Saturday, October 30, 2010

Test Rides

The weather here in the southeast USA is spectacular in October and November. Riding is heavenly. Of course, I like riding pretty much any time, but that's a different story. On my way up to the mountain cabin, I stopped at BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta to buy another pair of those great tights I blogged about earlier. Alas, my size was sold out, but Lynda is ordering more.

So I had to test-ride a few bikes. I just had to.

Bob pushed an Adventure into the parking lot for me. When he fired it up ... wow, the gurgle from the pipe was throaty. The best sounding BMW I have ever heard. We made sure it was road-ready together, and that's when I noticed it had only eleven miles on it. Fitting, considering the name of this blog, and what I have gotten myself into next June. I decided to not put too many miles on the bike. And for that matter, I really needed to feel what the Adventure was like on the freeway. I slid my leg over the beast. It's tall, but I have long legs. Not a problem at all, maybe even a feature. My current K1200GT is a bit cramped for my 35 inch inseam.

Getting out of the dealership can be tricky with high traffic, especially if one is heading north. I gassed it. 'Twas a nice feeling. The Adventure has plenty of torque. It seemed to develop power at a fairly low RPM, but I wasn't keeping close tabs on the tachometer. I do know the powerband starts earlier than on the GT.

A few rights and a left to test ground clearance (it was excellent), and I was on I-75 heading north. The tank and windscreen offer good protection. About the same as the GT, but with buffeting in different places. I think the wind off the top of the screen is somewhat less pronounced than the GT, but also less linear. It's hard to describe. Less volume, more turbulent. The screen is adjustable along an arc, and this one was set to the top position, which was not changed during my 22 mile ride up I-575.

I reset the average miles-per-gallon calculator in the on-board computer. It showed 42 mpg for most of the ride. I'm not sure if I should believe that calculation. I've read wildly varying mileage testimonials for this and other oilheads on the internet, and all of them claim more than 42.

The seat, set in an unknown position since I think it is adjustible, pushed me towards the tank. It seemed to be sloped downward. As Bob noted to me afterwards, the seat is great for a day in the mountains, but I will strongly consider an aftermarket saddle for the IBR - for whichever bike I choose.

I stood up on the pegs at speed. I could fully extend my shoulders if I pulled my palms (only) off the grips. I still had full control of the bars. That means lots of room. The pegs themselves are very wide, with two or three cross-bars, so they distributed my weight along a larger portion of the bottom of my foot. I'm not used to that. I could get used to it. Quite comfortable.

The instruments are small, but I tend to ignore the tach once I get used to a bike. And I'm also used to getting my speed with my maps - on my GPS. It's a more efficient viewing experience.

Oilheads vibrate at idle much more than new-gen K-bikes. At 80, the Adventure was approximately as smooth as my GT. The GT pushes more vibration to the pegs and grips than you might expect. The Adventure's vibrations seemed to be a lower frequency, which was more pleasant.

I returned to the dealership without incident, despite the trooper on the side of I-75. Sometimes having a few cars around you is a good thing. Bob and Lynda and I chatted about the Adventure. Considering the 2011 IBR starts in the vicinity of a certain state with a certain Haul Road, it is still my top-ranked bike for the November purchase.

But then Bob pushed a 2011 RT into the parking lot. He is an evil man. I loved my short ride on the RT. Again, it idled more roughly than the GT, but it was far more smooth than the Adventure at all speeds. Wind protection was wonderful. I didn't even need the screen in its top position. It handled buffeting from 18 wheelers much better than the Adventure, and about the same as the GT. It is by far the most comfortable motorcycle I have ever ridden. It fit me even better than my old K1200LT fit. If it weren't for the Alaska factor, I would have bought it yesterday. Okay, I was running late to get to the cabin, too, and I was in charge of making dinner.

So I got on my trusty old beat-up GT and rode off into Friday afternoon traffic. I opened up the 'Stich and lowered the windscreen. And here's the next problem - I really like my bike. So I have to choose between three options for next Summer's madness. I think I might be a lucky man.

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