No bike is perfect but to welcome the BMW R1300GS to the MCN fleet, let’s dwell on some good stuff first

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If you want to get your eager mitts on a brand-new BMW R1300GS, they start at £15,990 – but there’s barely a single stock GS on planet Earth, they’re all either pimped direct at the point of sale, or rapidly after first leaving the showroom. And the bike you see here arrived direct from BMW after being rolled in glue then ridden repeatedly through the accessories catalogue. 

Do you ‘need’ everything that’s fitted? Almost certainly not. But does having all the toys make ownership a better experience, and pay dividends in terms of depreciation and resale value? Yes. 

This model is specifically the ‘Option 719 Tramuntana’, which takes a raft of items you can spec individually, and bundles them into a package. Then a few more bits have been added, too.

MCN fleet BMW R1300GS at Tintern Abbey

The result is a spec list that will run your printer dry of ink and paper, and a ticket price of £23,360 – with a 3-year warranty as standard right now. So similar in price to a fully-loaded Multistrada V4S, but with a shorter warranty. And it’s genuinely glorious. 

Having racked-up over 60,000 miles on previous versions, and just shy of 2000 on this new one over the last three weeks, what is it about this latest GS that’s so special?

BMW R1300GS new engine

MCN fleet BMW R1300GS engine

Does it feel radically different to an R1250GS? Not really, no. But it does feel fitter. There’s nearly 10bhp extra, and four more lb.ft (which you’d need a digital vernier bottom to feel), but rather than feeling particularly gutsier, you simply notice that you’re travelling faster than the effort the bike’s making would suggest.

It’s still got all that lurchy, gargling boxer character, but it’s also more refined and smoother, and oozes drive everywhere.

BMW R1300GS switchgear

MCN fleet BMW R1300GS switchgear

The new switch cubes boast three key buttons that are tangibly more useful. The old heated grip button is now the main keyless ignition/steering lock button, while the old suspension adjustment button is a multi-use nav button, and the old lighting selector now delivers a handy fast menu. There’s still a lot to get used to, and they’re not backlit but it’s a set-up Honda owners would kill for. 

BMW R1300GS seat

MCN fleet BMW R1300GS right side

My longest single ride so far has been 317.3 miles over a period of 6hr46min. The only times I wasn’t in the saddle were when fuelling or taking a quick picture roadside (of the bike, not me). When I stepped off it back at home I felt so fresh that I reckon I could have repeated the ride without complaint.

The comfort levels are similar to many big adventure bikes, but it’s the newfound calm, quiet, buffeting-free airflow than really prevents fatigue and mental distraction. It’s just effortless.

BMW R1300GS headlight

MCN fleet BMW R1300GSheadlight

I must adjust the headlight down a little as it’s dancing just a little high, but ignoring its slightly dodgy aim, it’s an impressive beam of light. I was expecting the opposite. When I first saw what I’m calling the ‘illuminated starfish’ I assumed it’d be lacking the punch needed to deliver any day-making transformations – but it’s really very strong.

You’re rewarded with a clean white, crisp and defined block of light that’s nearly as good on dipped as it is on high beam. It truly is a small miracle.

BMW R1300GS suspension

MCN fleet BMW R1300GS on the road

Anyone who still thinks BMW’s ‘funny front end’ is a negative needs to have a rethink. The support that the semi-active Telelever gives to both bike and rider is immense, and when you jump between bikes as much as we do at MCN, you really can’t help but notice the benefit.

On major roads and at lower speeds the impact is relatively inconsequential, but dial up the pace and aggression, and throw in typical British B-road surface roughness, and its ability to iron the road flat and resist the nose-diving and rebounding pitch of a traditional fork is incredible. 

The front and rear ride height adjustment that lets you drop it to the deck on demand when you want more foot-to-earth flexibility, is great. It even raises itself if you use the centrestand to help you get it onto the stand.