Unlike many of my childhood friends, I’ve never been fond of motorcycles. Well, some of them look cool and I heard some of them are really fast but while all of my mates spent hours drooling over pictures of bikes in auto magazines I was pretty content with a huge yellow pneumatic tractor from LEGO Technic on a table in my room. And now, 15 years later, here I am, feasting my eyes on the new LEGO Technic 42063 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure on my table, thinking that I’ve been missing something in my life till this very moment. Although there have been plenty of LEGO Technic motorcycles before it, this 603-piece beauty is the first licensed motorcycle released, and the retail price of $59.99 / 49.99€ makes this BMW a solid bargain among all the licensed LEGO Technic sets.
Reviewing a BMW R 1200 GS set gives a lot of opportunity for reflection upon the licensed models in the Technic theme, as well as comparing them to the old Model Team sets, and this is what I’d planned to base my review on until I got my hands on the set. The problem is this BMW doesn’t need to be compared to other bikes, cars, or cranes. It stands out against every other 2017 Technic set. Its announcement was highlighted by several official press releases, emphasizing that this bike is a self-contained and stand alone model. It’s not a primarily meant as toy, nor is it merely a sophisticated mechanism or a dodgy Technic machine by Billund’s designers. Rather, it’s a decent, scaled copy of a BMW motorcycle made of Technic pieces — and this is what makes it genuinely beautiful.
Despite the fact that paper instruction booklets often come under criticism for being too thin or too heavy, or divided into several ultra thin brochures, 42063 set includes a pair of surprisingly satisfying books. Not too thin, not too thick, easy to thumb through and use while building; simply brilliant.
Once again, the BMW is not a regular LEGO Technic set, but a special, licensed product. Remember the experience of unpacking the LEGO 42056 Porsche 911 GT3 RS set? Especially, that huge coffee-table sized instruction book with tons of pictures on the process of designing and producing the car both by LEGO and Porsche? Sadly, you won’t encounter that here. At $240 less than the Porsche 911, 42063 BMW R 1200 GS is in a much lower league. There are 6 pages of images devoted to the bike placed at the very end of the B-model booklet — hardly an optimal location for premium content. I might be a LEGO Technic fan or a BMW fan, but in either case, I’d want to see a story of the set’s conception immediately when I open the cover page of the first instruction book. I want to see what is special about this particular BMW bike that made it an official set. But instead, I have to finish the second book before I’ll manage to find the pictures, and there is no accompanying text.
The majority of three pages are devoted to the development of the B-model — a futuristic hoverbike. Teams from BMW Motorrad and LEGO Technic joined forces and jointly developed the LEGO Technic Hover Ride, which undoubtedly looks futuristic, but rather bizarre. Unfortunately, we only know this because of the press releases, and those buying the set off the shelf are unlikely to discover this cool info.
The build and functions
LEGO Technic line counts more that 25 various bikes released throughout its 40-year history. Still, BMW R 1200 GS is one of its kind. Not only is it the biggest motorcycle set ever, it is also a copy of a real vehicle, which makes its structure a little bit different from that of most other LEGO Technic bikes.
Basically, all you need to build a good Technic bike is a handful of angled liftarms, a shock absorber and a couple of wheels. However, the build of this BMW R 1200 GS begins with its main feature — a drive shaft inside its body, which connects a dual-cylinder engine with the rear wheel. Instead of a ridiculously huge gear on the rear axle powered by a chain drive, there is a nicely executed, compact mechanism, just like in a real BMW. The shaft and a couple of gears can be easily seen from beneath the bike, where you’ll also notice a Technic 40th-anniversary commemorative 1×3 beam.
The two-cylinder engine — one of the oldest and most common features among Technic sets — is the only functioning mechanism on the bike.
Exterior and design
The original bike’s design developed and executed by BMW Motorrad is gorgeous. It’s simple yet elegant, and very German; this bike looks equally great on both a highway and a raceway. The motorcycle isn’t stodgy at all, yet it looks robust and durable. In my opinion, the way the LEGO designers managed to capture this iconic design with Technic pieces is beyond praise. This is the largest LEGO Technic bike ever, but each of its 603 pieces is in its proper place. My favorite part is the smart combination of three kinds of panels on each side of the bike’s front. It’s a very elegant and efficient solution to fill the space.
The BMW R 1200 GS is decorated in a number of colors, mainly silver, red and blue, which are used for its upper panels. A fine selection of blue beams and panels quite perfectly captures the shape of the bike all along its body.
The front panels around the windscreen are the most recognizable part of the BMW design. Sharp and edgy, they reflect the style of the bike, proving how useful these relatively new Technic panels are.
A curved clear Technic panel works nicely as a windscreen, and is the very first time we see a transparent panel in a Technic set. Despite looking cool, this panel is the trickiest part of the largely easy building process.
Attaching the panel itself wasn’t a problem at all, but applying a sticker inside was a nightmare. The sticker is about the size of a 1×2 tile and fits well once in place. However, the inner surface of the panel leaves no room for error between the lipped edges and angled surface. It took me about 5-7 minutes to get a merely satisfying result, and I’m still not very happy with how it turned out.
Stickers also can be found on side panels and in the back of the bike. The luggage boxes are nicely decorated with some BMW logos, and fortunately are an almost perfect match for the light bluish gray color of Technic pieces.
I was quite surprised to find out that 75 mm D. x 17mm motorcycle wheels have never been available in black before. Three of the previous Technic bikes came with the same wheels in dark gray, but there’s no way this BMW would be so good looking if it weren’t for the black wheels. Thankfully even the yellow and brown axles can’t ruin its top-class design.
Yet again, the LEGO Company proves that their products are not merely toys. The Technic theme is among the best examples of this upward trend, which began with the Mercedes-Benz Unimog (8110) and Arocs (42043), along with the massive Volvo loader (42030) and excavator (42053), continued with a marvelous-looking Porsche 911 (42056), and now brings us the BMW R 1200 GS. These days there are two kinds of Technic sets — those that are packed full of functions but aren’t visually compelling, and those that exist at the confluence of both top quality LEGO design and the best designs of real-world vehicles. 42063 BMW R 1200 GS is not just a LEGO set — it’s a copy of the iconic bike embodied in LEGO pieces. Though not flawless, this is among the best you can create with the LEGO Technic system. Make sure you have some spare space on a shelf in your living room; this bike is much more charming and lovely than many other scaled copies of vehicles.
42063 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure is available now for $59.99 and includes 603 pieces.