Thinking of buying a BMW R 1250 GS? Going to rent one on vacation? Or maybe just taking one for a test drive?

This is a page of resources about the BMW R 1250 GS (including the Adventure) to get you started with basic set up, checking the important things in the menus, and getting the suspension and other parameters set up correctly for everyday use.

BMW launched the R 1250 GS in 2018 for the 2019 model year, and the R 1250 GS Adventure for the 2020 model year (the GSAs typically lag by a year).

Both motorcycles replaced the earlier DOHC liquid-cooled BMW R 1200 GS available between 2013 (the first GS) and 2019 (the last GSA)

The BMW R 1250 GS is the first big GS to have a bigger engine in nearly two decades. Still a DOHC liquid-cooled boxer twin, the BMW G 1250 GS’ “ShiftCam” motor has 1254 cc (previously 1170 cc) capacity, and puts out a peak of 100 kW (136 hp) @ 7750 rpm and peak torque 143 Nm (105 ft-lb) at 6250 rpm, both of which specs are a rough ~10% increase over the outgoing model.

The R 1250 GS shares an engine with the R 1250 RT, R 1250 S, and R 1250 R.

See the complete guide to the BMW GS Boxers, from the R80 G/S to today, here.

I compile information like this on motorcycles to help current and prospective motorcycle owners (including myself!). Below you can find information on the maintenance schedule and service intervals, as well as parts you need for a standard service, guidelines for basic services like oil changes, drivetrain maintenance, and torque specs.

BMW R 1250 GS one millionth GS Static RHS 3-4 web
BMW R 1250 GS – one millionth GS produced

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About the BMW R 1250 GS and R 1250 GS Adventure

BMW R 1250 GS HP Static on rocks
BMW R 1250 GS HP Static on rocks

The BMW GS series almost needs no introduction, but here goes. If you want an adventure motorcycle that can do everything, from rocky trails to highway blazing, from low-speed city work to twisty mountain roads, the BMW R – GS line has been known for a long time to be able to do it all.

It’s surprisingly sporty in curve, surprisingly agile at low-speed work, and very comfortable on the highway (not so surprising). And as time has gone on, it has gotten more and more powerful, to the point that the R 1250 GS is actually fast.

The BMW R 1250 GS is powered by new 1254cc boxer motor, with big opposed pistons jutting out the sides. It takes a bit of adjustment — many first-time GS riders find themselves kicking the cylinders. but you get used to it fast!

The new 1254cc engine makes 100 kW (136 hp) @ 7750 rpm and 143 Nm of torque peaking at 6250 RPM, a ~10% increase in both specs. Even though the R-GS bikes aren’t all about top-end power, power is always welcome!

The BMW GS line has been an adventure motorcyclists dream for decades. In fact, in many ways, BMW defined it with the BMW R 80 G/S, a bike that confused people with its identity as not an ideal highway bike, and not a dirt bike… but some of both.

Over time, the engine has gone through many iterations. In the 80s it was air-cooled, then air/oil-cooled in the 90s. BMW added a twin overhead cam in 2010, then partial liquid cooling a few years later. Finally, for the R 1250 line, BMW introduced “ShiftCam” technology — variable valve timing so that the motor’s torque delivery is optimised over an even wider range.

The ShiftCam technology allows the engine to vary valve timing and valve stroke on the intake side. Additionally, BMW designed the intake camshafts so that they can open the intake valves asynchronously, for “enhanced swirl” of fuel/air mixture.

The camshaft is now driven by a toothed chain (previously a roller chain), too.

Aside from the engine, BMW added many other new features in the BMW R 1250 GS. These include

  • Standard riding modes, ASC, and hill start control, with optional Ride Modes Pro (which gives more ride modes and cornering ABS / TC).
  • Next-generation Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment)
  • Dynamic Brake Control — helping avoid unintentional accelerator activation while braking
  • Standard LED headlamps, with DRLs as optional equipment
  • Full-colour TFT screen standard — replacing the gauges of previous models (a TFT display became an optional extra in later years)

The “Comfort Package” (which gives heated grips and a tyre pressure control system) is almost a default option, and the “Touring Package” is necessary if you want Dynamic ESA and cruise control.

Many people opt for the “Dynamic Package”, which brings pro riding modes (ABS Pro, BMW’s name for lean angle-aware ABS and TC), keyless ignition, a quick shifter, cruise control, and many more things.

The BMW R 1250 GS Adventure (often called the GSA) is based on the base R 1250 GS, but with longer suspension travel (8.3-8.7 inches vs 7.5-7.9 front and back) and associated height, standard crash bars, and a 50% larger fuel tank. It also just looks massive!

BMW R 1250 GS Specifications

Here are the core specifications for the BMW R 1250 RS, along with some notes.

Engine typeLiquid-cooled opposed (boxer) twin, DOHC, ShiftCam VVT
Capacity1254 ccUp from 1170 vs R 1200 GS
Bore x stroke (mm)102.5 x 76Vs 101 / 73 of R 1200 GS
Compression ratio12.5:1
Fuel requirementPremium AKI 91 / 95 RON
(Can run on AKI 87 / 91 RON)
Note: You can run it on regular gas, as it has a knock sensor.
Peak power100 kW / 136 hp @ 7750 rpmUp from 92 / 125 of R 1200 GS
Peak torque143 Nm / 105 lb-ft @ 6250 rpm
Transmission6-speed, shaft final drive
Front suspensionTelelever, 190mm travel
Adventure: 210mm travel
Rear suspensionParalever, 200mm travel
Adventure: 220mm travel
Front brakes2 x 305 mm discs, 4-piston radial brake calipers
Wet weight249 kg / 549 lb
Adventure: 268 kg / 591 lb
Adventure weight is from extra fuel + much more protection standard
Ride aidsABS Pro, Cruise control, more (Many optional; some standard from 2022)
BMW R 1250 GS / Adventure specs

Updates to the BMW R 1250 GS / Adventure

Here’s the timeline of releases of the BMW R 1250 GS and how it changed.

November 2019Announcement of MY2019 BMW R 1250 GS (base model)Link
November 2019Announcement of MY2020 BMW R 1250 GS Adventure.Link
October 2020– Standard Integral ABS Pro
– Future “Welcome / Goodbye / Follow home” functions standard (announced)
– Limited-release 40th anniversary yellow/black colour scheme
– Optional swivelling adaptive headlight
– Optional seat heater for rider / passenger
June 2022– R 1250 GS Trophy Competition special release: 126 models of special GS Trophy released with aluminium engine guard + rugged covers for cylinder head and headlight, the TFT, and a bunch of other stuff. Rally seat and Akrapovic silencer.
– Trophy Gravity Blue Metallic color also replaced 40 Years GS colors.
– RDC real time gradient tire pressure monitoring added (option)
– Can switch off comfort turn indicators.
Link 1

Link 2
June 2023– New “Eco” ride mode standard.
– US / Canada got Intelligent emergency call for the Adventure range.
– New color – Racing blue metallic.
Updates to the BMW R 1250 GS

BMW R 1250 GS / GSA Main Controls

If you’re renting, borrowing, or testing a BMW R 1250 GSA, it’s useful to know how to operate the main controls.

There’s a lot going on with these advanced motorcycles, so I’ll try to distil it to the bare minimum without having to dive (too much) into menus.

Riding modes

To change riding mode on the R 1250 GS, press the button on the right control block. It says “mode” on it.

The base model has three riding modes — Eco, Rain, and Road. The “Pro Riding Modes” add on (a common one) enables four more, for a total of seven: Enduro, Dynamic, Enduro Pro, and Dynamic Pro.

BMW R 1250 GS right handlebar controls

Note that you can only cycle between two and four pre-selected riding modes. You have to choose the ones in your shortcut menu via the settings.

You can change riding mode when the throttle is closed, cruise control is off, and you’re not braking. So you’ll be slowing down.

Here’s how the riding modes are defined.

Riding modeThrottle responseABSRear wheel lift offDTC
EcoParticularly restrainedRoad use settings
Max ABS Pro
MaximumLater than Rain — Avoids rear wheel spinning
Front wheel lift-off prevented
RainRestrainedRoad use settings
Max ABS Pro
MaximumEarly intervention
Front wheel lift-off prevented
RoadOptimumRoad use settings
Max ABS Pro
MaximumLater than Rain — Avoids rear wheel spinning
Front wheel lift-off prevented
ABS adjusted for off-road use, road tires
Reduced ABS Pro
MaximumVery late intervension. Long drifts, brief wheelies allowed
DynamicDirectDynamic road use settings
Reduced ABS Pro
Gentle lift off allowedLate DTC intervention. Minor drifts / wheelies allowed
Enduro Pro
OptimumEnduro Pro
ABS adjusted for off-road tires
No rear brake with foot lever
Not available
DisabledAssumes cleated tires, allows long drifts. No wheelie prevention.
Dynamic pro
DirectDynamic road use settings
Reduced ABS Pro
Gentle lift off allowedLate intervention. (Wheelie prevention not mentioned in manual)
Riding modes as defined in the manual

Disable Traction control

If you’re really desperate to wheelie your bike, you can also disable traction control on the R 1250 GS. Press the traction control button on the left handlebar (top of the same button as suspension settings), and then hold it down to disable TC. The warning light will display.

Do it again to enable TC again. The TC warning light will switch off, provided that the motorcycle is moving.

Cruise control

The cruise control switch is on the left handlebar. This is the same style of control for all modern BMW motorcycles with cruise control.

BMW Motorcycle Cruise Control Controls
BMW Motorcycle Cruise Control Controls

Slide the slider to the right, then push the button forward to enable cruise control. You can tap it forwards and backwards to nudge up or down the speed.

Suspension settings

Adjusting the suspension on the R 1250 GS / GSA depends on whether you do or don’t have electronic suspension (Dynamic ESA “Next Generation”).

The easy case is where you have Dynamic ESA “Next Generation”, a commonly selected option, especially on rental or test ride motorcycles.

Dynamic ESA “Next Gen” does a few things:

  • Automatic preload adjustment: The BMW R 1250 GS’s active suspension automatically adjusts preload according to the load on the motorcycle, using ride height detectors. So you don’t have to adjust preload depending on your weight, or that of the passenger and/or your luggage. (Note: For this to work, the load setting should be set to “Auto”.)
  • Active suspension: The damping level changes in response to the road conditions, providing a level of damping suitable to the terrain.
  • Damping modes: Similar to previous electronically adjustable suspension, you can set the damping mode to “Road”, “Dynamic”, or “Enduro”.

To view or adjust the current preload damping setting of the R 1250 GS, press the suspension button.

BMW R 1250 GS adjust suspension with Dynamic ESA
BMW R 1250 GS adjust suspension with Dynamic ESA

Press it once to view the settings, and then:

  • Short press to cycle through the damping settings: Road, Dynamic, or Enduro.
  • Long press to cycle through preload settings. (For simplicity’s sake on test rides or rentals, it may be easiest to set this to “auto”, unless you have a particular reason to override.)

If you don’t have Dynamic ESA, you can set preload and damping for the rear wheel.

BMW R 1250 GS non-ESA set preload and damping
BMW R 1250 GS non-ESA set preload and damping

Turn the preload knob towards high to increase preload, for when there’s more load on the bike.

Turn the damping knob clockwise to increase damping, for smoother / less rough surfaces.

SettingBasic settingOne-up, no luggageOne-up, luggageTwo-up, luggage
Rear preloadTurn knob at (at top of shock) in LOW (reducing preload) direction as far as possible, then in HIGH direction:Nothing (leave at zero)15 turns30 turns
Rear dampingTurn adjuster (at bottom of shock) as far as possible in clockwise direction (increasing damping), then back it off counter-clockwise:8 clicksBase model: 2 clicks
Adventure: 4 clicks
Base model: 2 clicks
Adventure: 4 clicks
Manual adjusting the BMW R 1250 GS damping

Using the “Wonder Wheel”

BMW has been making motorcycles with the “Wonder Wheel”, or “Multifunction controller” since the early K 1600 models, but in the late 2010s it started to bring it to the R line with TFT displays.

It’s a clicky spinny thing that’s on the left handlebar. It has great tactile feedback and is a pleasure to use with one hand without looking at it, though you still have to look at the display to see what it’s changing.

The wheel moves not just in a rotating direction, but can be clicked left and right.

If you’re new to the BMW Wonder Wheel, then the one bit of advice is to play with it somewhere where you have time and space. Do NOT attempt to figure it out while riding out of the dealer lot!

First, the menu button. Pressing the top of the menu button cycles you through various display options for the “status line”.

You can also long-press the menu button to change to “Pure Ride” view.

To access the menus, you press the bottom of the menu button. Then you can use the wonder wheel to cycle through menus and change and choose various options.

There are a few settings you might want to adjust very quickly.

  1. The default four ride modes. The Riding modes button lets you cycle through four. If you have “Riding Modes Pro”, then there are seven possible riding modes. Make sure you have enabled the four you want to use. (E.g. if it’s not going to rain for the foreseeable future, then you don’t need “Rain” mode.)
  2. Ride Pressure Warning: Turn the “RDC” setting off. (RDC is German for Reifendruck Control, though in German “Control” is normally written with a “K”.) This is useful if you want to alter pressures for your riding and don’t want the warnings.
  3. Connections: Hook up your mobile phone!

If you get sick of the menus, long press the top of the menu button to get out of there.

BMW R 1250 GS / GSA Service Intervals

This information comes from

If you’re considering owning a BMW R 1250 GS long-term, it’s important to know what maintenance looks like.

Overall, the BMW R 1250 GS, like other ShiftCam models, has service intervals of every 6000 miles / 10000 km or every year, at which point BMW recommends you change the oil and oil filter, plus do a number of other checks for leaks, tightness, and adequate lubrication (the standard service).

Every two services, do a major service, including a valve clearance inspection, changing the oil in the rear bevel gears, the air filter and the spark plugs.

The ShiftCam motor is a DOHC setup with shims and buckets, which means adjusting valve clearances involves removing the camshafts.

There are some items that are time-based rather than distance-based, like replacing rear bevel oil and brake fluid. See more detail in the maintenance schedule below.

BMW R 1250 GS Maintenance Schedule

Below is the maintenance schedule for the BMW R 1250 GS and R 1250 GS Adventure (same engine / platform).

This maintenance schedule is presented in a simplified format from the manual, as it’s presented repetitively there.

Things to note:

  • There’s no alternator belt to change (unlike many earlier models)
  • You change the rear bevel gear oil every 20 000 km / 2 years, more frequently than on past models
  • Valve service intervals are 20 000 km, wider than earlier air/oil-cooled models, but it’s a shim-under-bucket system

One interesting thing is that BMW doesn’t mention changing the coolant, just checking it. BMW uses a “permanent” (OAT or HOAT) antifreeze that isn’t meant to be changed. Various dealers/mechanics still say you can change it every 3-4 years, though. Especially if you notice the level declining.

Notes on the schedule

  • The running-in check is omitted (Dealers usually do this as part of the warranty period)
  • Past the end of the maintenance schedule, keep following it in the pattern shown.
  • The maintenance schedule for many items follows a “per x years” or “x distance” schedule. Follow whichever comes first.

Note: BMW updated the maintenance schedule for the BMW R 1250 GS from the 2024 model year. You can see the update in the July 2023 version of the owner’s manual. In this version, there is recommended maintenance on the final shaft drive, plus a replacement interval of 36 000 miles / 60 000 km for the shaft drive.

miles x 10006121824
km x 100010203040Every
Conduct standard BMW service checklist (see below)Year
Change engine oil and filter (BMW Motorrad Advantec Ultimate 5W-40, HF160RC)Year
Change oil in rear bevel gears (75W-90 gear oil)2 years
Check / adjust valve clearances
Change all spark plugs (LMAR8AI-10)
Replace air filter element (BM-1113)
*: Off-road use
***: Year
Check or replace air filter elementIf used off road, every year as well.
Change brake fluid, entire system (BMW DOT 4)After 1 year, then every 2 years
Check the universal shaft
Lubricate the universal shaft
Replace the univesal shaft
(Relative to service life)
36 000 miles / 60 000 km
BMW R 1250 GS and R 1250 GS Adventure maintenance schedule table

Standard BMW service for the R 1250 GS / Adventure

Below you can see the “standard service” to be done according to the schedule above.

Items marked [D] are for dealers / mechanic shops as they need special tools or equipment (though you can do some of it yourself if you have a GS-911).

Standard BMW service checklist (1250 motor)
[D] Perform visual test with BMW Motorrad diagnosis system
Inspect clutch system, checking for friction point
Visually inspect brake lines, brake hoses, and connections
Check front brake pads and brake discs for wear
Minimum thickness: 1.0mm
Check brake fluid level, front wheel brake
Brake fluid must be above MIN mark. Note: level can drop with pad wear.
Check rear brake pads and brake disc for wear
Minimum thickness: 1.0mm
Check brake fluid level, rear wheel brake
Brake fluid must be above MIN mark. Note: level can drop with pad wear.
Check coolant level
Check side stand’s ease of movement
Check centre stand’s ease of movement (if fitted)
Check tyre pressure and tread depth
Check spoke tension (if spoked wheels fitted), adjusting if necessary
Check lighting and signalling system
Function test, engine start suppression
Final inspection and check for road safety
Checking battery state of charge
[D] Setting service-due date and countdown distance with BMW Motorrad diagnosis system
[D] Confirming BMW service in on-board literature
BMW R 1250 GS / Adventure standard annual service

BMW R 1250 GS tire pressure recommendations

Use the following recommended tire pressures for the BMW R 1250 GS / Adventure to optimise for performance and tire longevity.

WheelWheel sizeTire sizeTire pressure (cold)
Front3.00″ X 19″120/70 R 19, load index 602.5 bar (one or two-up)
Rear4.5″ X 17″170/60 R 17, load index 722.5 bar (one or two-up)
BMW R 1250 GS wheel and tire size, and tire pressure

Common tightening Torque specs

Below are torque specs that are publicly available for the R 1250 GS. These come from the service manual.

Engine oil drain bolt4231
Oil filter (lubricate sealing ring with oil)118
Spark plugs129
Front wheel axle bolt3022
Front brake disc to front wheel (tighten diagonally opposite, use thread locker)1914
Front brake caliper to fork brackets3828
Fork lower pinch bolts to sliding tube1914
Speed sensor86
Rear wheel bolts6044
Rear brake caliper to bevel gears2418
BMW R 1250 GS common torque specs torque specs

Alternatives to the BMW R 1250 GS / GSA

While the GS has a huge following, the big-bore adventure tourer has become a popular segment. Here are the main contenders in the segment below. This is a list of all the motorcycles in the class, including the GS, which is why you see it in there.

Other Related Motorcycles

If you’re interested in the BMW R 1250 GS, you’re probably looking at the same-engined siblings next to it, the other motorcycles with the ShiftCam boxer motor. Here they are below.

Reference — Owner’s Manual for the BMW R 1250 GS

The above information came from the owner’s manual of the BMW R 1250 RS, parts fiches, press releases, and a few choice other bits of information from forums and YouTube.

In more recent years, BMW slightly updated the R 1250 GS’ maintenance schedule, changing the annual inspection to one that should also be done on a distance interval. See the screenshot below.

You can download BMW’s manuals for their motorcycles here.

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