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BMW Driving Academy Maisach

Posted By Frank Campbell #43430, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Bavarian factory has built a solid tradition in performance vehicles. True to the proverb "power is nothing without control," the company has vigorously promoted training for both the car and motorcycle enthusiast. This trend now gone global, is very evident within Germany and of course, the company’s home in Bavaria. The venue in Maisach, some 20 miles due West of Munich is now officially called the BMW Driver Academy.

Training was until recently at the Munich Airport, and presumably for lack of space was moved to the old Fürstenfeldbruck air base just south of Maisach.

The former Fliegerhorst Fürstenfeldbruck air base (Fursty for short) was once an important field for both the Luftwaffe and the US Air force. It has been decommissioned for over a decade, and the closest thing to flying machines you will see here are BMW cars and motorcycles used by the BMW Driving Academy. The runway is now inactive, but the base reportedly hosts training for ground personnel. Instead of the roar of jet engines, all you will hear now are screeching tires of BMW sedans on the skid pads and the golf cart whine of eco-friendly i3 coupes unobtrusively whizzing by.

The training facility occupies some 320 acres on the east side of the former air base. The website in German and English can be accessed at bmw-drivingexperience.com. The site contains ample details regarding the facility and scope of training. The cost on a BMW-supplied motorcycle is 240 Euro, and 200 Euro on your own bike. This is a no-brainer for me. A simple tip-over can cost well in excess of the 40 Euro difference (replacing a broken clutch or brake lever may cost around 200 Euro).

The motorcycles are fully insured for damage, so in the event of a mishap you will not be held liable unless you engage in reckless behavior. Personal medical coverage is the responsibility of the rider, which for EU residents is generally provided by the state. Risk-averse American riders should consult with their insurance plans in the US. At the moment, training is only offered in German (the English option box is greyed out on the application). Presumably at a later time this will change to accommodate non-German-speaking riders. However, if you have a reasonable command of German, you should definitely consider attending a training session. The instructors are very helpful and for the most part speak better English than most of us will ever speak German.


An R 1200 GS similar to the one the author used for his session in Maisach, though obviously this photo was not taken at the air base. Photo courtesy of BMW Motorrad.

My letter of acceptance reiterated that the training would be conducted "ausschließlich auf Deutsch" (exclusively in German). Considering the increasing trend by corporate BMW to use English lingo, I reckoned some latitude would be allowed.

On my appointed date I showed up half an hour late for class, as I could not find the entrance to the tightly padlocked air base anywhere. As I was about to give up, I spotted a rather subdued sign pointing to the BMW Driver Academy. The first session of the day was spent in general orientation, basic motorcycle control and emergency maneuvers. The class included some 20 students divided into two groups presumably on the basis of experience. By virtue of age rather than skills, I was put in the "experienced" group.

Following the classroom session, we walked out onto the parking area where our assigned mounts awaited us. My R 1200 GS with some 1000 kilometers on the odometer was otherwise showroom-new. The bike was equipped with mag wheels and shod with dual sport Anakee tires. Other equipment included full electronic regalia as well as cruise control. The driver seat was placed in the lowest position, which allowed my 29-inch inseam-challenged legs to reach the ground comfortably.

The motor fired up readily and settled into the familiar flat twin rumble, although more muted than its predecessors. The hydraulic clutch is feather light, which made it easy to follow the instructor’s commands to use two fingers for control. The bike seemed narrower than the previous oil-cooled models, and with a more centralized mass, felt quite light. The oil-bath clutch revealed its nature by the typical clunk and lurch felt when shifting from neutral into first, similar to the F-series. Pulling the clutch in and waiting a minute or so reduced this tendency only slightly. After riding it a while, I opted for shutting down and starting the engine in first gear, which eliminated the problem.

The exercises during our first session were based on the notion that if you cannot control the bike at slow speeds, you certainly will not be able to do so at higher speeds. The instructor had us weaving around cones, doing ever-tighter circles and figure-eight turns in first gear with the engine at idle (about 1050 RPM), controlling the speed with the clutch. The exercises felt easy due to the motorcycle's superb handling characteristics. There was no noticeable driveline lash, which certainly helped in this respect. I would have been hard put to do duplicate these maneuvers on my old R 1100 GS, which sat forlornly in the parking lot.

As the morning proceeded, the instructors increased the complexity of the exercises and had us add speed. The motorcycle maintained its unflappable composure throughout it all. I witnessed no tip-overs during the training, but I cannot guarantee there weren’t any.

During the noon break, we enjoyed the full buffet lunch included in the cost of the course. In the afternoon session the instructors added more complex exercises at greater speeds. The motorcycle had plenty of power, yet proved docile, which made it a joy to ride. For the more spirited rider, it might become a willing wheelie-machine.

I found the training the Riding Academy very worthwhile. It gave me an unequalled opportunity to put the motorcycle through its paces, all in a controlled and safe environment. For the potential buyer of a new GS, the time spent at the Academy will provide him/her a solid basis to decide whether or not to invest in such a machine.

 

Frank Campbell is a retired physician residing in FL. He has ridden almost every BMW model dating back to the R 26. He has done solo and group adventure tours throughout the Americas, Europe, North Africa, Turkey, the Middle East and Asia. Although his preferred motorcycles have always been of the GS type, presently he favors more sedate "cappuccino style" tours on mostly well surfaced roads.

Tags:  R1200GS  Skills  Training 

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AltRider Crash Bar System

Posted By Bill L. Hooykaas, Thursday, January 29, 2015

I first met Jeremy LeBreton a number of years ago at the Mines and Meadows GS event in Pennsylvania, when he was just launching his company, AltRider, making high quality products in the USA.  He is a passionate rider at heart and fully battle tests all his products himself in the most challenging situations.


Enter his solution for an integrated "suit of armour" for the GS. I ordered my 1200 GS LC with the OEM guards, but quickly found that they were inadequate for real world conditions, and that the stock skid plate was just too flimsy and short to fully protect the undercarriage. In Salem, I saw a demo of the prototype of his crash bars and was impressed by both the beefy 1 1/4" stainless steel tubing (I am told they are 50% stronger than stock but only 10% heavier), and the fully 12 points of attachment to the frame including a new stainless motor mount. The finish is shot peened to blend with the silver frame of the bike perfectly and never needs painting or touch up after an upset (this will save me a bundle in paint!).

They have recently completed engineering the complete system to incorporate a stout upper bar attachment to better protect the tank fairings and radiators, which is in itself attached to the bike at 8 points. They also now have a 3/16" thick anodized aluminum skid plate that bolts directly to the lower crash bars at four points and also with a brilliantly engineered stainless rotary broached pivot pin assembly to replace the nylon OEM centre stand mounts (one of the strongest frame points on the bike). This is the first skid plate that I have seen that does not attach to the engine at all, allows for draining of the oil without removing the plate, and most importantly offers a full 11" of ground clearance for an unladen bike. This is way more clearance than the stock plate, twice as thick as OEM and extends twice as long, fully all the way back to near the rear wheel!
Suffice to say I have not tested the system in a tip-over situation, so I will have to defer to the video on the AltRider site of Jeremy rolling his new GS completely over on a hillside and not even breaking a turn signal, pretty impressive stuff, check it out:

The items come well packed with complete instructions. However, it will take the better part of the day to get everything mounted properly, as there are many points of attachment to address. A bike lift will certainly help a lot in lining things up underneath the bike. The only small annoyance I have found with all their products is that they use Allen bolts instead of the OEM Torx bolts which requires I carry additional tools along, although I do agree that the Allen heads do provide a more secure grip and less prone to stripping over the newer Torx bolts.
I finished up by attaching a pair of Rigid LED lights onto the front of the crash bars which tuck nicely into a space ahead of the tappet cover so as to not impede any air flow to the heads. Lastly, I attached a pair of re-purposed header guards from my old 1150 GS to complete the armour cladding of the beast. Now, hopefully my aging bones can also withstand the beating this system is designed for!
I am very impressed with the quality and precision engineering that went into this system. The price of the lower crash bar/skid plate system has a MSRP of $790, but compared to what the OEM system offers for around $550, it is money well spent to protect your valuable investment. Throw in the cool looking upper crash bars for $349 and you now have an armour-clad GS! You can order AltRider products directly, through various dealers. #moamembertested

Tags:  R1200GS 

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Mustang R1200GS Seat

Posted By Stan Herman, Wednesday, January 28, 2015
 
Excellent for the Inseam Challenged

This is a high quality seat utilizing a steel seat pan, an ingenious adjustment method and it fits the bike exceptionally well. The Mustang seat hugs the tank contours and latches easily in place after installing the four bolt mount bracket. To install one removes four 8mm nuts, switches mount brackets and reinstall four nuts, it takes about 10 minutes. The seat looks custom made with excellent stitching. As a bonus an optional rider backrest is available.

This is an excellent seat for someone inseam challenged on a GS or GSA. It lowers the overall seating position by more than an inch from the factory seat. Different width, shape and where one measures make that a hard number to determine exactly. The foam is firm and well sculpted. The throat is also somewhat narrower allowing easier flat footing of the bike. I rode about 250 miles of paved Arkansas River canyons and paved mountain roads around Pikes Peak. I have a 32 inch inseam and the seat is simply too short for me even in the high position. I think it would best serve those with a 30 inch inseam or less. It moves the rider into a pocket both lower and closer to the tank. I think the Mustang is a very nicely crafted seat, but not for me.

 

 

Tags:  Mustang  R1200GS  seat 

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Mustang R1200GS Seat

Posted By Stephen Gregory, Wednesday, January 28, 2015
 Great Quality, But Not Built for Me

The first thing I took note of after receiving the Mustang seat was the quality of the leather and the overall feel. Top-notch. It has a nice cushion to it and soft feel. Really high quality.

Next I was under the impression that I would be able to simply remove my Corbin seat and replace it with the Mustang seat. Not true. There's a mounting bracket that you have to install. OK… not a big deal. Just remove the stock mounting guides from above the battery and replace them with the Mustang mounting bracket. Easy-Peasy.

Then I discovered that the seat has two spring loaded pins in the rear that allow you to easily select a lower option and a higher option. Pretty cool! I'm 6'0" so I went with the higher option. I imagine for those who are 5'9" or 5'10" the lower option would be a wonderful feature. Even with the seat set on the higher option I could reach the ground better than I can with my Corbin.

The Mustang seat is much narrower than the Corbin. The smooth leather and narrow throat allow you to easily slide and shift your weight while leaning into twisties, however the Mustang seat is just too narrow to be comfortable on longer rides. The Corbin saddle is wide and supports your butt in such a way that it ergonomically lessons road fatigue.

The Mustang seat, similar to the stock seat puts pressure points on your inner thighs making for much less comfortable long distance rides. After an hour on my first ride with the Mustang seat, I was glad to have arrived at the trail head just so I could start standing up! I then took it on some very challenging mud trails and got it pretty dirty. The leather held up every time I dumped the bike and had to drag it across some rocks to pick it up. The leather cleaned up nicely as well.

I also tested the back rest with my highway pegs and it felt really good. There is a Corbin back rest in my future. If you get this seat I recommend getting the back rest and some highway pegs just so you can shift your legs and body when your butt starts getting sore on longer rides.

My wife accompanied me on another hour long ride to breakfast one morning and tested the pillion seat. She was not aware that I had replaced my stock pillion seat with the Mustang and at breakfast she was complaining about the uncomfortable ride. When I told her it was a different seat she said that would explain it. And that she had never been uncomfortable before on such a short ride.

To sum it up - the seat is great quality but too narrow for comfortable long distance rides.

 

 

Tags:  Mustang  R1200GS  seat 

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Mustang R1200GS Seat

Posted By Bill Wiegand, Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Quality for Eight Hours!

Probably the most important connection a rider has with their motorcycle comes through their seat, as the level of comfort a rider experiences there is directly proportional to the enjoyment received while riding. Finding a comfortable seat can be a difficult task; but if you do, you will be rewarded with miles upon miles of never ending smiles. By contrast, ride for 10 hours on an uncomfortable seat and you’ll think twice about riding again.

Personally, I ride a 2012 R1200GS Rallye; while I love the styling and look of the stock seat, spending more than a couple continuous hours in the saddle has me squirming around looking for a comfortable spot that just isn’t there.

A new seat has been on my wish list for some time. I do have experience with two aftermarket seats, but neither provided me what I was truly looking for…a seat that not only looked great but allowed me to ride for at least eight continuous hours without feeling like I was being punished for a crime I hadn’t committed. A comfortable eight hours isn’t an Iron Butt request by any means, but more than I was receiving from my stocker and a performance level with which I would be happy.

When I saw the Mustang Seat box sitting in my office, I immediately wondered who wasn’t going to receive their Harley seat that day. I opened the box anyway and, to my surprise, inside was a new seat made specifically for the 2005–12 R1200GS and GSA. Low and behold, Mustang is now producing seats for BMWs.

Upon initial inspection, the seat looked very good and was solidly constructed. A metal seat pan and a premium, leather-like vinyl material enveloped the interior foam padding. I eagerly awaited installation and an initial road test.

Unlike other seats I’ve seen and tried for my bike, the Mustang uses a proprietary front seat bracket which replaces the stock front seat mounts. In the rear, two adjustable pins offer high or low positioning, as do the slots on the front bracket when mated with the tongue mounted on the seat pan. After the 10 minutes needed for installation of the bracket, the seat was mounted and because the rear seat uses the same mounting method as the stocker, a few seconds later I was ready to go.

The initial appearance of the seat on the bike was very good, though the profile of the seat appears shorter than the stocker or other aftermarket seats I’ve tried, allowing the upper frame sections, components usually hidden by other seats, to be visible. Not that big of a deal and it was time to hit the road.

I’d planned on using the seat on a 1,300-mile round trip to South Carolina I’d scheduled in about a week; I used a short, 50-mile shakedown ride for an initial impression. After that short ride, all systems were go and during that first ride, I found the seat felt good, the vinyl had the right amount of tack and didn’t let me slide around. The shape of the saddle fit well and I was truly beginning to think I just might have found a long-term solution to riding comfort. I knew 1,300 miles awaited and, once my trip was completed, I’d have the information I sought.

On the first day of the trip we rode just over 475 miles, and I can truly say I was pleased with the seat. The “hot spots” I experienced on other seats weren’t there, and when I got off the bike that day I felt good and knew I could have ridden longer. The final 175 miles to Spartanburg the next day were a piece of cake. I left Spartanburg alone three days later with the intent to pound out all 650 miles, stopping only for gas. Though I made it, once I passed the eight-hour mark my remaining time in the saddle grew more and more difficult as the miles and the time continued to accumulate. Looking back, I wonder if any seat can truly be comfortable for more than eight hours.

In the end (no pun intended), I can say that I could be truly happy with the Mustang if I never intended to travel more than eight hours in a day. Until I exhaust all of the aftermarket seats, I cannot say that this is the best option. What I can say is that the Mustang seat is a good looking, beautifully built seat that I would gladly use on all but the most demanding of trips. Until I am able to find backside nirvana, I will forever be in search of a seat offering the comfort of the La-Z-Boy in the den and the visual appeal of the stocker.

 

 

Tags:  Mustang  R1200GS  seat 

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