BMW R1300GS: Revolution? Evolution?
My riding experience, which covers various GSs with standard, lowered and sport suspensions, as well as a BMW 1250 GSA allows me to make a comprehensive comparison of the new BMW R1300GS (Standard) vs previous generation.
I’m adding new bikes to my rental fleet as part of the preparation to the upcoming season in Montenegro. My new BMW R1300GS already has 1000 km on the clock and I’m happy to share my first impressions with you, putting new the technical features and specs aside.
There is no way to ignore the exterior of the BMW R1300GS, which makes me feel positive emotions. The impression that I took away from it is that every part is just like it should. Everything is made to a good quality standard – same as it was on the previous models. Nothing concerns me in this design, nothing seems to be disgusting to me. I’m not trying to guess what it is like: the predator or the toilet seat cover. Although the ceramic coating on the engine reminds of a frying pan, it still remains a matter of one’s taste.
I was riding my Adventure just before I picked the BMW R1300GS at the dealer’s to start the break-in. My adventure was adjusted to fit my needs: I’m 197cm tall, the gearbox and break levers were from 719 package (adjustable), 50mm bar risers, and OEM comfort seat which also adds some height.
After the Adventure, I was quite impressed with the riding position on the 1300GS being compact. Though, when I tried to compare it with the standard 1250GS the impression never went away.
The riding position on the BMW R1300GS are noticeably different: the legs are tucked, the handlebars are further away, the position is generally more sporty and aggressive. The bike is rather maneuverable at low speeds, the center of gravity got lower and created an impression of a city motorbike. Despite the higher cylinders positioning, they aren’t in your way, and there is still comfortable leg space.
Despite the riding position being sportier, the new BMW R1300GS remains with the nature and feelings from the previous generation. It’s easy to get used to changes – the bike remains familiar and handles well in the city traffic. The rider’s seat can only be adjustable angle-wise (not height-wise) whereas the pillion’s seat can be moved back and forth.
The gearbox, which is now mounted under the engine of the new BMW R1300GS, works smoother and became quieter. The gear shifting became easier and more precise, but nothing special though. Mean time the quick shifter didn’t bring any positive vibes. Its operation is rather harsh and far from clockwork with noticeable delay in acceleration. Let’s hope that this is due to the gearbox being new – improvements are expected after the first oil change. Generally, the quick shifter on the new BMW R1300GS feels less smooth and harder to forecast when compared to previous models, as well as junior models from the 900 series.
The engine noise on the new BMW R1300GS became softer with less low tones. This may be due to the smaller silencer on the exhaust pipe. I didn’t quite like it as it now buzzes and reminds me of an electric motor (as if you are riding with your buddy who is a big fan of electric bikes).
According to the feelings, the engine of the BMW R1300GS doesn’t appear to have any significant changes, though both power and torque got slightly increased. The pull at 3,000-4,000 RPMs became slightly more confident. Probably, some more substantial changes took place at higher RPMs. The “dynamic” regime brings better throttle response and is now a lot different from the “road” regime than is used to be.
It’s funny to admit that the rotary torque became more noticeable in the east-west direction. If you open the throttle from idle – the bike intends to do a right inclination. A similar effect could be noticed on the R18 during take-off, but the R1250GS isn’t liable to do that (I specially check that once again).
The bike doesn’t feel solid and stable on the potholed asphalt roads anymore. The suspension copes with hubbles in an efficient manner, but generally feels harsh. It became closer to BMW XR with no hard damping though. The new GS allows for higher speeds in the curves now. There are three DSA options available. You can now fine-tune the road/dynamic/enduro regimes using five levels of adjustment, which allows you to come up with more comfortable settings as compared to the previous version. I didn’t dive deep into it yet – more exercises are coming after the 1st Service.
I did a short ride on gravel road but decided to put the off-road test up till I finish the break-in and put the crash bars in place. I bumped into a “sport suspension” when reviewing the list of options for the upcoming Adventure model, but yet I’m not able to confirm any global changes compared to the 1250.
The rear brakes much surprised me with their efficiency, but it may be due to the slightly higher lever and partial engagement of the front breaks. The latter work well. The ABS operates softly and timely.
The windscreen in its higher setting does a good job, even though I’m 6’6”. The screen adjustment is equipped with an electric drive. The wind protection is good even compared to 1250 Adventure.
The dashboard migrated from the previous model, but the new operating logics creates some inconveniences. The ignition switch got moved to the handlebar, thus the number of buttons that are easily accessible got reduced. The absence of illumination on the buttons further complicates the search. The new multi-button can be adjusted but still the access to the frequently used functions, including windshield, heating, and suspension is rather complicated.
The active radar didn’t impress me much. Its application on the narrow and curved roads of Montenegro is seen limited. The Proximity Alert System generates problems when interfering with the acceleration process and is not seen as a useful function. The Blind Spot Detection System works fine, but the triangle signs in the mirrors aren’t always visible during the daytime.
The motorcycle left me with a very good impression, and although it brings nothing revolutionary, the evolution can be felt in every aspect. Although the majority of improvements are aimed on the road application, the good old GS can nevertheless be recognized. Despite a number of new features, some solutions like phone compartment with no wireless charging leave much to be desired.
I believe that introduction of the R1300GS is a nice move aimed on retaining buyers that KTM and Ducati Multistrada are trying to poach from BMW. It is also a nice try to get away from the stigma of being something that you buy when for retirement age. The changes that I see have changed the focus from comfort touring to high-speed travel. I’m not sure that this is what the vast majority of its previous owners wanted, but it will definitely attract new ones.
My way to a GS started with overcoming the stereotypes that tried to position this bike as something slow and designed primarily for pensioners. When I tried it myself, I realized how biased that opinion was. For the last two seasons I have seen numerous clients from all over the world that rented our bikes and shared impressions about their powerful KTMs, Multistradas, sport bikes, and other motorcycles. Once they tried our BMWs many of them changed their views, and some even said that they are going to change their motorcycles as soon as they get home.
The GS can easily change views once ridden as it delivers pleasure during riding instead of a struggle. GS remains a good solution for those who value reliability and equipment availability.
Go check it out yourself: book a test ride – compare BMW R1250GS, BMW R1250GSA, and BMW R1300GS. Welcome to Montenegro during the upcoming season!
The booking for the next year is open at Balkan Moto Travel.