On top of the world with coming AWD BMW R 1200

  • BMW Motorrad joins move to AWD
  • Months of testing included North Pole ride
  • Hybrid drive powers front wheel
GOING AWD Image: BMW Motorrad
GLOBAL TOURER: BMW Motorrad has announed the imminent arrive of its all-wheel drive BME R 1200 GS. Image: BMW Motorrad

MUNICH, Germany – Flat-twin Boxer-engined BMW GS models have been great companions for exploring the most remote parts of the planet for more than three decades – think Himalayas, Sahara, the poles.

The GS has provided motorcycle adventurers with the ideal combination of touring and long-distance qualities, dynamic performance, endurance and off-road ability but now there’s the R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid, the world’s first both-wheel drive travel endure.

GOING AWD Image: BMW Motorrad
NEW STYLE OF TRACTION CONTROL: The left handlebar control  console includes a2WD switch. Image: BMW Motorrad

Such machines are not, however, new  – Yamaha, for instance, built and showed one back in 2004. And when you’re finished with this feature, you can read their history here.

Whatever, the world premiere of the test version of the R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid, BMW Motorrad says, has opened a new chapter in GS history – an all-wheel drive enduro with hybrid drive.


The machine is based on the legendary R 1200 GS Adventure whose standard air/liquid-cooled flat-twin generates 92kW at 7750rpm and 125Nm at 6500rpm and delivers it to the rear wheel through a shaft drive.

The drive to the front wheel of the xDrive Hybrid, as might be expected, gives better traction on slippery roads or through deep sand, mud or even deep snow and uses a system similar to that on BMW automobiles.

READ MORE BMW Motorrad features on Carman’s Corner

It can be invoked automatically or manually through a simple ‘2WD’ switch on the left handlebar to activate a wheel-hub e-Drive system which doubles as a generator and adds 33kW to make an overall 125kW and, BMW Motorrad says, “opens up a whole new dimension of performance and off-road suitability”.

GOING AWD Image: BMW Motorrad
THE FULL VIEW: Just like a regular R 1200 Boxer, but it can cross 1.25m deep snow – or the north polar ice cap. And has done so.  Image: BMW Motorrad

A new generation of batteries captures braking energy and releases it when needed to the front hub-drive – not only for rough going but also for instant extra acceleration.

BMW Motorrad explains: “Sophisticated management technology sends power to the front wheel, measured appropriately to the riding situation: the front wheel only receives power as traction permits – for example in rain or deep snow.

GOING AWD Image: BMW Motorrad
RIDER’S VIEW: Comprehensive instrumentation for the seriously x-country AWD R 1200. Image: BMW Motorrad

“The rider can use a number of riding modes to customise the all-wheel drive and adjust the hybrid system’s recuperation to suit. Everything can be controlled through an LCD display.”


The traction advantages are obvious; the braking effect maybe not so, Motorrad told The Corner in a media release. “Thanks to the recuperation process, which has been integrated into the BMW Motorrad anti-lock brakes, braking performance has been improved even further.

“This also made possible the fitting of only a one front disc, saving almost three kg. In combination with the wheel hub e-Drive, which only weighs 880g, the bike’s agility was also optimised.”

This bike, BMW says, will go anywhere – even to the North Pole.

In recent months (written April 2017) the test version of the R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid is said to have covered thousands of kilometres of the toughest riding conditions, perhaps the toughest when Reiner Scherbeck, head of winter testing at BMW Motorrad, rode it to the North Cape on a first stage and from there across the frozen Barents Sea  to the North Pole – and back again.

GOING AWD Image: BMW Motorrad
THE TRACTION MIRACLE: The potential braking effort of the central electric hub drive meant the second brake disc on the R 1200 could be deleted. Image: BMW Motorrad

Scherbeck told The Corner: “We were amazed by how problem-free and reliable the all-wheel drive worked, even at -56 degrees while BMW rider equipment kept the cold at bay.


“Probably the most thrilling conclusion from our test runs was that for the first time we can offer a motorcycle that makes riding a motorcycle a pleasure even in snow 1.25m deep.

Special front components have been developed for this, as well as high-speed suitable M+S all-season tyres.

“This was also necessary to meet the requirements of high-speed winter operation.”

The BMW R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid will be available from the second half of 2017, along with special BMW Motorrad tyre combinations and options.

The price will be announced then.

GOING AWD Image: BMW Motorrad
TOUGH TEST: The ride to the North Pole left from Norway’s North Cape and crossed the frozen Barents Sea. Image: BMW Motorrad

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