The BMW R 1200 GS and its big brother, the R 1200 GS Adventure, are BMW’s closest approximation to having it all.

The bikes are well-mannered on the street, with handling that belies their hefty weight (538/573 lbs wet, unladen — 244/260 kg,) have long legs for distance riding and are built to handle gentle to moderate off-road riding. A brave soul could try severe off-road challenges but the bike’s weight and bulk start to make it a real handful.

What sets the GS apart from other bikes is its longer-traveling suspension, larger front wheel, and upright riding position. The principal differences between the standard GS and the Adventure are tank size (the Adventure holds about two gallons/10 liters more,) slightly different wheelbase (the Adventure’s is a bit shorter,) height, length, and width (the Adventure is taller, longer and wider.) The Adventure also comes with different option packages, which we’ll get into in a bit.

BMW R 1200 GS Adventure — photo courtesy of BMW Mottorrad USA

Both versions are powered by BMW’s famed “boxer” engine, a 1,170 cc water-cooled, fuel injected, ride-by-wire flat twin-cylinder that puts out 125 hp (92 kW) at 7,750 rpm with 92 lb-ft (125 Nm) of torque at 6,500 rpm. The six-gear transmission is mated to a shaft drive.

Both machines have 19″ front and 17″ rear rims, dual floating disc brakes upfront and a single, fixed disc on the rear, with ABS and luggage mounts standard. Ride height is adjustable, anywhere from 35.2″ (89.4 cms) to 31.3″ (79.5 cms.)

The BMW’s reputation as a luxury brand, and the wide variety of uses these bikes are designed for, is reflected in the option packages. You can add everything from clutchless shifting, hill assist, a digital display packed with info about the bike’s status, to a tire pressure monitor, cruise control, keyless start, spoke wheels and traction control.

The GSs could be BMW’s most versatile line of motorcycles. They are a lot of fun to ride, useful for everything from grocery shopping, to a day trip, to a cross-country ride on dirt roads or freeways.

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