Since its advent in 1923, BMW’s opposed-twin (“boxer”) engine has occupied an odd spot in motorcycling. On the plus side, its cylinder heads protrude into a cooling airflow and protect feet from cold and possibly impacts. On the downside, they can limit cornering clearance and deliver a nasty smack to the shin bones when you’re, say, paddling through sand. And this dichotomy makes the best-selling R1200GS ADV’s success all the more remarkable.
The current R1200GS descends from BMW’s original 1980 R80 G/S adventure bike. Combining liquid-cooling for the first time in division history, it also represented the highest-tech Bavarian boxer to date. The 1,170cc DOHC eight-valve engine produces a claimed 125 hp at a reasonable 7,700 rpm—plenty to shove the 525-pound machine down the road quickly. Its 180-degree crankshaft grants tractable power, while a balance shaft improves smoothness. The Adventure version adds wire-spoked wheels, 0.8 inch more suspension travel, a 49 percent larger (7.9-gallon) fuel tank, a flatter seat, crash bars, and unique finishes. Feel like exploring? The R1200GS has a 3-foot-high air intake just right for fording streams!
Likes: Light-steering Telelever fork; available electronic suspension and LED headlight
Dislikes: Bulky fairing/tank/airbox structure; too big and heavy for typical dirt riding
Verdict: Taco Bell or Tierra del Fuego? It's all up to you.