Offroad Performance - The TOURATECH R 1250 GS RR (Prototype bike)
A prototype motorcycle with drastically increased offroad capability was set up specifically for the extremely tough offroad testing of the new Plug & Travel Evo electronic suspension system: the Touratech R 1250 GS RR with 21-inch front wheel.
Tough adventure biking specialist, Kevin Gallas, used the Touratech R 1250 GS RR at the Transitalia Marathon 2022 and was very impressed with the offroad characteristics of the prototype.
An R 1250 GS with a 21-inch front wheel and extra-long suspension travel – what sounds like the wet dream of a sporty trail rider has long been in use at Touratech. However – and here some readers will be disappointed – not as a prototype for series production, but as a test vehicle for the new electronic "Plug & Travel Evo" suspension system. "We needed a vehicle that goes far beyond the capabilities of a standard BMW R 1250 GS in offroad use in order to test the semi-active suspension elements beyond the loads they're exposed to in the hands of the customer," explains Jo Glaser, Product Manager at Touratech Suspension. "And that's exactly what our prototype R 1250 GS RR does."
The machine was built at WM Bikes in Potsdam under the direction of Lars Würdemann. The most radical change to drastically increase offroad capability was the conversion to a 21-inch front wheel. But that's not all. "We needed a high-strength rim to cope with the stresses of sporty offroad use. We decided on a ring from Excel and spoked it in combination with the original hub. Since we spoked inwards – as with a sport adventure bike – and the nipples had to sit on the rim, we needed special adapters," explains Lars Würdemann. "It was quite an effort, but the enormous rigidity of the 21-inch front wheel proved us right."
21-inch front wheel with high-strength Excel rim
Originally, a rear wheel in a size appropriate for an adventure bike was to be used as well. But the combination of the larger rolling circumference of an 18-inch wheel with the specified final transmission ratio in the bevel gear housing would have resulted in the gears being too long overall. Therefore, the innovators kept the original diameter and spoked a slightly narrower 17-inch rim on the original hub.
During the development process of the Plug & Travel Evo electronic suspension system, the machine designated as the Touratech R 1250 GS RR was repeatedly equipped with new, fully functional prototypes of the "Plug & Travel Evo" semi-active suspension elements in order to test the respective development status in difficult terrain. In the course of time, the shock absorbers naturally came closer to series capability, until finally these series products were used – the longer suspension travel version was adopted, like the one available for the R 1250 GS Adventure or rather the model variant with sport suspension.
Extensive adventure bike equipment
Of course, numerous other Touratech products from the series contribute to the high offroad capability of the R 1250 GS RR. The adjustable gear and foot brake levers allow perfect adaptation to riding in a standing position. Folding levers for the front brake and clutch minimise the risk of breakage, and the handlebar fittings are given solid protection by the high-strength aluminium bars of the Defensa protectors.
In order to achieve the smallest possible overall width for narrow passages, the offroad professionals decided against an engine crash bar and are relying on the Touratech aluminium valve cover protectors instead. The underside of the Boxer is protected from damage by the "Rally" engine guard made of high-strength, hydroformed aluminium.
From Mecklenburg to Italy: intensive offroad tests
The Touratech R 1250 GS RR completed many thousands of tough test kilometres in Germany under a wide range of conditions, during which the suspension concept and suspension elements had to prove their functionality. Rally ace Dirk von Zitzewitz rode the prototype through sand fields and over gravel tracks in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The motorcycle completed the next few thousand kilometres under the expert hands of Lars Würdemann in the offroad regions of Brandenburg.
And Touratech CMO Martin Wickert took the Extreme-GS on the demanding routes of the newly scouted Adventure Country Track through the United Kingdom. After the tough five-day trip, Wickert was enthusiastic: "The Touratech suspension conversion R 1250 GS RR is not only impressive in terms of its directional stability on gravel roads. Especially on deeply rutted paths, which are common on the ACT UK, the suspension together with the 21-inch front wheel showed off its strengths. The combination of the torque and the Boxer's low centre of gravity with the large front wheel is what BMW lacks in its portfolio: an offroad performance machine."
The RR then made its grand entrance, in front of probably the most dedicated adventure riders in Europe, at the Transitalia Marathon. None other than tough adventure biking specialist Kevin Gallas piloted the machine from the Adriatic across Tuscany and over the Apennines to the Mediterranean – and back.
Kevin was able to use a navigation tower fully equipped with road book holder, tripmaster and GPS device on this adventure trip. The gravel roads and trails of the Italian hinterland were the perfect terrain for the modified GS. "I was very surprised by the range of use offered by the electronic suspension system," Kevin sums up his experience on the TIM. "Especially on the offroad stretches, I could assess the front wheel and the grip really well and also had great reserves at high speeds and for jumps, up or down, as well as in stone fields," the adventure bike crack says.
"More clearly defined profile"
Lars Würdemann, the mastermind behind the elaborate conversion, summarises his impressions of the Touratech R 1250 GS RR quite matter-of-factly like this. "The standard GS is a universal talent that copes amazingly well with a wide range of requirements from leisurely touring, to sporty riding, through to offroad use. In comparison, the RR has a more clearly defined operational profile. What it loses in handling when onroad, it more than makes up for offroad. It negotiates edges easily, has gigantic traction – not least because of the electronic suspension elements – and is extremely smooth on gravel roads. That makes it the superior adventure bike, but not the better GS."
The latter as a consolation for all those who might also wish for a 21-inch front wheel. That is, if BMW does not one day grant their wish.
Touratech Suspension DSA / Plug & Travel EVO