As good as the tarmac was, I was anxious to get the GS dirty (well, dusty) and it seemed rude not to when the opportunity arose! The parched ground rolled gently into a small valley, where a loose stony trail crossed the camber with an awkward turn halfway up. Thankfully, with the change to twin cams the Boxer motor seems to have lost none of its traction-eking abilities, allowing me to concentrate on avoiding the bigger rocks whilst trickling it up the climb. With the optional electronic suspension adjustment (ESA) set to its highest level the GS bounded along the faster sections of the rough trail, though bigger hits are still announced with a resounding ‘clang’ as you reach the limits of the Telelever front-end.
After a generally overcast day, the late afternoon sun ducked its head under the cloud-line and tinged the landscape a deep orange hue, signifying that it was time to head for our overnight stay.
Head for the Hills
South of Sorbas is a wonderfully sinewy road which crosses a spine of hills before dropping down into the town of Nijar. Blind hairpins abound, and accelerating out of them highlighted just how perkier the GS motor feels low down. The pick-up is instantaneous, and although the bike always felt strong at the bottom-end it now feels that bit livelier, mischievous even. Cautiously tip-toeing round the bends on the almost single-track road, as soon as you could see as far as the next bend it was time to crack the throttle… then reign it back in with the Beemer’s strong stoppers for the next tight turn.
The road climbed as we exited the village of La Rambla Honda - not sharply but deceptively - and we soon looked down over the neighbouring valley with nothing but angels to catch anyone unlucky enough to get a little giddy with the gas and sail over the edge. On the opposite side of the road the hills stretched upwards - their dark, loose, almost slate-like surface looking to offer nothing in the way of grip for an off-piste excursion. Thankfully, a series of tracks running around a farm of solar panels provided some off-road entertainment, though we were careful not to roost the CCTV-guarded cells..!
Slow corners and a covering of gravel on a rain-washed surface made for plenty of slip-sliding around, and despite the new Beemer’s more potent low-down punch it’s still particularly predictable when the back-end starts to drift.
The change to a DOHC configuration doesn’t seem to have dramatically altered the shape of motor’s power curve either, so it’s very much the Boxer we know and love. At both ends of the rev range there’s definitely more power, though not so much to completely transform the character of the engine, and the twin cams haven’t made the power delivery as abrupt as something like the 800GS. Phew!
For its size, its weight, and its power, the GS is amazingly manageable off-road. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that it IS a big bike, so when the front-end sunk into a patch of deep sand as I turned the bike around, there was a good few seconds of will-it-won’t-it as the GS teetered on the balance point between vertical and laying down on one of those new-design cylinder head covers as I struggled to haul it back upright…