Travel and adventure are synonymous with BMW motorcycles, especially the round-the-world R 1200 GS. BMW’s adventure-touring machine is capable of crossing continents from the comfort of pavement or the “hard way,” climbing mountains and fording streams. The GS’s capabilities have created a massive range of motorcycle accessories from the top brands in the world.
Building your around-the-globe traveler is more than throwing an accessory catalog at it. Consider how you’re really going to use your R 1200 GS—primarily for touring and commuting, or do you really have the vacation time secured for that trip to Tierra del Fuego? We’re going on the wishful side and assume you’ve told the boss you’ll be back in a couple of months. To support yourself and your GS on the road of adventure, here are the accessories you’ll want to consider.
BMW Motorcycle Panniers and Hard Luggage
For the world rider, the phrase “trust in adventure and keep your powder dry,” might be a riff on a Blacker poem but still carries sage advice. Nobody wants to set up camp at the end of a long day only to find wet clothes at the bottom of the saddlebags. Or soggy cereal. And serious adventure touring requires being prepared for bad weather, minor crashes, a few roadside repairs, maybe even a flat or two. This calls for packing tools and supplies. By the time you’re ready for the trail, you might find your BMW’s stock luggage already over full.
Solution? The SW-MOTECH TraX ADVENTURE ALU-BOX side cases for the BMW R 1200 GS.
A highly developed version of the expedition-tested TraX line, the new ADVENTURE versions ALU-BOX, the EVO versions come in 37-liter and 45-liter capacities. For the current liquid-cooled BMW R 1200 GS, you’ll want to use one 45-liter bag on the left and one 37-liter bag on the right, the pipe side.
Factory-tested to be watertight, the ADVENTURE panniers feature double-walled construction for stiffness and durability, new plastic edge caps to better handle those minor trailside spills, and a combination of end handles and molded strap slots in the lid to provide extra flexibility for carrying external loads. Of course, the ADVENTURE panniers are fully lockable, and feature a releasing forward latch so the lids can be completely removed. These improvements stem from a world of customer feedback, thousands of miles, and an uncountable number of off-road mishaps large and small. The design goal is not just to look tough, but to be tough. Hard luggage that doesn’t hold up to real-world riding is more of a liability than an asset.
Mounting the ADVENTURE bags requires the SW-MOTECH Quick-Lock EVO Sidecarrier set. This innovative mount secures to the BMW R 1200 GS without irreversibly modifying your Beemer yet also provides a means to quickly remove the pannier racks when you don’t need them. From fully “ready to explore” to “bare naked” in less than 20 minutes!
If the total 82 liters’ capacity of the ADVENTURE side cases isn’t enough, you can add the SW-MOTECH TraX ADVENTURE 38-liter top case. Built to the same exacting standards as the ADVENTURE panniers, the top box provides additional, convenient storage capacity as well as a comfortable back rest for your passenger. Altogether, the three-piece ADVENTURE set provides a massive 120 liters of always-dry storage for your travel essentials. Mounting the ADVENTURE top case requires the SW-MOTECH Alu-Rack Toprack, which replaces the standard BMW luggage carrier.
The ADVENTURE line has a range of accessories, including inner lid bags, lid bungee nets, and a lightweight camping table that clips to the lid. These thoughtful add-ons help make your luggage more effective, especially because an organized setup requires a whole lot less time to get to the bits you need at any given moment. Just ask the guy who allowed his multi-tool to drift all the way to the bottom of the saddlebag.
Hard-case motorcycle luggage is just one choice. Click here to understand the pros and cons of hard and soft luggage for your R 1200 GS.
BMW Motorcycle Auxiliary Lighting
Safety at night—in the wilderness or in your own city—hinges on seeing and being seen. Twisted Throttle’s Denali brand offers a wide range of auxiliary lights to illuminate any murky trail. Among the brightest are the Denali DX Xtreme Spot Dual Intensity LED lights, which feature a narrow, 10-degree reflector to focus the beam well down the road. Powered by a 10-watt CREE LED, the waterproof Xtreme lights beat a hole in the night.
For closer-in work, is the innovative Denali D4 Flood & Spot kit that features four separate 5-watt CREE LEDs behind two types of reflectors. Two 10-degree reflectors help focus the beam well ahead of the bike, while another two use a 60-degree elliptical lens to cast a broad, flat beam that acts as a flood light near the front wheel. This combination provides long-distance warning as well as flood illumination that’s so helpful when moving slowly through rough terrain.
All Denali lighting kits come with lighted power buttons and complete, plug-and-play wiring harnesses. Twisted Throttle also offers a range of mounting options, from an innovative mount for the Denali DM Micro lights that snuggles into the BMW’s headlight nacelle, to more conventional crash-bar mounts. Be aware of mounting your lights in vulnerable places. They should be protected by the motorcycle itself or the additional crash protection you’ve added because, well, you’re thinking that far ahead.
BMW Motorcycle Protection
It’s assumed that any far-flung adventure is going to have its rough points, the minor scrapes and strains of living large. The best way to keep your BMW rolling through the outback is with some proactive protection—and the whole concept behind that is to add components that touch the ground before vulnerable parts of the bike do, protecting the exhaust system, oil pan, handlebar ends and control levers, and, in the case of the GS, the cylinder heads themselves. It’s possible to armor a GS well enough that it’ll tolerate a pretty wicked tumble and still be ridable. That’s your goal.
While BMW does offer stock protection for the GS’s underbelly, it’s no match for softball-sized rocks. But the SW-MOTECH Aluminum Engine Guard is a tougher customer. Built from 4mm thick aluminum plate, the pan fully protects the BMW’s bottom end while still allowing an oil change without removal. It includes recessed mounts and laser-cut side vents to promote engine cooling.
Next on your list should be the SW-MOTECH Lower Crash Bars that encircle the GS’s cylinder heads so that a minor run-in with a boulder is a good story at the campsite and not an oil-spewing mess. To protect the GS’s flanks and side-mounted radiator, which is vitally important when you’re 500 miles from help, there are the SW-MOTECH Upper Crash Bars.
Finally, because you’re not going any further down the trail if your GS’s hand controls are mangled, it’s wise to update the BMW’s stock plastic hand guards with the Barkbusters VPS Lever & Wind Protection Set. A hardened aluminum backbone protects both the bike’s controls and your precious hands from contact with terrain, while easily replaceable hand guards keep branches and sand from tearing up your gloves. What’s more, when the temperature drops, these guards will help retain more of the warmth given off the BMW’s heated grips.
Comfort and Convenience
Just because you’ve signed on for the long way around doesn’t mean you can’t also be comfortable. Because motorcycle ergonomics are so subjective, it’s unlikely that every rider will find the BMW’s standard layout to be perfect. There are lots of options to make your GS feel just right.
The SW-MOTECH 40mm Handlebar Risers add nearly 2 inches to the bar height, so you may be more comfortable riding while standing on the pegs. Speaking of pegs, the SM-MOTECH On-Road/Off-Road Footpegs are a big improvement over the stock items, literally. They’re wider than stock, increasing the contact area between your boot and the footpeg, an important consideration when the going gets slippery. Replaceable rubber inserts reduce vibration for the road-touring parts of your adventure. A smart addition to these updated footpegs is the SW-MOTECH Adjustable Folding Gear Shift Lever. The CNC-machined lever with folding tip resists damage from low-speed encounters with the wild, while the 1.25-inch adjustment range (fore and aft) accommodates both big and small feet, but also makes the use of adventure-style touring boots much more comfortable.
Because bending into the wind and having your helmet bounce around from screen-induced turbulence is more fatiguing than an IRS audit, it’s one place to consider customizing your GS. The MRA Vario Touring Screen has an integral spoiler to realign the airflow so it works for your body type. It’s not so tall that it gets in the way during off-road maneuvers, which is genuinely important.
Thinking It Through
Consider the additions you make to your BMW R 1200 GS as improving on an already exceptional motorcycle. You’re investing in safety and convenience for your travels, the ability to take with you what’s important. You’re adding capabilities and personalized comfort while safeguarding your sole means of transportation from the inevitable pranks and pitfalls that help form the very definition of an adventure. Now, step away from the computer and get out there.