New 2019 BMW R 1250 GS: The most popular big bike in the world gets a new heart

BMW’s all-conquering adventure bike, the GS, receives a larger engine with variable valve timing. New R 1250 GS scheduled for Q2 2019 Singapore launch 


Munich, Germany

The BMW R 1200 GS is undoubtedly the most popular luxury motorcycle in the world today, and it’s received a major mechanical update for 2019 in the form of a larger engine with a BMW first.

With an increase of capacity from 1,170cc to 1,254cc, the new model is dubbed BMW R 1250 GS, likewise its long-distance touring brother with the same updated engine, the R 1250 RT.

The updated bike is expected to be available in Singapore in the second quarter of 2019.

That capacity bump has been achieved largely by stroke enlargement (102.5mm x 76mm, up from 101mm x 73mm).

It raises power and torque figures to 136hp at 7,750rpm, and 143Nm at 6,250rpm, up from 125hp at 7,750rpm and 125Nm at 6,500rpm previously, or a 11hp and 18Nm improvement.

According to BMW, this makes the 1250 engine the most powerful full production boxer engine in its history.

More displacement and more power isn’t exactly a surprise, but the addition of variable valve timing, the first ever on a production BMW motorcycle, is.


BMW calls the technology ShiftCam, and it controls valve timing and lift on the intake cams alone by means of electronically-controlled, pin-actuated cams. Each intake valve has a pair of cams, one for partial or low loads (low revs), and one for full loads (high revs).

It sounds like there is single ‘step’ rather than continuously variable valve timing, unlike BMW’s VANOS (valve lift) Valvetronic (valve timing) system it uses in cars.

That makes it similar to Honda’s VTEC (Valve Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) which the company also uses on motorcycles. Suzuki’s current GSX-R sportbike also uses a form of variable valve timing.

However the difference from VTEC is that the BMW system doesn’t shut off any valves when engaged, and the engagement point isn’t a fixed one, it depends on the electronics and throttle input.

The benefits of the technology are manifold, more power, less emissions, more refinement. Idle has been reduced by 100rpm, and fuel efficiency boosted by four percent, claims BMW.

The torque boost is also present on a larger spread of revs – 110Nm from 2,000 to 8,250rpm  says BMW – which should translate to better pulling power and improved rideability.

Other drivetrain improvements include a new exhaust system, dual knock sensors (for better performance on low-RON fuel), new electronic engine control and more.

The current 1,170cc, water and air-cooled boxer engine has been present on the R 1200 GS since 2013, where it replaced the 2009 oil and air-cooled unit. The latter was the first to have dual-overhead camshafts in the GS.

The current R 1200 GS saw numerous model improvements just last year and in 2018, all of which will be on the R 1250 GS too.

This includes the new BMW Connected Ride suite of technologies, including a new 6.5-inch adaptive TFT display and BlueTooth/smartphone connectivity, plus the second-generation adaptive suspension ‘ESA’. A new HP sport suspension version of the ESA, with stiffer springs and longer struts for increased off-road stability, will also be offered.

There will be two new style variants, Exclusive (dark matt colours and yellow/gold highlights) and HP ( pictured above, classic white blue red BMW racing colours with gold spoked wheels).

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.