I had the privilege of being the first moto-journalist in the country to try out the new waterboxer R 1200 GS for an extensive (1,433 miles with half of that accumulated off-road during the AZ BDR and the other from high-speed highway riding) first test. So far the verdict is “wow, this machine can do it all, and well.”
Although the waterboxer looks almost identical to its predecessor, the Bavarians basically built a new motorcycle and then made it look familiar. I’m glad that the blinker is now on the left side. It might not be a big deal to you, but I’ve never liked the blinker buttons on both sides.
What I got to test the most during our epic off-road expedition was the stability of the new GS. Its ability to keep a line, and most importantly, its balance as it’s rolling over big rocks and roots shows how much more advanced it is. The swingarm is 52mm longer (and now on the left side with the shaft-drive on the right) in the new version and it has wider tires. And you won’t even think about the suspension as you’re riding over rocks and cobblestone, as it’s so smooth it doesn’t call any attention to itself. I saw the other BDR expedition motorcycles bouncing over obstacles whereas my GS seemingly floated over them. Pure bliss!
The riding modes, which can be changed while riding, make it easy to switch from “ROAD” to “Enduro” in a second. And you’ll want to tame the 125hp on loose surfaces. Of course you can’t forget to turn off traction control and ABS when you’re headed into the rough, but that can be done on the fly as well.
The new multi-plate clutch blows the old one out of the water. It’s so accurate and easily actuated it can be done with one finger. This is more than beneficial during off-road riding. The new wet clutch features anti-hop technology as well.
Overall, both Beemers are fit for world travel, but the waterboxer makes it a little easier and a lot smoother. Look for the full review in RoadRUNNER soon and watch for the AZ BDR article in the magazine, too.