BMW R1300GS vs Triumph Tiger 1200
So look what’s so good about this new GS and does it now have a chance against the Tiger 1200? Well, I think yes, because there are massive improvements across the board starting with the weight, which has been reduced really quite substantially.
They’re claiming 12 kilograms across the whole bike with a wet weight now of 237 kilograms in stock form.
And one of the things that Triumph were really proud of when they announced the big update to the Tiger 1200 last year was the fact that it was now lighter than the GS at 240 kilograms wet.
So yeah, previously that was a big advantage to them, but in 2024 there’s now not much to separate them and in fact the GS actually edges it.
The feeling out on the road with this new GS is noticeably different, not only with that lower weight and the way that makes it easier to maneuver around and stuff, but also they’ve made it feel more compact and now it feels quite slender.
And again, that just helps it feel more manageable. The other headline figure, of course, that triumph were putting a lot of emphasis on last year was the fact that the Tiger 1200 makes 148 horsepower peak.
And so again, that was a big advantage over the previous generation of this bike, but now having gone from a 1250 up in capacity to a 1300, the GS is making nine more horsepower.
So it’s now 145 horsepower peak. And so again, very, very close now with the Tiger 1200. So look, yeah, I’ve been really enjoying this bike for the last couple of weeks and I think this is gonna be quite a close run thing now.
Now I immediately remember what I liked about this bike.
You see, despite the fact that the GS is undoubtedly quicker than its predecessor, the Tiger 1200 just has this more aggressive feel even in this more off-road biased rally prospect.
You see for this generation, they fitted the T plane crank that was developed for the TIGER 900 and the general idea is that instead of a smooth, even triple cylinder feel, two of the cylinders fire closer together, one further apart and that gives you some of the feel of a twin cylinder bike, which gives it more of a feel of guts in the bottom of the red range.
Now with most things there is a trade off, and in this case it’s nowhere near as smooth as the previous gen triple or the boxer twin for that matter.
But what it does have is that extra aggression and snarl and ferocity when you’re on the throttle, which I think just makes it feel more exciting to ride.
I’m noticing that the quick shifter is a bit better too. It’s smoother, it’s less clunky and it seems to work better in the lower part of the rev range.
And then also at the front you’ve got that traditional fork versus the tele lever suspension that you’ll find on the GS and some of the other BMWs, which I think just biases a touch more towards comfort.
Even the brakes just feel that little bit sharper despite the fact that they’ve upgraded the brakes on the GS with this new linked braking system.
But with all that considered the tiger is just the bike that I want to be on when the pace picks up a bit.
So let’s start with the engine, and I think I called this one even because I think ultimately it comes down to pretty much a question of personal taste.
You see the tiger is much more like the other bikes in the large capacity adventure market like the KTM 1290 super adventure or the Ducati multis strata V four in that they’ve got that raspiness, that aggression to them and that sort of cross plane soul that I think makes them a bit more entertaining.
The boxer on the other hand, well it’s exceptional on torque and also in terms of peak power is closer to the tiger than ever, but I think the crucial difference really is that feel and sound where this is much smoother and almost has like Aron in sound.
And while I don’t find it quite so visceral, it has to be said, it is still a brilliant engine, especially for doing big miles where that smoothness really comes into play and it pulls so well and also it’s the best of the bunch in terms of fuel consumption because of their shift cam variable valve time and lift system.
So look, if that’s a big part of the sort of riding that you like to do, there may be consider this one.
Whereas for me personally, I think I’d probably take the T plane of the tiger just for a bit more excitement off the motorway.
But like I say, it is personal taste and so this one, again, I’ll call it evens now handling I previously gave to the tiger and although the weight has come down on the GS to a very impressive level when you are looking for the more sporty side of these bikes,
the tiger just gives you more feel from the front handles more traditionally I guess with a more conventional suspension set up and also little things like that, extra bit of sharpness on the brakes. So I think again, I’ll give this one to the tiger.
Now, comfort went to the GS last time, but in my opinion it’s got even better in that regard.
So again, the point has to go here, it’s still got that excellent ride quality that makes it so good and there are loads of little areas that they’ve improved it.
It’s just got so many creature comforts and like Triumph said, they ditched the electric windscreen on the Tiger 1200 to save weight and yet BMW have managed to shed loads of weight and bring it in for the first time.
Then you’ve got stuff like the heated grips, I’d say that only really tepid grips on the tiger, whereas these I was really impressed, they’ll pretty much fry the palms of your hands through your gloves, especially if it’s only like a moderately cold day. Then I was thinking about the adaptive ride height as well.
It’s automatic on this bike and it drops you down from 850 mil where the standard seat height is down to 820 when you come to a standstill and it just makes it feel way more reassuring to get your feet down.
Now, triumph did issue like a software update for the Tiger 1200 after it launched where you can now hold the home button on the right hand switchgear and that minimizes the height of the rear shock.
And so again, it helps you to get your feet down when you stop him, but you have to do it manually, which is of course far less convenient.
And also it only happens on the rear shock, so the bikes sit in back a bit, whereas this does it on the front and rear.
And so I guess it affects the geometry of the bike less, it’ll handle more normally in its low setting.
Then you’ve got that really nice luxurious cushy ride that you get from the tele lever suspension, the smoothness of the engine. And so the GS is thoroughly deserving of the point.
Now onto tech, and I think you would’ve expected the Tiger 1200 to be the best in this field given that the 1250 hadn’t been updated for a few years.
And the Tiger 1200 was brand new last year and it certainly edged it.
I like the usability of all the techie features, but also it had a radar on the rear and that gave it blind spot warnings and there was nothing really comparable available yet for the 1250 Gs.
But now I think it’s absolutely fair to say that this is one of the most advanced spikes you can currently buy on the market. And so the point’s got to go this side for many, many reasons.
I mean now you’ve got radars front and rear on this bike, so not only do you get the same blind spot warnings, but now active cruise control and front collision warnings, you’ve got the jack up feature on the adaptive Ride heights.
So when you push the center stand down, it picks the bike up with the suspension to make it easier to get up onto the stand.
They’ve really thought about how to make it easy to use as well. I really like new rocketer switch on the left hand switch gear, which you can assign your favorite settings to so you can access them quickly.
You’ve got fancy luggage, which is centrally locking and also has an internal light and charging socket.
There’s a stash for your phone in the tank, which also has a USB socket for charging. And then there are things like the emergency SOS button, which has been available on BMWs for quite some time, but isn’t a feature that you can get on a triumph.
So I think it’s fair to say that the GS is actually quite far ahead now in this field, although I should point out that a lot of those features are extra. They’re part of the accessories catalog.
I called it evens for these two. I don’t think there’s a great deal in it. There’s stuff to be said that’s good about this versus the tiger.
I really like the option 7 1 9 tram andana paint job, the gold rims. I’ve even quite grown to like this new headlight design.
I think it looks quite smart once you get used to it, but the tiger is maybe a little more rugged looking, more blocky I think, and a little bit less swooping at the front end.
And also it seems bigger, which makes it look a little bit more impressive, which perhaps a large adventure bike should.
But yeah, I wouldn’t say either is massively better looking than the other, like the engine.
Price wise, the GS has gone up. The base 1300 Gs for example, comes in at 15,990, whereas the Tiger 1200, the base GT model comes in at about a grand less.
Then if you start looking at specking them up, well the top spec tiger 1200 rally explorer with the 30 liter tank and all the trimmings from the accessories catalog that comes in at about 19 and a half grand.
And while it is pretty difficult to spec them up exactly the same things that are thrown in with that rally explorer, like the fog lights are 390 quid for this bike.
So it really does stack up quickly and in the most comparable spec that I could get to in the configurator you were looking at more like 21 grand.
if you really love a box of twin, if you love the way the bike handles, if you’re a massive GS fan, I think you could probably easily justify the difference, but you can’t argue with the numbers.
This is slightly more expensive. And so the point has to go to the tiger. But look, if that’s all a bit numerical and simplistic for your taste, then here’s what I felt after riding them.
The Tigers engine sound, the quick shifter, the front and field the break in, or make it more fun to ride for me.
And so that’s the one I’d choose if I was out on a country road.
If however, I was sat on the motorway or touring the electric windscreen, the hotter grips, the active cruise control, the tele lever ride quality, the boxer twin smoothness and the shift cam enable fuel efficiency would easily make the GS the better choice.