Quick test: BMW R 1250 GS Adventure

BMW’s biggest GS and its even bigger brother, the GSA, always do extremely well in the sales charts. Which surprises me every time. Not in the least because of the steep price, but also because of the dimensions of both bikes. The R 1250 GS Adventure in particular seems colossal. It’s high, wide and has a wet weight of 268 kg: that’s a lot of motorcycle for someone with an average physique.

When BMW unexpectedly asked if I wanted to test a 1250 GSA, I didn’t hesitate for a second and replied, “Of course!” It was only afterwards that I realized that I was about to ride that mastodon of a GSA. Exciting!

The GS Adventure which BMW provided was one in beautiful Style HP set-up. In addition to golden cross-spoked wheels and a rally seat, it has the BMW Motorsport colors which in my opinion is the nicest version there is.

Before hopping on the seat, the explanation of all setting possibilities took a while: BMW had equipped the bike with just about every possible optional pack. The Comfort pack consists of a chrome exhaust, heated grips and tire pressure control. In the Touring pack you’ll find Dynamic ESA suspension, keyless ride, navigation preparation, cruise control, fog lights and the luggage rack. The Dynamic pack includes a quickshifter (up and down), Pro riding modes, DRL and white direction indicators.

Changing the settings is easy thanks to a few buttons on the handlebars and the well-known rotary wheel. The beautiful (and standard) 6.5” full-color TFT display tells you which settings you’ve selected. There was also an Continue reading

Review: BMW F 850 GS versus Triumph Tiger 800 XCa

This is Team Throttle’s very first comparison test and we couldn’t have picked a more appropriate duo than the Triumph Tiger 800 XCa and the BMW F 850 GS. Because both Jean and Jan F have a past with the predecessors of these two newcomers.

In 2015 Jan F bought a Tiger 800 XCa, which now has 37,000 km. The bike did an all-road trip to the Alps, a muddy weekend in the Ardennes and a week in the Sierra Nevada.

In 2016 Jean traded his BMW F 650 GS for a second-hand 800 GS. He added about 60,000 km to the odometer, during – amongst others, of course – that same dirty Ardennes weekend and more recently during Endurofun’s Midsummer Ride.

It’s safe to say that Jan and Jean are hands-on experts. So below you can not only read a comparison between the British and the German bike, we also looked at the progress that this duo makes on their predecessors.

Pain points

Jean: “BMW could certainly make progress. Don’t get me wrong. I like my 800 GS – I find it an excellent all-rounder – but it has some points that can be improved:

– Brakes: On uneven surfaces such as cobblestones they often don’t know whether they should bite or let the ABS do its thing.
– Suspension: Too soft overall. Especially hard braking leads to dramatic front-diving.
– Sound: Not exciting at all.
– Power: Okay-ish but you feel that it’s not a recently developed engine.
– Throttle response: Slight on-off effect. Combined with the suspension it results in a rather jumpy character.”

Jan: “The splendid engine, perfect gearbox and great WP suspension make my Tiger a wonderful bike. Only the wind protection has been annoying me for three years. Turbulence galore! An aftermarket solution helped a bit, but there’s still room for improvement. The brakes can also be enhanced, they are rather spongy. Some complained that in first gear the Tiger dares to stall, especially offroad. Isn’t it, Jean?

To discover if these pain points were gone, we took both new models on a trip to Luxembourg. There we were treated to a wide range of road and weather conditions. Sun and rain, boring highway and great curves. No offroad unfortunately, because one of the manufacturers said “nein”.

BMW gave us an almost full-option 850 GS, while from Triumph we got an XCa in standard fit.

Jan: “For those who are not familiar with the Tiger 800 range: it’s divided into two lines, the street-oriented XR models and the offroad oriented XC models. Each line has a number of equipment levels, of which the XCa has the highest (and the most expensive) level. In other words: with the XCa, the option list becomes pointless.”

Traffic light sprints

Jean: “While at first sight the Tiger barely changed, BMW clearly unveiled a completely new model. The design leaves no doubt about that.”

Jan: “But let’s focus on the engine first. The 850 GS has a brand new 853 cc two-cylinder engine. With 95 hp it has ten ponies more than the 800 GS. There’s also more torque: 92 Nm at 6.250 rpm. An increase of nine compared to its predecessor, but more importantly: the Tiger 800 peaks later and less high: 79 Nm at 8.050 rpm.”

Jean: “That difference doesn’t go unnoticed. The 850 GS is a lot snappier than the 800 GS. More vivid in low revs, stronger in the middle zone and more power in the higher rev range. As a result, it feels al lot less small GS than the 800. The Tiger too seems less energetic in comparison.”

Jan: “You probably need thorough Tiger knowledge to notice it, but the Tiger 800 has a new windshield, new lights, a new dashboard and control buttons, new mirrors and a new sound. As a result, to me the new Tiger seemed like a totally different bike than my own Tiger: if you ride it, everything you see and hear is different.”

Jean: “The engine also got an update. Triumph claims that it has a more responsive power delivery. Are they telling the truth, Jan?” Continue reading

Review: BMW R 1200 GS Rallye

Since many years the BMW R 1200 GS is a best-seller in a lot of a markets. But you’ll have to admit it doesn’t score much eye candy points. So what did the Germans do to make the 1200 GS such a success? Time to find out, because – to the surprise of the peeps at BMW HQ – I had never ridden this chart-buster.

The GS story started in 1980 with the R 80 G/S. More than 35 years of development and improvement later I have a date with the 2017 BMW R 1200 GS. Compared to the 2016 model, there are no huge changes. A minor Euro4 update of the boxer engine, minimal stylistic modifications, some new electronics. The biggest news: there are two versions of the GS. The Exclusive version for those who fancy a classy appearance, the Rallye version for those with off-road dreams. I rode the Rallye for a week.

A beast with an image (problem)

The BMW R 1200 GS Rallye stands out with its blue paint job. If you ask me it’s one of the best-looking color schemes in 1200 GS history. Lupin blue metallic it’s called. The Rallye version underlines the off-road character of this GS with cross-spoke wheels, large Adventure footpegs without rubber inserts, a flat Rallye seat, a stainless steel radiator guard, a low windshield and no centerstand. Just add a decent set of allroad tires, a skid plate and engine protection bars and you’re good to go on that all-road adventure.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get BMW’s permission to test the GS off-road. Too bad. On the other hand: only a minority of all GS’s sold will ever leave the paved roads. So chances are that if you read this you’ll never even plan to ride off-road.

My first motorcycle was a BMW F 650 GS and when I just started riding that motorbike, I couldn’t imagine ever riding a 1200 GS. Such a big and heavy looking bike. How can you master such a behemoth? Who would even consider riding that thing off-road?! And then there’s Continue reading

Thoughts after 1 year with my BMW 650 GS

One year ago I bought my first motorcycle. Without much experience you aren’t sure you’re making the right choice of course. So here we are, with 20,000 km more on the odometer. Time to evaluate my BMW F 650 GS.

The short story: I’m very pleased with my bike. It’s an excellent learning machine, both for first-time bikers as for first-time off-road riders. It can handle about anything and has proven very reliable.

You prefer the longer story? Here you go:


It wasn’t love at first sight and I still think the BMW F 650 GS isn’t a dazzling beauty. Luckily looks aren’t critical to me.

Learning bike

During my search for a first motorcycle, the 650 GS was praised regularly as the ideal bike for beginners. Which isn’t a lie. It’s perfect to learn maneuvering. It’s not too heavy, not too aggressive and gives confidence quickly.

The 650 GS is also a good learning bike for those who want to pick up off-road riding with an allroad bike. It has enough power and its weight (176 kg dry weight) is easier to handle than for example a 1150 GSA that weighs 60 kg more. It’s also robust enough although the plastic parts get damaged pretty easily.

Sitting position

I knew I was going to do lots of highway commuting and lanesplitting with my bike. So a good sitting position was pretty essential. On the 650 GS you sit upright and the seat offers plenty of space to move around so your back won’t hurt quickly.

The knees are fairly bent but it doesn’t get annoying or painful. Just a question of getting used to.

Weather protection

On daily commutes some protection against wind and rain comes in handy. The 650 GS hasn’t much to offer to be honest. The wind screen is tiny and there’s hardly any fairing. For instance an RT would be a better choice but it can still get worse. Like the Iron 883 for example, which really is a good weather only bike.


After a few months with my 650 GS I began to feel the need for some accessories. Such as panniers. Would be more comfortable than riding with a backpack every day. Happy I found a set of secondhand BMW Vario panniers.

The windscreen offers very limited protection. I’ve been thinking about getting a bigger one but in the end I decided it’ll have to do.

I also thought about extra lights. Especially for being more visible in winter. But (falling a lot when) off-road riding would probable ruin the lights during the first ride. So no fog lights.

The mirrors have a quite large blind spot. But again, it’s something you get used to. So I didn’t get other mirrors. And you can always get worse (yes, the Harley again).


The BMW F 650 GS has a chain drive so you need to grease it regularly. Takes about 2 minutes. That’s all you need to do. The rest can be done during the inspections at the dealership, like an oil change or replacing wearing parts such as brake pads and the chain set.


The 650 GS certainly isn’t a racer but with its single cylinder, 652 cc and 50 hp, it’s remarkably snappy. Its powerband is spread out nicely and it doesn’t feel short of breath in high revs.

At 120 km/h it does 5,000 rpm which is pretty high. Lower would feel more comfortable but in the end it’s something you get used too.


My colleague Nicolas, who owns a Triumph Street Triple, was sure that I would change my 650 GS for a more powerful bike within a year. I’ve proven him wrong.

The 650 GS perfectly meets my needs, mainly because I’m still a learner, especially off-road. A heavier bike would only make things more difficult, so I don’t see why I would get rid of my little GS any time soon.

It also copes well with my daily commutes. In fifth gear on the highway you feel you’re nearing its peak, but if you stick to the traffic rules you’ll never reach those limits.

So for now my BMW F 650 GS is here to stay. To be continued!