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New 2018 BMW R1200GS Adventure first ride

Published: 20 October 2017

Updated: 20 October 2017

Whatever your preconceptions are about BMW’s ubiquitous R1200GS, there’s really only one reason for its success: it’s devastatingly effective at doing its job. And the Adventure model just got even better – albeit through the introduction of key new optional extras.

Following a year behind the standard GS and Rallye models, the new-for-2018 Adventure is available in five model variations in the UK, from the stock model (£13,400), up to the heavily spec’d Rallye TE (£17,670), which ticks all the major upgrade boxes.

2018 BMW R1200GS Adventure Highlights

  • Updates to the engine and exhaust to meet Euro4
  • Drive-train updates carried over from 2017 R1200GS 
  • Styling & option updates
  • Five-model line-up: Adventure £13,400 / Rallye £13,860 / TE £17,120 / Triple Black £17,535 / Rallye TE 17,670

Already treated to a half-upgrade for 2017, when it adopted the current GS drivetrain modifications for smoother final drive and gearbox operation, the 2018 model also gets a revised exhaust system and engine mapping to make it Euro4 compliant – while maintaining identical performance figures. Visually there were a host of nips and tucks to the instantly recognisable style, too. The colours for 2018 are all new, but very little else has changed for the standard version of the Adventure from the 2017 model.

This subtle evolution ought not be overly obvious in motion, but there is a notable improvement in the smoothness of the drive over pre-17 models, especially low in the rev range. The pick-up and surge of vibe-free acceleration from as low as 2500rpm is impressively creamy, and the gearbox feels crisp and precise – especially though the optional bi-directional quickshifter.


The story is the same throughout the bike, with the incremental improvements working much as the overall design always has: nothing individually stands out, but the holistic effect of the whole package feels superbly effective and refined on road and off it.

The only tangible downside of the Adventure compared to the standard GS or Rallye is the width of the 30litre fuel tank. The flanks are so flared that for my 5ft11in stature I find it pushing my knees apart like a birthing mother’s. It’s absolutely fine when riding casually, but gripping the tank with your knees under braking is a splayed-out affair. I love the 315+mile tank range though.

And you can ride it hard, too. In the 296 miles I rode around South Wales over two days, I was moving between and through corners with the same pace I would on any more powerful large sports or touring bike. In fact, when the going gets tough I genuinely believe I could get across the Brecons faster on the GSA than a litre sportsbike.

The power delivery doesn't overwhelm, allowing you to use everything available, while the handling, brakes, and electronic assistance are all as impressive as you could hope for. The Dynamic ESA, which automatically adjusts to the load on the bike and keeps it within its optimum operating window, is also superb. Not only does it manage to keep you comfortable and composed, but it also irons the road flat under your wheels. The only negative I can aim at it is the GSA's propensity for becoming detatched from the ground. Over bigger bumps and sharp crests it gets airborn very easily – which is fine if you're expecting it and riding aggressively, but can also catch you unawares. 

R1200GS tech revolution

The real story for 2018 is not so much the baseline improvement, but what optional extras you can bolt to the new Adventure (and the rest of the GS range). Our already well-spec’d test bikes (in TE trim) had all the benefit of heated grips, hill start control, keyless ride, Pro riding modes and the phenomenal Dynamic ESA semi-active suspension – plus much more – but the headlines are the new Emergency Call system, and Connectivity, BMW’s new multi-media supporting 6.5in TFT dash.

The Emergency Call system is a great safety aid, which now has no annual costs once fitted, and provides an intelligent emergency response system which, amongst other functions, will call an ambulance to your exact location for you if you crash and are incapacitated. It's not a simple 'you've crashed you numpty, I'm calling an ambulance' system, but instead works through a series of contact attempts and protocols to ensure you need assistance before it's sent.

But best of all is the new TFT dash. From clever simple tools like the adaptive redline indicator which gives a moving redline based on engine warm-up progress, to invaluable functionality that includes full wireless multimedia connection to your phone for calls and music, a simple satellite navigation function, full Connected App support, Bluetooth helmet connectivity, and rafts of bike information screens that provide every detail about your bike’s status – which are also paired to the App. 

In use it takes a few minutes and menu mis-navigations to get used to it, but once you have - it's entirely intuitive and adds a level of refinement and support that positively affects every mile you ride. 

It costs a steep £595 extra, but it’s worth every penny for ownership pleasure, and will positively impact on the bike's resale value. You could also consider it as a cheaper upgrade than the firm's NavigatorVI satnav (£625), which – while it boasts more functionaliy – is made somewhat superfluous by the Connectivity dash's navigation ability in conjuction with the dedicated phone app. Nonetheless, it’s a shame BMW haven’t elected to make it standard equipment.

MCN Verdict

The ride is dominated by the new automatic Dynamic ESA which takes the already clever electronic suspension to a new level of refinement and effectiveness. The view is dominated by the Connectivity dash, whcih adds a level of modernity to the GS that utterly transforms it. Both of which are optional extras – but if BMW, and the bikes on the used market, are evidence enough – no-one buys a standard BMW these days. The TE or Rallye versions are our hot picks – anything less will require a big extras list to get the bike you really wanted. But get the spec right, and the new Adventure is addictively superb. Comfortable, fast enough, wildly clever, versatile, and unstoppable.

2018 BMW R1200GS Adventure Tech Specs

Price From £13,400 (standard) to £17,670 (Rallye TE)

Engine 1170cc liquid-cooled boxer twin

Power 123.4bhp @ 7750rpm

Torque 92.2ftlb @ 6500rpm

Frame Steel tubular

Seat height 890/910mm (standard)

Suspension Front: Telelever, 37mm fork, non-adj monoshock. Rear: Paralever, monoshock with rebound/preload adj

Brakes 305mm disc, 4-piston Brembo calipers, 276mm disc Brembo 2-piston caliper

Colours Racing Red / Black / Rallye blue and white

Weight 263kg (kerb)

Tank capacity 30 litres


Pics Jason Critchell / BMW


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