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Last Updated:
04.06.2012

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since 04.04.2000


Steve

OK, now we have seen it all! Steve and Debs say they love living down in Gloucester, and they still look the same (more relaxed, now the stress of selling up and moving is over of course) but they appear to have changed their jobs (bar staff last time we saw them) and their transport has also changed. I have taken the following picture off the forum, where Steve claims it as his latest acquisition; more room for the pipe and slippers, I guess. Or do they plan to sleep in it? It is certainly larger than the tent they had last year.

MT500

People were a bit shocked when I told them I'd just bought a Harley! This beauty is an MT500, as used by the British, Canadian and Jordanian military for some years. The original design started in Italy, was bought by CCM/Armstrong, and eventually ended up owned by Harley Davidson.

At last, a Harley you don't have to polish - I especially like the 'Harley Davidson' side panels!

I just need to remember how to use a kick start again - I've been spoilt for a number of years now. First time I've owned anything with a 'valve lifter', but I'm sure I'll work it out.

Honda VFR750FK

Welcome to my midlife crisis! A little bit quicker than the Beemers, bloody uncomfortable (though I think I'm getting used to it now) but loads of fun.

BMW R1100R

A few expensive electrical problems with the GS, combined with an uncomfortable riding position and massive side-wind vulnerability, has prompted me to change bike again. I've headed back to the "Roadster" section of the Beemer catalogue - this time an 1100 (10hp power hike over the 850 I had previously, otherwise an identical machine.)

Only had it a few days, so I'll have to write some more about it soon - really enjoying it so far.

BMW R1150GS

This is my last bike - a BMW R1150GS - You can read the "My Bike" article that I did for StreetBiker below.

This was my last-but-one bike - a BMWR850R. 42 thousand miles in two and a half years,so it got used a fair bit!
Previous bikes (currently on No. 14 - not bad since 1992) include:

  • Bandit 600
  • Honda 400/4
  • loads of small, ancient honda twins (CB's, CJ', CD's)
  • Jawa 350 with sidecar (and no, I'm not embarrassed to admit it)




The start of a motorcycling career. (I'm the cute one in the middle)

If you're really stuck for something to do, you can check out pictures of my previous bikes (and other miscellanous garbage) here

A nice contrast to the Beemer is my 250cc Honda Superdream. Ok, it's no where near as fast as the BMW, but the brakes are crap, so it's still exciting.


Back to the members index.

"My Bike" article, as featured in StreetBiker.

BMW R1150GS 2000 model.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my BMW R1150GS. This is my second Beemer, which I've had for around 18 months now, clocking up around 24,000 miles.

The GS is the best all-round bike I've ever ridden. The "all-round" title is normally applied to large sports-tourers, but anyone who has tried to ride a fully laden VFR over a muddy rally field knows that those bikes won't do everything. The GS seems to handle every situation deftly - motorways are eaten up by the tall overdrive gear, traffic is effortlessly filtered through, country A roads happily thrashed down, two-up trips with camping gear taken in it's stride.

The GS is more than just an off-road styled machine. The wide bars and superbly balanced low centre of gravity make this a capable rough terrain machine. While I'm not brave enough to take a bike weighing nearly a quarter of a ton off-roading proper (some people do), I can testify that it makes short work of all the mud, gravel and general debris that fill the single track country lanes on my commute to work. Even on the odd occasion that a wheel slips sideways, it happens so gently (even politely!) that there is plenty of time to correct matters - by the time panic sets in, you are already upright again, amazed at how clever those Germans are!

A popular Beemer myth is that they are expensive to buy and run, but I haven't found this to be the case. New and second-hand prices are a fair bit higher that Jap bikes, but this is made up for by excellent resale value. Similarly, servicing seems to be quite reasonable - a major service is around 200, and a minor around 130, which is as good or better than servicing on other bikes I've owned. The shaft drive also removes a regular expense from all-year round riding. Add to this the 6000 mile service interval, reasonable insurance costs and 45-50 MPG and it becomes an affordable commuting tool.

Beemers all seem to be very tall, and the GS is one of the tallest. Fortunately, it comes equipped with an adjustable seat, which lowers the bike by around 30mm - good news for us vertically challenged (a.k.a. stumpy) riders. Even with my disproportionately short legs, I don't have any real problems getting my feet down (except for those heart-stopping pothole-under-the-boot moments, but we all suffer from them).

Two of BMW's contributions to bike design (which don't seem to have caught on yet, but maybe one day), are the Telelever and Paralever - know respectively as "Weird Front End" and "Weird Back End". The Paralever prevents the suspension winding-up under traction (a common problem with older shaft-drive systems), and the Telelever reduces fork-dive under braking. The Telelever takes a bit of getting used to, but is much better than conventional forks. The reduced dive also means that your pillion doesn't head-but you every time you touch the anchors.

However much I like my GS, it's still not perfect. The main criticism I have is the comfort level. I've had both seats gel-padded, which now means discomfort after an hour and a half, as opposed to agony after 40 minutes, but it's still far from being a practical touring bike. This is a shame when the tank range is around 200 miles.

My other niggle is with the ABS system. I wouldn't have chosen this if buying a new bike (it's an 800 optional extra), but my second hand GS came with it on. I haven't been in a situation where it has triggered correctly (after eleven years of riding, I should know how to brake by now!), but have had a few occasions where it has triggered without good cause. This is usually under firm braking, and has the effect of releasing your brakes for a significant fraction of a second, increasing your stopping distance by a few feet. Your first reaction is to release your brakes, which just makes matters worse. There have been suggestions that ABS should be encouraged on more bikes - I reckon it's no replacement for learning to brake correctly, and adds a very complicated mechanical and electrical system that is just asking for problems.

Problems aside, I love my GS, and haven't found another bike that will do everything I need. When it comes time to replace my current GS, it's probably going to be for another GS (without ABS this time!).