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Are BMW Motorcycles Any Good Offroad?

It’s quite normal for people to consider BMW Motorcycles as an offroad-capable machine when their first getting into adventure motorcycling.

After all, those glossy magazines, well-edited marketing videos and immaculate dealerships certainly do make it very appealing. The thing is: Are they really that good for heading off the beaten track? The response from the ADV community is mixed and let’s elaborate further:

BMW Motorcycles are largely considered to have limited capabilities offroad, mainly due to their heavy weight of their 700cc to 1200cc adventure motorcycles. These are best suited towards on-road and unsealed gravel track use, as opposed to creek crossings and technical forest tracks.

It’s a common mistake for first-time riders to purchase one of these bikes for a big adventure, and later regret this decision due to the weights. The 1200GS, for example, adds very little extra for the rider except for more power and addition weight. This is ideal for the bitumen highways, but can be disasterous offroad when crashing.

BMW Motorcycles Offroad

Among the ADV riding community, BMW has mixed responses. There are basically two classes of people.

The first say it’s a weapon and everything they ever wanted in a motorcycle. These people are either buying a motorcycle for the first time or they have come from the road-motorcycling world.

It’s this group that are quite cashed up and simply want to get out there and explore the world. For them, they are buying the badge as much as the motorcycle itself. After all, BMW is synonymous with safety, reliability and excellent German engineering.

A BMW motorcycle

And then we have the second group…

These people don’t like BMW motorcycles offroad and believe they simply belong on the black top. Why? The reasons why BMW make a bad adventure motorcycle are quite easy to see:

  1. BMW’s are very heavy. Due to their weights, you’ll find it quite challenging to ‘throw around’ an adventure motorcycle of this height on the tracks.
  2. They aren’t so responsive to power. Sure – they’re often much more responsive than say the DRZ-400 from Suzuki, but they aren’t snappy like a KTM 690 would be.
  3. Parts and servicing are quite expensive. As a result, it’s not just the upfront cost that you need to worry about.
  4. It’s very hard to lane-split in traffic. If you’re buying this to make your daily commute + ride on weekends, then the width of these bikes plus additional luggage panniers makes things quite difficult to sneak through to the front of traffic.
  5. Their heavyweight makes them hard to pick up when you fall over. If you’re riding solo and constantly fall over, then you’ll wear yourself out pretty quickly and won’t enjoy the experience.
  6. In deep sand riding, they are quite a mission to handle and you’ll struggle unless you’re an experienced enduro rider.

Now are we biased? Not quite. BMW certainly has their place in the enduro ride.

When buying a BMW Adventure Bike makes sense

BMW’s ADV buyer group is generally 40 to 60 years old and predominantly men who have disposable income. If you’re in this age bracket and are excited at the proposition to purchase a BMW motorcycle for offroad use, then don’t let our previous comments scare you!

Riding one of these bikes is actually a lot of fun. The controls are very ergonomic and on the highway, these bikes absolutely shine. Dirt roads are also a lot of fun and the bike typically handles well when both sitting and standing.

If you read reviews of the 750GS, 850GS and 1200GS bikes, then you’ll realize just how great these bikes are. That is…until you’re into the deep river crossings, tight technical tracks and sandy beaches. That’s when disaster can strike…but if you’re avoiding these areas altogether, then buying a BMW adventure motorcycle makes perfect sense.

In fact, dozens of people have ridden around the world on these motorcycles without a problem. When you’re clocking that many KM’s with 90% on the blacktop, it’s totally understandable. You’ll wear yourself out with a dirt bike which has been converted into an adventure bike, especially with knobby tyres.

In a Nutshell

All in all, BMW makes a great adventure bike for adventuring…as long as you’re not looking for total adventures. Some mock riders who choose these bikes but everyone is on their own unique adventure.

What lets BMW adventure bikes down is the heavy weights which wear riders out and also make the technical stuff much more challenging. That said – with the G310GS offroad, that problem is mostly solved. For years the ADV community begged BMW with a solution instead of looking at their fancy big engine bikes, and they certainly listened.

If you did want to go for technical tracks, then the 310GS could be exactly what you need.

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