Although we didn't get a chance to ride it - the world launch in South Africa was curtailed after the death of UK journalist Kevin Ash - BMW's all-new 2013 R1200 GS is far too important a motorcycle to ignore, so we've put together an overview of what makes it so special.

BMW SA has promised a media ride at about the same time as the SA sales launch in late March or early April; we'll bring you riding impressions then.

Meanwhile, the 2013 R1200 GS represents the most radical redesign in the 32-year history of BMW's beetle-crusher - in fact about the only thing it has in common with previous models is that it is still an 1170cc boxer.

The iconic flat-twin engine is now liquid-cooled for the first time (although the water-jacket is limited to areas where it's needed most - the rest is still air-cooled) a move forced on BMW by impending noise and emissions regulations, which the air-cooled engine simply could not be made to pass.


The six-speed gearbox is now in unit under the engine, rather than separately behind it, with a wet, slipper clutch in the front of the crankcase, as on the Honda Gold Wing, replacing the traditional dry plate between the engine and 'box.

That not only makes the drivetrain far more compact (allowing for a fashionably long swing-arm) and places the shaft drive on the left (although why that should be important is beyond us) but also removes at a stroke the Boxer's biggest service issue; previously, any clutch problem meant splitting the entire bike in half, now all you have to do is remove one cover. Nice one, BMW.

It also makes the new GS only 9kg heavier than the previous, air-cooled model.

Then they rotated the cylinder heads through 90 degrees, putting the fuel-injection throttle bodies out of harm's way on top of the heads instead of behind them and creating more room for bulky off-road footgear.

The tighter tolerance and greater thermal loading made possible by the liquid-cooled cylinder heads allow BMW to tweak output up to a quoted 92kW at 7700rpm and 125Nm at 6500, with fly-by-wire throttle control making possible five different engine mappings - Rain, Road, Dynamic, Enduro and Enduro Pro - linked to an automatic stability control programme specially tuned for off-road riding, semi-active suspension by means of electrically controlled regulation valves and partially-linked anti-lock brakes.

It's even possible to include an optional cruise control.

The 2013 GS is built on a new all-tubular-steel bridge frame with a bolt-on rear sub-frame with revised front telelever and rear paralever suspension, running on cast-alloy wheels shod with 120/70 R19 at the front and 170/60 R17 high-performance tyres.

Braking is entrusted to Grand Prix-style radially mounted Brembo Monobloc brake callipers in front (definitely a first on an off-roader) and a new, larger brake disc at the rear.

BMW also insists it's the first motorcycle with an (optional) LED main headlight and integrated daytime running light, while the screen, revised to reduce wind noise at highway speeds (thank you, BMW) can be adjusted one-handed 'on the fly'.

Each 2013 GelandeScooter is prewired for BMW's Navigator IV satnav, operated - along with the standard on-board trip data computer - by the same multi-controller collar that gave us such hassles on the K1600 GTL. Still, you don't need indicators in the Wild Blue Yonder, so it may not be quite as much of a nuisance in this application.


The rider's seat can now be adjusted not only for height, but also for tilt, while the passenger seat can be adjusted fore and aft “to obtain the ideal distance between rider and passenger”.

Since the pillion on any motorcycle is unavoidably placed behind the rear axle, perhaps BMW need to be reminded that, if you can get a sheet of paper between rider and pillion, the pillion is sitting too far back.

The revised handlebars can easily be turned upwards for a more confortable standing position, helped by knee-grips on the fuel tank; adjustable footrests and foot controls, are available as aftermarket accessories.

The new BMW R1200 GS will be available in South Africa in late March or early April; prices, as always, when they get here.


Engine: 1170cc liquid-cooled horizontally-opposed four-stroke twin.

Bore x stroke: 101 x 73mm.

Compression ratio: 12.5:1.

Valvegear: DOHC with four overhead valves per cylinder.

Power: 92kW at 7700rpm.

Torque: 125Nm at 6500.

Induction: BMS-X electronic fuel-injection with two 52mm downdraft throttle bodies.

Ignition: Digital electronic.

Starting: Electric.

Clutch: Hydraulically actuated multiplate wet slipper clutch.

Transmission: Six-speed constant-mesh gearbox with final drive by shaft.

Front Suspension: Telever forks with optional semi-active electronic adjustment.

Rear suspension: Evo paralever with optional semi-active electronic adjustment.

Front brakes: 305mm discs with radial-mount Brembo four-pot monobloc opposed-piston callipers.

Rear brake: 296mm disc with dual-piston floating calliper.

Front tyre: 120/70 - 19 tubeless.

Rear tyre: 170/60 - 17 tubeless.

Wheelbase: 1507mm.

Seat height: 850/870mm.

Kerb weight: 238kg.

Fuel tank: 20 litres.