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ADV BikesBMW R1200GS World of Adventure Bike Build

BMW R1200GS World of Adventure Bike Build

An adventure-prepped GS with enhanced versatility, protection and comfort.

Published on 03.25.2016

BMW started the big-bore adventure bike category 3½ decades ago and they’ve continued to redefine it ever since. It appears there are no limits to the BMW R1200GS’ sales success, despite an onslaught of new model introductions designed to go head-to-head with it. With a balanced blend of power, refinement, performance and technology, it’s a hard package to beat.

With the BMW R1200GS, you get all the niceties like semi-active suspension, cruise-control, adjustable ride modes, heated grips and a plethora of sensors and monitors keeping tabs on things. It loves putting down the miles and is equally content riding in the twisties or touring cross-country on an iron butt challenge. In the hands of an experienced rider, it’s also a capable off-road bike. Yet if you are planning on going off the beaten track for an extended period of time, the R1200GS can benefit from a few aftermarket upgrades.

Equipping the BMW R1200GS with a quality luggage system, off-road tires and trail protection is key for anyone considering a significant amount of off-road travel. Although, it’s important to be selective about the components you choose. You want aftermarket accessories that are a match for the fine-tuned performance of the R1200GS.

BMW R1200GS Review
Planning on spending time in the dirt? It’s important to select aftermarket components that are rugged enough to take the abuse.


We were recently invited by the World of Adventure (WOA) organization to try out one of their custom adventure bike builds. The WOA is a “marketplace” where new adventure riders can quickly learn about everything they need to equip themselves and their bikes for adventure. This recent WOA build is a 2015 BMW R1200GS fully-outfitted with select aftermarket products from top manufacturers committed to the adventure riding lifestyle.

The build started out as a 2015 BMW R1200GS in Frozen Dark Blue Metallic paint, fully-loaded with options included in BMW’s Performance Package. Added to this are select upgrades designed to improve the bike’s overall versatility. Some upgrades enhance off-road performance, while others increase all-day comfort of the machine. Safety is also improved with the addition of ultra-bright auxiliary lights for nighttime riding.

BMW R1200GS Farkles
BMW’s Enduro Pro traction control mode is tuned specifically for use with knobby-style dual sport tires. It will let you get loose in the dirt and intervenes at the last second if you get a little carried away.

A good luggage system is a must and this R1200GS has the capacity to carry efficiently-packed camping gear, clothing, tools, spares and emergency equipment for extended trips in the back country. The GS also gets an assortment of guards and protectors to help defend against rocks, ruts, debris and falls out on the trail.

The end result is a BMW R1200GS that is equipped to handle long-distance overland adventures, yet it doesn’t sacrifice the GS’ innate agility or legendary smoothness on asphalt. Below is an up close look at the aftermarket components that make up this adventure build:

Wolfman Rainier Tank Bag

BMW R1200GS Wolfman Rainier Tank Bag

Wolfman Luggage is famous for their durable off-road soft bags and the Rainier Tank Bag seems like it was designed specifically for the gently sloping tank of the BMW R1200GS. The bag offers ample storage (17 liters) but sits up on top of the tank where it stays out of the way of body movements during aggressive off-road riding. It also offers great versatility with three detachable pockets, a map holder and an expandable top. A harness system keeps it securely in place while snap release buckles make for quick and easy fuel fill ups at the pump.

Touratech GD Hand Guards with Spoilers

BMW R1200GS Touratech GD Hand Guards with Spoilers

Touratech’s GD Hand Guards are made of high-strength plastic that offers just enough flex to handle typical tip overs and falls, without getting bent out of shape like metal reinforced guards. They are plenty strong to protect hands from flying debris and stray branches. Plus with the optional spoilers attached, you get additional wind and weather protection to keep hands warm and dry.

Touratech DriRide Seat

BMW R1200GS Touratech DriRide Seat

A comfortable seat can make all the difference in how much you enjoy long-distance journeys. The DriRide seat technology from Touratech was originally designed for the Dakar Rally racers that must endure incredibly long days in the saddle during liaison routes. The technology wicks away moisture from your body to reduce the chance of getting painful chafing and soreness. The seat’s shape is also optimized for dual sport riding with a narrow front to make it easier to reach the ground. A wide flat rear section offers a noticeable improvement in comfort on the highway over the stock seat.

Clearwater Erica LED Auxiliary Lights

BMW R1200GS Clearwater Erica LED Auxiliary Lights

Clearwater LED auxiliary lights are some of the brightest in the business. Rated at 12,000 lumen, they are many times brighter than the factory BMW fog lamps. Drawing only 60 watts of electricity per light, there’s also plenty of juice left over to power your electronics and heated gear. Each auxiliary light weighs just one pound and is housed in a CNC machined hard anodized aluminum casing that is built to withstand the abuses of off-road travel.

Touratech Upper Crash bars, Lower Crash Bars and Cylinder Head Guards

BMW R1200GS Touratech Upper and Lower Crash Bars

The upper and lower crash bars from Touratech are made of 25mm-diameter, 2mm-thick stainless steel tubing that is both strong and lightweight. The tubes provide protection for the upper fairing, radiator and the exposed Boxer engine cylinder heads. A cross-brace design helps effectively transfer force away from the frame and engine to help you avoid costly damage. The R1200GS is also equipped with Touratech’s Aluminum Cylinder Head Guards that work with the crash bars to give extra protection against cracked valve covers that can leave you with a leaky cylinder head.

Touratech Expedition Skid Plate

BMW R1200GS Touratech Expedition Skidplate

Touratech’s 4mm aluminum skidplate is designed with a corrugated channel shape underneath that provides maximum strength and protection from impacts while minimizing weight. Unique nylon rails help absorb impacts while providing a slippery surface to slide over trail obstacles. A contoured shape keeps a low profile as well, to ensure ground clearance is maximized.

Doubletake Dual Sport Mirrors

BMW R1200GS Doubletake Dual Sport Mirrors

Drop your BMW R1200GS a few times off-road and you’ll most likely be needing a new set of mirrors. Doubletake dual sport mirrors cost significantly less than OEMs and they fold inward when they receive an impact, making them virtually unbreakable. You can also collapse them down when the trails get really gnarly so they won’t hit you in the face when the bike starts bucking.

Touratech Zega Pro Panniers

BMW R1200GS Touratech Zega Pro Panniers

Touratech’s Zega Pro panniers are their top-of-the-line hard luggage system that offers secure, waterproof storage for your equipment. Made of 1.5mm-thick anodized aluminum, they are highly-resistant to dents, streaks and scratches. Their iconic rounded-edge design make these boxes extremely strong without adding extra weight. Drop off your boxes off at camp and the stainless steel racks are resilient enough to double as an extra set of rear crash bars when riding with the panniers removed.

Touratech Works Footpegs and Adjustable/Folding Brake Pedal

BMW R1200GS Touratech Footpegs and Adjustable/Folding Brake Pedal

Compared to the stock pegs, Touratech’s Works Footpegs offer a wider platform for stand-up riding and serrated edges that offer better grip in wet or muddy conditions. Their open design is self cleaning and a low profile retains ground clearance over rocks and ruts. The addition of the adjustable/folding rear brake pedal is a nice touch for customizing your ergonomics. You can adjust the pedal’s height and length to match your foot size and riding style. The folding tip is extra assurance you won’t get stranded on the trail with a broken brake pedal if you ride through rocky terrain.

Mitas E-07 Dual Sport Tires

BMW R1200GS Mitas E-07 50/50 Dual Sport Tires

Adding a set of 50/50 dual sport tires with good off-road grip and longevity was key to making this BMW R1200GS a more versatile machine. The street-biased stock tires just aren’t up to par for any serious off-road use. But with 125 horsepower on tap, you can burn up rear knobbies pretty quickly on the GS. The modified chevron tread pattern design of the Mitas E-07s features a continuous strip of rubber down the middle that helps minimize tread wear and whirring noise on the highway. The Dakar version of the E-07 also offers a thicker sidewall that reduces the chances of a puncture on the trail.

Aftermarket Parts List

Aftermarket Product Price USD
 Wolfman Rainier Tank Bag $199.99
 Touratech GD Hand Guards with Spoilers $167.80
 Touratech DriRide Seat $600.00
 Clearwater Erica LED Auxiliary Lights $999.00
 Touratech Upper Crash Bars $343.60
 Touratech Engine Crash Bars $428.10
 Touratech Cylinder Head Guards $196.40
 Touratech Expedition Skid Plate $369.95
 Doubletake Dual Sport Mirrors $67.97
 Touratech Zega Pro Panniers – Anodized Silver 31/38L $1,449.00
 Touratech Works Footpegs $196.40
 Touratech Adjustable Folding Rear Brake Pedal $137.34
 Mitas E-07 Dual Sport Tires $259.00


Photos by Stephen Gregory

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Mexico, Africa, Europe, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney

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March 27, 2016 2:13 pm

I gotta be honest… I am SO tired of hearing about BMW bikes, especially this thing. The build detailed in this article probably brings the total cost of that bike well over $25,000. Yet you could build the same thing out of a DR650 for under $10k (even buying the bike new), or for maybe $7k if you buy it used.

I’m glad to see Honda entering the market with the Africa Twin. Maybe we’ll hear more about that from now on. I’m just fed up with BMWs and how people seem to worship them despite all of the reliability problems they have.. between leaking gaskets, electrical issues, grenading final drives and so on.

Roman lemeshkov,
Roman lemeshkov,
April 7, 2016 11:04 pm
Reply to  RobG

Please don’t compare a Rolex to a Timex. Have you ever owned or ridden one? I have owned six. You don’t know a damn thing about them.

June 29, 2016 7:14 am
Reply to  RobG

you’re probably just trolling. nonetheless, i’ll offer another perspective.
as roman mentioned, it’s laughable to compare a dr650 to a 2016 r1200gsw. last year, in addition to r1200gsw, i intended to buy a dr650 as a second bike. customizing as i wanted would have brought the price to $10k. instead of the dr, i decided to buy a ktm 690 enduro r. no amount of customization could possibly bring the dr650 to remotely perform like the 690. stock, the 690 is far superior machine to a dr650 in probably every way. it weighs 50 lbs less and has way more power and torque. much better components -like suspension. 690 is better off-road and better on the street. and after spending another $5k to customize it, it’s a far, far superior machine to a dr650. r1200gs is probably the best all around motorcycle on the planet. africa twin, a wonderful bike, has it’s place. since i can afford it, i would still buy a gs every time. and off road, i’d take the ktm 690 over the africa twin. even on the gs, i keep up with much smaller bikes off road. gs is very capable machine in all situations. i’m glad for the africa twin, because, it will push bmw, ktm and others to make their bikes even better. this is second gsw, and in 5k miles, i’ve not has a single thing fail. not one thing. nada. in the first 5k miles, my ’13 gsw initially had some issues -all covered under warranty. after 5k miles, no issues. money is relative. for some $25k is insignificant and for others, it’s a dream.
wish you peace and joy. be joy.

November 8, 2017 12:51 am
Reply to  RobG

Well… It looks like you never had a BMW.

The only argument about this machine is “why not a f800gsa instead the 1200”. And the answer is probably power and long-distance comfort. Nothing else can be said.

I own a f800gsa, by the way. And won’t change it for the Honda AT. And I have tried them both in Morocco.

Eric Mirano
Eric Mirano
March 27, 2016 5:20 pm

Awesome machine! Drooling for that build and color. Stunning.

June 28, 2016 11:16 am

nice setup. what size mitas e07 tires did you mount front/rear? it doesn’t appear that mitas makes the e07 in the bmw gsw oem sizes.


Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
June 28, 2016 12:37 pm
Reply to  willie

Hey Willie.

Stock are:
120/70 – 19 Front
170/60 – 17 Rear

The Mitas E-07’s on this bike are:
110/80 – 19 Front
150/70 – 17 Rear

It’s a little taller tire that gives a more plush feel off-road. The stock low-profile tires are biased toward street handling.

June 29, 2016 6:51 am
Reply to  Rob Dabney

thank you much for the prompt response.
how does the bike feel compared to other tires that you’ve installed on the gsw -especially on the street?
how does it feel on the street when leaned way over while cornering?
though secondary to me, what about mileage?
perhaps, you can mention what other tires you’ve tried. i run the e07 on my ktm 690 enduro and the tkc 70 on my gsw. pretty happy with both, though i keep thinking of trying something a bit more dirt worthy and the e07 seems like the perfect tire for me for the gsw.

Rob Dabney
Rob Dabney
June 29, 2016 8:46 am
Reply to  willie

Hi Willie. We haven’t performed a full evaluation on the tires yet so we can’t confirm mileage, but more than 6,000 miles on a rear isn’t unusual for these tires. I have ridden several bikes with E-07s installed and they have plenty of grip on pavement and you can get them leaned over just fine. Off-road the grip is good enough to get the job done in most situations and a big improvement over a smooth tire like the TKC70.

June 29, 2016 11:13 pm
Reply to  Rob Dabney

again, i appreciate your response question.
one more question:
do the narrower e07 tires expose the wheels to the possibility of more damage compared to the wider oem tires?

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