BMW’s R1200GS is arguably THE poster-boy for modern motorcycling. The built to go anywhere, do anything Adventure bike has been in the UK’s top-selling motorcycles chart pretty much every month since it was launched in 2004. No doubt its success was partly down to the McGregor/Boorman effect which probably kick-started a surge in Born Again Bikers but even without the celebrity boost the 1200GS was capitalising on a growing and loyal fan base, which started with the original R80GS but the way to the top of the charts had been paved by the R1150GS. We’ve also written a concise guide to the best tyres for a BMW F800GS, the baby BMW adventure bike.
A brief model history
The new R1200GS engine capacity was increased from 1130cc (on the R1150GS) to 1170cc. BMW also included a new balancer shaft which made the engine feel more refined. The engine’s crank was also lightened by 1kg and the pistons were lightened too. The larger valves and a redesigned valve drive, enabled the 1200GS to rev faster and produce more power and torque. The new 1200Gs also went on a serious diet. The six-speed gearbox was redesigned, and BMW’s engineers managed to lose13kg in the process. It also had an all-new exhaust system which saved 3kg. At around 220kg, it was still a big old beast but the new GS was 30kg lighter than the outgoing 1150.
While the 1200 badge remained on the bike all the way up to its replacement in 2019 by the new BMW R1250GS, the 1200 engine underwent a serious of changes and improvements over its 15-year reign and BMW also introduced the taller, heavier, more off-road capable R1200GS Adventure, which was arguably not as good a road bike but of course, it too sold by the boat load.
It deserves its cult following and many owners prefer the 1200 to the new 1250.
The OEM R1200GS tyre
At its introduction in 2004, the 1200GS was offered with the choice of spoke wheels or the new design of cast aluminium wheels. They ran 110/80/19 and 150/70/17 tyre sizes, the same sizes that were fitted to the R1150GS. The rear wheel was 1.6kg lighter than the old model’s rear wheel, a significant saving of un-sprung weight.
In 2014 along with lot’s of other upgrades the tyre sizes were changed to wider 120/70 19 and 170/60 17 V rated and above are OK
Every Tyre You Can Fit To A BMW R1200GS
SPORTS / GETTING IT RIGHT OVER
If you want the stickiest rubber on your GS for fast road riding or for trackdays (we’ve had a few customers fit them), then you have two great choices of tyre that wouldn’t look out of place on a 200bhp Superbike. They’re not a common choice – because most GS riders don’t buy the bike for its apex-hunting ability – but they are both brilliant tyres that will give you the maximum outright grip on the road, or indeed track, when conditions allow.
This one from Dunlop is the closest thing to a slick you’ll get to fit on your GS. Using Dunlop’s NTEC technology allows these beauties to have the pressure dropped significantly on track creating a huge foot print and unbelievable grip. If 19″ tyre warmers were available for the front you wouldn’t need them as these heat up really quick and Dunlop suggests you don’t need to use them on this tyre.
The replacement for the much-loved M7RR, the M9RR is a sports tyre that’s more than good enough for fast group trackday pace. Its 100% silica compound gives it a very fast warm up in cold and wet conditions and even though it’s a sporty tyre, it’s also a great tyre in the wet.
TOURING / HIGH MILEAGE
If you’re heading off on a European adventure or if you’re commuting or clocking up motorway miles, a modern Touring tyre is the answer. They’re give you great handling, due to the fact the majority are dual compound, with a hard-wearing central belt and softer shoulders for more edge grip. They’re also excellent in the wet and offer a fast warm up in all conditions.
The Anlas Winter Grip + is quite possibly the best all round motorcycle winter tyre available. A very stable and predictable M+S rated tyre it’s also made in sizes suitable for both street and adventure bikes. This one is a great choice if you need a pair in the Autumn.
The T31 made it’s predecessor (the T30 EVO) feel very outdated. This tyre has great mileage, superb wet weather performance and incredible sports bike tyre handling.
The Spirit ST is a high performance Sports Touring tyre from British firm Avon. Using a high silica content and a tread pattern that disperses water superbly, these are made for the UK’s unpredictable weather.
Pirelli’s latest touring tyre, takes over from where the popular Angel GT left off. A dual compound rear, with softer shoulders for more edge grip but a harder central compound for maximum mileage. Borrows from Pirelli’s track rain tyre tread pattern for better wet-weather grip. If you’re a road rider and you want to get your GS really handling, the Angel GT2 is one of the best tyres out there.
MCN’s tyre of the year in 2016 and 2017. A new generation of tyre that can do it all, the Roadtec 01 is one of those tyres that’s at home on pretty much any bike, from superbikes to tourers. It is a fantastic road tyre, thanks to it quick warm-up and long life.
The Conti Road Attack 3 replaced the Conti Road Attack 2. This one won Motorrad’s sports touring tyre test against five of the other leading brands. It uses their TractionSkin technology which allows the tyre not to need a release agent in production and allowing a very quick run in period.
The Road 5 but in Trail bike sizes. Michelin’s most popular road tyre is an excellent choice for Adventure bikers who rarely stray off the black stuff. They don’t have that knobbly adventure-ready look but they do have bags of grip, wet weather performance and durability.
Michelin Road 4 Trail
All the great qualities of the Pilot Road 4 but made in the sizes suitable for the big Adventure bikes. Excellent mileage and wet weather grip make this one a winner. Replaced by the Road 5 Trail in 2018.
Released in 2016 the Dunlop Roadsmart 3 has become very popular over the last few years. It replaced the Roadsmart 2, it offers class leading agility, wet weather performance and a claimed 44% increase in mileage over it’s predecessor.
ADVENTURE / I LIKE THE OFF-ROAD LOOK
The Anlas Capra R is the ‘does it all’ choice sitting between the Capra RD and the Capra X. It can handle tarmac and unpaved equally well. A very well priced Adventure spec tyre in sizes suitable for the smaller capacity bikes as well as the big continent crunchers.
Avon’s Trailrider, an 85% road and 15% off-road based tyre. Lot’s of silica for the wet and M+S rated for the winter. These are the replacement for the Avon Gripster.
The Bridgestone A40 replaced the Battlewing BW510 & BW502, it’s design was more road based than the Battlewing. A good value for money option on Adventure bikes but now superceded by the A41.
New for 2018 the Bridgestone A41 replaced the A40. With a huge choice of sizes and OE fitments available in sizes suitable for bikes as diverse as the 3 wheeled Yamaha Niken to Ducati’s Scrambler with its unusual 18″ front fitment along with all the common Adventure sizes. A great road/trail tyre.
Continental’s Trail Attack 3 replaced the popular Trail Attack 2. A tyre made for the tarmac but also capable of a little bit of dry off road action. Lot’s of choice in the sizes available including ones to fit 17″ wheeled bikes.
The Continental Trail Attack 2 is a great value for money Adventure touring tyre. Replaced now by the Trail Attack 3. Extremely quick scrub in due to Continentals innovative Traction skin technology.
Now replaced by the Trailmax Meridian, the Trailsmart Max was the second version of the original Trailsmart. Dunlop stated it a 90% road 10% off road tyre but lot’s of owners have praised it’s off road capabilities and even going as far as saying it’s a more 80% road 20% off road tyre.
The Trailmax Meridian was released in 2020 as the replacement for the Trailsmart Max. It has a very unusual tread design named the ‘ice axe’ which gives it a 10% off road and 90% road bias. Initial reports are a nice turning tyre with very stable handling.
The new for 2020 Mutant, like a love child from the meeting of a Race Wet, Supermoto and dirt track tyre. A great choice if you want to attempt to get your knee down in the wet on your R1 at your local roundabout.
Maxxis Presa Detour MA-PD
Availble in only 110/80 VR19 and 150/70 VR17 the Maxxis Presa Detour is a budget road/adventure tyre for early GS models.
The Tourance must surely be called a ‘classic’ after all this time. Some would say the original Adventure tyre. A 70% road 30% off road tread design these are still incredible popular with the GS guys and girls out there.
The Tourance Next was the replacement for the Tourance EXP which superseded the classic original Tourance. These have never had the appeal of the original, we think partly because of the more road oriented tread pattern.
A good choice if you do a little bit of dry green laning, the Karoo Street is so much better on road than the more blocky deeper treaded alternatives whilst also looking the part.
The Anakee Adventure was released in 2019 to replace the Anakee 3. A more off road looking tyre then the Anakee 3, still retaining superb tarmac grip due to it’s high silica content and 2CT dual compounds on the rear tyre. This one will make your Adventure bike look and also feel the part.
Original fitment of the BMW R1200GS the Michelin Anakee 3 replaced the Anakee 2. Very interesting tread design using beveled edges and 3D serrations which help with both dry tarmac use and mud clearance when off road.
Mitas Terra Force
The Terra Force is a 90% road / 10% off road offering from Mitas. It has a high silica content making it excellent in the wet.
Replacing the original Scorpion in 2015 the Pirelli Scorpion Trail 2 comes with dual compound rear giving great mileage. Nice steering and turn in make this a good choice if you enjoy ‘getting it over’. BMW, KTM and Ducati all have bikes using this one as an original fitment.
ADVENTURE / I RIDE THE ODD TRAIL ON THE WEEKEND
The Trekrider is Avon’s 50/50 road/offroad tyre, like a Range Rover equally as good in the mud as on the tarmac. These are M+S rated if you ever find yourself in Germany and it’s starting to snow.
Do you want your bike to look like a flat tracker or classic Scrambler? If the answer is yes the Bridgestone AX41S is what you need. With sizes to fit Suzuki’s tiny Van Van up to BMW’s latest R1250GS. Fantastic wet weather performance and excellent mileage due to the rears 3LC dual compounds.
If you need a tyre capable of a bit of mud bashing and tarmac mile munching the TKC70 could be the one for you. 70% off-road and 30% road bias this could be the perfect choice for your R1250GS.
New for 2020 the TKC70 Rocks comes in a rear fitment only for now, designed with improved off-road capabilities without sacrificing on road grip over the original TKC70 rear. Mix it with a TKC 80 front if mud is your thing!
A properly rugged adventure touring tyre for those who want to tackle big rides across Europe but still have a tyre underneath them that’s capable of tacking on unpaved roads and tough terrain. M+S rated T speed rating both sizes, tubeless (but can be used with a tube).
Mitas E10 Front
The Mitas E10 is a 60% off road, 40% on road tyre, big blocks with large spacing to disperse the mud and water off road. Tubeless design and rated to to 118mph.
Mitas E 10 Explorer Rear
The perfect match for the E10 front, the E10 Explorer rear is a 70% off road / 30% road based tyre. Designed for tubeless use it also has a speed rating of 118mph.
Motoz Tractionator GPS
The Motoz Tractionator GPS offers big mileage and a 50/50 split between dirt and tarmac. The rear tyre is even designed to be universal in rotation offering a choice of superb off road traction or smooth tarmac cornering.
Used by Ducati as original equipment on it’s Desert Sled. The Pirelli Rally STR is great going from upright to right over. There is a bit of block movement but not a massive amount, a very good tyre if you like the look of knobblies but also enjoy riding hard on the tarmac.
OFF-ROAD / I’M GENUINELY GOING TO GET LOST
The Capra X is real Adventure Bike tyre, capable of the most extreme off-road routes. Mileage is very good for such a blocky tyre, we’ve heard users on big GS’s get around 5k on the rear and a little more on the front with mixed usage.
The AX41 is Bridgestone’s Adventure off-road tyre. Suitable for even the muddiest conditions and having excellent block rigidity which is what you want when riding on the tarmac to get to the mud! Lot’s of sizes available suitable to fit 50cc bikes up to the 1260cc beast that is the Ducati Multistrada Enduro.
The TKC80 is the poster-boy for knobbly adventure tyres. It’s not a great road tyre but it can handle the muddy stuff with ease. For a more road-based knobbly try the TKC70 or even Conti TrailAttack 3.
A Mud & Snow rated Adventure bike tyre, that curiously features a different tread pattern depending on the tyre size and profile. A tubeless fitment, it’s a good option for road-riding Adventure bikers who like the rugged off-road look.
The K784 Big Block is designed to take you to the places you didn’t think possible on a motorbike. This one is a great alternative to the more well known and costlier mud movers.
One of the most popular Adventure bike tyres, the Karoo 3 is used by the BMW Off-Road school and is a popular choice for Adventure bike riders who like to take on the odd trail or green lane.
The knobbliest Michelins you’ll get this side of a Dakar bike, the Anakee Wild is the next step up from the Anakee Adventure and has deep tread blocks. It’s a tyre with a huge off-road bias and not a recommended fit for road riding. Available in tubed and tubeless sizes and they’re Mud & Snow rated.
The E07+ is the improved version of the original E07, it offers a much more rounded profile helping the bike tip in. A 50/50 tyre.
Motoz Rall Z
Made in Thailand and very popular in Australia the Motoz RallZ is a cross between a desert race tyre and a long distance adventure tyre. 90% off road, 10% on road.
Motoz Tractionator Adventure
25% road and 75% off road use are what the Tractionator Adventure are designed to deal with. Having a deeper tread block these offer exceptional performance in the snow and slush.
We’re here to help you
Here at Two Tyres, we’re Adventure motorcycle tyre specialists. Got any questions? Give us a call on 0207 205 2205 and we’ll be happy to help.