Tag Archives: BMW

Test Ride – BMW 1200 GS

I went to the BMW dealer to get the right switch gear replaced and as it turned out, they didn’t have the part in stock.  So, they offered me a loaner bike and asked what I would like.  After going through some options, I decided it was about time to ride something with a boxer motor so I choose to take a 1200 GS.

The GS is a rather tall bike with wide handlebars.  I didn’t really have trouble touching the ground, but it was a bit of a stretch.  I was pleasantly surprised at how light the bike felt.  It looks like a good-sized bike and with all that motor sticking out the sides, I expected it to feel heavier.

The riding position seems to be similar to my Versys except that the GS is just bigger and roomier.  I liked the peg location and appreciated the leg room.  The seat seemed pretty comfortable and I suspect it would be just fine on a long trip.

Riding some of the back roads around my house I started getting a good feel for the bike.  The power comes on strong above 4K and gets you up to speed surprisingly quickly.  Low-end power could be a bit better and I did feel some vibrations from the motor but it wasn’t enough to bother me.

As far as the gearbox is concerned, shifting gave a nice positive feel although it was a bit loud and clunky when shifting.  The gears seemed well spaced and neutral was easy to find.

The suspension is great for the rough roads here in Upstate NY.  The shocks seemed to soak up all nasty bumps making it very pleasant and easy to ride on roads that are less than perfect.

One of the things about the boxer motor that I wasn’t fond of was the sound.  I know it’s silly but the sound of a motorcycle is important to me and I just don’t like the sound of the boxer motor.

Overall, I liked riding the GS.  It had good power, was comfortable, handled great, and felt a lot lighter than it looks.  After spending a day with it, I can certainly see why they’re so popular.






BMW Starter Switch

Well, it finally happened.  The starter switch on the BMW stopped working.  I’ve been lucky so far as this is a common problem with the K1600.  I had installed a new Shorai battery and then rode it to work a few days ago.  When I went out to go to lunch and tried to start the bike, pressing the starter switch did nothing.   Since the dashboard display and headlight came on, I was pretty sure the battery was fine.

Thankfully, I had saved some instructions to my phone describing how to bypass the starter switch by jumping a couple of terminals under a relay.  After finding some spare wire and touching the proper terminals, it started right up.

One of the suspected causes of the starter switch failure on these bikes is that the switch gets too hot while sitting out in the hot sun.  So, I draped a cool cloth over it to cool it down.  That didn’t work so I had to hotwire it again when it was time to go home.

Looks like its time to make an appointment to get the right switchgear replaced.  It seems to be working today so apparently its going to be an intermittent problem.

Long Distance Riding – Packing for the Trip

Over the years I’ve gradually reduced the amount of stuff that I pack when I go for a long ride.  The first couple of years, I packed lots of stuff that I never used.  I found that the extra stuff I brought with me just added weight and made it more difficult to find the stuff that I really needed.  So, I now pack less and just stop at the local WalMart to buy whatever I need along the way.

I don’t put a lot of thought into what clothes I pack.  I just grab enough clothes for about a week and throw them into a bag. I bring a variety of clothes to account for the various extremes in weather including both hot and cold weather.  One thing you definitely want to bring is an extra pair of shoes so that you have a dry pair after a long run through heavy rain.

The riding gear you choose to bring with you needs to account for variations in weather.  If you’re going to be out on the road for any length of time, it’s going to rain so a good rain suit is essential.  Riding hundreds of miles in the rain is no fun, especially if your gear isn’t up to the task and you end up getting cold and wet.

Put any liquids such as toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, etc. into a plastic zip-lock bag.  That way, if there’s a leak, it’s contained within the bag and won’t get all over everything.  I learned this the hard way when a bottle of sunscreen cracked and got all over everything.

If your luggage isn’t waterproof, pack everything in plastic garbage bags to keep your stuff dry. You really don’t want to have to dry out all of you clothes after a long day of riding in the rain.  I also bring some extra plastic garbage bags to put dirty clothes in.

A heated jacket liner is great to have because it doesn’t take up much space and eliminates the need to bring other bulky cold weather gear.  I’ve ridden in some pretty nasty weather with my heated jacket liner and, along with rain gear, has proven itself to be one of the most important pieces of gear I have.

If you’re like me, you’re going to want to bring along a bunch of electronic devices.  Make sure you have all of the necessary chargers and cords.  Of course, any electronics need to be kept dry so make sure you pack them in waterproof containers or bags.

A few extra bungee cords or straps are nice to have and don’t take up much room.  Somehow, it seems like I always end up coming home with more stuff than I left with and need to strap extra junk to the bike.

You should bring along some basic tools and repair items just in case you have a problem on the road.  You should be able to fit all of this stuff in a small bag.  I would suggest the following:

  • – Assortment of wrenches, pliers, torx, allen wrenches
  • – An assortment of zip ties
  • – A roll of electrical tape, a few spare fuses and a small roll of wire
  • – Tire plugs and small 12v air compressor
  • – Pocket knife or other cutting tool

These are just some general thoughts and suggestions.  In the end, what you pack will depend on how far you’re going, weather conditions, and how much room you have for stuff.   One thing I cannot stress enough is to ensure that everything is packed in waterproof bags – it will rain if you are planning on any kind of extended trip.

Long Distance Riding – Introduction

It’s winter and here in Upstate NY.  That means that  riding is limited to just a few days from December – February so I thought I would use this break from riding to share some of my thoughts and experiences related to long distance riding.  I’ve ridden from NY to CA six times now on three different bikes and have traveled through most of the lower 48 states on a motorcycle.   While that may not make me an expert, I have learned a lot over the years.

I guess that a good place to start is with a definition of what a long distance ride is.  For me, this means a week or more and at least a few thousand miles.  I don’t consider a 300 mile ride to be “long distance” – that’s just a nice Saturday ride.  I say this because the level of planning and preparation for a 3 day weekend getaway is far less than what it takes to go away for a week or more.

Next, I think it’s important to discuss riding style.  Where and how you ride will define what preparations you need to make.  My cross country trips are limited to paved roads. Trips last from 2 to 3 weeks and cover 7,000 to 9,000 miles.  I ride alone, stay in hotels and eat at diners/restaurants.  If you spend time riding off-road and primarily camp out, your preparations will be quite different than mine.

I ride alone for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it’s hard to find other people who are willing or able to take time off of work for 3 weeks.  I’m fortunate to have a job that provides a generous amount of paid vacation time.  The second reason I don’t mind riding alone is because it gives me the freedom to go wherever I want to go and stop whenever I want to stop without any consideration for what a riding companion wants to do.

I stay in motels because after riding 500+ miles I want to be able to take a shower and sit back and relax in a room with heat and/or air-conditioning.  Riding hours through 100 degree desert or cold rain makes you appreciate a climate controlled room with a real bed and is something I consider necessary to get rested-up and ready for the next day.

I don’t do a whole lot of pre-planning as far as routes are concerned.  Instead, I just start going in a general direction and then adjust my route as I go along.  I’ve never made a reservation at hotel ahead of time because I when I leave in the morning, I really don’t know where I’ll be stopping for the night.

When I ride, I don’t spend a lot of time stopped and just ride right through places stopping only for gas and maybe to take a few photos.  This approach allows me to see a lot of places in the limited amount of time that I have but it also means that I don’t always see things in a lot of detail.  I guess you could say that I tend to favor quantity over quality.

The distance I travel is based more on time than distance and typically ranges from 10-12 hrs a day.   Depending on the roads I choose, the weather, and how I feel, I usually end up traveling 400-800 miles a day.

So, there you have it – my long distance riding style.

Mid October Ride

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a fellow K1600 rider who is making a 50 state tour on his BMW.  We wanted to see if we could meet up as he passed through Upstate NY and ride together for a few miles.  After a few emails to coordinate the meeting, I took the day off from work and met Chuck in Wilmingtom VT at about 9 am on 10/17/13.

After introducing ourselves, Chuck took a quick photo to document our meeting and we headed out.  We took some nice back roads towards North Adams MA and then into Williamsburg MA where we stopped to take some pictures of the Williams College campus.  Williams College has plenty of well beautiful and well maintained colonial buildings.  It’s a great place to see classic New England architecture.

We left Massachusetts and headed Southeast toward Catskill NY.  When we arrived in Catskill, we stopped stopped for gas and planned the next part of the ride.  The weather was warming up nicely by now and it was into the low 70’s – quite warm for mid October.

We set out towards Kingston to get on to Rt 209.  At about 3:00, we stopped at a nice little Mexican restaurant for lunch and some more relaxed conversation.   Chuck ‘is another rider who had previously been riding Harley’s before switching to the K1600.

After lunch, we continued down Rt 209 toward PA.  We reached Port Jervis at about 5:00 pm and soon after crossing into PA, I decided it was time for me to head back home.  We pulled over to the side of the road near a small motel to say goodbye.   As we went to shake hands, my bike rolled backwards a little bit, my foot slipped, and I dropped the bike over onto its right side.  Chuck quickly helped me to get the bike back upright and we parted ways.

If you’re reading this Chuck, it’s OK to laugh, I certainly did.  What a memorable way to say goodbye!  I hope the rest of your journey is safe and snow free.