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BMW Rallye X – The new star in the R1200GS range

This entry is part 9 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #23

What could be done to improve the R1200GS? Make it more nimble? Give it more suspension? Allow riders to fine-tune modes? Maybe a new, hot-rod look? It’s all been done on the new Rallye X.

For 2017 BMW offers four R1200GS variants (plus the R 1200 GS Adventure):
• R1200GS
• R1200GS Tour
• R1200GS Rallye
• R1200GS Rallye X

The R1200GS is the base model and, depending on what a customer is looking for, they can option up any of these to full specification. It’s important to note only the Rallye X can be supplied with the longer-travel Sports Suspension feature.

Having ridden the new bikes, we feel the Rallye X steals the show in the biggest possible way.

The base model R1200GS is a great bike, especially for riders who prefer minimal electronics. On- and off-road it’s very capable and comfortable.

Over all

The bikes in the new GS range naturally share some common traits. The good ol’ boxer engine with a new catalytic converter offers 125hp at 7750 rpm, which may seem a little conservative compared to current trends, but ‘horsepower’ is a very rubbery figure taken on its own.

Riding style and torque figures need to be taken into account, and the Beemer motor has more power than most riders – unless they’re very exceptional – will ever need or be able to use, and it’s delivered in a very friendly manner.

The bikes all have a new look that includes some bold styling and colour options, and there’s a few seat heights and variants on offer.

BMW says there’s a ‘significantly wider spread of model variations from the basic version to the refined R1200GS Rallye X’. There’s also the latest generation of Dynamic ESA: automatic damping mode and automatic self-levelling suspension.

Riding modes have had a tune up as well, with DTC (Dynamic Traction Control), Hill Start Control and the new customisable modes Dynamic Pro and Enduro Pro as optional equipment on the entry model and Rallye, while standard on the Rallye X and Tour.

We said ‘good ol’ boxer engine’, but in fact it was only 2013 when the GS received the water-cooled boxer. It was a totally new motor, at the same time the shaft drive swapped sides, the fuel mixture now flows vertically and the six-speed gearbox is integrated into the engine housing with a wet clutch.

All up that gives a more compact feel to the motor, and for a bike of this capacity, it feels incredibly agile.


On the base-model bike ASC (automatic stability control) looks after traction control, and Road and Rain modes allow the rider to choose a set of characteristics to suit on road from wet to dry conditions.

With the Ride Modes Pro option, there are two more modes, a third road mode called Dynamic and the off-road mode, Enduro. These two new modes can be changed with the inclusion of a coded plug which is stored under the seat.

‘Dynamic’ steps up to ‘Dynamic Pro’ and ‘Enduro’ to ‘Enduro Pro’. There are some key differences with the pro versions.

For example, Enduro Pro allows the rear brake to be locked while retaining ABS on the front brake. On top of this the Pro designation allows the rider to fine tune the settings within the parameters of the modes. Where Enduro mode offers the more relaxed Rain setting for the throttle for instance, a rider with Enduro Pro could elect to change that to the more direct, shorter-pull Road throttle setting.

The Dynamic mode set-up is for direct throttle response, while a reduced level of DTC intervention allows some drifting.

As before, ABS is set to Road, and with Dynamic ESA the bike is in a very sporty configuration. In Dynamic Pro the rider can select and combine throttle response and DTC regulation to suit personal preferences.

We have to say here we found the modes bang on for their intended purpose. If we owned the bike we doubt we’d be too concerned about changing those parameters. Both Rain and Road on the standard GS suited us just fine, and we were entirely comfortable with the Enduro mode for just about everything short of extremes like deep sand and steep hills.
Still, the options are there for those who want them, and given more time with the bike we may find a tweak here and there would work well.

The optioned-up R1200GS Tour was a plush-o ride with heaps of comfort and high-end accessories.

The big deal

We rode the base model and the Tour, and those bikes were nice. But we love to go off-road, and in the snot and tough going the Rallye X leaves the others standing. The key is the upgraded suspension. It has more travel due to the GSA struts and the GSA telelever arm. Dynamic ESA is also tuned to take advantage of this extra travel, giving more ground clearance and a plusher ride. On top of this the Rallye X receives spoked wheels, a shorter screen, radiator guards, wider footpegs and no centrestand as icing on the Black Forest cake.

All the models have the things BMW riders love – heated grips, an exceptional level of comfort, tyre-pressure monitoring and so forth – and that makes them a pleasure to ride, especially over long distances, but it’s the off-road performance of the Rallye X that got us so excited.

To BMW’s credit, rough handling was encouraged during our review ride. The forests around Woods Point in Victoria offered shitty, rocky hill climbs, slick red clay, some berserk road sections and everything from log crossings to a downhill that would’ve been taken seriously on an enduro bike. The only thing we didn’t see were deep-water crossings. And while all the models went around the course without any real concerns, the Rallye X felt like it destroyed the terrain and was crying out to be pushed harder all the time. It offered a level of confidence and assurance the other bikes just couldn’t match.

It was none to shabby on the bitumen either, and features like cruise control and the feel of the Road setting made both the sport and touring riding a total pleasure. Braking was insanely good, and the feel to the rider, even on the tar with the Continental TKC80 knobbies, was exceptional. The Quickshift feature allowing clutchless gear changes had us frothing on the tar sections, but also allowed impossibly seamless changes, up and down, on rough going when the pressure was on.

Does it seem like we’re struggling to find words to tell you how the good the Rallye X is?We are.

It’s a dead-set screamer of an adventure bike, on- and off-road, and, at $27,250 plus on-roads and dealer charges, we’re going to be raving about it for a long time.

The boxer-twin still does the bizzo in the best possible way. It feels more compact than ever, and power delivery is strong and manageable.
Braking is absolutely superb, and BMW still leads the pack with its ABS and traction-control packages. The other manufacturers are catching up fast, but we think BMW still has the edge.



Engine type: DOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder, boxer twin
Displacement: 1170cc
Bore/stroke: 10mm x 73mm
Compression ratio: 12.5:1
Rated output: 92kW (125hp) at 7750rpm
Maximum torque: 125Nm at 6500 rpm
Carburation: BMS-X
Emission control: Closed-loop, three-way catalytic converter, exhaust standard EU4
Starter: Electric 0.9kW
Clutch: Anti-hopping wet clutch
Transmission: Constant-mesh six-speed
Rear-wheel drive: Universal shaft
Frame: Tubular-steel bridge, self-supporting engine
Front suspension: BMW Telever
Rear suspension: BMW EVO Paralever
Brake front: Hydraulically operated twin disc Ø305mm
Brake rear: Single disc Ø276mm
Fuel capacity: 20 litres
Width including mirrors: 953mm
Seat height: 850mm/870mm. Rallye X +20mm
Total length: 2207mm
Wheelbase: R1200GS 1507mm. Rallye X 1496
Weight, road-ready: 244kg


There’s not much we need to say about accessories for the R1200GS. BMW pretty much wrote the book. Panniers, navigation, different seats…just about everything that stores, ties and guards is available. Get to a dealer and have a look, or log on to the BMW website for details.

Whatever you do, if you’re thinking of upgrading to a new, big-capacity adventure bike, make sure you ride the new GSs.

If you’re keen on tackling real off-road, if you want the joy of a truly exceptional bike that’s well capable of levelling really tough terrain, plant your backside on a Rallye X for a test ride.

You’ll thank us if you do.

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