This bike empowers you to ride it anywhere, anytime, AND for as long as you want.
For a long time now, the GS nameplate has been synonymous with the phrase “Go everywhere, do everything”, and the latest refinement from Bavaria should be no different. The 2017 BMW R1200GS Exclusive has been updated in a few different ways; beefing up the electronics, slimming down the fairings, and slapping on a few bits to help it meet the EURO4 standards. While some things change, others stay the same, namely the bike’s everlasting ability to do just about anything.
On the road, the GS is just about everything you need, and is of course packed full of tech. The R1200GS Exclusive that I was given the keys to had all the option boxes ticked: Dynamic Package, Comfort Package, and the Touring Package had all found their way onto the bike. This adds a whole host of features including DTC (dynamic traction control), Dynamic ESA (electronic suspension adjustment), Hill Start Control, Shift Assistant Pro, and, one of my favourite parts of the bike, the LED headlight. Sure, this adds a plethora of acronyms and items to your spec sheet, but it all translates to a supremely effortless and confident riding experience.
The bike truly makes you feel empowered to ride it anywhere, anytime. While I’m typically a fair-weather rider, I found myself intentionally riding the GS in the rain to work one day – laughing my way through rush hour traffic, totally comfortable and relatively dry thanks to a hefty amount of wind and weather protection once you’re moving. The combination of the reworked fairings, boxer engine, and larger windscreen that comes on the Exclusive model all works well to shift raindrops around the rider.
One slight drawback to the larger windshield in particular is the slight distortion it creates when you tuck in behind it, which is simply a result of its kinked shape. That aside, the bike is as stable as a skyscraper’s foundation, in or out of the rain, and tossing it into Rain Mode pretty much enables you to fistfight a tsunami with one hand tied behind your back – and win.
Actually, let me correct myself. This bike empowers you to ride it anywhere, anytime, AND for as long as you want. I can attest to this after spending 12 hours in the saddle during a day of hooky, riding from Georgetown to Huntsville, spending some time on the twisties, then to the east end of Toronto, and back home to Georgetown. No soreness, no chapped ass, and no desire to stop riding. Add a 300+km range per tank, and you rarely need to stop.
One odd change that comes to the 2017 GS is an increased weight, likely as a result of the swelled up catalytic converter and other bits to meet the strictness of EURO4. Up to 538lb., from 525 in the previous generation, it sounds like a big gain. But translating this to actual riding, it’s far from noticeable. Thanks to the low center of gravity, the bike is still a cinch to handle at low speeds, and combined with its incredible suspension, becomes effortless to throw into a turn at speed. So much so that it almost feels as if you’re hovering through the bends, no doubt thanks to the Dynamic ESA.
Basically, the new updated ESA takes care of dampening automatically, so you no longer have the incredible inconvenience of having to switch between dampening modes on the fly. BMW has programmed the bike to automatically keep itself relatively level based on riding inputs and a number of sensors around the bike. This really becomes noticeable under heavy braking, and especially into corners. Where many other bikes would dive, even with stiff suspension settings, the GS stays flat. It helps that the GS has an extra shock up front, without a doubt.
There’s not much I can find fault with the GS for, but when grasping as some mud-covered straws, I’d have to say that I’m not a huge fan of the analog speedometer. It does add an air of ruggedness and utilitarianism to the bike, but it just doesn’t have a high enough contrast for it to be quickly readable during daylight hours, and the needle is thick enough to obscure most of the speed numbers if you’re cruising at, say, 80. Not a huge problem, but when this bike does such a fantastic job of tricking you into thinking you’re going much slower than you are, it would be a nice thing to see the speed digitally. That aside, I found the injectors to be a touch “clicky” when cruising. Again, far from a deal-breaker, but
While I didn’t get a true chance to test the capabilities of the 2017 BMW R1200 GS Exclusive off-road, and on-trail, there is little doubt in my mind that things have changed in any way but for the better. It’s a tried and true formula for BMW, and is arguably the core of their motorcycle brand. All said and done, the latest GS is another perfect diamond only with a more sparkling cut. It remains the benchmark in the adventure segment, but has a price tag to match that. At an as-tested price of $26,369 the bike is more expensive than some economy cars, but goddamn, does it ever do a lot more than one. Frankly, I’d rather ride it through a snowstorm than my old 2007 Honda Civic.