Tag Archives: K1600

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.

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.

My Favorite Bike

When people find out that I have three bikes, they inevitably ask me which one I like best.  This generally results in me having  to explain that I really don’t have a “favorite” bike.  Each bike is different and is used for a different purpose.

The Electra Gide is comfortable and generally quite relaxing to ride.  The Rinehart true dual exhaust and amplified stereo ensures that everyone hears me coming from afar.  The Harley is a motorcycle that has a classic feel to it that makes it a great bike to ride.  With 68K miles, my 2006 Electra Glide has been 100% reliable and has never leaked a drop of oil.  It’s definitely not fast, corners poorly compared to my other bikes, and the brakes are just OK.  This is the bike I ride when I just want to slow down, relax and enjoy the scenery.

The Street Triple R is my sport bike.  It’s the bike I’ve been riding the most lately because its lightweight, powerful, handles great, and has terrific brakes and is an incredibly easy bike to ride.  While long rides are not out of the question, the Triumph’s suspension is firmer and  focused on performance rather than comfort.  In short, it’s everything that the Harley is not.  Its’ the bike I ride when I just want to have fun.

The BMW K1600 has to be the star of the bikes I own.  Every time I ride the BMW I marvel at just how good it is.  It’s fast, comfortable, corners great, stops brilliantly, and has every electronic gizmo you could imagine.   The 6 cylinder motor is amazing – very good low-end power with amazing high rpm power as well.  Sure, there are more powerful engines, but when you can go from 35 mph to 135+ mph in 6th gear on a 750lb motorcycle, that’s impressive.  The suspension/handling is equally impressive and amazingly flexible due to the ESA.  The electronic suspension adjustment (ESA) allows you to have a very soft and plush ride on the interstate highways and then, with a couple of button presses, switch to firmer settings to handle the twisty roads.  Really, the only downside to the BMW that I can come up with is that it’s heavy to move around in the garage and parking lots.  I ride the BMW when I want the comfort, weather protection,  and storage of the Harley with the performance of a sport bike.  It’s got to be one of the best all-around bikes ever made.

So there  you have it. Three bikes for three different riding moods.


Day 17 – 6/15/13

I made it home Saturday night around 8:40 pm after one final 800+ mile day.  The weather was perfect for riding and traffic was never a problem.

As I reflect on this years ride, I have to say that the Electra Glide is more comfortable for me than the BMW for those long stretches of Interstate highway that need to be traversed in order to get out West.  However, once i got to the mountains, the BMW was fabulous.  The power, handling, and brakes are great especially for a bike this size.

My back and neck bothered me almost constantly making it uncomfortable for most of the ride.  I suspect that some changes to the seat and/or handlebars will be necessary to resolve these comfort issues.  I wasn’t prepared for this because I never experienced this with my local rides.  It could also be that the new helmet that I started wearing a week or two before this ride contributed to my neck pain.   It’s also possible that the additional hour or so between fuel stops is just too much time between stops.  The 7 gallon gas tank typically has me riding for 3-4 hours between fillups compared to 2-3 hours on the Harley.  Once I figure out the cause of this back/neck pain, the BMW will be perfect.

The BMW was surprisingly good in the windy conditions riding across the plains.  It handles the wind much better than the Harley.   The windy conditions still push the bike around, but it doesn’t seem to affect the BMW as much.   When there’s a string headwind, the BMW just pushes right through the wind,  The Harley often struggled to keep its speed when driving into a headwind.

When you get to the mountains, the BMW head and shoulders above the Harley.  This is where the BMW really shines.  The power of the 6 cylinder motor allow you to pass slow moving vehicles very quickly.  Passing slow vehicles with the Harley requires more planning and distance.   The BMW goes around corners so much better than the Harley and powering out of one corner toward the next one is a blast on the GTL  I still haven’t come anywhere near the limits of this machine.  I still haven’t scraped the footpegs and there’s still about 3/4″ of unused rubber on the sides of the tires so I know there’s more lean angle than I’ve been willing to use.

I rode must of the way from NY to CA with the throttle set to rain mode and the suspension set to normal or comfort.  When I got to Kaydee’s house, I took all of the bags off, and switched to Dynamic and Sport mode and the bike transforms into a machine that just begs to go for a spirited ride on the Ortega Highway.   Twisty mountain roads are where this bike really shines.

I’m probably an average rider and more cautious than I need to be because I really don’t want to crash and hurt myself.  I’ve ridden the Ortega Highway on the Harley and always felt that simply keeping up with traffic was a bit scary and pushed myself and the Electra Glide pretty near its limits.  However, the BMW is just so easy to ride in the twistys that the cars seemed slow and I was excited  to blow by them anytime I got a chance to do so safely.  Passing power is amazing and actually requires some restraint because the acceleration is amazing on this bike.

Another great road that I rode on was Angel’s Crest Highway.  I was fortunate to ride this road on a weekday when there was very little traffic and for the most part, I had the road to myself.  This highway is about 60 miles long and has very few straight roads.  It’s almost all winding mountain roads with everything from 10-20 mph hairpin turns to nice easy sweeping turns.  There were a few sections where there were rocks in the road but for the most part, it was a nice smooth road that is easy to have fun on.  I’ll definitely ride this road again.

One of my biggest worries about the BMW was tire life.  I’m pleased to say that the Michelin PR3’s did just fine.  With a bit over 7,000 miles on them, both the front and rear tires still look pretty darn good.  I should be able to use them for at least a couple more weeks commuting back and forth to work.  I’m pretty sure that they’re good for another 500-1,000 miles.

I also traveled with motorcycle pants, jacket, gloves, boots, and a full-face helmet this year.  In the past, it was basic jeans and t-shirt along with a half-helmet and gloves if my hands got cold.  I have to say that riding with all of the gear wasn’t all that bad.  It got hot when it was 95+ degrees but even in jeans and a t-shirt it’s hot so there really wasn’t much of a difference.  Another benefit is that since I was basically covered from head-to-toe, I didn’t need multiple applications of sunscreen to protect my bare skin.

This was my 6th trip to CA and I visited some familiar places although riding the BMW made this years ride different – more enjoyable in some ways, but less enjoyable in other ways.  For general Interstate travel, the Harley is more relaxed and comfortable.  However, if you happen to hit slow traffic, the Harley is just miserable due to the excessive engine heat.  The BMW never really gets uncomfortably hot even in stop-and-go traffic.  Once you get to the mountains, there’s simply no comparison – the BMW wins by a large margin.

Total miles for this year’s trip was 7,213.  For next year, I hope to have the comfort issues worked out.  If I can do that, the BMW will be the ultimate long distance bike.

Day 16 – 6/14/13

It was just a long ride across I70 today.  Nothing much to write about as it was mostly straight Interstate highway riding.  I did a little over 800 miles today and should be home sometime tomorrow night.  The weather was good with temps in the high 80’s and low 90’s and I didn’t hit to much traffic.  The areas of road construction that I rode through moved along rather nicely.

I stopped for the night in Cloverdale Indiana, about 40 miles from Indianapolis.

Day 15 – 6/13/13

Leaving Cortez Coloroado, I rode on Rt 160 for a good part of the day through the mountains on my way North towards I70.  The weather was pretty good with temperatures on the low 90’s for the most part.

The oil level in the bike was a little low so I told the GPS to take me to a BMW dealer.  The BMW Nav IV GPS has all of the BMW dealers listed as points of interest.  The closest one was in Colorado Springs so that’s where I went.  I was a bit confused when I arrived to find that the GPS had taken me to a Harley Davidson dealer.  As it turns out, the BMW dealership had moved across town about a year ago so I got the updated address and off I went.  About 15 min later, I had found the BMW show and got a quart of oil.

From the BMW shop, I took Rt 24 East to I 70 and got on the Interstate.  It was very windy, the sky was dark, and I could see lightning in the distance.  I thought that the last couple of hours of riding would be through heavy rain storms so I stopped and put on my rain gear to prepare for the downpour.  However, I seem to have stayed about 5 miles behind the storm so I never really hit any rain.  There was heavy wind, but nothing more than a few light sprinkles.

I stopped for the night in Colby Kansas.

Day 14 – 6/12/13

Today’s ride was hot.  As I left the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, it was a little over 90 and the temperature quickly rose to 100+ degrees as I headed North on I15.  Just past St. George Utah, I turned East and rode through Utah and Arizona on Rt 89 and Rt 160.  The heat wasn’t quite as bad and dropped t to the mid-high 90’s for most of the day.

I always find the mesas and rock formations in Utah and Arizona interesting and enjoy the scenery in this part of the country.  The roads tend to be long and straight so the ride can be long and boring leaving plenty of time to look around and enjoy the landscape.

I had intended to get to Durango Colorado but about 40 miles from Durango, I decided to stop for the night in Cortez CO.  After riding it the heat all day, I was hot, tired, and hungry.

Miles today: 489
Total Miles: 4,979
States: NV, AZ, UT, CO

Day 13 – 6/11/13

I left Kaydees’ house this morning and headed north past LA and found the Angeles Crest Highway.  What a great road for motorcycles.  It’s about 60 miles of twisty roads through the San Bernadino national forest.  After the Angeles Crest, I rode on Rt 18 past Big Bear Lake and this was also a great ride. The next destination was Las Vegas.  It was over 100 degrees for a good part of the ride today with the highest temp at 109.  I reached Las Vegas at around 7:30 and stayed at the Golden Nugget right on Fremont St.

Day 8 – 6/6/13

Well, I made it to Kaydee and Steve’s house and will be spending the weekend with the kids.  Today’s ride was mostly freeways making it a nice easy rode for the most part.

It was around 80 degrees outside when I left Sonora this morning as I headed South towards Los Angeles.  The first hour or two I rode through some nice hills and agricultural land with little traffic.  I had to follow a detour around a train derailment, but other than that, it was a nice easy ride.  By around 11:00 I got to the freeway (Rt 99) and began the long ride to LA.

It got pretty hot near Fresno with temperatures in the high 90’s for a couple of hours.  About an hour past Bakersfield the temperatures went down to the mid to high 80’s as I passed through the mountains and merged on to I5.

I hit some traffic going through Los Angeles that had traffic backed up for miles.  At one point, I had a red flashing light on the dash warning me that the bike was very hot.  Luckily, We got moving and it quickly cooled back down to a normal temperature.  Lane splitting is legal in CA but I found it to be very difficult to split lanes on the BMW.  The side bags stick out quite a ways and you need a fair amount of room between cars.  On the Harley, I would hit the throttle and make some noise so that cars would move over and give me enough room but that doesn’t work on the nearly silent BMW. My attempts at lane splitting were really more like weaving through traffic cutting people off.  I probably pissed off quite a few CA drivers.

It took me almost 40 minutes to get through two major traffic backups in LA.  I ended up getting to Kaydee and Steve’s house just after 4:30 pm.  I’ll be offline for a few days as I visit with family.

Miles today:
Total miles:
States: CA

Day 7 – 6/5/13

There are so many ways I could start today’s post …

  • A “Can-Do” attitude combined with a healthy dose of testosterone and machismo will only get you just so far (approx. 300 yards in this case)
  • Find another route when the GPS tells you to go up a dirt road
  • Pay attention to signs that say “This road is not maintained, drive at your own risk” and avoid these roads
  • A big touring bike such as the BMW K1600GTL is not made for off road use,  trust me on this one

As you can probably tell, I had a difficult start to today’s ride.  As I left the hotel with the destination entered into the GPS, I came to a dirt road about a mile from the motel.  At first look, it appeared to be short dirt road maybe a 1/2 mile long that connected to Rt. 6.  I went back and forth half a dozen times looking at the road and then back at the GPS to verify that it really wanted me to go this way and decided, “What the heck, I can handle a short dirt road”.  As it turns out, this was a really bad choice.

For the first hundred yards, it wasn’t too bad.  However, it soon started getting a lot worse.  The hill got steeper so I started looking for a place to turn around.  I didn’t want to lose any momentum up the hill because of all of the loose dirt and rocks so I kept going nice and slowly.  Then, it got really bad,  The road turned into a trail that I can only describe is meant to be used by people with 4×4’s.  I’m screwed now and I’m all but certain that I’m going to drop the bike.

After successfully negotiating  a few huge ruts (thing 12″ deep ruts) I came to a spot where a second trail branched off of this road so I stopped and started backing up to turn around.  As I slowly back up, I loose my footing in the loose dirt and rocks and the bike slowly goes over on its right side and hits the ground with a dull thud as the plastic side bags flex to absorb the energy of the fall.

So, I dismount the fallen bike, take my helmet, jacket, and gloves off and assess the situation.  I dropped the BMW in my garage once and was able to lift it back up but this is different.  Now I’m on loose dirt with the handlebars sitting a bit below the wheels so I’ve to to lift it more than 90 degrees.  I flipped the kickstand down so that it wouldn’t go over the other way when I lift it up.

My first feeble attempt to lift the bike hardly budged it and merely rocked it back and forth across the large rocks and dirt that the bike was resting on.  I regrouped and gave it another try and got the bike up to about a 45 degree angle before my feet started spilling in the loose dirt so I gently let the bike back down listening to the plastic bodywork again grind into the large stones.  My next two attempts ended up about the same.  There was simply no way that I was going to be able to get the bike upright by myself so I sat down to rest a bit before heading down the hill to look for help.

When I got to the bottom of the hill, I stopped in a highway maintenance shop to see if anyone was around.  No one was there so I walked to the next building which happened to be the Ely Town Hall.  I went in and the first door was the County Treasurer’s office.  I explained my situation to the woman that was working there and she went to find someone to help.  One of the court Baliffs came downstairs and I told him where I was and what had happened.  He smiled and said that I wasn’t the first person who had made this same error in judgment – it apparently happens frequently.

We got in his truck and headed up the hill.  As we approached the bike, he had to stop and put the truck in 4 wheel drive to get through the large ruts and up past the bike.  We got out and started lifting the bike.  Even with the two of us, it was quite a challenge to get the bike upright but with some grunting and straining, we got it back on to the kickstand. The way the bike was positioned, it would not rest on the kickstand without falling over so my new best friend held the bike while I went to the other side and got on the bike.

After quite a bit of engine cranking, the bike finally fired up.  We threw my gear into the back of the truck and I carefully negotiated my way back down the hill.  At this point, I’m totally exhausted and all but certain that I’m probably going to drop the bike again but somehow, I made back down the hill to the pavement.  As I stopped, I realized that I had been so focused on getting the bike back down the hill, that I had not taken any pictures.  Oh well, I still have a good story.

Upon inspecting the bike, the only thing that broke was the right-side highway peg that is attached to the engine guard.  The mirror swings away when it hits the ground so it just popped back into place.  Of course there are also some good sided scratches/gouges in the plastic, but all-in-all, it’s not as much damage as I had anticipated.

I thanked my Baliff friend (I never did ask his name) and we discussed alternate routes to get to Rt. 6 that were comprised of paved roads.  I got back on the road at about 9:00, only about an hour after today’s adventure began.

The rest of the day went pretty well.  I headed West on Rt 6 to Tonopah with a full tank of gas because, it’s a long way between gas stops.  In this case, the next services on Rt 6 were 167 miles meaning that there would be no gas stations for quite a while.

I reached Tonopah at about 11:30, stopped for gas, and headed towards Sonora Pass.  I had wanted to got across Sonora Pass a few years ago but decided to to to Yosemite instead.  Sonora Pass has some spectacular scenery.  The road on the eastern side has very steep grades and hairpin turns.  Much of the ascent up the mountain was 1st and 2nd gear making it a rather challenging ride.

Somewhere at around the midway point of the ride through Sonora Pass, it started to rain.  Not a lot of rain but enough to make the roads wet and to put my raincoat on.  The second half of the ride across Sonora Pass was nice easy winding roads which I found relaxing.

By the time I got to Sonora CA, I decided to call it a day.  It was only about 4:30 but I was exhausted from this mornings “Adventure” and a few hundred miles of riding so I found a hotel and stopped for the night.

Miles today:
Total miles:
States: NV, CA