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I recently purchased a 1250 GS a couple weeks ago. Thought I would introduce myself and tell my story (sorry for the long post):

First off I have been riding a Suzuki Hayabusa for 10 years and absolutely love that bike. Yes I was a power jockey and I still love the Busa - it's an enveloping riding experience and a surprisingly good all purpose ride. Every time I ride it I roll into the garage and think OMG, this thing is amazing!

Well a couple years ago I decided that the Busa needed to be dessert rather the mainstay of my 2-wheeled diet and on my birthday in December (58), I decided on a 2018 K1600 GT. This bike was sort of a touring bike with Busa swagger, or so I thought. I won't turn this into a bash post but oh boy, could I! Let's just say I was glad to get the K1600 and a lot more happy to have it out of my garage!

The problem with the K16 was the value dropped like a tank, nearly 40% in a year and a half and 6K miles! So I didn't have the value in a trade in to go to a Goldwing, Ducati Multistrada, or a Tiger - those dealers literally didn't want the K at all. So it looked like I needed to pick a BMW. After a lot of research the GS/GSA kept coming up as the best thing since sliced bread. But this was a semi-air cooled HD motor with the cylinders turned the wrong way, right? But people kept telling me this bike was incredible, amazing and unbelievable. So I tried on and it was well, amazing.

Here are my early riding impressions:

After a lot of miles in a few days on the 2020 BMW 1250, I thought I would tell you all about it. I think the best way to describe this bike is quirky. It has a quirky boxer engine, quirky front suspension without forks, odd sized spoked wheels, and a bunch of other novel approaches to design.

Quirky is good when it works, and the 1250 comes off as the perfect little do it all performer. It does require certain riding style adjustments, but once you make the adjustments the reward is a bike that does what you ask it to in most all situations. For example, I kept reaching my knee out for corners only to find a huge cylinder had gotten to the spot first! After an hour of riding I realized there is no need to hop around the seat on this bike. Just stay calm, keep your cheeks centered on the seat and roll into the turn and the 1250 will amaze you.

The 1250 is tall in its standard form. The seat is listed at a whopping 33.46” tall, and the passenger seat is considerably taller than that – and with the side bags the bike is also wide. So, when you lift a leg there is a lot of stuff to clear and it’s difficult for my 30-inch inseam. Probably could have gone with the lower seat and suspension option but I have everything in the low position, so the seat height is more like 31”. Once aboard though things are basically perfect. The bike does have a BMW seating position (which means the pegs are directly under you more or less), but I don’t anticipate needing to change much. Even the seat is passable!

It is ironic however that the flat twin engine has kept me from even considering this bike. As it turns out it is that flat twin that makes the GS so special. Not only does this engine have grunt, but thanks to the variable valve timing it sings too. Honestly as a 10-year Busa pilot, I would love 20-30 more HP. But what’s there is more than enough to put a smile on your face and accommodate some gentlemanly hooliganing. The transmission takes some schooling. 1st & 2nd ratios are clearly set for the dirt and the transition to the “street gears” is a bit abrupt. I finally found myself using the clutch on the first 2 gears and using the shift assist on 3-6. This however is the 1250’s lone obvious compromise to it’s do it all mission. Frankly, fueling on the engine is a bit sloppy, as I am learning is par for the course with BMW’s. There is a hole in the power around 4K that feels like Euro 4. I already ordered a Bren ECU flash.

However, the most important contribution from the boxer may not be its power. The balance on this bike is stunningly good. It feels as light as a feather on the road and pushing it around the garage too. Turning is so easy you will not believe that happened. The bars feel like they are horns on a Texas bull and the leverage you have on the front end would make a Cowboy blush. There is no doubt this bike will ride around the outside (or inside) of many sport bikes. You’ll blow by with a big grin on your face because you know they just didn’t see that coming.

But the incredible handling is not all due to the other worldly balance. The duo-lever suspension does its magic here just like it did on the K1600 GT. It takes some time to learn to trust this setup (you trade feel for amazing stability), but when you get over it not doing what forks do, you start to really forget those dips and dives that used to make the old buttocks pucker. You can turn under full braking and there is no dive at all. This setup works best when you keep pressure on it in the turn, so the throttle work is a bit different than a typical forked bike. The ESA on BMW’s is amazing. You can feel the bike search for the proper sag, then you’re off. After that, it just seems like a bike with great legs.

Brakes are magnificent. They are strong, progressive and massively confidence inspiring. The TC is very stealthy too, never over playing its hand and taking the reins from you. BMW really has the secret to making electronics make you think it’s all you. They have a consistent, natural feel that some bikes lack.
Did I mention the TFT instrument cluster? Cool and it works too. You can see it in the brightest sun even in the leans when the sun comes around to the back and is right on the face. Pretty cool.

So, what don’t I like? BMW screwed the pooch again on blue tooth connectivity. Here’s a hint: Keep the bike off while connecting stuff and leave the bike out of the network. The stock saddle bags would have a hard time calling themselves briefcases. You’ll need a top case to travel. I don’t like the step between the rider and passenger’s seats. I need to slide back more to stretch the legs (but of course, the bike feels really awesome standing up too). The wind protection is not great compared to the K1600 but pretty good compared to the Busa (humor intended). The shield adjusts but I almost broke the screw adjuster before I realized that was the best I was going to get. Looking for a taller aftermarket screen now. You have to get the crash bars on this bike. It is very easy to ground hard parts with the way this thing turns. I certainly would welcome the larger fuel capacity of the GSA, but the tank is adequate for most riding. And finally, I already miss the adaptive headlight on the K1600, that thing was like alien technology or something!

All in all, the 1250 series are amazing bikes that are as fun to ride as they are capable adventurers. This bike is a best seller year in and year out, and the dedication to perfecting it by BMW is very apparent.

Anyway thanks for reading!
 

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Welcome, great write up. The boxer and GS overall has its quirks but is amazing how well it works.

Too bad on the depreciation. That's what got me into my GS Adventure. Was shopping for KLR650s and found an 07 GSA with 34,000 miles for $5000. Been a great bike.
 

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Still have my K16, but really enjoy my GSA. They are surprising bikes. I run the full knobs so not comparing to the K16. Wish I had an extra set of wheels with sport touring rubber. It is more comfortable on the road than most would believe.
 

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I have both a K1600GT and an R1250GS. I agree with what you say about the GS. It inspires so much confidence in the way it handles that it makes the rider better on that and every other bike. It has all the power one needs (maybe not all one wants- but then, some might find that even the ‘busa fails in that department. As for the windscreen, I gave up on the manual lifter and added a PUIG electronic setup. It works well. I am not a big guy-29” inseam; so the Vstream small screen works for me. If I was taller, I’d look for the taller Vstream or the PUIG touring screen. I have installed Clearwater Ericas and Darlas, so I’m not missing the adaptive headlights much. I agree that crash bars are needed, but not out of fear that one will scrape hard parts. If yo were to grind the crash bars, you likely will end that ride in an ambulance.
As for the K1600, we have had different experiences. Mine has given me no problems other than overheating on hot days- a problem that I have found a cure for. Between it and an earlier edition, I have over 75,000 miles on it. As a long distance sport tourer, especially when riding two up, it is the Rolls Royce of motorcycles. It can be a load in tight situations at slow speeds, but everywhere else on pavement, it is a joy to ride, Bluetooth system aside-just like the GS. You couldn’t want a more comfortable bike getting where you are going. And when you get there, you have a bike that can blast the twisties like a sport bike. It would shame the ‘busa anywhere on pavement except on a very long straight, of which there are not many on secondary public roads.
 

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I agree 100% with your assessment. I've had 2 1600GT's over a 7 year span but after smashing the second one I bought the 1200GS. I don't miss the extra 250lb but I do miss the central locking and smoothness of the big 6. Your spot on about the balance. I've never been one to balance the bike without putting my foot down until I got this one. If you don't do dirt I would recommend the Dunlop Roadsmarts for your GS. If you want to do dirt the new Dunlop Mission 50/50 tires are the ticket.
I replaced the aluminum handlebar spacers (weights? Ha.) with steel ones and it changed the frequency so the handlebar vibration doesn't bother me anymore. A Sargent seat fixed one issue and a Aeroflow windshield. fixed some of the air management problems but the big fix are the side air-wings. I should have gotten those first. I can't say enough good things about the Clearwater lights and Billie back light I installed. Expensive but worth every doller.
Other people who went cheep are amazed at the quality of my lights. The kit comes with everything you need to install them.
 

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Great review and perspectives. I went from a 2013 K1600GTL to a 2017GS Adventure, factory lowered. The GS would have been good for me height-wise similarly to how you explain it. But I wanted the larger tank and better protection the GSA offered...plus the stock crash bars, aux lights and luggage carrier. I too, took a big hit on trade in

Regarding your comment on Width of the bike, maybe you figured it out - but the handlebars are the widest part of the bike, not the luggage (unless you go symmetrical capacity on both sides). If you can get the bars through, the rest should fit.

For taller windshields, just watch the tradeoffs on taller heights when off-road. If you're lifting the front end over an obstacle, or if it pops up off a bump - it can hit you in the face/head pretty violently if you're not expecting it. Off-road riding schools often have you remove them altogether unless you have the short screens on.

Enjoy the GS! I'm jealous and can't wait to move up to the 1250GSA.
 
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