Just got back from my trans-continental ride on the new bike from the east coast to the Lunatic Fringe Rally in Alberta, the Gypsy Tour out of Leavenworth down to Salem and then down the PCH/Continental Divide to the Mexico border then through the scorching heat of Arizona back to Ontario. These are my observations:
The Tourance Next rear lasted me 18,000 km until I was forced to swap it out with my old used Shinko 150 rear that I had been carrying along with me as I new the proper NEXT was unobtainium at present. I replaced the rear at No-Mar in St Louis and find that the narrower dimension rear off my old 1150 GSA will fit and work on the bike properly and falls within spec tolerances for the wider rim. The traction, ABS, and Dynamic ESA appear to be unaffected. There is no slip or other adverse reaction from riding with the narrower tire. The only issue may be that the rim itself is ever so close to the width of the tire is elf as opposed to 20 mm within the widest part of the tire with the 170 NEXT, leading to the possibility of a rock or chuck hole touching the rim. WHY ON EARTH WOULD THE TIRE COMPANIES NOT HAVE RAMPED UP PRODUCTION OF THESE TO MEET MARKET DEMAND?
While talking about the rear wheel, it is nice that you no longer have to remove the caliper when pulling the rear wheel. Just lay the bike down on the left side undo the 5 Torx bolts and off she comes, eezy-peezy. On and off is a snap, no more centering pin., no muffler to remove. It even comes off with my Meta Mule bags on the bike.
The Metal Mule panniers are amazing, the held up flawlessly for the entire ride, not any dust penetration and not any moisture, not even condensation on the muffler side as I had with my former Jesse bags, which after having used those for many years with no real issues, I would now say there is a new King of the Hill in saddle bags. The Metal Mules set a new standard for the non-sacrificial bag manufacturers to ramp up to.
The 5W40 oil can be hard to find, although I did find a single jug of it at a Walmart in Salem and did my own oil change at the rally. Surprise for some reason the drain plug is now an Allen 10 instead of an 8 as they have used for years. Of course I never had need to carry such a large key and had to do a bit of searching before I found someone who had one of these. Then I find that they are now using a larger crush washer, and I only brought extras off my 1150, so I had to reuse the old one by turning it over. There were no dealers at the rally so I did he oil change alone but not filter change. Later I found Wunderlich had a few filters in their truck so I bought a Mahle one from them for $15. The nice thing about the current placement of the filter on the side of the engine is that I was able to change the filter without affecting the oil change, I just laid the bike down on the right side jug spun the filter off and spun a new one on. Only the residual in the old filter was lost. There is also enough room there to put on a larger 1150 spec filter if you have any laying around as it will give about twice the filtering capacity.
The OEM factory crash guards leave the valve covers vulnerable, because I noticed that when laid on the bars, the valve cover is almost touching the ground. Lay the bike down on gravel and surely the cover will be holed or at least damaged. The OEM crashbars suck, recommend the really beefy Altrider bars that are just coming to market.
As Ian said the bike is certainly a highway destroyer, I rode mine in all kinds of conditions from long 800 mile days in 110F temps to knarly trails along the BDR in Washington and Oregon. The temp gauge always remained with a 3 degree celsius range of 85C. the fan would kick in on a regular basis and can be heard at idle. The heat from the rad blows back and away from the legs, so heat is a non-issue on this bike, for either the bike or the rider. The bike will cruise all day near the triple digest and not miss a beat.
I can honestly say that the rocket scientists at BMW certainly did their R&D well with this puppy. In the nearly 13,000 miles I have put on this bike in the last two months, not a singe thing, I mean NOTHING has gone wrong, missed a beat or even needs any adjustment. This is amazing for a first year production bike that has been ridden fairly hard.
Cruise control is a dream and I too found it a bit abrupt until I read the owners manual again and found out how to properly use the thing. I find that if you simply flick the cruise button back or forward one click at a time it will increase or decrease your speed in 2 km/h increments as you come upon a slower car ahead. If you hold it it will increase or decrease the speed incrementally. I think the cruise may be the best innovation on the bike.
Riding modes are there and were raved about, but frankly I don't see much of a difference. I have tried the dynamic, road, rain and enduro settings. I would save my money next time and do without those as they seem to be just a gimmick IMHO.
The OEM large BMW tank bag works very well, is waterproof and the large window will hold an iPad and even allows you to control the screen through the plastic, it has a touch compliant surface. Using the OEM tank bag never created any kill switch issues as Ian discovered. It pays to sometimes get OEM accessories as you know they will be properly designed for the bike.
The adjustable windscreen is a joke, flimsy and just waiting to be busted off. The adjustments make little to no difference for me. Again, the could have save us money by not designing such a fancy adjustment mechanism. However, the small screen itself does perform remarkable well for its size. I see no need to get an aftermarket screen.
I ordered an OEM headlight protector for the $$$ LED headlight, and that works really well, it is quick detachable clear Lexan and follows the exact angle of the shield itself. This OEM part is hard to find and the dealer will have to look hard to even find it in his list of options for the bike. Mine is the only one I have yet to see. I knew about it from being at the model unveiling at Intermot in Cologne in October. Do not get one of those metal wire ones that look cool but do nothing to prevent stones from hitting the LED glass.
The bike is too low for me. I am 6'2" tall with a 32" inseam and my 1150 GSA fit like a glove, but this bke is much lower with the stock seat, even with it at the highest setting. My feet sit flat on the ground, but my knees are bent way too much when riding. Either the pegs need to be lowered or I need a higher seat. There is a higher seat option for the bike but that will be a pricey way to go obviously. If only I had known I could have ordered the higher seat at the outset for no charge.
The rear seat and grab handle are in the way. I can't wait for Jeremy at Altrider to get his rear seat replacement rack into production so I can toss the rear seat and grab handle and properly mount my Rotopax in its place to have a proper plat mounting surface between the panniers.
A far as dealers doing the servicing, I spent $25 for 4 liters of synthetic for the bike and $15 for a filter for a total of $40 for an oil change. Although they don't like to admit it, when I pushed my dealer about warranty issues if I changed the oils myself, he said it would be no problem as long as I had receipts, so after hearing Ian's charges, I will continue to do my own service on the bike.
Lastly, and this is a big $$$ saver, the bike will run fine on regular 87 octane fuel, even mentions this as an Alternative fuel on the back page of the owners manual! In heading west along backroads, premium was a bit harder to find, so was forced to use regular grade and amazingly found that the bike ran exactly as it did on premium, no knock, no hesitation and no drop in fuel milage. I raised this with the National Service manager at the technical discussion In Salem and he said to carry on a use regular if the bike runs fine, it will not harm the bike. Apparently the Motronic has an extra anti-knock valve somewhere to compensate. So for the last 10,000 km I have been putting in regular and will continue to do so, per his advice and my experience.
So in summary, the bike is amazing, aside from a few small adjustments to suit me, the bike is dialed in from the factory and so far bullet-proof.
Bill in Canada