2009 BMW R1200GS Review

Photo © Basem Wasef

The Bottom Line

A supremely capable, premium product that's so versatile and rugged that you wouldn't hesitate to ride it around the world.


  • Do anything, go anywhere capability.
  • Rugged enough to take on almost any road (or offroad) surface.
  • Tried and true design lends confidence-inspiring dynamics.


  • Tall 33.5 inch seat height can be prohibitive for some riders (though 32.3 inch saddle is available)
  • 504 pound weight gets challenging when footing is uncertain.
  • BMW parts and maintenance are pricier than their Japanese counterparts.


  • 1,170cc air-cooled "boxer" style fuel-injected engine producing 105 horsepower @ 7,500 rpm
  • Six-speed gearbox with shaft drive
  • Telelever front suspension with 7.5 inches of travel, Duolever rear suspension with 7.9 inches of travel
  • Twin disc, 305mm, four-piston front and single-disc, 265mm dual-piston rear brakes with optional ABS
  • Dry Weight: 448 pounds, Road Ready Weight: 504 pounds
  • Seat height: 33.5 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 5.3 gallons (with 1 gallon reserve)
  • Base MSRP: $14,750, Standard Package: $16,300 (with heated grips, ABS, and Saddle Bag Mounts)
  • Premium Package: $17,495 (Heated Grips, ABS, Saddle Bag Mounts, On Board Computer, Enduro ESA, Hand Protection)
  • Options include Low Suspension ($175), Tire Pressure Monitor ($250), Hand Guards ($100), Alarm ($395), and ABS $1,100.

Guide Review - 2009 BMW R1200GS

After 330 miles on a 2009 BMW R1200GS at the BMW RawHyde Adventure Rider Challenge, I was struck with a concrete realization: though perfectly capable during high-speed interstate blasts, this bike desperately craves rugged terrain.

Thanks in part to 7.5 inches of front suspension travel and 7.9 inches at the rear, the knobby tire-equipped R1200GS is a big-bore enduro that's ready for almost anything... just ask Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. The air-cooled "boxer" engine is nearly bulletproof (though die-hards will assert that BMW doesn't build airheads like they used to), delivering torquey, linear power that pulls strongly from low rpms to the 8,000 rpm redline. The gearbox shifts with deliciously light, positive action.

A stratospheric 33.5 inch seat height means a dauntingly tall climb aboard the R1200GS, but the iffy footing (unless you're a giant) serves as a reminder of this bike's capabilities. The ride is relatively plush with seemingly endless shock absorption, and the no-nonsense snarl of the engine is yet another indicator of the R1200GS's purposeful personality. After a day of traversing parts of the Mojave desert and sampling a few gravel and sand-lined offroad stretches, I can safely say that this bike handled the tasks with such effortless aplomb that I wholeheartedly hoped to reschedule some seat time so I could explore its abilities more.

If the R1200GS has a shortcoming, it would have to be its relatively heft and bulk. Though the stoutness is necessary for super heavy-duty riding (especially without an onboard welder for repairs in the field), a majority of adventurous circumstances can be conquered with the lighter, more nimble F800GS. But if ultimate offroading is in your plans, it's hard to do better than BMW's renowned R1200GS.

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