Tag Archives: BMW R1150GS

BMW R1150 GS; Or, a tale of a biker’s two mistresses.

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The BMW R1150GS is an unashamedly plain yet capable bike. Designed under the Gelande/Strasse concept to be a genuine multi-surface all rounder. With it’s shaft drive power and air-cooled boxer engine it personifies straightforward design and engineering.¬†The world of plaid shirts, yellow visored Bell helmets, retro British customs and Californian sunshine is the very antithesis of this machine and it’s origin. To be honest, I spend a lot of my social media time ‘liking’ pictures of newly glamorous vintage Triumphs and Indians. In the UK the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club, Spirit of the Seventies, Sideburn Magazine, et al are getting an awesome new energy into British motorcycling. I think the US ‘Moto Lady‘ is inspirational for encouraging women to ride – and that’s a GREAT thing! Sometimes I look for local bike projects to get a custom project on the go. Obviously in a well equipped yet comfortable barn/man-cave. Perhaps I could get a tattoo.

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Note the overall awesomeness. Don’t get this so much in the UK!

However; once my garage door is open and the leaden English sky falls on an old german bike, thoughts of a custom scene fade away. It’s a good bike for the UK. The garage still throws up some confusing questions for me. Why do I own a BMW? Of all bygone industries and misplaced national pride, I firmly believe British motorcycling to be one of our great pieces of heritage. But there the BMW R1150GS is; mocking me. “Well, at least it’s not Japanese” I tell myself. Not that that should make a great difference but BMW, and Germany, didn’t mass produce clones of original British bike legends, destroying a whole industry and sport in the UK. Perhaps it was our fault for not remaining competitive, or loyal, or intelligent enough to realise what was happening.

It would be quite easy to mistake me for a reactionary senior citizen at this point, given to rants about the past and being generally resistant to change, any change.

I’m not. I’m 36. It’s just that, for once, I value something from the past more than the present. In the Baudrillian sense the British motorcycle has a sign, sentimental, economic¬†and functional value for me.

But, I own a BMW. Because why? Well, in the Baudrillian sense again it’s because I value it’s function and economic value more than what it represents. So I’m on the right (read sensible) side of the decision; own efficient, sorted bike and kit, dream about custom bikes on sunlit tarmac. If you’re reading this and live in the UK you will know what I mean. That morning commute in the cold rain on crap roads covered in cars. Those weekend blasts in which you get through the traffic areas to reach the dwindling number of good biking roads. Your bike is most likely a capable all rounder as well. But it shouldn’t stop you having a dream. They can’t take that away from you – no sirree.

Sunday Ride: Reeth, Yorkshire Dales National Park

The heat wave is still ongoing in the North of England so I took the opportunity to go for a ride to Reeth. We followed the River Swale and headed west from Richmond, stopped briefly for a chat in the village square and then found a little road over the moor out to the south.

The R1150 GS with top box only in the village square at Reeth. That’s the view of the Dales to the south, looking over the River Swale and up at the moor top.

Kate, my pillion for the day. She’s been on her Dad’s bike before so was absolutely fine with the sweeping corners on the fast bits. So fine in fact she leaned enthusiastically into a corner at one point, tipping us in a little more than I expected. All good on the big BMW though, rock steady and lots of lean in reserve. I was riding pretty sensibly as well.

We met James in Reeth as well. James is a local photographer (duophoto.co.uk) who knows the area pretty well and recommended some more far flung destinations. I’ll follow those up later on.

Also seen in Reeth; great touring posse of Royal Enfields.

Me with the new Shark Evoline helmet. It’s a great bit of kit so far. Series 3 has learned from the first versions of this flip up.

 

BMW R1150 GS

So having just completed around 800 miles – in three days! – on the new bike I can definitely say we’re bonding well.

The touring set up works well, it’s amazing the effect having the ‘light triangle’, the HID headlight and the Hella spots that is, has on other road users. I’ve only had one ‘pull out because I haven’t seen you’ moment and I would have expected slightly more given the amount of time on A roads I’ve just put in.

The screen is the 1150 adventure model and does its job. The extra width and height gives a significant increase in the overall surface area and this makes 70 (+) mph easier. I haven’t noticed the usual neck stiffness or tinnitus despite wearing a Shoei Hornet with a peak. This kind of distance on the KTM 950 Adv would have been very different – by now I’d have been temporarily deaf and dazed.

Today’s ride went from Betws-y-Coed in North Wales to North Yorkshire – without going on any motorways! It took in the rolling roads around Ruthin in North Wales, crossed to the Peak District and went over the Cat and Fiddle Pass, now speed restricted with average speed cameras sadly, and through Whaley Bridge. Pushing north I left the peaks by the Holmfirth Pass and went into the Yorkshire Dales, racing the setting sun as I followed the valleys north.

Genuinely one of the finest days I’ve had on a bike in the UK.