Tuesday 1 September 2015

BMW GS and Me - Part 1 of 2

This post is gonna be a wordy one, so if you really have the patience and interest, grab yourself a cup of coffee or hot chocolate (or any other drink that suits you). This is about my stint with a particular model of motorcycle from BMW. Here is a spoiler to start with, no, I don't own one, not yet;). Now you may ask 'then why write about it? Why not about any other motorcycle? There are plenty in the market currently, to aspire for, isn't it?!!' Well, you are right in asking so, and ironically, this model is not something I wish to buy either. It's just that I have a special corner for this bike due to some reasons, which I will be talking about here in this post. So if you are curious to know, I sincerely thank you for your interest and you may read on.

Well to start with and make it very clear, Adventure motorcycles, which I think have descended from the breed that used to be known as general-purpose motorcycles, are totally my thing. Of course, I do love sports bikes, cruisers, and dirt bikes, heck I even had a lot of fun on a punny 80cc moped. Each one has something to offer in terms of riding, provided the person on the saddle knows what to expect from the steed. Having said that, my motorcycling interests started to lean towards adventure touring due to my love for nature and passion for exploring new places. I used to get very excited every time we encountered a new trail route or a water stream during my cycling days. Same interests I just carried over to motorcycles I guess. The only difference was, the motorcycles I had access to (e.g. HH CD100, CD100SS, HH Splendor, HH Sleek, and maybe a Bajaj Boxer, etc), were built for anything but trails. You may ask what about Off road?!! Well during my childhood days, growing up in a small town surrounded by a lot of greenery and hills, any detour from the main street would take you to the trails. I consider myself blessed to have experienced that and made the most out of it on my mountain bike(/cycle). But taking the 100cc feeble HH on such routes was sheer torture for the vehicle, and of course, my dad never got to know how that well-maintained motorcycle got all shaky and loose every now and then:P I am sure he must have figured it out by now:)

So those were the kind of bikes I used to ride and for drooling over, I had the posters and computer wallpapers of sports bikes from Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, etc.  As I rode more and more I realized sticking to the pavement seemed like the only option, more so due to the lack of capability of the motorcycles at hand. However, I used to ride as far as I could, with the only constraint that I had to be back at home before sundown. Of course, back then my folks didn't know that I was going so far, for them I am always at a friend's place just around the corner of the street. lol.

My interest in touring got shaped up along the way, but there is this one incident, to which I owe the fire in my belly for adventure touring. It was somewhere in 2004. On a Sunday morning, I was just skimming through the newspaper looking for mostly product advertisements. LOL. I think that's what I used to enjoy looking at, among the otherwise biased news articles. So I kept turning pages, reading through some of the headlines which seemed mildly interesting to me. Just then my eyes got stuck on one of the articles about these two lads from Britain and their around-the-world motorcycle trip which ended in New York.

Photo Courtesy: My good 'ol motorcycling scrapbook, i.e. Sid's Motorcycle Diary v1.0

Boy oh boy, was I excited. The thought that somewhere in this world, someone is going around the globe on a motorcycle, through new places, and meeting new people was just so amazing. The assurance I got from this article about touring the world on a motorcycle, was comparable to that of a saint who just experienced the presence of God. No kidding!! This news was very important for me at that point, as being a rebellious kid (which I used to be back then against the norms set and followed by others), to justify my hobbies/interests of exploration, to my parents and everyone else, so that they stop worrying and stop restricting me too much. I kept reading that article loud a couple of times to annoy my parents. Lol. It was so much fun, to have the feeling of being right. Hehe:P

Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor

Pic of the stock bike (picture taken from the internet)

The route they took for the world trip

In 2005, R1150GS got replaced with the R1200GS

Back then I used to gather engine specs for various motorcycles and learn about the features of every motorcycle on the international market. But I was mostly stuck with either super sport bikes or Harley Davidson, due to a lack of awareness about other segments I guess. But this article got my attention to this new breed which these two guys rode all around the world. I wasted no time in digging out all the information from the internet, I could about the bikes. I also started taking more interest in other bikes in this category. But much to my bad luck and the Indian motorcycle market, these never really arrived in India (let's not talk about the BMW Funduro here!). With time I forgot about this bike, until a few years ago. While I was living and working in the UK, I used to see two of these bikes in my parking lot, almost every single day while entering the office building. They looked fabulous for the first few weeks, but as the days passed by, I realized they were too big for my size and kinda impractical for me to think of doing long-distance touring on them, let alone off-roading. Not that I could afford one back then, yet I just wrote it off from my wish (/upgrade-to) list. Rather I developed an interest in the 650/700/800 cc models. Which for me seemed would be just perfect. I know I can lift one up if I crash. As fate had it I crossed paths with the younger siblings of 1200, from time to time.

Saw this F650GS on the streets of Barcelona in 2012

BMW F650GS side view (picture taken from the internet)

I Met Dan from the UK (here with Heiko, a world tourer from Germany who was astride his Honda African Twin) while riding from Kargil to Leh last year.

Dan's F650GS Dakar. He used to own an F1200GS but sold it off as it was too heavy for him, for adventure touring.

This is how the F650GS Dakar looks like when fully loaded (picture taken from internet)

So basically during this period of riding and exploring, somehow the mighty BMW R1200GS got faded out from my thoughts, until last month.

Continue reading Part 2 of 2.

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