BMW Motorrad’s biggest, all-conquering terrain tamer has received sophisticated technological upgrades in the form of R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid. With the premiere of the near-series test version of the bike, the xDrive Hybrid is the world’s first series-production all-wheel drive enduro with hybrid drive.
The new bike, based on the tried-and-tested R 1200 GS shares the same boxer engine which produces 125PS of power at 7,750 rpm and 125Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm. The power from the engine is delivered to the rear wheel via a shaft drive system.
What’s new is the all-wheel-drive hybrid system. It uses an electric hub motor to power the front wheel. The hub motor is capable of churning out a massive 45.6PS of power and this effectively results in a combined output of over 170PS which ensures even better traction on slippery road conditions, deep sand or mud. This technology has been developed in conjunction with BMW Automobiles.
The all-wheel drive can be operated automatically or manually by the rider via the Two-Wheel-Drive switch located on the left switchgear. It activates the wheel-hub e-Drive system which functions both as an electric motor and a generator. The regenerative braking system in the hub motor is paired to the bike’s ABS system, thereby enhancing the braking capability of the bike. This eliminates the need for a twin-disc setup at the front, thus resulting in saving approximately 2.9kg. At 880gm, the hub motor isn’t heavy either. This helps in maintaining the optimum weight distribution, which is on par with the normal R 1200 GS, despite the added tech.
A new generation of batteries, derived from BMW i battery technology, stores the energy recuperated during braking. The hub on the front wheel is supplied with this energy and the rider can use it for accelerating, in addition to the power delivered by the combustion engine. Thanks to sophisticated management technology, the power supplied to the front wheel is only as much as the traction levels permit, depending on the riding situation. The rider can use a number of riding modes to customise how the all-wheel-drive system operates and adjust the hybrid system’s recuperation strategies to suit his needs. Everything can be controlled using the LCD display.
To ensure such a complex system is fool-proof and reliable in the harshest of situations, BMW claims it has extensively tested the bike in extreme conditions like the north pole, where the bike ran trouble free despite the temperatures being as low as minus 56 degrees and depth of snow up to 1.25m.
The new BMW R 1200 GS xDrive Hybrid will be available abroad from the second half of 2017. BMW Motorrad will announce special tyre combinations and optional equipment and the official price at a later date. It is uncertain whether BMW Motorrad will bring the bike here in India, but if they do, the fabled Leh-Ladakh trip would just get a whole lot easier!