BMW once again sets the bar high with the redesigned big GS.
I’ve spent more time in the saddle of BMW’s big GS than on any other press motorcycle I’ve ridden. Actually, I have owned one of the German boxers in the past, an original R80 G/S, which I had bought new in 1986. Having been introduced in 1980, the G/S was the grandfather of all adventure bikes. My ’86 model was six years into its life cycle, yet it was nearly identical to the original — changes came at a much slower pace back in the early 1980s. There were also very few variations; in ’86 you could get the standard G/S, or the Paris-Dakar version, with a larger 32-litre fuel tank, a solo seat and a luggage rack. The latter is the one I had.
Forty-four years and several generations later, evolution has produced the most radically redesigned and most potent GS ever: the 2024 R1300GS, a direct descendant of the R80 G/S. We flew to Málaga, Spain, where we spent one day on the road, and a half day off road on the big ADV bike. We learned that while it’s still very much a GS, it is a very different GS.
The Nuts and Bolts
As its moniker suggests, the GS’s liquid-cooled boxer has grown in displacement to 1,300 cc from 1,254 cc, via a larger bore, but a shorter stroke (106.5 x 73 mm vs. 102.5 x 76 mm), though it has the same 9,000-rpm rev limit. The engine is 3.9 kilos lighter, and to improve the engine’s weight distribution, while also giving it a symmetrical appearance (boxer cylinders are inherently offset), the left cylinder has its cam drive at the rear, and the right cylinder at the front. The valve train still features BMW’s ShiftCam technology, which enables variable timing and lift on the intake valves, thus broadening torque delivery. Intake and exhaust valves are bigger, now measuring 44 and 35.6 mm versus 40 and 34 mm. The compression ratio is also higher, at 13.3:1 compared to 12.5:1.
Output is now 145 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque, an increase of 9 hp and 4.4 lb-ft over the R1250, making this the most powerful production boxer ever made. It actually feels more powerful than those numbers would suggest, because the bike has lost 12 kg, now weighing 237 kg wet, though fuel tank capacity has dropped one litre to 19 litres to help achieve that number.
One big change within its engine cases is with the six-speed gearbox, which has been relocated from its traditional location behind the engine, to below the engine. This makes for a remarkably compact powerplant, while also lowering the centre of gravity. Gear ratios for first through…