BMW R1300GS long-term test update three | Big miles, pillion brilliance and big smiles

Adventure bikes are sold heavily on the multi-terrain dream of escape and exploration, but the reality is the vast majority of them, especially those at the upper end of excess (in terms of physical size, capacity, spec and cost) will never be challenged by anything more than an immaculate gravel drive.

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I did a little straw poll with readers a while back about what they considered to be a ‘long day in the saddle’ – and the result came back at about 8-10 hours of riding and around 300 miles.

So, with those figures resonating in my brain, I devised two very different 300-mile+ routes to hit on separate days to get a real sense of how day-long punishment feels on the BMW R1300GS.

BMW R1300GS at the coast

The first loop was a 10-hour 313.2-mile lap from Stamford to the Suffolk coast, then Norwich, before tracing the Norfolk coastline all the way back round to Kings Lynn, and home again. The route was almost exclusively bumpy and nadgery A- and B-roads, with only brief stints on more flowing A-roads.

The second route was a 9.5hr, 336.6-mile, lap or two of the New Forest, prefaced and followed by a tedious schlep on the A43, A34 and a few legs of motorway (M40, M3, M27). In terms of riding routes and conditions, they provided the perfect landscape to understand performance, comfort, fatigue, wind noise and how well the GS keeps you engaged in the ride. 

The findings were fascinatingly mundane. I’d love to say at what point my posterior, back, neck, hands, feet, thighs or eyeballs started to feel the effects – but they just didn’t. I got home as fit and fresh as I left. I could’ve gone again!

BMW R1300GS long-term test bike on the road

I don’t often carry a pillion – biking is best enjoyed solo in my world. But I always subject a victim to a stint in the pillion seat with each fresh long-term test bike, and when it’s something as pillion-likely as the GS, it’s a crucial test.

I’m struggling to identify serious downsides. The semi-active suspension soaks up the extra payload with aplomb; you don’t really notice the extra human’s impact in terms of bike handling or composure (mine was 5ft 8in and a little under 10st).

The only thing you really notice is the extra mass takes the crisp top edge off the GS’s punchy power delivery. Riding with polite composure is effortless, and when you get your groove on there’s no dip in chassis performance to compensate for.