Tag Archives: K1600GTL

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.

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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.