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Test Drive: BMW R1200 GS

TK

by Seth Brau in Tech on 30 September 2009

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While CH counts BMW among its top brands, I personally never truly experienced what they mean by "the ultimate driving machine" until they lent us the latest model of their BMW R 1200 GS to test drive for a couple weeks.

As a rider who's never handled much larger than a 750cc, I was a little intimidated standing over the 33.5-inch-tall bike (about six inches taller than most) that's named for its powerful 1200cc engine. After climbing on, I balanced on the tips of my toes over the 500-pound monster—ready for certain adventure. Continue reading after the jump.

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Described as "the most versatile motorcycle ever," my experience with the R1200 quickly made me a believer. It handled equally well in New York traffic, speeding along the highway, weaving through the winding roads of the Catskills and even off-road. The agility and precision—given the bike's size and power—really blew me away.

Featuring a Telelever suspension system and Enduro ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment), the design allows for adjustment of front and rear suspensions with the click of a button. Switching between Sport, Normal, Comfort or Off-Road was a simple, intuitive process requiring a few clicks to control the on-board computer

Making operation even easier, passenger and cargo preset settings adjust the suspension automatically. Riding with a passenger on the back, I felt just as light and smooth as I did solo. In addition, the computer integrates data tracking of terrain, average speed, fuel levels and other minor details needed to stay prepared—continuing BMW's pioneering tech engineering that makes using their instrument panels feel similar to driving Knight Rider but better.

Equally as amazing, the bike performs well when it comes to both speed and acceleration. Don't tell the authorities, but jumping from 60-100mph seemed to happen in split seconds, but more importantly it gets there smoothly, without a hiccup. Other than tingling hairs on my arms, I barely noticed when I "accidentally" started pushing upwards of 120mph. With 105 horsepower, a much appreciated five percent increase from the past version of the bike, this thing really pumped. Fuel consumption also seemed good on the bike with a five-gallon tank lasting for several days of average driving.

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I'll be honest, all this comes from a guy who tends to put the looks and style of a motorcycle first. I love older bikes, especially from the '70s and with classic continuous lines and simple looks, so one of the first questions I asked was if BMW was planning on a re-release—maybe updating a vintage frame with today's new technologies to compete with the likes of Triumph and Motoguzzi's V7 classic? This will never happen. Dedicated to moving forward with modern technology and mechanics, the brand has no intentions of jumping on the stylish old school bandwagon. At first this made me sad, but after spending two weeks with the R 1200 GS, I'm a changed man.

Performance is everything and this bike performs like none other I've ridden. Regardless of the sporty looks and style, the handling and performance of this motorcycle are the ultimate, to say the least. The power, suspension and versatility make this bike incredible.

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