Road test: BMW F 750 GS
The BMW F 750 GS is a celebration-year adventure bike up for the challenge through the Central Highlands.
This road test begins in Bothwell but, as every motorcyclist knows, the adventure is underway the moment you fire up the bike. In this case, it’s the keyless start of a BMW F 750 GS on a bright Hobart morning. I ride against peak-hour traffic smiling under my helmet at the Motorrad sales exec’s parting words: “I’m jealous.”
Bothwell marks the southern end of Highland Lakes Road (A5). Lakes Highway, as it was once called and is still referred to, is 128km of my preferred route between Hobart and Launceston. In a park littered with blossoms and surrounded by Georgian architecture I brew coffee and admire my ride. It’s obvious why this black and yellow beauty’s nickname is ‘Bumblebee’ but its idling purr, gravelly growl and raw power are giving me big-cat vibes.
The GS turned 40 in 2021. BMW essentially invented the adventure-bike market segment. Before this series, road-trail bikes were designed far more for off-road. GS stands for Gelände/ Strasse (terrain/street) and these have road-touring features and capabilities but also manoeuvrability, seating position, ground clearance and so on suitable for off-road.
From Bothwell, the A5 gradually rises more than 500m in 35km. I engage cruise control for the straights and sweeping bends leading from cultivated valleys up into the Steppes State Reserve where I stop to see sculptures and follow a short bush track to the old settlement.
Riding, rather than driving, this road increases my awareness of smells in the air and the magnificence of the enormous roadside eucalypts. As always, I’m conscious this is palawa Country – the traditional homelands of the First Nations peoples of lutruwita/Tasmania – and I pay my respects to the Old People of this area.
The Central Plateau sits mainly at around 900m elevation and is scattered with lakes and shack-heavy fishing settlements. Up here, the well-maintained A5 continues as a sealed single carriageway with speed limits of 80km/h and 100km/h. Pinky-red guide posts indicate the prevalence of snow. Even in November I’m taking advantage of heated grips.
“Bit small,” says someone in the carpark of Great Lake Hotel, Miena. “Jealousy’s a curse,” I reply with a grin and he laughs, nodding. Though, to his point, for two-up touring with loads of gear I’d consider BMW’s R 1250 GS.
At the northern end of Great Lake, after Breona, the road enters Central Plateau Conservation Area. I wind up the hill and park at Pine Lake Walk. It’s only a few hundred metres of boardwalk, between ancient, gnarled pencil pines, to the water’s edge. Lunch is a fresh-filled bagel from Hobart’s Pigeon Whole Bakers.
From here the rocky landscape gets increasingly dramatic and the riding far more active. After an awe-inspiring 90-degree sweeping corner and more views of the escarpment I’m on, a road sign announces wiggles for 7km. The bike is agile and balanced round the well-cambered sharp bends. I try out the quickshifter (no clutch required), which is useful for off-road standing and twisty sections like this. I stop to hike Projection Bluff – a trail that quickly becomes indistinct with minimal indicators. It’s a 30-minute walk and scramble to the ridgetop for an incredible view but takes a bit longer on the return when I lose the track and bush-bash to the road as an afternoon storm threatens to break.
At Meander, after more hairpins through deep-green forest, I’ve exchanged the A5 for backroads through Caveside where lambs scatter, calves stare and the scent of mown grass makes me feel nostalgic. The powerful World Heritage-listed bluffs of kooparoona niara/ Great Western Tiers are ever-present. Unsealed sidetracks confirm the bike handles well on dirt.
At Mole Creek, local people along the hotel porch describe the mills that, back in the day, were just across the road. That evening, at nearby Wandering Trout Taphouse, I eat crispy pork belly and grilled eggplant, sip Tassie pinot noir and climb into bed in a corner room upstairs as rain begins to fall.
Body style: Adventure
Fuel consumption: 4.2lt/100km (Combined)
Engine type: 2-cylinder 4-stroke in-line (unleaded regular 91)
Engine capacity: 853cc
Drive type: Chain
Max. power: 57kW @7500 rpm
Max torque: 83Nm @ 6000rpm
Fuel tank: 15lt