31 December 2010

Playing Around with a new Tracking Software

As Garmin Basecamp is pretty much unusable for any normal Mac user (and don't get me started on the flaws, it would take too much of my precious spare time to list them), I'm looking around for a software I can use for archiving tracks.

So far, the one I have found that might work for me is rubiTrack.

I just started playing around with it and it is more targeted for runners and bicyclists, but it might be good for keeping track of some interesting tracks from motorcycling, too.

Here's a nice screenshot (click the image for a larger view):

It also seems to work directly with my Garmin GPSMap 60CSx. I'll use it for a while and report back, but it looks promising so far.

26 December 2010

It's Christmas - Do Something Good!

If you are in the mood of doing a nice creature something good - click on the photo of the donkey on the right side of the page. It will lead you to the page of the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada where you can either just donate to the cause or even sponsor a donkey.

Donkeys are very lovely, patient, and intelligent animals and they love to be treated well - same as we do. And at the sanctuary they find companions, friends, supporters, and a lot of caring people. It's a good thing to support.

If you can - donate some dollars or sponsor one of the donkeys. We sponsor Earl Grey - and have visited him. He's really a character!

25 December 2010

Making the R1200GS More Off-Road Worthy

One of the things I found when riding in Southern California, being on some non-paved stretches, is that a bike needs good "tummy protection", especially when the ground clearance is not dirt bike like and when sand gets deep and there are ruts and rocks around.

The R1200GS has a not too bad ground clearance of roughly 19cm ( 7.5 inches). That's not too bad, but also not really good. The GS Adventure has quite a bit more but as I have the standard GS, it's something to be aware off.

When I was riding through the deeper sand in SoCal I didn't hit anything and I was pretty careful, but nevertheless, I was thinking of protecting the Catalytic Converter a bit more (sits right behind the standard bash plate and also to protect the side exhaust pipes. Wasn't very high on my list until we started looking into doing some off-road training next year. Even then this special part wasn't high on my list as the R1200GS has some not too bad protection underneath. You'd have to get unlucky to damage something badly.

$10 Well Spent

When I came back from my trip to Southern California I had a few ideas on how to improve the R1200GS for more comfort for me personally.

One thing I noticed are that the grips are fairly "skinny" and that for my hand size I would like them slightly thicker. Now, that was definitely something I didn't want to spent a lot of money on so I searched a bit and found the "Grip Puppies". Hmmm. Ten bucks? Worth a try ...

05 December 2010

More Gear that Works

Somehow, during the move from Germany, one or two of our moving boxes must have been lost somewhere. Maybe we brought them somewhere and forgot, maybe they were lost on the way to Canada or on the way to California. We don't know.

They contained:
  • an old motorcycle jacket from me
  • a full leather motorcycle suit
  • leather pants
  • two pairs of gloves (I really miss the winter gloves)
  • a neck warmer
  • a pair of motocross boots
  • and, one thing I really missed: knee warmers
Sometimes, call me stupid and you are right, I ride with my jeans instead of motorcycle pants with protectors - I only do that in town, on my commute, or similar, it's still stupid, but I just don't want to put the pants on every single time I get on the bike as the bike is my main transport. 

The main problem I have with jeans is the air that goes through so easily. It's not a big problem at the muscles, but it definitely is a problem for my knees. Therefore I had some neoprene knee warmers from Thermo Boy. They were absolutely awesome, I loved them, and I just had to get them, even as they are not sold in North America [1].

The things are just worn over the pants, closed with velcro and they keep your knees really warm. I bought them from an online store in Germany (Polo) for EUR 14.95, had them shipped to my mom there and she sent them to California. Worked out well. (Thanks, Mom!)

Long story short: if you are in Europe, preferrably Germany, or have somebody there, and if you sometimes have trouble with your knees getting cold and stiff when motorcycling, get a pair of those and your problem is solved! They can be worn over leather pants, even over motorcycle pants if the protectors are not too big. But then, if the protectors are large and thick, you won't need them anyways. I have them in my topcase at all times as I even wear them in the summer at night or in the morning, when it's chilly.


When Andrea and I were on the International Motorcycle Show here in San Mateo we also looked around for some gear to complete what we already have.

Andrea got a "neck warmer", a fleece collar that keeps neck and shoulders warm, also a better thingy to keep her hair back under the helmet and we both got some dual sport boots and Sokz.

The boots are Forma Boots (be aware, the site is crappy flash with stupid sound and music). They seem to be decent quality and we got a very good price for two pairs and four pairs of Sokz. Yes, the spelling is correct ...

I used the boots on my 2100km trip to Southern California and must say that they were really good. I might not like them as much in heat, but during the cold ride over Thanksgiving they worked pretty well, keeping my feet reasonably warm. Or, putting it this way, I didn't get cold from the feet up, it rather started at my hands, then arms and shoulders, then legs, then body, the feet really were the last body parts that got cold.

So far, thumbs up for the boots!

What works ...

There are some things I normally carry in my top case just because I know it might be helpful to have them with me (you can click on the picture on the right to see it in full size):

  • A small Maglite flashlight. I actually recommend a head lamp, but right now, I'm carrying the Maglite
  • Two small zip ties (more are in the tool roll)
  • The green thing is a a small towel
  • The black straps are elastic straps useful for pretty much everything that needs to be strapped somewhere
  • A Leatherman Wave combi tool
  • The plugs in the top middle are adaptors from the BMW 12V board system to USB; with this I can recharge an iPhone if I really have to
  • A tire gauge
  • Pre-moistured wipes for my glasses
  • A package of tissues (yes, the good German ones that are actually usable, not the  Kleenex crap); also some bigger paper towels
  • A small roll of duct tape
  • Spare earplugs for me, a potential passenger, and one pair as an emergency spare
Under the seat I currently have a beefed up tool set, that includes most items I need to make small fixes when on a trip, like tightening bolts or adjusting levers. At the moment I don't carry a tire kit, but I would probably just buy a complete one like this.

28 November 2010

Thanksgiving Trip 2010 - Summary

It took me a while, but here's now the summary of my trip during the Thanksgiving week and some notes for doing motorcycle trips.

Highway 1
On Monday, Nov. 22nd, I left Sunnyvale around 10 in the morning. I didn't want to spend too much time on roads I already know pretty well, so I headed out on 101 South towards Monterey to get on Highway 1. It was cold and windy in the Bay Area, the weather forecast was promising, rain later that day and I was hoping to escape the rain by heading towards Los Angeles and finally San Diego. 101 was as boring as expected but once I hit Highway 1 it was a very nice and pleasant ride.

25 November 2010

Some More Photos from Southern California Trip

Entrance to Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree NP - some side road
Getting better at riding on dirt roads

Action Shot 1

Action Shot 2

Playing around

That happens when you try to put a camera
back into a pocket while riding ...

23 November 2010

Some Impressions from Yesterday and Today

Detailed report still TBD, here are the initial impressions ...

Highway 1 - Just South of Monterey
The fun about to start

Somewhere around Big Sur - I think

Doesn't come across - it was cold (around 8 deg C)

Having fun

More fun

Carlsbad, CA, first time over 15C

It was damn cold here again (roughly 2 deg C or 36F)

Dirt Bike and 4WD Rentals

A pig in the sand - that beast is heavy

While we're at it - having more fun there

20 November 2010

GPS + Mount

I was searching for a GPS that fits my "needs and wants" for quite a while now. The problem is, there is none.

Garmin has stopped making GPS devices that I consider good for motorcycling, I will list some of the reasons here, but this is not even trying to be comprehensive or complete, just the things I dislike most.

14 November 2010

Very Cool Website ...

... for finding out how a bike might or might not fit you:


Well worth trying and playing around. Showed me why I felt the Multistrada was pretty much made for me and still could end up with the R1200GS: other than height of handlebar they are pretty much the same ...

03 November 2010

New Triumph Tiger

Triumph released their new "Tiger Cub", a pair of 800cc Triple bikes, one a Cross Country (XC) and one more street oriented version.

It sounds like a direct copy from BMW and it looks even more so:

Good Bye Honda

For years I was hoping that Honda would get their act together, fire their completely clueless design and engineering team and get back to good, solid, and nice looking bikes.

But this just beats just about everything in ugliness I have seen in a long time.

11 October 2010

Update on Givi Airflow

As you might know, I installed a Givi Airflow AF330 on my R1200GS. It's a good windshield, quite big, a little awkward looking but quite effective. The upper part moves easily up and down and with the given ability of the R1200GS to adjust the windshield's lean angle, this is a very flexible setup.

30 September 2010

Loooong week

It was a pretty long week. I haven't been riding since last week Wednesday or so. Too much work, house warming party, ... Today I took the R to ride to work. A short 4 mile ride. Not really worth it normally, but I was late and had to get in fast.

Hopefully I get out into the hills on the weekend. It's about time again ...

20 September 2010

Givi V46 Topcase

When I checked all the options for top and side cases for the R1200GS, I mentioned the Givi V46 as an option for me.

It is not as big as the Maxia E52 I had on my F800GS, but it's close - 46l, so just 6l shy of the big one. But it definitely feels quite a bit smaller. I was able to comfortably fit two helmets side by side in the E52, now the V46 fits one comfortably and two if I apply some "love". They fit but it's a very tight fit and I have to put one helmet on the side to close the lid. The helmets are Shoei Multitec (Size S if that makes a difference, but I think they have all the same shell size, just more padding).

Update: Givi Airflow

As you have probably read I've put a Givi Airflow AF330 Windshield on my R1200GS. I'm fairly happy with it so far. When I move the upper part to about 2/3 up it works quite well up to 65 mph. There is a slight buffeting / droning which annoys me a bit as it is the same thing I had with my F800GS - and which was one of the reasons I sold it - but it's much less pronounced and much less of a problem. And it starts around 60 to 65 mph, not around 50 mph.

This is how it looks like:

16 September 2010

Different Worlds

Crappy Cellphone Picture from Lowe's a Few Days Ago

15 September 2010

Preliminary Results with Givi Airflow

The Givi Airflow windshield I ordered last week arrived and I couldn't wait to install it tonight. It was fairly simple, I checked the instructions mainly to figure out which pieces were meant to go on in which order and it worked out fine.

When I had it installed it was too dark to take photos but I definitely wanted a test ride and went out on Highways 85 and 280 to try how it works. I stopped several times to adjust the height and overall I'm very impressed. I was up to pretty high speeds that I won't admit here and was surprised that I still had no problems keeping the visor open even at speeds I normally don't ride.

When going my typical 60 to 70 cruising speed I had the visor up all the way, no earplugs in and it was no problem at all. With the upper part of the windshield in the low position I got a little bit of wind in the face but not much, with it being halfway up or higher there was virtually no wind other than a little bit of turbulence sometimes. Nothing to worry about at all.

So far so good. I like it and I think it's a great value, especially together with the Adventure Winglets I installed a while ago. I wish I had that windshield last weekend for my trip to Lake Tahoe. Would have been a lot easier on the way back in the East Bay.

One thing: I would like to angle the windshield back a little bit more for even less turbulence and to get the distance between windshield and helmet a bit smaller but that doesn't seem to work given the way the BMW hardware works. I'll have to take a closer look again whether I missed something when assembling it again, but I think I got it right and there is not much more I can do there other than putting thick spacers under the front screws.

I'll report back when I find out more and I'll add pictures as soon as I can take them in daylight.

Oh, and one more thing: the upper part that can be moved catches quite a lot of glare from the headlights. In the dark it's pretty annoying, no problem when in city traffic but in dark rural environments this will be very distracting. I'll probably add something on top of the head lights to avoid the glare. I had that effect with the stock windshield, too, it just wasn't so pronounced.

Take the Manual With You

I prefer to leave the paper version of the manual for the R1200GS at home, but sometimes like to look something up.

What I did was downloading the manual for my bike from here and then putting the PDF into iBooks on my iPhone. This I carry with me anyways and therefore I have a PDF version of the manual always with me:

Riders Manual in iBooks on my iPhone

13 September 2010

Sunnyvale - Lake Tahoe - Mono Lake - Yosemite - Sunnyvale

It was a good weekend. And a looooong motorcycle ride. As planned, I left Sunnyvale, CA, on Saturday around 8:30 or so and followed Andrea to Lake Tahoe. She had left at 6:45 to meet friends in Placerville to go climbing in the Lover's Leap area in Eldorado National Forest and we had planned that I join them in South Lake Tahoe in the evening and stay there overnight before going back.

10 September 2010

Lake Tahoe Tomorrow!

This weekend is planned for a little getaway. Andrea and Dan will be climbing in the Sugar Loaf / Lover's Leap area in El Dorado National forest and I'll take my time and my GS to get there "the long way".

Click the image to get an interactive map on maps.google.com. This is the way I plan to take for getting there. I haven't decided how to go back but so far I think I'll just take the same route back. It's always different going the other way.

06 September 2010

Givi Airflow

As I really, really hope I can make some time for a tour next weekend and I want it to be comfortable, I ordered this windshield today:

05 September 2010

One of my Favorite Routes

I was trying to find a road today to connect from Pescadero Road to Highway 9 but must have either missed it or it's locked off. I passed quite a few roads that were blocked on Pescadero, so it's completely possible that there's no way going there.

Here's the route:

And here's the link to get the interactive route on Google.

Great Post about "First Motorcycle"-Decision

This is a really great article about why sportbikes are not good beginner bikes.

Personally I also think it applies to everything, that is too heavy and to powerful, not just sportbikes. Too powerful for a beginner  in my opinion is everything above 50HP, lower is better here, I started with 27 and that was about right for a standard street bike. Too heavy ... depends on your build. This is normally not that much of a concern but a lighter bikes makes handling easier and therefore cheaper because of less tip overs and less repairs ...

Just my personal opinion.

04 September 2010

Hammerhead Shift Lever

A week ago I installed Fastway footpegs on my R1200GS. Those are much lower and much wider than the stock ones. The problem with this now was that the original shift lever was too close to the pegs, so I always had to squeeze my foot in there to shift up. Not quite optimal.

Again a New Rear Rack

After I sold the MC Products Low Mount Rear Rack I immediately ordered a Givi SR689 rack. This is Givi's rack for installing top cases on 2007 and newer R1200GS. At least that's what Givi says, but from what I read it fits all R1200GS from 2004 and on. Don't rely on me though, I haven't tested this, just read it online.

One Month

30 August 2010

Btw: I Love this Bike

Just wanted to mention that ...

Engine Vibrations

I know, the R1200GS is a twin. It's a twin with two big combustion chambers. It will vibrate. It does vibrate. There is just no way around.

But, the amount of vibration, the frequency, and how it feels matters.

29 August 2010

Sunday Trip With Breakfast

As Andrea is traveling with her parents in Nevada / Arizona / Utah, seeing all the great National Parks there I was alone for the weekend and did short (about 4 hours overall, including breakfast at Alice's Restaurant) trip in the area.

28 August 2010

Adventure Winglets

A while ago I ordered Winglets from the R1200GS Adventure to install on my bike. My R1200GS is the 2010 standard GS model which means it has a smaller windshield than the Adventure and no Winglets which reflect wind that comes around the low sides of the windshield.

Making Fastway Pegs Even Better

Last week I installed Fastway foot pegs on my bike and it was an immediate comfort increase. Nevertheless, as the boxer is an engine with some vibrations, I didn't like the all metal surface which connects me directly to the frame and the vibrations ...

A little trick made that better:

These are original rubber inserts from R1200GS foot pegs. They fit right in the Fastway as if they were made for each other.

The right one in that picture is slightly greasy - I just got it from SJ BMW and it was sitting on their shelf for ages, therefore I got them with a good discount and to be honest: I put my feet there, rain or shine, so it doesn't really matter whether they are a bit dirty or not, they'll get some serious kicking anyways.

27 August 2010

Short Review of the MC Products Luggage Rack

As I wrote in my last posting, I received and installed the MC Products Low Mount Luggage Rack.

It is a really fine piece of hardware made from black anodized aluminum, thick, very stable, very well made. The overall quality of the rack is really incredible and it is also pretty well thought out - except one little thing and I will come to that later.

23 August 2010

Received the MC Products Luggage Rack

Today I received the MC Products luggage rack that I got used through ADVRider.com. It's an incredibly well made piece of aluminum! Black anodized with precision drilled mounting holes and attachment points for luggage straps all around.

It mounts really low as you can see here:

22 August 2010

600 Mile Service Checklist

Since I had the R in the shop for the 600 mile service, I thought I'd post what was done / checked on my bike:

  • Setting service-due date and countdown distance
  • Reading fault memory with BMW Motorrad diagnostic system
  • Engine oil change, with filter
  • Changing oil in rear wheel drive
  • Checking brake-fluid level, front
  • Checking brake-fluid level, rear
  • Checking freedom of movement of Bowden cables and checking for kinks and chafing
  • Checking tire tread depth and tire pressure
  • Checking spoke tension, adjust if necessary (I have spoke wheels)
  • Checking lights and signaling equipment
  • Function test, engine start suppression
  • Check the synchronization
  • Final inspection and check of road-worthiness
  • Reading fault memory with BMW Motorrad diagnostic system
  • Confirming BMW Service in on-board documentation

I found it interesting that the final drive oil was changed and I plan to do this again at 6k miles on my own if it isn't included in the service. Also interesting that they checked the fault memory twice, maybe just to make sure nothing got messed up during the service.

Photos of Installed Fastway Pegs

So, I took more photos to compare the original pegs with the Fastway pegs in the low position. What I should have done is use a tripod with a camera installed, all in the same position and take a "before" and "after" shot.

21 August 2010

Installed Fastway Footpegs Today

Today I installed a set of Fastway F3 footpegs. My goal was (and still is) to maximize the distance from seat to peg to create a very comfortable riding position.

20 August 2010

Tail Rack

So, I thought I'd do the tank bag first but happened to stumble over a used tail rack on ADVRider. I was looking at this one just a day ago to solve my immediate needs for some storage on the bike. It's an MCP Parts Low Mount Luggage Rack.

19 August 2010

Tank Bag Selection

Today I checked out the BMW tank bags for the R1200GS. They are quite big, mainly wide. I don't think that I want such a large bag. It looks like they could fit an A4 sized sheet of paper in there. That's neither what I need nor what I want. I'd like to get a place to put the wallet, the phone, ear plugs, and some other small pieces and that's about it.

The other downside is that it sits right on the tank and therefore will sooner or later scratch the paint there. So, I have a different idea ...

16 August 2010

Slight Slide ...

Today I had a not so nice experience while riding: in a corner leaned over pretty close to the edge of the tires, the bike started sliding. I'm not sure whether it was both wheels or just front, but I caught it pretty easy. I was surprised how easy it was actually to catch it, but initially I was surprised it was sliding at all. The street was clean, no sand or dirt there and nothing that would indicate a slippy surface. I have done that corner on the F800GS with dragging parts on the road without issues before.

I think it was due to the Metzeler Tourance EXP front tire being already at the edge while the back still had a bit to go. Not sure what's wrong with this but so far I never had tires where the front was used up to the edge earlier than the rear - a sliding rear is much easier to control than a sliding front and I was always under the impression that tire manufacturers account for this.

On the F800GS I had Michelin Anakee II and had them easily to the edge on the rear but never fully to the edge on the skinny 21" front of the small GS. Not sure whether it's because of the different dimensions, but so far I don't have the best impression of the Tourance tires that are mounted on the R at the moment and will be happy to replace them once they are worn. At least they start sliding in a very controllable way, but an inexperienced rider might have gone down because of that. I had them slide a few times already and that was definitely after "roughing them up". New tires are slippery, I know that and deal with it appropriately but those are just a bit too slippery, even after more than 600 miles.

Next time I get tires I'll get pure road tires as about 99.9% of my riding is on tar. Continental Road Attack or Michelin Pilot Road 2 might be a good choice for my style of riding.

15 August 2010

Gas Mileage

Since I had the bike in for the 600 mile service the gas mileage (according to the onboard computer) is way down. I had around 46 mpg before and on trips with Andrea on her own bike I was around 48 to 49mpg. Today we went for a ride again and I had a hard time getting it to 43mpg.

I will monitor that for at least a tank or two but will also check with SJ BMW whether the service included anything that might affect gas mileage. And no, I wasn't riding faster, if anything I was slower and more careful with Andrea in the tow.

High Tech Farkle

One of the most important things to make your bike unique ...

13 August 2010

Side Luggage Options (Lots of Pictures)

Over time I've looked at quite some luggage options for the R1200GS. There are lots and lots out there, all with different advantages and disadvantages. Here is my collection.

First Ride after Throttle Body Sync

Today I did my first ride after the throttle body sync during the 600 mile service yesterday. I rode home yesterday of course, but it was too short to get an impression. Today I took the slightly longer way home (15 miles instead of 4 miles) and it was pretty obvious that it is much better now. Less vibrations, runs smoother. Vibrations between 3k and 4k rpm are pretty much gone now, only there under load.

So far I'm now really happy with the bike. As I also don't get headaches anymore when doing highway runs, I can also go touring now. I only tried a 1 hour run two days ago as I very much prefer to stay off the highway but I really wanted to know. And this is good now too. I'm still using the OEM windshield and get some wind right against the helmet at visor level which is not optimal for noise, to be honest it is really loud! I'm always using ear plugs, so it's not a real problem but still ... I have Adventure Winglets on order at SJ BMW and will see how much they do with regard to wind noise as lots of the noise seems to come from air coming around the bottom of the windshield. Still, I'm not unhappy with the standard screen, so as long as I'm not planning long tours that is okay.

For long tours it's just nicer to have less noise plus a communication system to talk to my lovely wife! If we plan something like this or if I start riding longer tours, I'll probably get a Givi Airflow and be done with it. One thing I learned is a windshield needs to be adjustable. Everything else just plain doesn't work.

Some Protection

Today I had the R1200GS in for the first service. When I picked it up, it felt a bit nicer, smoother, less vibrations, better throttle response. Chris from SJ BMW told me the throttle body sync was off a bit and that's a common cause for slight vibrations.

So, I'm continuing with just riding the bike, having fun on it and slowly adding exactly the pieces I like to protect it, to make more comfortable for me, and later on, to also carry some luggage.

Sometimes It's the Little Things

The R1200GS was in for it's 600 mile service today and came back running a bit smoother again. Or maybe it was just the switch from the R1150R loaner that made it feel so much smoother ...

The little thing that bothered my on the F800GS was that I could not lock the steering with the handle bar turned in to the right side. When I get off the bike I was used to turn the handle bar to the right, so I have lots of space. Couldn't do that on the F as this couldn't be locked in that position. So I left it straight, put it on the side stand, got off, turned the handle bar to the left, locked. To get on, reverse this procedure.

On my Hondas I was able to just turn the handle bar to the right and be good with it. The R1200GS now has that feature again to be able to lock steering on both sides. Nice little difference, but it really should be available on the F, too.

A retro R120(0)GS

This is - in my opinion - an absolutely awesome mockup combining the original R80GS looks with modern elements from the R1200GS. Would love to see such a beast. It would probably be in direct competition with a Triumph Scrambler and the like. BMW would of course have to make some trade offs to come at least a bit closer to the Scrambler price tag, but still.

It will never happen - but it would be awesome.

Source: MCN

R1200GS Photos - Second Try

Last time I was really short of biting my own backside when I saw the tissue just right under the bike in the photos. When taking the photos I was preoccupied, busy with the bike itself and so on and really just forgot to take a look around to see what could spoil the photo.

The New Toy

Last Saturday SJ BMW sold my F800GS and today I picked up the replacement: a brand spanking new white R1200GS. It's a gorgeous bike, I like the (non) color: alpine white. Like the 30th anniversary edition, just without the blue / red labeling. It was the last 2010 R1200GS San BMW had and it comes with pretty much everything:

New Blog For The R1200GS

While looking for an easier way to manage the blog just for the R1200GS, I'm trying now blogger.com as a blog provider. I'll transfer some of the blog posts over here and will see how it looks like and then decide whether to keep it or not.