BMW R 1300 GS vs R 1250 GS test and comparison – what is DSA and why you need it.

Hello and welcome. R1300 GS versus the outgoing 
1250 – this is predominantly what we're going to   focus on in this first episode. It's a new series 
all about the GS1300. I've actually got it for   three days – not the two hours that everyone seems 
to get for road test these days with these new   motorbikes. I'm on day two of three. As you can 
see from the front of the bike, it's soaking wet.  It's done nothing but rain since I picked the bike 
up, so it's actually been a very interesting test   so far. But this afternoon and tomorrow look like 
the roads are going to dry up, so dynamically we   can push this bike a bit more and see what it's 
really like.

However, before we do the comparison   between the two… because I know that is 
certainly important to me as a current 1250 owner,   and I know a lot of you either have the 1250 or 
the earlier 1200 – you're going to be thinking   about: do you think about the upgrade? So, before 
we do that, let me just talk about this bike in   isolation. The international press are currently 
in Malaga, Spain, doing the test, the two-day test   of this bike. And the overwhelming reviews so far 
are very positive. But I did find myself thinking:   can it really be that good? Let me just tell you: 
this is nothing short of a sensational motorbike.   Now, I'm not connected to BMW, I'm not sponsored 
by BMW, and there is no connection between me and   BMW. So I am completely free, no one at any point 
has said to me: you need to say this or that.

So,   just be aware: these are my own thoughts. I 
don't have to keep anybody happy, no marketing   department – I'm free to say, what I want. And if 
I tell you, this bike is sensational, for me that   really is a genuine impression. It is phenomenal, 
what they've been able to do with such a big   motorcycle package in terms of engine and gearbox. 
The bike actually feels within 200m, when you pull   away, the bike physically feels like a bike from 
a smaller category. Now, this is 249 kilos, before   we start adding accessories on, and this is 237 
kilos, before we start adding accessories on. So,   although that difference is only 12 kilos, out 
on the road for me as an experienced rider with a   1250 this bike over here genuinely honestly feels 
like 25 kilos lighter than my bike.

I couldn't   believe it, how nimble and light this bike is. And 
then in terms of the dimensions on the bike, it's   physically a smaller bike, except they've kept 
all of the technology we're used to on the 1250,   and they've added to it. So it actually feels 
like a very different bike, which we're going   to get on in a moment. So, if you are interested 
in BMW's offering for the new adventure touring   segment… and in fact, we really should call it 
the adventure sports touring segment, because this   engine is also phenomenal, it is a bike that you 
should have high on your shopping list, and at the   very least you should go to your dealer and try it 

There are a couple of things, as I go through   this new series… This is part one. There's 
going to be several episodes. I'm hoping that   BMW are going to give me a couple of different 
bikes in different configurations with different   options fitted, so that we can have a look at the 
suspension. And I'll create another Dynamic ESA   of the current 1250, the old 1250 version. And I 
actually really like it. The headlight by the way,   this wasn't an active choice by BMW to change our 
traditional styling which I actually like, the old   version. On the old bikes there is an asymmetric 
head headlight, so in other words: the headlight,   the dip beam headlight is not in the centre of 
the motorbike. It's slightly off to one side,   which we've all got used to. But the laws are 
changing, and they can't continue to do that. The   headlight, the dip beam has to be in the centre 
of the motorbike. So, they're forced to change   the design, and actually, I quite like this funky 

It looks really good. I'm not going to go   through specifications. There are already lots of 
channels talking about specifications. But it has,   if you want to go through the option list, just 
about everything that you could want on a modern   motorbike. There's an option called DSA: Dynamic 
Suspension Adjustment. And if I was going to buy   this bike, I wouldn't buy one without that 
system on the bike. I'll explain, what it is,   further as we go more through the episode and 
we do the comparison. But just to say, you do   need to be careful, and you do need to spend time 
going through your options. So, let's have a look   engine. It still performs like a boxer engine 
but with huge amounts of torque available just   about everywhere. I think, the thing to really 
say about the engine – and we'll come on to this   The thing you have to take on board is: BMW are 
not going to forget about us 1250 riders.

They   have sold 289,000 – just think about that number: 
it's almost a third of a million 1250 GS and GSAs   combined, so they're not going to forget about 
us. So, with this new bike, it's got this new   sporty funky young look, which I actually really 
like. But what they've also done is: they've   changed the seating and the rider triangle, 
the ratio between foot peg, seat and bars,   and it does feel different. It is a bit more of 
a sporty feel. The pegs are a little bit higher,   and you can feel a reduction in leg room compared 
to the old bike. And the bars are further forward   and, I think, a little bit lower than they are 
on the original 1250. But you have to remember,   that new feeling, that sporty feeling actually 
goes well and complements with the whole bike as   a package, because BMW are also… what they're 
trying to do is: encourage new younger riders to   their GS lineup. And I think, they've done a very 
good job.

But they haven't forgotten about us,   that are used to the 1250. Now, if you look in 
the options list, there is an option to specify   adjustable foot pegs, which gives you quite a 
bit of movement – and for me, I'd definitely have   that – to lower the foot pegs down just a little 
bit, which opens up that leg room. And then with   the options they've got for the handlebars and 
the bar risers bringing them up and bringing   them further back, you can very easily take the 
new bike in terms of its ratio between foot peg,   seat and bars back to how the 1250 feels. So, I 
think it's wrong to say, that it doesn't feel like   a GS.

I think as standard, the way they've got 
it set up, is this young sporty kind of exciting   riding dynamic, and it is very, very good, and 
I quite like it. I probably would have the lower   foot pegs, and I probably would bring the bars 
up for standing up to give myself a bit more room. So, before I started this test earlier 
this week, I sat down and had a good think about:   is there anything wrong with the 1250? 
And there isn't. But are there any areas,   that I would like to see improvements, the things 
that I would like to improve on the 1250? And yes,   there are.

So, for me there are just four areas, 
that I would like to see improvements on over the   1250. The first one is: gearbox. Second one is: 
wind protection. The third one is: suspension.   And the fourth one is a bit of a strange one, 
but it's really: seat height and being able   to get your feet flat on the floor. Now, at 
6ft tall, 1m84, in the standard seat height   position of 850mm my feet aren't fully flat on 
the floor, and I would really like to have that,   because having your feet flat, both feet with 
a little bit of a bend in your legs really does   add to your confidence maneuvering slow speed in 
towns and cities and especially, when you ride   off-road.

So, they would be the four things I 
would want to see addressed in this new bike,   and they've done it. This new electric screen 
is nothing short of brilliant – so, another   optional accessory, which is this electric screen, 
I would highly recommend. It really does a very,   very good job. I'll put up a clip from earlier 
this morning. I was out searching for dry roads,   which I didn't find, but I took it on the 
autobahn, and we sat at about 165 km/h or 100 mph,   and the protection, that this new screen offers, 
is considerable. It really is a big improvement   over both the standard GS and the GSA. So, the 
screen for me would be definitely something I   would opt for. You've got quite a lot of options 
in terms of its range, and in the summer you do   want that nice cool air coming over you to keep 
you cool in the heat.

But in the winter you put   the screen up, or when the weather's not so great 
like it is today, raining again, it does a very   good job. So, the screen is definitely something 
I would add to my shopping list. It is lovely.   It's much easier to cruise at speed in a nice 
space behind the screen without turbulence,   without noise compared to the outgoing model. 
So, for me this electric screen is a real must,   especially if you do touring.

Now, normally I 
also run, as you can see on this one over here,   I run a short screen during the summer, because I 
like the air flow over my upper body and my helmet   to keep me cool. And actually, I don't think with 
this bike I would need to fit a short screen,   because there's such a range of adjustment, 
it's going to give me all those options. So,   the screen definitely has improved over the old 
bike. Now, with regards to um the gearbox: it is   a huge change. Those of us that have been used 
to the old 1250 know, that the gearbox is best   described as "adequate". It's almost tractor-like 
in its operation. It really isn't the best thing   on the bike. With the 21 onwards models BMW made 
another incremental step forward with gearbox   design and development and things improved. But 
all over the last 10 years it's all been very,   very small improvements. So, if you add them all 
up, and we say, that's the improvement they've   made over 10 years, this new gearbox is like this. 
It is night and day difference compared to the old   gearbox.

So, for me this is lovely. Over here 
I do use the down shift blipper. It works very   well. I don't use it from second to first, but 
in all other gears it is simply very, very good,   and I have no complaints. But the upshift assist I 
don't use. Occasionally I use it from 5th to 6th,   but in all other gears I don't, I use the 
clutch, because for me it's too violent. And I as an engineer / mechanic have quite a bit 
of mechanical sympathy for a bike that I hope   to own for quite some time, and I don't use it. 
Whereas over here on the new bike it is beautiful.  It really has taken it from a kind of "just okay" 
set up on the old 1250 to being very, very good   and competitive with all the other brands.

not totally perfect, but it is really very, very,   very good. And I think, as the bike evolves BMW 
will make more changes to it to improve the shift,   but it is very good. – Feet on the floor: this 
is really interesting, and this you really need   to pay attention to this. As I said, on 850 mm I 
can't get my feet flat on the floor. And I have   no trouble whatsoever having both my feet flat 
on the floor with a partial bend in my legs,   even without using the automated lowering 
system with it set in its standard ride height,   which is all the time, I have no trouble. It is 
so much better, and that's because the design,   the redesign of the seat is slightly narrower at 
the front, and the whole bike in the middle is   much slimmer than the outgoing bike. So I think, 
shorter riders are going to have much more success   with the new bike.

It's going to open up this to 
a whole range of different rider heights and sizes   and shapes, and it is very, very good – and that 
is before (this is important!), and that's before   we activate the automatic lowering system, which 
for me I wouldn't need, but for shorter riders you   definitely have to have it. There are two options 
within the menu: you can set it to automatic,   so that, when you slow down at traffic 
lights, the front and the rear, both together,   drop about 20 mm, and it's really very noticeable, 
and it helps you get your feet flat on the floor.   And although I'm 6ft, I would think, that riders 
of 5ft8ish should have no trouble whatsoever,   even without having the lower seat, which you 
can specify, you should have no trouble getting   your feet on the floor.

So for me, that is a nice 
change over the original. And then the last one,   the other area that I'd like to see improved is: 
suspension. Now, this is a very comfortable place   to be on tour. And even with sport riding and 
picking up the pace of it, it is pretty good. But   you can run into its limits at the extreme. So, 
you've got Road mode and we've got Dynamic. So,   Road being the comfortable mode, there are roads 
and certain conditions, which really don't suit   it – especially if the road is very undulating. 
The road mode gets really quite bouncy, and it's   not controlled as well as it could be.

And then 
at the other end of the range in Dynamic mode,   again it's got a sporty firm feel to it, but for 
a sports bike rider like myself, I would like it   much firmer than that, much more control, so that, 
when you come to your favourite set of bends,   and you've got lots of fast transitions from 
left to right, there's quite a bit of movement   going on. Not on the new bike – it is really very, 
very, very good.

I would say, that in the standard   setting for Road mode compared to the old bike, 
the old bike is still a little bit more compliant   and more comfortable. There's not a lot in it. 
Initially I wasn't that impressed with it, but   as my three days have gone on, I've actually got 
used to it, and it does a very good job, because   there are a couple of new technologies, that BMW 
use to control the damping, the compression and   the rebound, depending on the speed that you're 
traveling at. And it does actually a really good   job.

And then at the other end of the range, when 
you move into… over here on the right hand side,   when you move to the Dynamic riding mode, boy, 
does the bike change. Not only is the throttle   response much more immediate compared to the old 
Dynamic mode on the 1250, but the suspension is   a lot more controlled. And although it has pretty 
much constantly rained for the 3 days I've had it,   I have kind of got a move on with this, because 
you have these Metzeler Next Tourance 2,   which luckily for me, I already have on my 1250, 
so I'm quite used to riding with those in the wet,   and I know, what I can do and where the limits 

So, for me there was no acclimatization with   regards to new tyres, so I could get up to speed 
very quickly, especially in the wet. And it is   dynamically much better in Dynamic mode. But there 
is one more thing, that the Press hasn't really   caught on with this yet – so there is another mode 
deep within the menu system (providing you speced   your bike with Dynamic ESA). And the way you can 
tell is: you need to make sure your bike has got   the 7 ride modes, which you have on the old GS. 
Deep within the menu system – and I will show this   to you in a minute, and I'll film it, so you can 
see it over the dashboard – there is a way to go   into the settings to change the compression 
and rebound within the 3 main modes.

So,   on the 1250 you've got these two modes: you've 
got Road or Dynamic. Now, over here on the new   bike there is something called DSA, and you 
absolutely have to make sure you have that,   if you are coming from sports bikes or sports 
touring bikes, because this gives us a lot, and   I mean a LOT more adjustment. So, what you can do: 
you can go into the menu system, you can select   for example Road mode, and you now have 5 damping 
profiles within the Road mode. So, the centre one:   they have it on the screen as 0, and then you can 
go +1, +2, back to 0 or -1, – 2 – in other words:   you've got two stages of making each mode softer 
and two stages of making each mode firmer,   and it is simply brilliant.

Now, you can do 
that for the all the 3 main riding modes: Road,   Dynamic and Enduro. So I think, the guys that do 
take their bikes offroad are going to have a lot   of fun, and you can tailor your suspension 
more refinedly to how you want your bike to   perform. So, especially for me, for someone 
that normally rides in Dynamic mode, there is   a lot more adjustment with the suspension, and I 
really like it. So, for me that's another big step forward. So, we've touched a little bit on the 
big improvements to the gearbox. So, what about   the engine? Well, there is a difference between 
the new 1300 and the outgoing 1250. The 1250 has   always been renowned for that huge amount of shove 
the moment you open the throttle in just about any   gear: you feel like someone's grabbed the back 
of you and your motorbike and shoved you towards   the horizon at a huge rate of knots, especially 
for example you're at corner exit in third gear,   and you whack open that throttle, the shove that 
that produces, that immediate, that first couple   of seconds of shove is fantastic.

Now, that 
has gone, it's… I wouldn't say it's gone,   but it's diminished with the new 1300. But 
interestingly, what it's being replaced with,   is a completely different sensation. So, you 
don't have that immediate sledgehammer type feel   of response, when you whack open the throttle 
as you do over here. But now what you have:   you have a slightly reduced sledgehammer 
feel, but now that feel just continues all   the way through the rev range. So, I think, for 
most riders you're not probably going to notice   that as an immediate difference. I think, this is 
only going to really apply to riders, that ride   in a more sporty way and really do get on the 
throttle and have lots of fun with their sports   bike owning friends. And in that scenario, the 
new setup, the way they got the torque delivery,   which is much lower down in the RPM range, but 
it is a constant huge amount of shove all the   way through the rev range, and I actually really 
like it.

I do miss that initial shove, but very   quickly within a couple of hours I got used to 
it, because especially when you move from Road   mode to Dynamic mode it's really very different. 
Now, talking of those two modes Road and Dynamic,   over here there is a difference between the 
two modes. The throttle response, when you   move from Road to Dynamic, is much more direct. 
The power delivery is ever so slightly different.   And then it has got a different feel, which I 
really like. But on the new bike the difference   between Road mode and Dynamic is huge, it really 
is. So, I'll try and make this a bit clearer. So,   Road mode over here, Road mode over there on the 
1250: very similar. The engine characteristics,   the delivery of that torque is in a different way, 
but for the normal rider, that's going to buy this   bike and probably has the 1250, Road mode is the 
mode to be in. When you do move to Dynamic mode   over here on the new bike, you do need to pay 
attention, because the power delivery is much   more instant.

The whole dynamic of the bike 
completely changes along with the suspension,   and it really does feel like a completely 
different bike – compared to the old 1250,   when we moved to Dynamic mode. And I really like 
it. They've done a really good job to keep those   of us, that like a more sporty feel. And obviously 
with their intention to attract younger riders,   they're really going to like that. In Dynamic mode 
it's really good.I didn't try Dynamic Pro. It's   too wet for me to mess around with that. I do with 
my bike, when it's really dry, and there's just   me, and I've got my favourite bends, I do change 
the settings and turn things off.

But on this   bike during the test I didn't and I wouldn't in 
these wet slippery conditions. – So, what's next? Now, another thing I think is important for those 
of us with the 1250 have an understanding of is: obviously you've seen from the reviews, the 
gearbox location has now changed from the rear   of the engine to an integrated gearbox and engine 
assembly. So, the gearbox is now under the engine,   and it does a very, very good job. Now, when you 
first get on your GS – we all experienced this,   whether you let the bike warm up or not – when 
you pull the clutch in, put it in first gear:   "clunk". The whole bike clunks very loudly and 
jolts forward. Now, you kind of get used to it,   but when you've got a passenger on the 
back, maybe it's an inexperienced passenger,   you're taking your nephew or your grandson out, 
it can be quite a bit of a shock to them sitting   on the back.

Not anymore. The new bike – the 
first thing you're going to notice, the very   first thing as you go to pull out of your car park 
on your road test, when you put it in first gear,   there's this little tiny "click", as it goes 
into gear, and the bike no longer goes "clunk",   as it engages gear. BMW, you did a great job with 
that, and that is much appreciated. Now, with the   drive shaft assembly: on the old 1250, because 
the gearbox is at the back of the engine, there's   really not a lot of space to go from the gearbox 
to the drive assembly. So, the shaft assembly   comes out of the gearbox and has quite a steep 
decline for that shaft, before it goes into the   drive unit on the back. Not so on the new bike, 
because the gearbox has been removed from the rear   and placed underneath the engine, they've got much 
more space, so that drive shaft is considerably   longer.

It's not a little bit – you have a look 
at these pictures: it is quite a bit longer,   and the positive to that is, that those universal 
joints no longer have such an extreme angle,   while they're operating, so that that shaft, 
instead of dropping straight down very steeply,   it now has a much more gentle angle of decrease to 
get to that drive assembly, and it really is very   noticeable. I think, the best way to describe, how 
that feels is: if you ride normally, you're not   going to notice an awful lot of difference between 
the two bikes. But when you pick up the pace or   when you ride off-road, there is quite a bit of 
difference. On the 1250 version, when you get   going on the pace, and you pick it up, and you're 
going through your corners and transitions really   fast, you can feel some clonking from the drive 
assembly, when you're going on and off throttle   very fast, when you start for a corner entry, 
braking and then you get on the throttle really   hard, at different lean angles, you can feel a 
bit of a clunk from the 1250.

It's fine. You get   used to it, and you just have to adapt your riding 
style. Not so on the new 1300. I couldn't get it   to make that noise or that clonk, no matter what 
I tried. It really is very, very smooth. And I   would say in terms of a description, there's much 
more of a mechanical, almost like a chain and gear   feel to the way, this new drive shaft assembly 
works, and I really like it. There's much more   of a direct feel between throttle and the contact 
patch on the rear of the tyre, much more so than   the 1250. And also, when I take into account, 
that it has rained now for three solid days,   the pace at which you can travel on this new 
bike is really quite impressive, even in the   rain everything, every system on the bike has a 
much more finer control than on the previous bike. So, it really is another area, where I think BMW 
have done a really good job.

And compared to the   competition it really has moved the game on, 
and I really like the new setup with the drive   shaft. So, this radar assisted cruise control is 
simply brilliant. You can set it and forget it.  And you may actually, as I have already found 
out, if you're trying to use the menu system,   and you're navigating around the menu 
system, while you're riding, this radar   assisted cruise control does a brilliant job 
of paying attention to what's going on ahead,   while you're looking at something else. I know, 
we should really be focusing on our riding,   but sometimes things do catch us out, and 
I've been testing it now for about an hour,   and it does a brilliant job of maintaining a 
set distance between you and the car in front,   and I can't fault it.

I've tried all kinds of 
things. Now, I don't have a car coming up to   overtake me on the side. He's pulling off, so the 
speed will increase a small amount, because we're   set to the limit of 100. And that's this blind 
spot detection over here on the left hand side,   this little triangle, and it worked really very, 
very well indeed. So, if you can afford it,   that is definitely, if you're doing lots 
of continental touring, motorway work,   the radar assisted cruise control and the blind 
spot detection are definitely the thing to have.

– So, onto the last section: is there anything for 
me as a current 1250 owner, that I'm disappointed   with or that I don't like? And there are a couple 
of things. They're not big things, but I think,   it's fair in all honesty to share those 
disappointments with you. The first thing is:   we still don't have illuminated switch gear. 
Now, pretty much all the other manufacturers,   with their premium bikes they have illuminated 
switch gear. And if you've used it at night,   it is simply brilliant. Once you've got used 
to it, you absolutely have to have it. And we   still don't have it on the new GS. For me it is 
a disappointment not to see illuminated switch   gear. The other thing is: slowly but surely the 
lights on the rear of the bike have been getting   more confusing. We had the multi-function 
indicators, and now we've completely lost   our tail light on the GS, which I really don't 

I really don't like that idea at all.   But I do think that the aftermarket segment 
will very quickly come up with a tail light,   some sort of tail light illumination on the rear, 
so at the very least we can add in a nice big   brake light and possibly have a tail light in 
there as well. So, as the standard bike comes,   I don't like the back with all those functions 
taking place within those small indicators. And   then the last thing: this is going to be a problem 
for BMW, I think, and that is the menu system.

The   menu system has always been very easy to operate. 
But you've probably noticed, what they've done,   they've moved the ignition-on switch from the 
centre above the steering yoke to over here on   the handle bar. That in itself is fine. It's 
a good idea. But what they've done, they've   removed the button, that operates the heated seats 
and the heated grips. So, if you want to operate   the seats and the grips, you now have to go into 
the menu system. Now, for those people, that live   in warmer climate, southern Europe, this probably 
isn't going to be such a big problem. But for me,   for people, that live in Central Europe, the 
United Kingdom, this is going to be a real pain,   because there is no real easy way to add in an 
easy access to those functions.

Now, before you   start leaving comments saying that's not true – 
yes, you can, you can go into the rocker menu,   should I say, and you can allocate the rocker, the 
up and down arrow button to perform the function   to take you to the heated grips. And if you read 
the manual – and I have done, and I'm going to   do a video about all the menu settings, there 
are two functions: there's a primary function,   and there's a secondary function. So, you 
could, in fact if you wanted, allocate the   primary function to take you to the heated grip 

But what was always brilliant on the 1250,   and if you've watched my videos, you probably 
already know of this little tip is: the old button   had two functions: you press it once, that takes 
you to the menu system, where you can go in and   make your individual changes to heated grips and 
heated seat. But there's also another function,   which is a long press of the old button, and what 
that would do, it's a function, that I use pretty   much every day, it then turns completely off 
heated grips and heated seat – or another long   press and it turns back on the heated grips and 
heated seat to the setting, that you previously   used it on. So, for me when I head off in the 
mornings during winter with the heated seat,   it really has extended the season in which I ride. 
So, in spring I now start much earlier. 0 degrees,   providing the roads haven't got ice on them, I'm 
out on my bike, and it really is with the heated   seat for both the rider and the passenger a great 
place to be.

And in those lovely early spring   mornings, it's beautiful. And as the day warms up, 
then I can do a long press on the button and turn   both those things off, and then in the evening 
turn them back on. But there's no easy way, that   I've found so far, to do that within that menu 
system. Now, the other thing is: with that rocker   switch you've got these two primary and secondary 
functions, but what they've also done is: they've   removed the direct access to the damper settings.
That button has also gone.

And for me that was   really easy to use. I could press it once, see 
whether I'm in Road or Dynamic mode in terms   of damper function, and with a quick press of a 
button I could change it on the fly. So again,   I could use the rocker switch to program that 
into its secondary function. So, of those two   functions I could have the heated grips on one 
and the damper settings on the second. Now,   that sounds great, but then how do I operate 
the electrically operated windscreen? Because   actually, what we need, we need three functions: 
we need to operate the heated grips nice and   easily, we need to operate and change the damper 
functions, and we need to operate the screen. So,   for me there's not been enough thought gone into 
that. There really needs to be an additional   button, ideally the heated grip button needs 
to come back over here, so that we can turn   it on and off completely at a press of a button 
without taking our eyes off the road and start   looking at the menu system.

I find it a bit of 
a pain really, and it's a bit disappointing. *** I mean MODE button, not MENUE button *** Anyway, today was a relatively short video. 
There will be much more to come about the GS,   and I'm hoping to have another couple of bikes 
in different specifications, and I will be   explaining much more about the new version of 
the Telelever Evo. There is a lot to explain,   and I'm looking forward to doing that episode, 
because that's really what I like to do. – So,   thank you for your time. I hope you've 
enjoyed today. If you find this useful,   think about subscribing to the channel. We are 
growing. We're up to just over 13,000 subscribers,   and in 2023 over half a million people have 
watched the videos. So, I'm really pleased,  .