As Ewan and Charlie set off on their latest adventure - Long Way Up - now is the perfect time to reflect on how two actors helped change the perception of the BMW GS, and how they also laid the foundations for a shift in motorcycle buying trends.
Nowadays, it seems as if the BMW GS and the first two ‘Long Way’ series have always been synonymous with each other, but that was nearly never the case. Viewers of the original ‘Long Way Round’ series will recall Ewan and Charlie wanting to ride KTMs for the trip; it was only when KTM opted to play no further part in the series that the switch was made to BMW Motorrad.
The R 1150 GS Adventures used for the trip went on to prove their worth however, as Ewan and Charlie completed the 19,000-mile trip without any major issues, and as a result, the GS became one of the most recognised motorcycles around the globe.
In the early 2000s the sports bike was king; Japanese manufactures competed for the UK sales top spot, and large adventure bikes were seen as a left-field choice that sold in far fewer numbers. That was until ‘Long Way Round’ came along. Nowadays with social media and YouTube ,there’s many motorcycle adventurers setting out on their own two-wheeled explorations, but back in 2004, the ‘Long Way Round’ was a must watch for any motorcycle fan.
The effects of the series were clear. Following the series, GS sales skyrocketed, and within a year the adventure segment was the fastest growing motorcycle market. The GS appealed to everyone; whether you were a true motorcycle explorer or just wanted to ride the same machine as Ewan and Charlie every day to work.
BMW Motorrad further capitalised on the success of the series by providing new R 1200 GSAs for the follow up series, ‘Long Way Down’ where Ewan and Charlie rode from John O’Groats to Cape Town in 2007.
Today the ‘adventure’ motorcycle market is still one of the most popular segments, with a number of brands developing their own bikes following the success of the series and the BMW GS models. But it seems the BMW GS is still the benchmark all others must follow, regularly topping the sales charts and receiving glowing reviews by owners and the press. Even with the uncertainty this year caused by the pandemic, the BMW R 1250 GS models have taken the sales top spot in the over 1000cc category in six out of the eight months up to August.
Whilst the effect the Long Way series has had on the success of the BMW GS models is undisputed, the most significant element is down to the way BMW Motorrad build bikes. With each evolution, the BMW GS models have continued to push the boundaries, always pioneering the latest engine technology, improving ergonomics for improved rider comfort, developing the latest safety equipment as well as having an instantly recognisable look. These elements. along with the high quality fit and finish expected with BMW Motorrad, all add to the appeal of the BMW GS range.
Following the finale of the latest ‘Long Way Up’ series, we’ll have to wait and see if a certain American manufacturer can capitalise on the show’s success, and begin leading the way in the electric motorcycle market in the same way as the GS did in the adventure market.
To learn more about all of the current models in the BMW GS range, please click below or enquire online today to contact one of our team at Dick Lovett Motorrad Bristol.