Tue 25th of August 2009 Man and Machine

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August 26th 2009
Published: August 26th 2009
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Tue 25th of August 2009 Man and Machine

It is time to say a little more about the motorcycling experience. If you are not into bikes you might want to skip this one. I have been with the bike for a week now and as you motor along in the middle of nowhere you appreciate the continual hum of that engine. This is far from a Zen like experience, which is almost laughable to read these days from a motor cycle maintenance perspective. Prisig worried constantly about tappets, slack in the chain etc. reminds me of my experience with a BSA 650 A10 back in the seventies, where each weekend was dutifully spent replacing the head casket or some such thing. Bikes are very different now and in a week I have convinced myself that BMW’s are the crème de la crème. Still you have to appreciate the level of dependence you have on the machine. I have not gone anywhere isolated enough to worry about rescue, but there is the hassle if something goes amiss.

As you read this you will appreciate I am a motorcycle riding enthusiast rather than a total motorcycling enthusiast with all the grease, polishing etc that goes with that. Notwithstanding I know good engineering when I feel it. I have had a BSA 650 (70s) a 250cc Yamaha Trail bike (70s), a Honda 750 Four (70s), a Suzuki’s Intruder (early 2000s), a Triumph Daytona (early 2000s) and two Suzuli GSX 1000s (now). This BMW R1200GS seems to be the perfect bike for this trip. Good power for cruising carrying significant weight, comfortable and I guess good handling (it is hard to compare this when you ride a GSX to work).

In terms of maintenance I look at the tires daily and try and check the oil. The window looks like it has oil but it is hard to tell. I did take the tool kit out and can’t figure if the tool to take the oil cap off is missing since I see no obvious way to add oil. I rely pretty much on the computerized system to tell me anything is wrong. Hey it told me the low beam on the headlight went out, but in the dark lets face it I don’t need the computer for that. On a long ride like this the dials become like old friends and I play with the various displays. The temperature is something I watch a lot. It runs at about 275 F in the cold south and about 310 F in the outback. There is a range indicator. However I have come not to trust it. On a long trip it said I would arrive with 65km to spare I arrived with 15km and who knows how accurate that is. Someone asked e about the spare tank - they obviously have not ridden a bike for a long time.

I can ride for about 150kn before I feel the need to stretch my legs - the polite way of saying my rear end is starting to ache. Five minutes off the sandle and we are ready for another 150km. This is a different experience to riding the Suzuki over long distances. In that case it is $150km, rest then 100km, rest, then 75km until you finally get down to about 25km. This is much better.

I would not want to give up my crotch rocket for those short trips to work, but I can see this bike in the garage at home for those weekend getaways. One can dream I suppose.


26th August 2009

I had a BMW trail bike for more than 15 years - first an R850GS (the yellow one that looked like a bumble bee) and later the R1100GS which was the first of the oil cooled boxer twins and the daddy of the one you are riding. To my mind it was the finest bike ever made. Huge yes, but perfectly balanced even in London traffic and supremely easy on the aged posterior. It had plenty of poke when you needed it and would cruise all day on a good road at 80 mph plus with no strain at all. I drove all over Europe on it and I can quite see why Ewan Macgregor (and his huge support team of course) went round the world on one. What I particularly loved about it was its suspension set up. When you jammed the (ABS!!) brakes on, the front didn’t dive, the whole bike just sort of squatted down and became more stable. Plus of course being made from quality materials meant it never needed cleaning either! The only thing I thought was poor was its performance on loose surfaces like gravel, but that was simply a consequence of its weight, wrestling one of these as the back wriggles around is a heart stopping experience. Anyhow, your blog made me feel good, I have been banging on for ten years now that you need to bin that monster crotch rocket and get a Beemer. It’s nice to feel that ones vociferous and biased opinions are right. BTW an excellent blog. Keep it up and don’t forget to ask every Aussie you meet if they know who won the Ashes series this year? They might not have read the paper.

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