Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 17th September 2018

Britain’s best selling motorcycle, the BMW R1200GS, will receive a new, 1254cc, variable valve timing equipped engine for 2019 to boost power and economy, while at the same time reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

The new engine, dubbed ShiftCam by the Bavarian giants, will also be fitted to the RT tourer and produces a claimed output of 136bhp, up 11bhp on the outgoing version. Due to the increase in capacity, the new bikes will now be known as the R1250RT and the R1250GS.

Variable valve timing (VVT) technology is nothing new, particularly in the car sector. On two wheels, Honda debuted its VTEC system back in 1983 and in recent years Ducati and Suzuki have both produced production VVT engines, but this is the first time that BMW has adopted such technology on one of its motorcycles.

The BMW system is relatively simple and clever at the same time. The intake cam has two cam profiles per valve, with the low lift/short duration lobes being activated at low rpm to promote strong low down torque, while a camshaft gate and ShiftCam actuator engage to present the higher lift/longer duration lobes at higher revs.

While the need to get the top selling GS through the impending Euro5 regulations, which come into effect in 2020, was a key driver the adoption of the new technology BMW says that torque is up by 14% over its predecessors, with a stonking 120Nm on tap between 3500 and 7750rpm. As well as being better on fuel consumption and emissions, BMW also says that the 1250s will sound better too, which is nice…

Beyond the annual colour changes, visually there are no significant changes between the outgoing R1200 models and the new 1250s, although under the skin there are also new rider modes provided as standard. The electronics allow the rider to select ‘Rain’ mode for a softer power delivery in trickier conditions, while basic traction control and hill start assist are now standard equipment. A more sophisticated electronics package, including BMW’s Riding Modes Pro, Dynamic Traction Control and ABS Pro, remains an optional extra on both the adventure styled GS and the more touring orientated RT.