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ADV News2024 BMW R1300GS First Ride Review

2024 BMW R1300GS First Ride Review

The boxer GS gets overhauled with more power, increased agility and next-level tech.

Published on 11.06.2023
2024 BMW R1250GS tested

Given the status of the GS, this new edition better be good.

There’s hardly been more hype about an incoming GS since the arrival of the water-boxer back in 2013, a bike that ushered in a new era of GS of which this new R1300GS now leads the way.

The R1300GS has been in development for seven long years in Germany, work starting before the release of the 1254cc powerplant back in 2018. Make no mistake, there is very, very little carried over from the 1250—pretty much every part number on the R1300GS is a new one.

2024 BMW R1250GS review

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Starting off with the most powerful boxer motor ever to come from Bavarian Motor Werks at 145 horsepower and 110 ft-lbs (previously 136 hp and 105 ft-lbs ), engineers have now mounted the gearbox under the crankshaft rather than behind it as per conventional GS wisdom. This has freed up a huge amount of space at the rear of the motor, allowing the use of a longer swingarm and enabling the new Evo Paralever suspension to do its job more efficiently. And if you think this has resulted in a heavier machine, think again. The new model is 26 pounds lighter and more compact than its predecessor.

2024 BMW R1250GS tested
The new powerplant pumps out a claimed 145 ponies and 110 ft-lbs of torque, plus BWM has now mounted the gearbox under the crankshaft rather than behind it.
2024 BMW R1250GS tested
The driveshaft now has larger universal joints plus a reduced angle reduces the deflection of the rotational mass that is inherent in cardan drive shaft joints.

The chassis is also completely revised and constructed using pressed sheet metal mated to a cast aluminum subframe—an enormous departure for GS design. Lighter, smaller and stiffer, the new chassis mates to what I would say is the largest and greatest difference in how the GS rides in the new Evo Telelever front suspension.

2024 BMW R1250GS tested
The revised rear frame made of die-cast aluminum is designed to form a significantly stiffer bond with the new steel sheet metal main frame. 

The old Telelever system used ball joints to allow the system to move to the corrugations of the road surface, whereas the Evo system uses a steel flex plate mounted between the frame rails. Not only that, BMW’s new front shock for the Telelever contains an extra spring inside the reservoir chamber, enabling what BMW says is the holy grail of suspension tuning—variable spring rates.

“Before, when you’ve got only one spring rate, it’s always a compromise,” says Christoph Lischka, Head of BMW Motorrad Development. “Now we have two. We have one spring for comfort and one for dynamics.”

2024 BMW R1250GS review

The idea is that changing the damping can only do so much and eventually you can alter damping too far out of the range for the spring you’re using. Now, BMW says this is a thing of the past.

“The smaller spring in the system is one you cannot see,” continues Lischka. “It’s linked by the electronic system (BMW’s long-held Dynamic Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA). They are behind each other in series. It is important to understand we still have the damping. You can switch the damping just as before. However, now you can switch the preload and the spring rate itself. This is a great innovation. In combination, this is a big step.”

2024 BMW R1250GS tested
The revised Evo Paralever is a significantly stiffer connection via the suspension in the frame, which has been extended for greater traction.

In practice the new Evo Telelever is not quite a revelation, but damn close. I’ve just hopped off a few months on the R1250GS Trophy and, although I absolutely love that bike, the new R1300GS’s front-end feels several steps ahead in terms of stability when off road.

2024 BMW R1250GS tested

The GS also gains a plethora of electronic updates and three major hardware revisions for 2024. One extra riding mode takes it up to four; a slightly revised dash that brings the GS into line with pretty much all high-end streetbikes bearing the blue and white badge; and in a production first for the GS, radar-assisted cruise control, blind spot detection, lane changing warning and Front Collision Warning (FCW).

On and Off-Road Test

BMW took us to Malaga in the south of Spain for the launch, which is an incredible place to ride although I’ll admit to wanting a bit more harder off-road sections to really test the GS out. Be that as it may, we spent the morning ripping around a disused mine complete with boulders and sharp, jagged rocks that give any bike a proper test, as well as ultra-slippery, sandy inclines up a side road that gave a beautiful view of the Alboran Sea.

2024 BMW R1250GS tested

Two things stand out with the new front end—slow speed feel and excellent bump absorption. Our little route through the old mining area had plenty of sharp-edged rocks with which to test the new Evo Telelever out. While suspension travel is still 7.5 inches at the front and 7.9 inches at the rear, initial compression high in the stroke is smoother when you hit some of these rocks thanks to the decoupling of the handlebar from the front suspension forces, which helps the front-end maintain a line better than the old system did on the R1250GS.

Transfer this to the silky, sandy tracks and the Evo Telelever maintains a level of composure far exceeding the old R1250GS. Whereas the old system might allow the chassis to get a little flighty over dry creek beds with deep sand, for example, the new system tracks smoother and straighter. Despite losing weight, the GS is still a heavy ol’ thing at a claimed 523 pounds, so you can’t go leaping it off jumps and expect the system not to bottom out (I tried, it did) but the compliance now offered by the front-end in the type of riding most GS riders will do is going to leave a firm impression on buyers.

2024 BMW R1250GS review

You must get acquainted with the various riding modes to get the right suspension set-up before you go hitting the gnarly stuff. Thankfully, our testbike came fitted with the optional Enduro Pro ECU mode that softens the beast right up and does away with rear wheel ABS and Motor Slip Regulation (MSR) that can have you locking the back-end via engine compression right when you don’t want to.

Enduro Pro will no doubt be at the top of all potential buyer’s list at the dealership (you might not even get a choice as many bikes come preloaded at sale, anyway), and it allows the GS to really pull its four/five/six bikes in one trick.

The base model comes with Rain, Road, and the new Eco mode, the latter gives the rider a much softer torque delivery and makes highway passing somewhat of a nervy experience given this is a boxer with 145 horsepower.

BMW prides itself on its optional modes and given how much performance they unlock, you’d be silly to spend this much cash and not go that extra step further—and BMW knows this.

Back to the ride…

2024 BMW R1250GS tested

The smaller, more compact chassis with a shorter reach to the handlebar compared to the R1250GS feels almost like it’s from a 900 and this aids greatly in rocky, crappy surfaces as it allows the rider to muscle the bike more than before. A smaller cockpit, higher handlebars and the fact the suspension forces are now largely decoupled from the handlebar makes for a smoother, less tiring ride off-road.

You’re roughly the same seat distance to the ground on the R1300GS as you were on the R1250GS with a base seat height of 33.4 inches. For me, at 6’1” tall, the ergos are a touch on the cramped side for longer trips but they make for a more dynamic and agile machine, especially on tarmac twisties. 

2024 BMW R1250GS tested

BMW’s new electronic windscreen is a godsend in this terrain. At the lowest setting the wind hits me around my collarbones, which is ideal for long ride comfort. I can’t stand when the wind hits me on my forehead and the buffeting ensues, especially on an MX/ADV helmet with a peak.

On the tarmac, which we all must use to get to the trail, the ride isn’t as dramatically better as it is off-road. The GS was always known as one of the best sportbikes out there (get it? Sportbike…), and I’ve seen riders on GS’s absolutely wax guys on Panigales so improving that greatly probably wasn’t as high on the engineers to-do list as it was improving off-road prowess.

2024 BMW R1250GS tested

Regardless, the new 1300cc flat-twin is an absolute masterpiece of German performance. BMW is claiming 110 ft-lbs of torque from the new air/liquid-cooled motor and at least 95 ft-lbs of said torque is available from 3600 to 7800 rpm, right in the sweet spot for off road riding—trust me, you don’t need to rev the thing to the moon on the dirt, you’ll be going way too fast for that.

BMW’s new TFT dash isn’t all that new, especially if you’ve ridden the R1250GS. What’s more special about it than anything else is that you can easily select your own preset menu via the left “hamburger” button. For example, if all you want to change is your heated grips and adaptive cruise control, you can have that at your fingertips without having to wade through the copious amount of information the system can give you.

2024 BMW R1250GS new technology
BMW offers new optional technology on the R1300GS such as electronic Dynamic Suspension Adjustment (DSA) and Adaptive Vehicle Height Control.

Speaking of adaptive cruise control, if you’ve never used it, the system can be a touch off-putting. BMW has experience here, having debuted it in their R18 Transcontinental cruiser line-up. It works exactly the same as the R18’s system in that it allows three possible distances to the car in front, but trusting the system to work takes a leap of faith. Do so and you’ll be pleasantly surprised in just how effective it is. Your speed goes up and down in relation to the distance you choose, and takes a bit of the guesswork out of highway riding.

And before you ask, no I didn’t test out the Front Collision Warning (FCW) system, for obvious reasons, but it’s nice to know it’s there in case things go south. The system works but applying a little front brake to slow the possible impact as well as flash up on the dash, just like it does in a car.

2024 BMW R1250GS tested

Scaling up and down through the various ride modes offers plenty of performance/throttle response deviation as well as suspension that gets gradually stiffer the more you go up (unless you hit Enduro Pro rather than the road-focused Dynamic Pro).

Switch the settings to Dynamic Pro and the GS becomes one big supermoto. Taught, still and focused, you can rail a GS with unheard of speed on tarmac, far quicker than a bike this size has any right to go. 

At 59.8 inches front to back, the new GS is just 0.2 inches longer than its predecessor and still shorter than other competitors in the class (for example, the Ducati Multistrada V4S is 61.9 inches, while KTM’s 1290 Super Adventure R measures in at 62.1 inches). High speed stability is a given on the GS, but the shorter number front to back gives it quicker steering without becoming overly nervous. 

BMW’s developed an enormous range of spare parts/accessories for the new GS but if I were throwing down my hard-earned cash, the first things I’d be getting are the heated grips and seat and some enduro footpegs. The later comes standard if you go after the GS Trophy but I’d take them even on the base model that’s more at home on tarmac.

2024 BMW R1250GS review

On road or dirt, the BMW’s new Brembo-made brakes (they say BMW on the caliper but they’re Brembos) are a notable step up from the R1250GS. BMW has got the relationship between stopping force at the caliper and the effort required to get it via the master-cylinder almost spot on, and that’s before you start taking into account the Integral ABS Pro and Dynamic Brake Pro electronics that come as standard fitment.

The BMW’s brakes are linked, so if you slam on the front brake lever (as long as you’re not in Enduro Pro mode), you’ll get an amount of rear wheel braking delivered without having to touch the foot lever. It’s pretty imperceptible in its action, unless you really smash the front lever in an emergency stop at which point you’ll feel the back of the GS squat ever so slightly.

2024 BMW R1250GS color variants
2024 BMW R1250GS tested
The basic model and the Triple Black model have newly developed cast aluminum wheels, while the Trophy and Option 719 Tramuntana model variants come with new cross-spoke wheels featuring aluminum rings for dedicated off-road use. 

BMW is offering four different color packages with your R1300GS in the basic, GS Trophy, Triple Black, and Tramuntana (Option 719), resplendent in a beautiful green similar to those of the British Formula One cars of the 1960s. Each model goes up in price with the base starting at $19,590 MSRP to the chart-topping 719 at $23,285 MSRP. This, however, is before you go fitting your extra bits and bobs that the BMW dealer will be no doubt very happy to sell you so take these MSRP’s with a very large pinch of salt.

The Bottom Line

BMW has weathered an increasing onslaught from its European rivals of late, with KTM’s superb 1290 Super Adventure R and Ducati’s Multistrada V4 S really giving it to them over the last few years. When it comes to general road touring, I think the GS’s closest competition is the Ducati. The Ducati, especially in V4 S guise, is a glorious example of excessive performance, whereas the BMW feels a little more refined, more gentlemanly.

2024 BMW R1250GS tested

If you’re truly going to go hard enduro-style on your maxi-ADV, I still think the KTM 1290 Super Adventure R is more than a match for the BMW. However, neither the KTM or Ducati are as well rounded as the GS in my opinion. It’s a ‘jack of all trades, master of most’ motorcycle. What stands out most is the revised motor which pumps out a stonking 145 German horses, that exceptional front-end that allows for such poise off-road as well as on (even when you’re running the BMW-option Metzeler Karoo 4 knobby rubber), and the new BMW R1300GS can take a serious beating.

2024 BMW R1300GS Specs

ENGINE CAPACITY:1300cc
BORE X STROKE:106.5 x 73 mm
POWER:145 hp @ 7,750 rpm
TORQUE:105 ft-lbs @ 6,500 rpm
ENGINE TYPE:Air/liquid-cooled 2-cylinder 4-stroke boxer
CYLINDERS:2
COMPRESSION / FUEL:13.3:1 / premium unleaded
VALVETRAIN:OHV / 4-valves per cylinder
VALVE DIAMETER (INTAKE/EXHAUST):44.0 / 35.6 mm
THROTTLE BODY DIAMETER:52 mm
ENGINE CONTROL:BMS-O
EMISSION CONTROL:Closed-loop 3-way catalytic converter, EU5
ALTERNATOR:650W
BATTERY:12V / 10 Ah maintenance-free
HEADLIGHT:LED low and high beam
STARTER:900 W
CLUTCH:Hydraulically activated, anti-hopping wet clutch
GEARBOX:Constant-mesh 6-speed gearbox
PRIMARY GEAR RATIO:1.479
1ST GEAR RATIO:2.438
2ND GEAR RATIO:1.714
3RD GEAR RATIO:1.296
4TH GEAR RATIO:1.059
5TH GEAR RATIO:0.906
6TH GEAR RATIO:0.794
DRIVE SYSTEM:Universal shaft
TRANSMISSION RATIO:2.91
FRAME CONSTRUCTION:Steel, two-section with bolt on rear frame
FRONT SUSPENSION:EVO Telelever
REAR SUSPENSION:EVO Paralever with cast aluminum single sided swing arm
SUSPENSION TRAVEL (FR./RR.):7.5″ / 7.9″
WHEEL CASTOR:4.4″
WHEELBASE:59.8″
STEERING HEAD ANGLE:63.8°
FRONT BRAKES:Twin disc brake Ø 310 mm 4-piston radial calipers
REAR BRAKES:Single-disc brake Ø 285 mm 2-piston floating calipers
ABS:BMW Motorrad ABS Pro
WHEEL TYPE:Light alloy cast wheels
WHEEL SIZE FRONT:3.00 x 19″
WHEEL SIZE REAR:4.5 x 17”
TIRE SIZE FRONT:120/70 R 19
TIRE SIZE REAR:170/60 R 17
LENGTH:87.1″
WIDTH:39.4″
SEAT HEIGHT:33.5″
UNLADEN WEIGHT:523 lbs.
PERMITTED TOTAL WEIGHT1025 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY:5 gallons
ACCELERATION 0-62 MPH: 3.39 sec.
TOP SPEED: 124 MPH
msrp:Starts at $18,895

Photos by Markus Jahn and BMW Motorrad

Author: Rennie Scaysbrook

A third generation two-wheel obsessive, Rennie has been riding since he was three, racing since eight. He’s an avid adventure rider, having traveled most of his native Australia, Asia, Morocco, much of Europe and every corner of the U.S. He is also an accomplished racer and holds the all-time motorcycle course record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and is a two-time Isle of Man TT racer. Rennie has been a full-time motorcycle journalist since 2007 and is currently the Road Test Editor at Cycle News.

Author: Rennie Scaysbrook
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