Spy photographers have spotted what we assume to be the 2023 BMW R1300GS prototype undergoing testing at a facility that bears a striking resemblance to BMW’s Enduro Park Hechlingen where E-i-C Evans Brasfield attended a riding course, way back in 2013. Since this large training ground offers a wide variety of terrain to challenge a big bike, it would be an ideal facility to inconspicuously put a new adventure bike through its paces away from (most) prying eyes.
The test bike appears to be an early prototype, lacking the level of finish one would expect from a motorcycle that’s closer to production. Much of the engine and areas around the subframe are covered up, but the bodywork, even in this early condition, shows a big departure from the current GS’ styling.
What might be the most polarizing part of the new design is the GS’ face. It still has a beak, but the headlight is now integrated into the schnoz, smaller and farther down from the windscreen. Where you would expect to find a headlight, there’s just a flat, forward-facing piece of bodywork which looks like a good place to position a radar sensor for adaptive cruise control. The license plate holder likewise has a flat section that could accommodate a rear radar sensor for blind spot detection.
The tank cover appears to be one single piece, integrated with the radiator shrouds. Speaking of the radiators, the units here are tilted back with the bottoms jutting out from the bodywork. The radiators are much larger than the current GS’ cooling system, leading to another potentially big change.
When I first saw the spy photos, I noticed the cylinder heads were covered up and assumed BMW was trying to hide something. After a few minutes of trying to figure it out, it finally dawned on me. If the cylinders are covered in some kind of material, then they can’t get any air cooling. Together with the larger radiators, the logical conclusion is that the engine is completely liquid-cooled and not air-cooled with targeted water cooling on the cylinder heads as on the current GS engine.
What parts of the engine we can see show other differences from the current R1250 boxer engine. The front engine cover, for example, has a new shape, and its mounting bolts are in a different arrangement. The current R1250 engine’s front cover has a bit of a pear shape to it whereas the cover on the prototype is more of an egg shape, somewhat reminiscent of the cover on the R18 engine.
The exhaust system is new, with a much smaller silencer and the catalytic converter likely positioned below the bike. The silencer rises just behind the passenger pegs, not quite reaching the level of the top of the rear tire where the current exhaust comes up almost to the passenger grab handles.
There’s also the matter of a trademark BMW filed in 2019 for an M1300GS. This tells us that the engine may see a displacement increase from its current 1254cc to closer to 1300cc, and that BMW is also working on a higher-spec M model.
The larger radiators may have necessitated another big departure from tradition: the test bike is equipped with an updated fork instead of the GS’ usual telelever suspension, or perhaps the telelever has been redesigned. Regardless, the previous generation telelever’s lower arm would have taken up too much space that could be better served to improve the cooling system.
The white tubing behind the engine appears to be a variation on the current GS’ frame, but on closer inspection, we believe they are actually fake and part of a cover that hides the actual chassis from prying eyes. In the photo below, you can see a bit of the true frame in black peeking out from the cover. The angles of the “subframe” do not look like it would have enough support to hold up the tail, let alone a rider and luggage. The pillion peg mounts are connected to something behind the fake frame, and the subframe’s bottom tube just ends without connecting to the tail at all.
All together, what we see here is a radically different R1300GS, with a new liquid-cooled engine, new exhaust system, new styling, an inverted fork and likely an entirely new frame. Perhaps the only thing that hasn’t changed are the wheels and the single-sided swingarm with drive shaft.
Judging from the state of the prototype, we don’t believe the new R1300GS will be ready for 2022. Indeed, BMW has already gotten certification with the California Air Resources Board for the 2022 R1250GS and R1250GS Adventure. The CARB data can be superseded if the R1300GS is ready, but we believe 2023 to be a more realistic target.
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