Gilding the lily—The BMW R1250 GS

The BMW R1250 GS needs no introduction. You won’t find may who will disagree that it is at the top of the food chain as far as open-class adventure bikes go. But with decades of constant improvement with each iteration, it’s hard to imagine how you take something as well sorted as the GS is in it’s current form and somehow still make it better. How do you do that? You gild the lily, of course.

2021 is a special year for BMW motorrad, the venerable Geland Srasse (that’s off-road/road for us non-German speakers). This year marks 40 years of the iconic GS for them so they had to come up with something special. The current flagship model is the R1250, 136hp in a boxer-twin format with Shift-cam technology (2 different cam profiles for different performance characteristics)—class leading telelever suspension up front and electronic suspension adjustment in the rear as well as more tech than you’ll ever see on two wheels, among them multi-axis ABS, traction control, and riding modes for every imaginable terrain. After engineering a top-selling bike with all these bells and whistles that give you unbelievable performance, comfort and safety, did the Berlin engineers sit back and have a couple of pints? Nope. They got busy for 2021.

The 2021 model comes in several styles and variants. For those who want to buy into the history of the marque, there is the 40 years edition R 1250 GS in the black and yellow livery, a homage to the unique (for it’s time) R80, the first “touring enduro” that arguably birthed Adventure Bikes. BMW virtually invented one of the most popular categories with that bike and has ruled it ever since. For this year everything that made the 1250 such a hit is still there, but there are some interesting updates that make it all the more desirable. And though we’re thoroughly familiar with just how good these bikes are, I have to admit we were more than excited to swing a leg over the new R1250 GS Style Rallye.

For starters there’s the fetching colorway, a contrast of glossy and matte white panels with the classic Rallye stripes in blue and red. The black rims add a touch of toughness that suits this variant to a tee. And now the good stuff: great new additions to the current iterations include dynamic headlights that pan side-to-side to throw light deeper into the corners as you come through them as well as subtly tilts up and down to match hill angle approach, also new is a really interesting X-pattern LED driving light which nods hello and goodbye on start up and shut down.

An innovation on the GS is the clever use of partially illuminated LED signal lights as cruising lights to add to rider visibility and safety. A real palm-to-forehead update… trust the Germans to figure that one out. As if previous riding modes weren’t enough, the 2021 adds several more. There’s enhanced riding modes to allow very experienced riders more options particularly when it comes to more aggressive riding both on tarmac or off-road. But it’s the new ECO MODE thats the most interesting mode addition to me. As the name implies, its a setting that prioritizes increased tank range over all-out performance. A nice option for those who know it may be a stretch between fill-ups. You now have a dizzying 7 options in the ride mode menu but you also now have the ability to tailor the options on display to as little as 2 or as many as 4 favorites to make toggling between modes easier and faster depending in the terrain you typically encounter. 

If you’re still on the fence as to whether you should be signing up for the updated 2021 Rallye model, one simply has to start the bike and the throaty growl of the HP Parts/Akrapovic exhaust will seal your fate. There’s nothing quite like the call of a performance exhaust to help you part with your hard earned money. Not that it’s all about looks either, and believe me the slender titanium can and carbon tip is beautiful, but it will net you performance gains and knock some weight off too. The orchestral gurgle from this Akra is pure music especially on an aggressive clutchless downshift. It really is pure joy on two wheels.The GS magic-carpet ride is what makes it special. Supreme comfort and control in a potent and extremely capable package that can bring smile after smile when pushed closer to its limits.

If you still haven’t made up your mind, I understand. It may be the SRP of Php1,615,000 giving you pause, a considerable sum but appropriate really for what you get, made even better now by the 5-year comprehensive BMW warranty. So let me say this. The GS remains the king of the category and has never been as good as it now, and if you decide to indulge, you are riding with the spirit of 40 years of cumulative adventure.

And if adventure is what you yearn for, nothing ticks the right boxes like the R1250 GS Rallye.

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