BMW R 1250 GS Vs. Harley Road King

Can’t decide between touring and adventure bikes? This comparison of BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King will provide you the right answer as we compare them for various aspects.

The two bikes we are comparing here in this comparison are best in their respective ways. BMW R 1250 GS (top speed: 124 miles an hour) is a top-performing adventure bike, while the Harley Road King (top speed: 109 miles an hour) is a quality tourer.

They both are designed for different rides as well as different types of riders. And in this comparison, we will see which one of them comes on top.

Industry History


BMW is one of the leading automobile manufacturers in the world. It has been producing high-quality bikes for a long time. The company has taken part in numerous championships over the years, and it is regarded as one of the best brands to offer performance and reliability. It is also known for providing users with various customization and configuration features according to their requirements.

Harley Davidson

Harley is also one of the leading brands in the motorcycle industry, and it has been around for quite some time. So, if you are looking for a bike with a style statement and a lot of class, you need to go for this brand. But Harley-Davidson is second to none when it comes to road performance. This is the primary reason why the company has been so successful for so many years.

BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King – An Overview

The R 1250 GS 2021

The R 1250 GS is an adventure bike for riding on different terrain. It is equipped with plenty of horsepower and torque to get you going through those frontier trips. In addition, the ride is equipped with a powerful suspension and stopping power, and you can always pack some of your gear up on this adventurer.

The Road King 2021

The Road King is a high-displacement touring bike. Therefore, it is going to be quite heavy. However, it comes with plenty of storage compartments, and you can take it on your long journeys. In addition, the bike is equipped with various navigation and traction control features to make your riding experience as comfortable as possible.

Comparison Chart

FeaturesBMW R1250GSHarley-Davidson Road King
Fuel and vehicle typePetrol adventure bikePetrol touring bike
Fuel tank capacity5.0 gallons6.0 gallons
Engine typeAir/liquid-cooled flat twin engineAir-cooled V-twin engine
Maximum power136 HP @ 7750 RPM96 HP @ 5000 RPM
Maximum torque105 lb-ft @ 6250 RPM111 lb-ft @ 3100 RPM
Gear transmission6-speed shaft drive6-speed chain drive
Seat height33.5-inch to 34.3-inch26.3 inches
Seat capacity and type2, dual stepped2, dual stepped
Weight549 lbs794 lbs
Front and rear suspension7.5-inch travel Telelever and 7.9-inch travel Paralever4.6-inch travel with dual bending forks and 2.5-inch travel with adjustable rear shocks
Front and rear brakesDual disc brake with 4-piston caliper and single disc brake with 2-piston caliper (both with ABS)Dual disc brake with 4-piston caliper and single disc brake with 2-piston caliper (both with ABS)
Front and rear tires120/70 R 19 and 170/60 R 17130/80B17 and 180/65B16
Wheelbase59.60 inches64 inches
Ground clearance7.3 inches5.3 inches


Harley road king engine

Which engine sounds much better: BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King? The R1250 is equipped with a flat-twin engine that can air or liquid cool itself. And it is for rough conditions and rough terrains. So, the engine will sound like a classic BMW bike, and if you are a fan of that, you will love owning this bike.

On the other hand, the Road King is equipped with an air-cooled V-twin engine. Thus, it is for paved surfaces with a unique sound that you will find only on Harleys.

But for a statement, you will love the engine sound that Harley produces, and it also comes with a bigger displacement. So, the Road King is equipped with more horsepower and can run at faster speeds.

The R1250 is by no means an underperformer, but the Road King has a slight upper hand in terms of performance and displacement, and sound.

Thinking which of these have a throttle twist that will put a smile on your face? Then go for the Road King because it has a much better engine power. Moreover, if you are thinking, which of these bikes comes with a heavier clutch, the R1250 is the one that has a heavy clutch. Clutch is also much smoother on the Road King, so this round goes to the Harley Davidson Road King.


Next up is weight, and this round will go in favor of the R 1250 GS. This is because the adventure bike only weighs around 750 lbs, and it is much easier to handle and maneuver on short turns and twisted road conditions. But you still need to have considerable experience to handle this bike because it’s a pretty hefty one.

On the other hand, the Road King is even bigger and heftier. Being a touring bike, this model is pretty heavy, and it weighs more than 800 lb. But once it is one of the highways, you will notice it cruises along pretty comfortably.

The Road King comes with different compartments, which will add even more weight to the already-heavy bike. It also has a gallon bigger fuel capacity than the BMW adventurer.

We recommend going for a heavier bike only if you have prior experience of riding such a weight. On the other hand, it would be better to go for a lighter option if you are a newbie.

Looks and aesthetics

Looks of Harley Road King

Which bike do you look back at as soon as you get off? Both the machines cater to two different markets. The R1250 has a much more modern look, while the Road King is a classic. Looks and aesthetics have always been considered highly subjective, but you still need to consider the appearance.

In terms of appearances and looks, the touring bikes will look more like an old design that resembles the models from the 1930s. Therefore, the Road King is the one that has that classic look.

On the other hand, adventure bikes are a more recent addition to the motorcycle industry. Therefore, they have a much more modern look. So, if you are a fan of that dirt bike or sports bike look, you need to go for the adventurers. But if you are a fan of a cruiser, the Road King is the better option for you to consider.

Some people prefer riding modern bikes, and a significant group of people likes going for classic designs. We will leave you here to decide on your own because looks and aesthetics mean different things for various people.

Suspension and brakes

Suspension of Road king

Which of them can handle road bumps better and have better-stopping power? Let’s further discuss this comparison of BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King and talk about suspension and brakes.

The adventurer bike R1250 by BMW is for different terrains. Therefore, it is going to come with a much better suspension. Wheel travel on both ends if this bike is 7.5-inch and 7.9-inch for both front and rear ends, respectively. Therefore, you are not going to feel any bumps that come under your tires.

In comparison, the Road King has a much more rigid suspension because it is for paved roads, and you are not going to deal with many bumps when riding under these conditions. The wheel suspension of this bike comes with on both ends is 4.6-inch and 2.5-inch on the front and rear ends, respectively.

These numbers are pretty low if you compare them with R1250. This is because the R1250 is made for rough terrain. Stopping power on both these bikes is pretty much the same, and both bikes come equipped with similar brakes.

But these dual disc brakes on the front end and a single disc brake on the rear end work much better on the adventurers because you will not go with high speeds in the first place.

The tourer has much more mass behind its acceleration, so stopping power here will be slightly less responsive, and you will have to press the paddle a bit harder when going at high speeds. So, this round belongs to the R1250 adventures by BMW.


BMW R 1250 GS Ergonomics

Now, where do your feet and arms arrest in the riding position on both these bikes? Both the machines in this comparison of BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King have different designs. The R 1250 has a slightly aggressive seating position, but you can say that it is more upright. The footpegs are right under the rider, and you are sitting in a traditional way that you ride a bike.

On the other hand, the Road King comes with a much more relaxed sitting position. Your feet will be forward, and your back will lean slightly back. Your arms will be slightly higher as well. This is a much more comfortable position for a rider, and it’s a top choice for long road trips.

Now, what does wind noise feel like at around 80 mph on both these bikes? Going at top speeds on your R1250 will make winds blow across your face quite hard. This is not the case with the Road King, thanks to its windshield. And what about the dash: which dash is easier to see in sunlight from your ride height? Well, both the machines have a visible dash in broad sunlight.

But what about the ride confidence: which bike, R 1250 GS or the Road King, gives you more confidence in a parking lot doing single lane U-turns? The Road King’s superior traction control allows you to park your bike and handle the U-turns comfortably. So, in terms of ride comfort, the Road King is a better choice here.


Now let’s have a brief discussion on pricing in this comparison of BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King. Both these bikes come with an almost identical price tag, and how much value you can extract from the money you spend on them depends a lot on how you are planning to use your bikes.

If you go on a lot of cross-country adventures, the R1250 will be a good option. You can pack up some of your gear and tackle those different terrains incredibly well.

On the other hand, if you prefer to ride long distances on paved roads and pack heavy, then a tourer will be a better option. Harley is a better option if you prefer some inbuilt navigation assistance and infotainment options. There is not so much detail on the BMW, especially the infotainment part.

BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King – The Similarities

You might be thinking, are there any similarities between these bikes? Both the bikes in this comparison of BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King are completely different, but there are some similarities.

Fuel and braking system

Both these bikes run on gasoline, and they also feature a very similar braking system. Both bikes have dual disc brakes on the front end and single disc brakes on the rear end.

Seating capacity and type

Both machines have a seating cavity of two, and the seating type is dual-stepped. However, the seating position is feet-forward on the Road King with a slightly leaned back spine. The R1250 has a more traditional upright or with a somewhat aggressive forward-seating style.

Gearing system

Both the machines come with a 6-speed manual transmission. But the BMW comes with a shaft drive, while the Harley Davidson comes with a chain drive.

BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King – Pros & Cons

BMW R 1200 GS


  • Excellent suspension.
  • Modern looks.
  • Superior handling.


  • Smaller tank.

Harley Davidson Road King


  • Larger fuel tank.
  • More load capacity.
  • Excellent infotainment and navigation systems.


  • Pretty hefty bike


So, which bike is the ultimate winner in this comparison of BMW R 1250 GS vs. Harley Road King? The Road King turns out to be a better choice on paper but only by a slight margin.  The reason is that both these bikes belong to different categories.

The Road King has more laid capacity, but the R1250 is the lighter option. Acceleration and speed are better on Road King, but handling and maneuverability are easier on the R1250. The Road King is more comfortable to ride, but it has a low suspension.