Road Test

So the guys at Bahnstormer stepped up and lent us a 2021 BMW R1250RT LE for a few days.  To get it close to a specification we would be buying they were going to fit an RT top case but didn’t have one when we turned up to collect, so Keith grabbed one off a K1600.  This is slightly different to the R1250RT one in that the K version has a more rounded backrest with a headrest bit and according to Alison was superbly comfortable, so that’s the option we would go for. 234 miles later…

We picked it up on Tuesday and headed up to No. 131 at Cheltenham – a “cool hotel” – which is run by a friend of ours, Ricardo.  This was the first time I’d ridden a motorbike since my little ‘off’ in July 2019… So why not start with a small 96 mile ride on mixed roads?

First thing, though, was to connect up the iPhone to the RT.  I’d already downloaded the BMW Motorrad Connected app and downloaded the maps for it.  So we then had to get the app to connect which was a little more difficult.  Retry and it worked. Next up was the connection of the RT to my Cardo PACKTALK Bold – the RT can connect to a phone and two headsets, so that’s a positive for two-up touring – which went effortlessly.  The iPhone then sits in a ventilated box with wireless charging.  That seemed to work intermittently, as I kept hearing it starting charging through the Cardo and watched it start to run down occasionally too.  I have no idea why BMW don’t simply move over to Apple CarPlay like they do with their cars. That way I could use Waze with the benefit of its warnings…  On our last day, a mile or two from our destination, the BMW Connected app … wasn’t.  It just dropped out and I had to reconnect.

Round to the Abarth where we packed our Triumph pannier liner bags into the RT’s panniers and my Givi 30L stuffer back into the top case – which has a high level brake light and an internal courtesy light – and put our waterproofs and spare gloves around it.  And then off.

Anyway, back to Cheltenham. We arrived after a great 96 mile ride and parked up … in the hotel’s restaurant which is now outside since COVID-19.

Restaurant Parking

A couple of gins later – they have hundreds! – we showered in our fabulous room and headed down for a delicious meal.

The next morning, we headed down to breakfast and our purchasing dilemma given our ‘unique’ living arrangements (spreading ourselves between London and Corralejo), registration dates and delivery periods, etc.

We then rode another brief 25 mile ride down to the Bay Tree at Burford, where we got married three years earlier. We sat out in the garden for drinks and then headed over to our friend Jules’ place at Kingston Bagpuize, another 30 miles in total.  This was on the apps “windy” setting, with the selection in the middle.  It took us down some ‘interesting’ B-roads to say the least.

We had tried Dynamic and Road modes and realised that Road mode is a bit bouncy but very plush over dodgy road surfaces, but Dynamic firms it all up and the information from the app shows some good lean angles and G-forces.

A romantic meal with a  bottle of champagne and off to bed.  We headed out after breakfast and made our way back to Alton, stopping only for fuel.  A very windy day but behind the fairing it was calm and despite its size, the RT wasn’t particularly affected by crosswinds.  Colder than the previous days, Alison was using the heated seat which is separate from the rider’s to keep her core warm.  Another 83 miles.

Superbly comfortable and capable. I don’t think the optional Akrapovic is needed as the standard is growly enough and the Akra isn’t any smaller or neater.

Our only issue is we shouldn’t get one before May 2022 because of our travel, the March registration change and winter weather to go with delivery periods.

And as for me riding a motorbike again? It’s good to be back in the saddle after two years.

Can I Get a Test Ride?

OK, so having narrowed the field down a bit in terms of a replacement for my deceased Triumph Sprint GT1050 (now that the amputations are all over and I’m just about fit enough to ride, albeit with some pain, following my little ‘off’), the BMW R1250RT LE is looking really positive, albeit with a couple of small caveats:

  1. For some reason BMW seem to be having problems with the audio system? Their website states that “unfortunately it is currently only possible to offer the audio system preparation for the motorcycle.”  Whatever that means.
  2. Despite Bluetooth connectivity and a connected app from BMW, Apple CarPlay isn’t an option so you can’t use Waze, Maps or Google Maps for navigation with real-time updates.
  3. Why no top case as standard on a tourer? The Sprint came with full luggage as standard.

Clearly, the next step is to try one for a test ride with Mrs RHM.  She had issues – understandably so – with the luggage on the Tiger 1200 which has put us off somewhat, although the long overdue model update might remedy this?  Jack Lilley (as they then were) were kind enough to lend us a demo for a couple of days and we did a few hundred miles on it.

So I contacted Park Lane BMW, or at least they contacted me after I’d had issues getting information from BMW’s website, but unfortunately they could only offer a couple of hours’ ride due to their insurance issues.  They suggested a rental company but they don’t appear to have the R1250RT, just the GS.

I have now contacted Bahnstormer at Alton to see if they can help out; they’re the people who sold my mate Yox his R1200GSA a short while ago.

And just in case, I’ve replied to BMW UK to see if I can grab one of their press fleet for the planned three day trip to the Cotswolds in August: a nice mixture of motorways, A-roads and B-roads.

Work, Work, Work

So my planned extended test ride all went to pot when, instead of relaxing after a long-haul flight back from Johannesburg, I had to travel instead to San Francisco to win some work for us, meaning three long-haul flights in as many days and losing the weekend as a result.

Fast forward a couple more weeks and more changes – a potential client meeting in Stockholm – and I’m now trying to squeeze in a proper test ride before April. Luckily Jack Lilley have been really accommodating, including truncating this week’s planned two day ride into just the one day tomorrow without complaint and fitting the bike with a full luggage set so we can see if they clash or make things uncomfortable on the back.

Five Years Old

So today it’s five years since the Death Star – as it’s been called – came home.

I celebrated by taking it to get its MoT done – another pass – along with an annual service at Jack Lilley Romford.

It has now covered 9,484 miles (2017 6,954 miles and 2016 5,516 miles).

I test rode the new Tiger 1200 XRt at the same time. Good power, much more upright riding position and all of the toys, including cruise control and heated rider and passenger seats as well as automagic suspension adjustment. On the minus side, after not too long riding it, I had a numb bum so how it would cope with a Eurothrash, I didn’t know. Oh and the small matter of it costing £17,800 with panniers and top box! Ouch! Remember that the Sprint GT was only £8,500 (£9,500 today with inflation).

So I’m hoping that with the bar risers fitted, the Death Star might have a few years’ life left in it yet. I’ll find out tomorrow when I’m planning a blast around Kent and East Sussex.

Test Ride

Well it was time for for the test ride to see if I liked the bike. So on Saturday I rode over to Metropolis Motorcycles at Vauxhall who had a black Sprint GT demo bike with 590 miles on the clock (now for sale!). The weather was perfect for a test ride: overcast and very windy with a hint of rain.

After filling in the test ride forms and copying of licences, etc, the bike was duly unlocked and pushed out of the showroom for me … when it refused to start as the battery was almost out of charge. Damn! It was shoved around to the back and into the workshop where it could be jump-started from another slave battery and so it was off at last. No luggage was fitted to the demo bike, which gave me mixed feelings in terms of a test ride.

Heading out into traffic, the riding position seemed very natural; slightly bent forward but feeling roomy. The triple sounds nice, even with the mahoosive silencer, so the bike felt good as I rode through Battersea and Wandsworth and then out onto the A3 where I could open it up.

Obviously at 128bhp at the crank, it’s way down on power compared with my ZRX1200R – which is putting out 163bhp at the rear wheel – but it was certainly brisk enough up to high cruising speeds. It was nice at those speeds to be able to look round and ride generally without straining my neck from the wind blast.

Then onto some single carriageway A-roads into Epsom to pick up “GT” for a pillion test. In view of the battery issue, I left it ticking over for a while until Fi was ready and then off we went … or we would have if it hadn’t stalled as I put it into gear. And it was dead! So GT had to help me bump start the GT which it did fairly easily once onto a slight incline. Phew!

Demo Side View

Demo Side View

Demo Front View

Demo Front View

That silencer would have to go!

Off over to Ryka’s at Box Hill to see what it was like two-up. And the answer was “great”. Lots of room for a pillion and two large grabrails to hang onto. Not much buffeting either, apparently. This particular model seemed to have a 6 speed gearbox with a few false neutrals included…

After a cuppa and a chat with Mark who’d popped over as he is also thinking of buying one, it was time to head back. Fortunately, there was no misbehaving with the battery this time!

We headed up Box Hill itself to Headley which was a great choice because of the hairpins (reminiscent of my recent Pyrenees Eurothrash): we had wondered if it would be unwieldy in very tight bends with its relatively long wheelbase, but it was absolutely fine.

Once I’d dropped Fi off I headed back out for a circuitous route back to London so I could crank it up properly joining the A3 and it hustled along really well and really easily. I did find that it actually dropped into a false neutral from 4th a couple of times which would have been a worry if I’d read of similar experiences from other owners.

My overall impression was of a grown-up, sensible machine rather than my hooligan ZRX.

So then. Back to Metropolis…