MCN Fleet: BMW R1200GS Rallye reaches the end of the road

Published: 29 November 2017

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 single-bike ownership, there’s a very high chance that the bike I’d choose is BMW’s R1200GS.

That might seem odd considering my current collection, but faced with just one choice, it’d have to be something that could fulfil every role I’d ask of it, including swallowing my 15,000+ annual all-weather mileage. And there are very few bikes that can compete with a GS for that flexibility.

Over the last six months the Rallye has carried me for 6563 miles of my 15,062 year-to-date total, and there wasn’t one of them that disappointed. From sticky summer evening rides to the coast, to the daily grind, blasting through the rain to Wales, an impromptu trackday at Rockingham, and using it like a rolling office – the Rallye was my summer romance.

Regrets? I’ve got three…

Time is a cruel mistress though, and it ran out too fast. That left me failing to get to grips with a few issues I really wanted to answer in our time together. The primary one is the fuelling hole at 5500rpm. The creamy delivery goes from a surging bottom end to a plateau of tedium, before clearing its throat and barking its way to the redline. The answer certainly lies in a remap to erase what is presumably an emissions flat spot – but I never found time for a dyno day. Readers who have had the work done unanimously report improvements – so don’t fail like I did.

The second was that I’d planned a lap of the UK coastline, mapping thousands of waypoints to create a 5001-mile lap which I planned to do over eight stages. Fortunately/unfortunately I got the chance to ride from Oslo to Nordkapp instead, and never found another 8-day window to do my UK extravaganza.

Thirdly, I really wanted to expose the GS to winter. It’s the one big unanswered question about the bike’s performance, having had several over the years, but having always had to give them back before the council gritters turn our roads into the tarmac equivalent of the dead sea. I’d be interested to hear from you if you’ve done big winter miles on yours.

Keep it happy…

So what were the highlights? Riding it every day never got dull. I never tired of its rugged looks, or the way it will hustle on road – the almost indescribable way it despatched UK road imperfections with the composure of a magic carpet ride. BMW’s Dynamic ESA is utterly extraordinary, and makes every other bike feel broken.

Riding off-road in Wales on two occasions was also up there – especially as I got to ruin BMW’s Off Road Skills Rallye – not mine – for the serious off-road.

Tailing power-ranger-suited riders on sportsbikes on the road was a lot of fun, too. The composure with which you can ride at pace means that faster bikes often have a hard time getting away from a GS – assuming you all have a similar moral compass.

Would I buy one with my own, real, actual money? If I were forced to be monogamous? Yes, I would. Which only leaves one debate in my mind: Rallye, or Adventure? That’s a really hard call. Can I have this Rallye spec with the Adventure’s 30 litre tank, pretty please?

My 5 favourite R1200GS Rallye mods

Nippy Normans Avant, £57

This little fender extender protects the front plate, and reduces the amount of filth flung.

Nippy Normans Mudsling, £142

This hugger extender prevents the GS throwing muck up over the shock and rider.

Nippy Normans X-Heads, £169

Subtle, classy cylinderhead saviours, without the weight or bulk of crash bars.

BMW HP Akrapovic silencer, £828.20

Looks great, sounds great, doesn’t really affect the power delivery, and is fully road-legal.

BMW Navigator VI, £625

In a world pre BMW’s new 6.5in Connected dash option, this was my TFT surrogate.

Read more updates on our BMW R1200GS Rallye longterm test bike.

 

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