Comparing 2012 vs. 2014 BMW R1200 GSAs
Now that BMW has released the 2014 R1200GS Adventure with the new liquid-cooled engine along with that bike’s upgraded architecture, the question arises if the new Adventure is that much better than the old one, a motorcycle that set the standard for big adventure bikes.
Having put 28,000 miles on a 2012 Adventure, my wrists were aching for a real electronic cruise control, so I put cash down on the 2014. When the older R1200GSAs were first released, their styling screamed aggressiveness and asserted dominance.
The new bike takes that stance into Terminator territory. It’s designed for the rider who wants to go anywhere, and this mammoth machine will. I’ve ridden both the new and old Adventures in venues ranging from interstate highways for hours on end at 80mph plus, to rocky dirt bike trails where sane folks would never think to travel.
What the old bike does well, the new bike does better. With fuel capacities that easily cover a 300+ mile range, it will be a very remote corner of the earth where you would have to carry additional fuel.
Although never classified as “low-cost,” BMW even managed to keep the lid on prices. Expect that nearly all the bikes come with the Premium Package that bumps cost up to over $22-grand delivered, but that includes nearly all the stuff you’d want.
The centerpiece of the new bike is the engine. About the only thing it has in common with its predecessor is its boxer layout. The engine is shorter, allowing for a two-inch longer swing arm, and resulting in better handling and stability.
The boxer is also not as tall, permitting more ground clearance. To aid emissions and efficiency, cooling is by air and coolant—versus its predecessor by air and oil. The clutch is now in the front of the engine permitting servicing without having to split the bike in two.
The clutch consists of eight wet disks sharing the same oil as the engine and transmission—permitting “feathering” while offroading. With less effort on the hand lever, the new clutch is a slipper-type design, which facilitates smoother shifts, especially in conjunction with the Adventure-specific load damper on the output shaft.
The old Adventure was available with an optional enduro transmission that had a lower first gear, a plus in off-road use since the dry clutch was not designed for lots of slipping. Although the new Adventure has no such option, it’s not missed, as it does have two more pounds of flywheel mass, giving the engine gobs more low-speed tractor effect.
The difference was especially noticeable after taking a new standard R1200GS on a rugged off-road ride and finding it easy to stall if you had to start on a loose surface going uphill; the new Adventure, like its lower-geared predecessor, just chugs on through.
Other differences with the engines include the locations of the valves in the heads. The new design relocates the intake runners, allowing the bike to be narrower. Along with the new electronics, the throttle takes less twist to open, and is smoother.
I’m not sure if that is part of the reason why the bike feels so much faster, but power wheelies are easily within range. The torque charts provided by BMW show that although the difference in peak torque is not enormous, the difference is notable and fatter over the entire range.
The old bike used the engine as a stressed member of its design. There were a front frame and a rear frame, with bolts connecting both to the engine at the center. The new bike has a more conventional continuous frame that has been designed for greater rigidity.
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