BMW R1250GS (2019 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£280|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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.
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.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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 rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 8v, flat twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel|
|Fuel capacity||20 litres|
|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||£280|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Three years|
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
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.
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)
8 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£280|
Annual servicing cost: £1
I have several other bikes of varying ages, but the gs really can do it all including greenlaning and a quiet hooligan when you want. I was never a fan too many going to the shops looking like they were off round the world. It doesn't look like it should be so able but it is.
Handles well, even with Anakee wilds on the road. They are noisy but what do you expect on a 50/50 tyre doing 70. brakes are great. The single Rallye seat looks great doesn't it, then you get to about 50 miles and its awful, replaced it with a standard seat nowhere as cool looking but you can last pretty well on it.
Great engine. the vari cam setup is pretty much unused of road, maybe if you are an enduro hero but not me. When you wind it up on the road it can be surprisingly quick. Each generation of boxer engine from the original 4 valve 1993, 1100,1150,1200, 1250 gets to sound louder and more mechanically lumpy and to be honest not so nice, you listen to a decent 1100 next to a 1250 you'd think the 1250 had issues, you just have to accept that they all fo that sir.The standard has a good sound and a nice bubble on over run and its quiet for a non annoying stealth mode
Mine was second hand from the BMW off-road skills so its spent a lot of time laying down and I've added to that several times in the mud and simply things don't break off it. well i did lose one indicator, but that'd been sorted with tat Australian click'n'go indicator set up.
Not serviced yet, but once the warranty is out it, will be as simple as all the other boxer models. Its seems to be a bit heavy on the back tyre wear rate
Bought the expensive ALTrider bash plate and lower bars, having tried them, they will not be bending ever, well supported so they won't just move the damage to frame or engine via its mounting set up. Swapped the pillion seat for a Cymarc back box not cheap but better for a day out than an ugly top box. Front wunderlich engine protection plate, made of tough plastic but it keeps all the pebble dash off the front, always a fail on boxers, maybe this can sort it. Had the BMW black frame protection, sort of spidery thing that protects the white paint work of the frame, on when i picked it up, a pointless exercise as they seem to rub the paint where they are clipped to the frame.
Buying experience: From Vines in guilford who were ok but i went to collect the bike went up by train and asked to be picked from the station, this was not available on a saturday. I asked how much i had to spend to make it available?was not 12K enough. Was it also not possible to get a car on a Saturday, even if you have a huge car dealership. Pretty poor really IMO. Not the sort of thing you would have got from CW in Dorchester, sadly no longer a BMW dealer perhaps their standards of customer service were too high ( i do mean CW).
Version: Ralleye TE
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.
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
major electrical fault after 30 miles from new - that could have killed me had I not been at a stop when it occurred
£173 for a basic nut tightening after 600 miles - really??
Buying experience: overpriced - buy OEM
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.
See above calipers are not up to the standard of a BMW
The brake callipers have been changed 3 times due to leaking. Banjos at the end of the brake lines are going white
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
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
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.
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.
Very impressed with the build quality far superior to the last two Honda bikes I purchased
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.
Version: Rally TE
Annual servicing cost: £550
Brilliant do-anything bike
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.
Loads of smooth torque.
I generally need a service every 8 or 9 months so this is an average.
Everything I could want and some I don’t really - keyless ignition seems pointless to me.
Buying experience: Great local dealer makes buying easy.
Version: Ralleye TE
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.
BMW is always slightly the case of paying for the brand name - but that's expected
extras are expensive - but plenty of alternaitves from Givi, Shad, etc
Buying experience: good -dealer handled smoothly
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.
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.
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)
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
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)
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)
Version: Optional extra black paint
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.
The bike is just as happy in town as it is on a motorway. I can ride it for hours without discomfort.
Strong performance and pulls in any gear. Engine is very smooth.
Very well made (it's German).
Love the TFT screen it's perfect. Will be adding luggage any day now.
Buying experience: Purchased from local BMW dealer new.