The ramblings of a 40 something motorcyclist. My trips,opinions, needs, views and anything I think important written here. Hopefully inspiring some along the way.
Now including my "Rogeys Gravel Rash Adventures"......as I embark on a new journey off road...
Well the GS has just had it's sixth month birthday, and is also coming up to its 10000km service. I know by North American standards this mileage is not high, but for me and the fact a good portion of it has been off road it is good going. I thought a updated review would now be in order. My first review is contained here.
It is also a good opportunity to show how the bike is looking now from when I first brought it home. The "farkles" I have added.
But first a quick 10000km review.
When I brought this bike it was always my intention to get a bit further a field and to explore those roads that I have always have had to ignore when on a street bike. Of course this meant that for me some training was in order as my off road or even gravel road experience was very very limited indeed. Contained in the previous sentence are all the reasons why this bike was such a good decision for me. It is so user friendly and forgiving that even a newbie on gravel like me doesn't get into to much trouble. In fact it's limitation on where it can go are down to it's rider not the bike.
In the short time that I have had it it has been over some very rough and rugged terrain. In fact to say it gets hammered at time's is probably more the correct term. Of course it has handled all of this like it's reputation insists it should. I have had no issues with the bike what so ever. It has been a great bike to begin new adventures one.
On very tight twistie's it will keep up with even big sports bike, it is nimble and seriously at times I think it is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. It really is a bloody hoot. I have of course added a knobbly to the front, and I will be adding one to the back also over winter. Obviously you lose some of that road feel when you do that. The tourences that were on the bike when I brought it are fine for the road and most gravel, but will leave you wanting on anything more serious like sand and rocky stuff.....trust me I have pics to prove this!
As I said in my first review, I can not compare this bike to other models, but as far as my needs and requirements are concerned it has more than fulfilled them. I also really like the look of the bike, it is a bike which I feel very attached to and I love how the bike now looks.
So what have I added? Holy crap where do I start?......I so love Touratech, except it is a pain being in NZ because the USA wont ship here, only the German branch. Not that I suppose that is a big deal but there are the odd items which come up on the USA sight which don't come up on the German sight.
1) Headlight Grill protector.
1) Front Headlight Grill: Of course you can get the clear one, but I loved the black grill option, thought it gave the bike a nice aggressive look. Protects the front headlight and is removable.
2) Sump Guard: Standard requirement on all these types of bikes.
3) Crash Bars: Same reason as sump guard, but they are worth there weight in gold Not that the bike has many fairings but what it does have at least gets protected.
4) Handle Bar risers and Hand Guards: You can't have one of these bikes and not get up on the foot pegs, rising the bars is required for me anyway (178cm's) When I ordered them from Touratech it was recommended to get the longer break cable as well, so both were fitted at the same time.
5) Renthal Bars: Not by choice, but after my wee off down the bank I bent the original set, these are a lot stronger of course there is the risk that some thing else will break next time.....but hey,lets worry about that next time. Some one did say the firs time you drop a BMW you will bend the bars, they do seem very soft.
6) Chain Guard: The original big plastic thing didn't impress me at all....it looked cumbersome and stuff got caught in the back where it wraped around the rear wheel. I much prefer the cleaner and minimalistic look of this guard.
7) Duck Bill: Cosmetic only, but at only $76 I just like the way it looks on the bike.
8) Side Stand Plate: Very helpful in soft stuff, doesn't sink in.
9) Pivot pegs: These are not on the bike yet, although should be here soon, got to be better than the originals that dig in to your foot after prolonged use.
10) Caribou cases, I never liked the BMW top box, although it is practical I was never impressed with the look. I wanted to add additional luggage capabilities anyway. After a bit of searching I settled on the Caribou cases, they are extremely tough....seriously very very tough, and I prefer the squarer top box rather than the other. I have yet to put hem to a real test, but I do like the look, and the service from Roger in Colorado was excellent. They were easy to fit, water proof, and just look great.
Off I went Saturday morning to join the NGARNZ (click on the link for some great pics) and what a stunning morning it was. April has been brilliant. I love Autumn!
Paul & Nora
We were meeting at BP Kumeu and as I rode there I was beginning to think I should shift out west as most of my rides seem to be in this area. Even the IAM rides seem to bring me out here. Saying that though, when Jim and Sue are involved I will inevitably end up going some where that I have never been to before..and UN likely to ever find again either.
There was a great bunch of 16 riders,with a few new faces. Again the different bikes always causes much conversation. From big duel purpose to small trail......not a Gold wing or Harley to be seen though.
Most of the morning was spent riding various gravel roads around the area. I was sure at one stage we were going back over roads we had just ridden, only to be reliable informed that no, every road was indeed a new one. One patch of gravel just looks the same as all the others to me. Either that or I don't pay much attention to anything going on around me.
A quick stop in Helensville and then out towards South Head where we were to go riding on a private farm that backs onto South Head forest.
Once on the farm we headed off through a series of gates and along a recently graded clay road, man I was glad it wasn't raining. Onward and upwards, literally, as well rode up some grass hills to take in the view from the top. A bit tricky in places, with one guy losing it in front of me. The view from the top was worth it though and we sat briefly taking it all in. We carried on along some ridges before heading back down where we had come from. Keeping the bike moving down hill, slowly ,on damp grass and with out locking anything up was a skill I was about to learn, and learn fast.
We all negotiated one particular nasty down hill section before more riding along grass and down a hill which is where I lost the front of the bike and plopped onto my side. All slow speed stuff...but still could of done with out looking like a plonker. I managed to pick it up...and then promptly dropped it again. And why I am at it...I dropped her a couple of more times during some sand riding, again all slow speed stuff and just lost forward momentum and down you go. I can confirm that it is indeed not a heavy bike to pick up, it does get heavier about the 6th or 7th time. The Tourence rear tire just does not give me enough push when riding through heavy sand, a knobbly would of made a big difference.
We eventually popped out into South Head Forest where Jim had some more challenging sand sections which I had a go at doing and managed to get through OK. I will say that by this stage of the day I was sweating like you wouldn't believe, completely out of my comfort zone, scared shitless, as well as grinning from ear to ear. It was hard going. I didn't feel to bad about falling off a couple of times, lots of us fell off...made me feel a bit better. When I brought the GS I wanted to be more adventurous in the places I went and saw, as well as improve my riding skills and learn some new ones. I can say with complete confidence I have succeeded in that particular goal. I am also getting really good at picking it up.
It was a great day yet again. I think we all really enjoyed ourselves.
The weather of late has been stunning , very unusual for April. Easter was perhaps one of the best we have ever had. Saturday just gone was no exception. I set off early with Taylor on the back of the Sprint. I had been unhappy for some time with the BT 023's that were on there. There performance in the dry was OK, but in the wet I had suffered a few slides and loss of grip at the back. I have gone with Michelin PR3's. I know a few people running these and everyone I speak to are happy with them, especially there wet weather performance.
After the new tires were on, we headed west. The week previous I had gone out to Awhitu with Richard and Andy. I wanted to show Taylor the light house and have a bit of an explore around the place. I took it very easy with the new rubber, but it didn't take long before I could feel some nice grip and responsiveness coming from the front especially.
The ride out to the Manukau Heads (also the scene of one of NZ's most disastrous ship wrecks) is a nice one. The first time I had actually done it was just the week before. The road down to the light house is one that demands respect, lots of off camber, gravel bits, cow poooos....kind of every thing you can think of really. Geoff also has an excellent blog about the place here
Once down there we were lucky that we had planned our arrival the same time as the women who lives there was also arriving. Her husbands job is to help guide the ships through the treacherousness entrance to the harbor. She kindly opened the gate and let us ride the bike all the way to the top....I suspect there wont be many pics with a motorbike at the top. So we were lucky, and it saved a nice long walk. (Not that I don't need the exercise)!
We spent a bit of time there before heading back to Waiuku to have that fabulous kiwi delicacy...... a meat pie. Nothing like a nice mince and cheese pie! mmmmmm. Much to my surprise Taylor was still keen for some more riding so we headed out east for a bit more, before stopping on the coast at Pine Harbor marina for a drink.
The other highlight of the day was trying out the new SENA SMH10 communication unit that I had purchased from the states. It had arrived only a few days before. I brought this one on Geoff s advice, and I am hopeful I can drag him out of blogging retirement to do a review about them. This is the first unit I have ever used, so I am not in a position to really offer comparisons. Saying that, what I can tell you is I found the unit excellent. It is easy to install, clear as a bell, easy to use, I had no trouble answering even my phone when riding. I think Taylor really enjoyed the opportunity
to have a chat occasionally. The whole system is wireless.
We ended up spending most of the day on and off the bike. Heaps of fun and laughs. Taylor has really surprised me this year. Up to about 12 months ago she wasn't that keen to come riding with me, now she is jumping on the back every chance she gets. She is even talking about getting her bike license the same time she gets her car one (in about two years)....not sure I am ready for that, gulp...I some times wish she would just stop growing up.
Words don't do it justice though, it was just the best day!
Friday night I headed out of Auckland on my way to Taupo. On the Saturday I was to be joining up with the Gravel Riders to visit Poronui. Please take a moment to click on the link and see what a magical place this private station in the central North Island is like. Just stunning. A lot of work went into organizing the chance for us to visit, as normally, being private land we would not be allowed access. This was the first time bikes have been allowed.
I left Auckland mid afternoon and managed to beat most of the rush hour traffic. It was just great to leave the stress of the week behind, and the further south I got the less traffic I encountered. I went through Te Awamutu as I was keen to avoid SH1. I had the road basically to myself and relaxed into what was a terrific ride on my own. I normally stop at the Waipapa dam, but this time I stopped on the bridge just before it, took a few photos and listened to silence. I gingerly peered over the rather low guide rail, crap it was a long way down.
Saturday morning and we all met up at the Mobile. We headed up the Napier-Taupo road and had a bit of a play on the grass berm on the way, another first for me and cool fun. We collected a few more riders by Rangitaika before heading to Poronui.
Once on Poronui we were greeted with morning tea before being briefed on the ride. Eve, the lodge manager made us feel very welcome.
Two minutes into the ride I had my first ever water crossing, confession time. I was crapping myself. I had never done one before. Got through OK though.. Except for the wet feet. Didn't exactly look pretty but hey..at least I didn't go for a swim!
Two groups split off. I took the blue route which was more than challenging for me. Lots of different terrain's to ride over with a few challenges likes rocks, deep mud loose gravel, tracks, all sorts of stuff to conquer. The whole ride was thrilling. Nothing like being pushed out of your comfort zone and accomplishing things you have never done before. Trying to take in the great scenery and concentrate on what lies ahead was easier said than done. One particular nerve racking bit for me included going down a steep soft clay hill, I did get down OK, but I had visions of my skill level running out about half way down.
A water break down by the cabins next to the river was a welcome break. What an amazing place to stay. Chrystal clear water rushing past, the river over flowing with trout...no wonder why people come from all over the world to stay here.
Once back at the main lodge we were greeted to a scrumptious lunch. Man this adventure riding is hard work. I tried not to over indulge...yeah right.
Once we left Poronui we headed out towards Whirinaki forest where another 100 odd kms of gravel and forestry riding awaited. What a blast through here as I really began to get into standing on the foot pegs and controlling the bike. It was a bit dusty at times but the majority of the gravel was packed and hard, just a few place's with loose stuff. Although my confidence was up, it tends to breed disaster in my case, so I kept well with in my means. Still managed to get up some good speeds and never had a scary moment.
We stopped once to regroup and I noticed everyone looking at Jim's bike. There was a bit of smoke coming off it and as it turns out the ohlin's shock had blown, needless to say the rest of Jim's day was... um-mm..bouncy bouncy bouncy.
We finally popped out onto a main road and headed into Murapara. It was now about Six o'clock and we were supposed to go back the same way. After some discussion it was agreed to head back via the main sealed roads, and meet up later for dinner. I was kind of relieved as I was bloody buggered. I think I found leg muscles that hadn't been used since 1987.(don't get me started on my abs.)
I have had my GS now for about six months. Joining up with Sue and Jim who run the Northern Gravel Riders club has been so beneficially to me. They have taking me places I would never expect to see. The whole adventure riding thing has become very addictive. A whole new world of excitement. Sometimes I sit on the road (or track or beach or river) and look at what lies ahead, my heart racing at the prospect and I struggle to swallow my fear. I always seem to get through, and the sense of accomplishment out weighs the fear that I had just experienced. My skills and technique are improving all the time. I am discovering that confidence plays a big part in this type of riding. Getting use to the bike moving around, staying consistent on the throttle and just plugging on. The 650gs has seemed like the perfect bike for me. Not to heavy, manageable power, fun on the road, and it takes a bloody hammering.