Four o’clock can’t come round quick enough. I’ve a toothbrush, a spare pair of pants, and a new bike. What gives? My trusty GS failed its MOT following this year’s European loop, a cocktail of warning lights signalling the beginning of something that was going to be cheaper to replace than to maintain. At least that’s what I told myself, repeatedly, in the halogen confines of the shiny showroom in BMW-land: you keep the old girl, I’ll have a new 1200 GS please. Where do I post my kidneys?
That was two weeks ago. Two weeks to get over the slightly sickening feeling of my biggest credit card transaction to date, two weeks to plot and plan the impossibly short 600 miles until it’s first service, where ‘it’ is a bike that’s only 40% complete in a production line somewhere in Germany. Only now I’ve got ‘it’, and with it a green card for a Weekend Away with nothing to do but rack up some miles.
First impressions? Bloody brilliant. I’ve borrowed one of these before while my old 1200 GS was in for a service and was left impressed by the increase in power, but also found it a bit, well, flighty. The new electronic throttle doesn’t have the same resistance as the traditional cable version, and with what feels like a steeper steering angle those extra ponies are keen to jump the fence at every opportunity. Except I can’t let them just yet because I’m still running in – bugger.
The Gear Assist Pro feature is incredible and lets you change up or down without using the clutch. Up is mainly where it’s at for me, and once you’ve got your head around the concept of just snapping the gear lever while keeping the power on it just turns the rest of the day into one long giggle. Think paddle shift but for motorcycles.
Other refinements include electronic suspension adjustment, different engine profiles (this being Wales I’ve mostly use the ‘rain’ setting today) and a brand new Navigator 5, something that can be dismissively described as a Garmin Zumo 660 but is actually a totally different animal.
Time will tell whether these exotic temptations add up to the same liberating machine that was my old GS. That was one of the last oil-cooled 1200 engines and if it hand’t been for the ABS compressor I’m sure it would have been good for another 100,000 miles, but it was used / abused liberally over 7 years and now needs to go make somebody else as happy. So long, old friend. It’s been one hell of a ride!