So, you’re in the market for a long-distance ADV touring motorcycle. The obvious choice? A BMW GS.
BMW Motorrad has produced over half a million of them since the original R80G/S. The point? These motorcycles are tried and true, and most definitely up for the adventure.
But, it’s not that simple. BMW Motorrad currently offers a number of variations and options for the GS, including the standard model and the higher-spec and off-road-oriented GS Adventure.
Which one is for you? Well, it depends on your needs in an ADV motorcycle.
And which one would we choose? The BMW GS Adventure—also known as the GSA—without question. Here’s why.
Looking for Maximum Off-Road Capability? The GS Adventure is the Bike for You
- Added suspension travel
- Factory crash protection
What’s the most notable difference between the BMW GS and GS Adventure? The upper-spec GS Adventure is prepared to tackle the most difficult off-road terrain, while the standard model’s primary focus is on long-haul asphalt tours. Sure, you could coax a GS into light off-road excursions with no issue, but the GS Adventure raises the bar.
In the case of the current BMW R 1250 GS and R 1250 GSA, added suspension travel to the Adventure model headlines a host of differences between offerings.
While the standard model comes equipped with 7.5 inches of travel up front and 7.9 inches out back, the Adventure packs a full 8.3 inches and 8.7 inches of travel—an added cushion to tackle the gnarliest sections. The added suspension length translates to a smoother ride through the choppy, square-edged sections of trail, and enough to handle G-out sections.
- GS Adventure receives additional suspension—8.3 inches front and 7 inches rear vs. 7.5 inches front and 7.9 inches rear on the standard model
In addition to the extended suspension travel, the GS Adventure also comes equipped with factory-installed crash protection. The engine and frame protection will go a long way in the scenario of an off-road tip over, which can and will happen navigating tough single track.
- The GS Adventure comes pre-equipped with crash protection—a necessity for serious off-road riding
Oh, and not to mention the GS Adventure receives endure-styled foot pegs, which offer added grip. It also gets a taller handlebar, adding needed leverage to muscle the GS through the trails.
More Fuel Range = More Adventure!
The more gas, the more miles you can explore!
BMW GS Adventure models come fitted with larger-capacity fuel tanks in comparison to the base models, meaning the range of adventure is extended! For example, the R 1250 GS Adventure sees a 7.9-gallon capacity, while the standard GS only house 5.3 gallons of fuel.
Considering that BMW Motorrad claims the GS averages 50 miles per gallon, that’s an extra 130 miles of exploration for the Adventure! How many times has the GSA’s extra fuel load saved our butts in remote locations? Admittedly, too many times to count…
That said, the additional fuel range can get you to locations you’ve yet to see. Who doesn’t love ADV camping where there isn’t a soul for tens of miles around?
BMW GS Adventure: The Best of On- and Off-Road Worlds
OK, there are some who dream of pointing our GS to locations hundreds or thousands of miles away, and only touching dirt between here and there. Some of us, however, do enjoy and will do a majority of asphalt miles to get there. Is the GS Adventure still the bike to have? Certainly.
Sure, the GS Adventure is geared towards the dirt, but it rides exceptionally on the asphalt, too. The bigger GSA is smooth, surprisingly nimble on its feet for being 591 pounds fully fueled, its boxer engine is fast, and is incredibly comfortable for the long haul.
That, and the aforementioned 7.9-gallon fuel tank offers an extended rage, adding piece of mind to the longer stretches of highway.
Who Might the standard GS Work For?
The following are the highlights of the standard GS:
- Lower weight
- Lower seat height
- Cost of entry
- Road Going
Don’t let us discount the base model GS entirely—it’s a highly capable and proven machine.
Consider it a potent weapon for riders looking to tackle long miles of backcountry, paved roads, with interest in the occasional fire road exploration. In fact, some riders prefer to trade the GSA’s supreme off-road capabilities for the lower weight and seat height.
The base-model GS weighs in at a lower 549 pounds in comparison to the Adventure’s 591 pounds, and seat height is decreased 33.5 to 34.3 inches (depending on selected seat position) while the GSA rests between 35 and 35.8 inches. Still lacking in the inseam? There’s a lowered-suspension version of the GS that brings seat height down to only 31.5 inches.
As for us, we will stick to the almighty BMW GS Adventure. No arguments.