It's been a while, I've been riding.
I just heard from friends that the August issue of BMW ON has arrived, so I better pipe up!
My riding since last posting includes:
[LIST][*]3-day, 2700 mile ride to Oregon from Atlanta[*]The Aufderhide Byway[*]Exploration of Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area[*]An adventure ride along the western slope of Mt. Hood[*]The Blue Mountain Byway in Eastern OR[*]A ride out to Hat Point in Hells Canyon[*]Riding the Lolo Motorway[*][/LIST]
... and some putting around in northwest Montana. I am waiting for a new rear tire because with 4,700 miles, the Metzeler Tourance Next I have isn't going to make it back to Atlanta. Tires are hard to find for this bike... thank goodness I have a place to stay for free while I wait for the tire to make its way to me.
[B]This motorcycle is a highway destroyer[/B]... it eats miles and spits them out in its wake. 900 mile days are no big drama, and the cruise control is heaven. I've finally mastered releasing the cruise without a big, unsettling change in speed.
[B]The transmission is breaking in, as expected.[/B] There are still more than a couple of notch shifts, but the bike goes into first gear nicely in most instances now. Whatever you do, don't try to put it into first while coasting to a stop. Big grinch, every time. Shifting up from first to second is usually very quiet, and the shift from second to third is improving.
[B]The ESA is great at adjusting to my too-heavy load.[/B] I'm carrying about 40 pounds of camera and computer gear in addition to a 4-person tent (the first tent I've ever had that I can stand up in). When loaded, I use the two-up setting. According to the manual, the two-helmet icon means two-up with luggage. I also choose the Hard setting. On pavement the bike handles without wallowing, and can pound down some pretty rough stuff without bottoming. But man, all this weight really restricts your options off-pavement.
[B]The traction control and ABS are excellent off-pavement assists.[/B] I was really skeptical about this, and now I am a believer. As one who usually left ABS on when riding my personal bikes off-pavement, I knew that it can be useful when combined with careful, balanced F/R braking. But the ASC/ABS on the wethead is much more effective. You can crank on the gas without worrying about too much wheelspin, and can apply the brakes *hard* on gravel and come to a very short stop.
[B]The kill switch is in a not-so-good place.[/B] When riding with a tank bag it is not hard to shut the motor down during a full-lock, hard right turn. I wish they'd left it where it was, on top of the handlebar control switch.
[B]Off-pavement, you really notice the longer swingarm.[/B] The rear wheel follows the ground much more evenly than my 1150, with much less fore/aft pitching while riding over large-ish rocks and ledges. I *really* wish I could get a set of knobby tires for this bike for serious off-road testing.
[B]Tires for this bike are currently hard to find.[/B] Tires from the manufacturers are really taking their time flowing into the distribution channel. In my article I promised that I'd have a review of the new Metzeler Karoo IIIs, however, they are simply not available yet in sizes that fit this bike.
[B]The Jesse boxes rock![/B] The mounts are very strong, I've only had a couple of low-speed tip-overs, but no tweaking at all. They hold a lot, they haven't leaked, and they are unobtrusive while mounting, dismounting or riding the bike.
Along the west slope of Mt. Hood...
Rocky Ridge Lake along the Lolo Motorway