Wednesday, 13 August 2014

BMW GS or Bust

A fully kited out ABR  - Icon Suit notwithstanding

The BMW 800GS was my second bike, quickly purchased post a brief and profitable foray with a Suzuki VStrom which I picked up for a song. Suckered into the GS fraternity by promises of adventures by Ewen Macgregor,  (Charley, was the sidekick at that time) it was fully kitted out with Caribou Panniers, Jesse Side Bars and Heidi Tyres and it really looked the part. The 30th Anniversary Paint job finished off the required ABR look. A frustrating digital subscription  to Adventure Bike Rider magazine complete with articles by "Dave an ABR from Brighton" on his latest foray though the Rhine Valley war fields via some rubbish cafe in Strasbourg should have sounded the warning bells, but no.

It took a hairpin 2000m up an Italian Alp to really seal the deal. "ABRism" and its love of the tank like BMW GS was fetish I had finished with. A marketing con for me at least, which came crashing down in a heap of dirt and rubble. These machines I now believe are the motorcycle riders equivalent of the Caravan Club "car of the year recommendations".  Great for towing you home about behind you but rubbish in a fight.

Its the add-ons which turn an already Scorpion Tank like ride into a Chieftain Tank width and weight machine. Don,t get me wrong they handle the weight of the 4 lights, steel panniers, engine bars, bash plates, huge luggage racks strong enough to anchor a Mule to and a repair kit so extensive you could repair a jumbo jet with, quite well, and they are good on the road. But when you drop them you need your entire family and a the accompanying film crew to pick them up. (Episode 2 - The Long Way Round)

Having ridden quite a lot of mountain dirt roads with my GS, it was not until Greg Watts, a fellow, at that time GS owner, struggled up and down the Col du Prapaillion, described the experience as "survival riding and not that much riding fun" did the penny really drop.

The suspension sucks, they dive and wallow under the weight (even with progressive springs), they are way to heavy by at least a 100kg loaded and impossible to pick up on your own if you happen to drop them on a road thats even just off the flat. The 800GS seems worse the the 1200GS as its carries its weight differently. Furthermore they are way to pretty to scuff, scratch and dent. Fine if your using someone else's on a dirt course in Wales, but drop your £15,000 machine on a sharp Italian rock and you will cry. Its not the zippy carefree fun it should be. Time to move on.

The Col du Prapaillion - France

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