BMW R 1250 GS: Electronic Wizardry Explained

BMW R 1250 GS: Electronic Wizardry Explained

You’ve likely noticed by now that modern motorcycles are filled with electronics nobody could have dreamed about 30 years ago.

While some may love the tech and others undoubtedly hate it, the digital revolution is here to stay, and the BMW R 1250 GS is a perfect example of a myriad of electronics coming together to enhance what was already a great package. 

You already know the mechanical side of the R 1250 GS. Here we’ll take a dive into the electronic wizardry housed inside BMW’s flagship adventure bike. We’ll explain what all the acronyms mean and how they work.

In the end, we hope this gives you a little better idea why electronics help and how they can benefit you. Let’s get started.

BMW R 1250 GS electronics

R 1250 GS Standard Equipment

  • TFT display: Short for Thin Film Transistor, this is a variant of the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) popular in the early 2000s as traditional analog gauges were being phased out. If you’ve looked at a new GS, then you’ve seen the giant TFT display in all its glory. TFT offers clear, colorful, and dynamic views of all of the bike’s vital information with a crispness an LCD screen could never match. This is a good thing, since there’s a lot of information the GS is throwing back at the rider to decipher.
  • Full LED headlights: An improvement over the halogen headlights of old, LED lights shine brighter, don’t give off any heat, and draw less power from the electrical system at the same time. A win-win. When paired with the IMU (more about that below), the light has the ability to “bend” as you lean the bike, lighting the inner portion of the road ahead.
  • DTC – Dynamic Traction Control: You’re probably familiar with traction control by now, but as a refresher, very basic traction control involves an assortment of wheel speed sensors to ensure the rear isn’t spinning faster than the front.

When you move up to the advanced level of Dynamic Traction Control the R 1250 GS is equipped with, you step up to a system centered around a six-axis IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). 

This tracks the motorcycle’s yaw, pitch, and roll to truly understand how it’s being ridden in real time. More sensors monitor wheel speed, engine speed, and throttle position. Depending on a number of factors, including the ride mode and/or DTC setting, when you open the throttle, the GS will meter the amount you’re asking versus the speed of the engine and wheels, plus the position of the motorcycle. It’s doing this hundreds of times per second.

If everything is within the bounds of the GS’s settings, you’ll get the power you asked for. Once the amount of power asked for exceeds these settings, the GS will dial it back. 

BMW R 1250 GS Standard electronics

  • Integral ABS Pro: Using the six-axis IMU, Integral ABS Pro takes into account the lean angle of the motorcycle when applying brake pressure. So if you’re squeezing the lever as hard as you can while leaned over, the system will only apply the maximum the tire can withstand depending on your lean angle. The Integral part of the name links the front and rear brakes together when you apply the front brake lever. The rear brake still acts alone. BMW has also integrated separate street and dirt ABS, depending on which mode you select. 
  • 3 Ride Modes: Now with ECO, Rain, and Road modes as standard, ECO (unsurprisingly) is optimized for road riding and achieving the best mileage possible. Rain and Road modes should be familiar to most, but the former dials back power (best for wet or slippery conditions), while the latter is the standard, full-power setting.
  • HSC: Short for Hill Start Control, this feature applies the rear brake when you are at a stop on an incline. As anyone who has ever had to start a motorcycle on a hill will tell you, it’s a nerve-wracking experience trying to balance brakes, throttle, and clutch all at the same time. Add in an extra layer of anxiety if you have a passenger on the back. HSC eases those anxieties so you only have to focus on throttle and clutch when leaving from a stop on a hill. The standard version is primarily for street riding. An off-road version is optional (more on that below).
  • USB charging socket: Self-explanatory, really. We live in a digital world, and our devices need charging. The included USB socket facilitates that.

R 1250 GS Optional Equipment

  • Dynamic ESA: Short for Electronic Suspension Adjustment, when you choose from the preset modes, Dynamic ESA will automatically level the load of the motorcycle to account for things like extra weight due to luggage and/or a passenger, and will automatically adjust the suspension damping in real-time depending on rider preference – say sporty road riding or aggressive off-road riding. 
  • Seat heaters: Available for both rider and passenger, having a warm butt on a cold ride is a luxury you don’t realize you love until you don’t have it.
  • Ride Modes Pro: This is a big one. In addition to the standard Ride Modes above, Ride Modes Pro introduces more modes – Dynamic, Dynamic Pro, Enduro, and Enduro Pro. Dynamic and Dynamic Pro gives you even greater customization and performance for road riding, while Enduro and Enduro Pro transform the GS and give you greater control and performance off-road. You also get automated Hill Start Control, dynamic brake assistant, and engine brake control.

BMW R 1250 GS gauges

See? The R 1250 GS is complex, isn’t it? Don’t worry, while all the electronics may seem daunting at first, eventually, you figure out what functions matter more to you and those become the ones you end up using the most.

Plenty of people criticize the rise of electronics in motorcycling, but having these various safety systems in place inevitably will save lives and/or make the experience more fun for more people.

And if you don’t like it? You can always turn (some) systems off. Then you can go back to riding this big beast of a GS just like old times.