxer twin’s inlet cams have low and high-lift cam lobes sat next to each other.

    The camshafts continuously slide from side to side across the top of the engine (in five milliseconds), via an electronically controlled shift gate, depending on revs and throttle opening. Below 5000rpm (around 80mph in top) the engine is in a mild state of tune, with lots of lowdown grunt, but when the rider asks for a lot more power its high-lift cams come into play for maximum acceleration. Above 5000rpm the motor stays in full fat mode.

    Capacity is increased from the R1200GS’s 1170cc thanks to a bigger bore and longer stroke (from 101mm x 73mm, to 102mm x 78mm) and the inlet valves are staggered as they open, to create swirl in the combustion chamber for a better burn. Power is up from the 1200’s 123bhp to 136bhp and there’s 14ftlb more torque, delivered 250pm lower in the revs.

    The BMW R1250GS engine in all its glory

    Reliability & build quality

    Next up: Value
    4 out of 5 (4/5)

    Despite initial reservations about the complexity of its Shift Cam motor we haven’t heard of any problems from owners and the same goes for overall durability. The R1250GS is proving to hold up well, even with big miles under its belt.

    Our 4 BMW R1250GS owners' reviews give the bike 5 out of 5 overall, but the comments do go on to say it's relatively expensive to service - something of a BMW trait. 

    Value vs rivals

    Next up: Equipment
    4 out of 5 (4/5)

    The base R1250GS doesn’t cost the earth, but the reality is most buyers will tick boxes and add optional performance, electronics and equipment packs. They’ll add thousands to the price but will considerably enhance the owning experience and make the machine more desirable when it’s time to sell.

    BMW servicing isn’t the cheapest out there and it isn’t especially good on fuel. During MCN’s various UK tests we’ve managed a 47mpg average and a theoretical 207-mile range from its 20-litre tank.

    The GS is widely considered to be the adventure bike benchmark, but it isn't without rivals. The Triumph Tiger 1200, Ducati Multistrada 1260, Honda Africa Twin and KTM 1290 Super Adventure are all viable options.

    The BMW R1250GS off road

    Equipment

    4 out of 5 (4/5)

    A colour TFT dash with Bluetooth connectivity, LED headlights (both add 5kg to all-up weight) and a basic Hill Start Control system are now included on the base R1250GS.

    The ‘Riding Modes Pro’ package includes ‘Dynamic Brake Control’, which automatically shuts the throttle butterflies when you brake hard and stops you from accidentally braking against the throttle in an emergency.

    Hill Start Control Pro knows when you’ve pulled up on a slope (via the Inertial Measurement Unit) and applies the rear brake for you until you pull away again.

    The BMW R1250GS TFT screen

    Specs

    Engine size 1254cc
    Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, flat twin
    Frame type Tubular steel
    Fuel capacity 20 litres
    Seat height 850mm
    Bike weight 249kg
    Front suspension Telelever with non-adjustable single spring
    Rear suspension Paralever with single spring adjustable for preload and rebound damping (Dynamic ESA optional)
    Front brake 2 x 305mm front discs with four-piston Brembo radial calipers. ABS
    Rear brake 276mm rear disc with twin piston caliper. ABS
    Front tyre size 120/70 x 19
    Rear tyre size 170/80 x 17

    Mpg, costs & insurance

    Average fuel consumption 47 mpg
    Annual road tax £93
    Annual service cost £340
    New price £13,845
    Used price -
    Insurance group -
    How much to insure?
    Warranty term -

    Top speed & performance

    Max power 134 bhp
    Max torque 106 ft-lb
    Top speed 130 mph
    1/4 mile acceleration -
    Tank range 207 miles

    Model history & versions

    Model history

    This model was introduced in late 2018 to replace R1200GS and launched in Portugal in September, before arriving in UK dealers in the October of the same year.

    Prior to the 1250, the R1200GS had been in production since 2004, receiving three updates to the standard GS model alone in that time. In its time, the bike was one of the best-selling large capacity motorcycles in the UK, capable of conquering continents, as well as heading to the supermarket for your daily shop. Indeed, the 1250 has big shoes to fill. 

    Other versions

    BMW R1250GS Adventure – the rugged one with a 30-litre fuel tank, long travel suspension and spoked wheels. It replaces the 1200 version and gets the same updates as the standard GS.

    Owners' reviews for the BMW R1250GS (2019 - on)

    7 owners have reviewed their BMW R1250GS (2019 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

    Review your BMW R1250GS (2019 - on)

    Summary of owners' reviews

    Overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
    Ride quality & brakes: 4.6 out of 5 (4.6/5)
    Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
    Reliability & build quality: 4.1 out of 5 (4.1/5)
    Value vs rivals: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
    Equipment: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
    Annual servicing cost: £340
    1 out of 5 SAFETY ISSUE - KNOWN BY BMW DO NOT TOUCH MODEL WITH TRACKER
    01 June 2020 by Simon

    Version: Ralleye TE

    Year: 2020

    Annual servicing cost: £600

    Brand new the bikes failed after 30 miles with - blown starter motor relay, the main wiring loom knackered and ECU blown - plus batter terminals melted. Known issue that Tracker installed as standard can knacker bike as faulty wiring in - confirmed by BMW recovery when they picked me up. Showrooms attitude - was tough we fixed it under warranty - now have i bike that do not trust.

    Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
    Engine 3 out of 5

    feels like a chugging tractor compared to R1200RS that I mistakenly traded-in. Cam variables suck - I this is based on having had a VFR800 VTEC - and know how they should feel

    Reliability & build quality 1 out of 5

    major electrical fault after 30 miles from new - that could have killed me had I not been at a stop when it occurred

    Value vs rivals 2 out of 5

    £173 for a basic nut tightening after 600 miles - really??

    Equipment 3 out of 5

    Buying experience: overpriced - buy OEM

    3 out of 5 Make sure you really want one , because the brakes might let you down when you need them.
    14 May 2020 by Steve m

    Year: 2019

    So this should be a fantastic product , the best yet. On the whole the bike is great. Unfortunately it has brakes that might fail and on bikes you need your brakes. Mines had 3 sets of front callipers and im not alone. Bmw customer service is appalling at i thought Ktm were bad. Think long and hard before you up grade.

    Ride quality & brakes 2 out of 5

    See above calipers are not up to the standard of a BMW

    Engine 5 out of 5
    Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

    The brake callipers have been changed 3 times due to leaking. Banjos at the end of the brake lines are going white

    Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
    Equipment 5 out of 5

    Has everything i could want

    Buying experience: Dealer has been very good sorting out the problems. BMW uk have made the whole process a nightmare re the brakes. Own up to the problems i am not alone the brakes are faulty

    5 out of 5
    24 April 2020 by Jeff Brain

    Version: TE

    Year: 2019

    Annual servicing cost: £230

    Very impressed with all aspects of the bike. My only criticism is the gear shift assist which is terrible and I very rarely use it. The Hayes callipers are far superior in performance to the Brembos on my Multistrada. I would highly recommend the bike

    Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

    It’s a joy to ride through the twisties and has all day long comfort, in fact I thought my each of my Multistradas (I’ve had three) were comfy but the GS in in a different league.

    Engine 5 out of 5

    You get instant responsive acceleration almost regardless of road speed or gear selection and when the shift cam switches it takes off like s scalded cat. The power delivery is as smooth as silk, faultless.

    Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

    Very impressed with the build quality far superior to the last two Honda bikes I purchased

    Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
    Equipment 4 out of 5

    Heated grips are my favourite accessory. It is virtually essential to fit a front fender extender and a Mudsling for the rear otherwise in wet conditions the rider is covered in dirt from ankle to hip should be standard fitment.

    Buying experience: Bought new from a dealer. Paid the list price but had the SOS and factory alarm free.

    5 out of 5 Does it all!
    17 April 2020 by Steve Lane

    Version: Rally TE

    Year: 2019

    Annual servicing cost: £550

    Brilliant do-anything bike

    Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

    Front brakes are superb but there is a lot of dead movement in the ear pedal which is annoying. Suspension is more than good enough for me.

    Engine 5 out of 5

    Loads of smooth torque.

    Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
    Value vs rivals 3 out of 5

    I generally need a service every 8 or 9 months so this is an average.

    Equipment 5 out of 5

    Everything I could want and some I don’t really - keyless ignition seems pointless to me.

    Buying experience: Great local dealer makes buying easy.

    5 out of 5
    23 March 2020 by Andrew

    Version: Ralleye TE

    Year: 2020

    upgraded from R1200RS Sport SE, 2017 model. Find the handling and seating position is better and more relaxed - and gives a lot more confidence when slow corning and city driving.

    Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
    Engine 5 out of 5
    Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
    Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

    BMW is always slightly the case of paying for the brand name - but that's expected

    Equipment 4 out of 5

    extras are expensive - but plenty of alternaitves from Givi, Shad, etc

    Buying experience: good -dealer handled smoothly

    5 out of 5 Still a 5* (because almost nothing changed)
    08 November 2019 by JCP

    Version: HP

    Year: 2019

    Annual servicing cost: £200

    I've upgraded from the previous R1200GS, also with full extras, and it felt immediately like "this is the same, but somehow it feels different". And the difference is in the engine. A big plus. It's new and improved and there's no doubt about it, as you can feel the extra torque. The only doubt is if it is different enough to pay for it (I don't think so, but I still prefer it). Everything else is almost the same as the previous model and that is good because the bike is absolutely amazing in all aspects. Does it consume less as BMW states? After 10.000 miles it doesn't, as the consumption are the almost the same as the 1200 (+0.3 l/100km or +2 mpg). So, not worst and you get more for the same consumption, which is not bad.

    Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

    It's a GS. This bike goes for miles and miles only stopping for gas and food (only because it/ we require to). Comfort is a plus but no changes from the R1200. Much has been written on the front brake and I do feel its a bit worse then the previous version.

    Engine 5 out of 5

    It's better and improved. So, if the previous was a 5*, this is definitely a 5* also. You can hear the new shift cam into work with an extra *clank* coming from the boxer but even knowing when it kicks in, it is (i would say) impossible to feel it when driving, it's imperceptible. Still, I would like to: - have a lighter GS not a heavier one - even more quieter running engine - smoother low gear (driving slow in the city sometimes there's just no gear for it) - higher 6th gear (only for highway that would give the required extra) (but maybe I'm wrongly trying to transform a boxer in a 4 cylinder)

    Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

    With an aggressive riding, jumps and hard breaking, 10.000 miles after I have no issue what so ever. Even the regular a check on the screws required almost no tightening

    Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

    It's a BMW, you know what you're getting into. Still, could be cheaper and the service is not always premium (e.g. BWM oil is way to expensive is not better then other brands) Regarding consumption, after 10.000 miles it doesn't consume less then the 1200 as BWM states (+0.3 l/100km or +2 mpg). So, not worst and you get more for the same consumption, which is not bad. For reference, averages are: highways - 6.8 l/100km ( 41.54 mpg) city - 5.4 l/100km (52.31 mpg) driving slow and below 4000rpm - 4.0 l/100km (70.62 mpg)

    Equipment 4 out of 5

    There's a LOT of GS out there but there's almost none of them are standard. Safety optionals are usually a no brainer (and expensive). The GS price is absolutely not the annunced, it more 3-5k in extras. BMW is cleaver in the options they present: 2 packs (R1200 had 3), each with 1 very relevant extra (probably a must) and the remaining needless (e.g. comfort - heated grips; touring - Dynamic ESA)

    5 out of 5 BMW GS 1250 2019
    18 March 2019 by Jersey Steve

    Version: Optional extra black paint

    Year: 2019

    Annual servicing cost: £100

    Great engine, comfort and equipment on TE spec. The handling is great at any speed and the weather protection and luggage options are fantastic. The controls are easy to use whilst on the move and the build-quality of the bike and switch gear are top-notch. The TFT screen is fantastic as are the safety features and the on-road or off-road capabilities. The height and weight of the bike can be a problem, particularly when using the centre stand.

    Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

    The bike is just as happy in town as it is on a motorway. I can ride it for hours without discomfort.

    Engine 5 out of 5

    Strong performance and pulls in any gear. Engine is very smooth.

    Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

    Very well made (it's German).

    Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
    Equipment 5 out of 5

    Love the TFT screen it's perfect. Will be adding luggage any day now.

    Buying experience: Purchased from local BMW dealer new.

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