BMW Motorrad is celebrating yet another sales record, albeit an unofficial one. Combined UK sales of its R 1200 GS and R 1200 GS Adventure models totalled 2,277 units in 2006. This is a figure that comfortably beats that achieved by Honda's CBR1000RR, which at 2,067 units was officially the best selling motorcycle of last year, according to figures released by the Motorcycle Industry Association.
Until fairly recently, BMW's 'GS' range of motorcycles was considered as a rather niche proposition, used mainly by globetrotters and desert racers. However, the legendary 'Gelande Strasse' (on/off-road) genre, which made its debut back in 1980 with the iconic R 80 G/S, has now firmly entered the mainstream, buoyed by a general move away from race replica machines and a realisation that road-specific suspension, ergonomic efficiency and all-day comfort make more sense in the real world of high insurance premiums, poorly maintained roads and traffic congestion.
The R 1200 GS was launched in March 2004 and was the first of BMW Motorrad's 'new generation' machines to incorporate the company philosophy of producing motorcycles with more dynamic handling, significantly increased engine power and less weight. It became an instant bestseller and won numerous awards that year, including MCN Best Trailie, International Bike of the Year and also received an International Design Excellence Award.
In its first full year of production, it sold almost 2,000 units in the UK alone, outselling its nearest rival in the Adventure Sport category by over 1,200 units and also picking up the MCN Best All-Rounder award for 2005 - just one day after the new R 1200 GS Adventure received its world premiere at the International Motorcycle and Scooter Show in Birmingham.
Launched to the press in mid-March and in dealers just a fortnight later, 809 GS Adventures were sold in the remainder of 2006, with many more on order for 2007. With 1,468 R 1200 GS machines also sold last year, the combined total of these two machines - which share the same engine and running gear - comfortably outsell any other competitor model in 2006.
Commenting on this sales success, BMW Motorrad UK Marketing Manager Tony Jakeman said: "We're delighted that more riders than ever before are discovering the joys and benefits of BMW GS ownership, including lower insurance premiums and high resale values. We sold nearly 2,000 R 1200 GS bikes in 2005 and once the Adventure version was launched, many potential buyers of the standard machine switched their purchase to this bike, which has already become the machine of choice for long-distance adventure travellers.
"However, both bikes combine the best of all worlds - with their excellent road-holding and high-torque engine characteristics, they work equally well as everyday commuters, weekend sports bikes and long-distance tourers. We're pleased to have ownership of the Adventure Sport category - where our nearest rival sold less than 600 units - but are also delighted that the GS is right up there in the overall UK sales charts too. Suffice to say that our dealer network is aiming for continued sales success in 2007."