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Our website is all about motorcycles, especially BMW cycles. We cover rides in the Southwest and Mexico, motorcycle modifications and review motorcycle products. 

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Reviews

SW-Motech Tank Bag (Formerly Bags Connection)

Ricardo Perez

Micro Tank Bag

Micro Tank Bag

What was known as Bags Connection is now SW-Motech. Here's the link to an earlier review of the Bags Connection model "City" from a previous post:  http://www.airheadmoto.com/reviews/2014/3/bags-connection-review

 

Here's a quote from their website: "SW-MOTECH’s history began in the year 1999 with the development of touring gear made from metal, while BAGS-CONNECTION’s first line for high quality textile accessories started production in 2003. Shortly after, the two companies found common ground in their passion for motorcycle accessories. A history of jointly produced products was the result, and today SW-MOTECH in more than 60 countries stands for a long term expertise in engineering and manufacturing of textile and metal solutions alike." For more information: www.sw-motech.com

It's the same bag, but the mounting rings on both the bag and tank are different. I had the "City" style bag on my '13 RT and switched over to the smallest size available, the "Micro". It's intended to carry just the bare essentials, ie. phone, keys, wallet, sunscreen, sunglasses, ear plugs, etc. 

I believe that the tank sits a little higher than the older style, but that may be due to the keyless entry to the gas tank which is new on my '17 RT. 

Notice the gap between the tank and bag. 

Notice the gap between the tank and bag. 

The bag cost approximately $103 and the tank ring added another $40+-. You can still order the older style tank rings if you have the Bags Connection type that you want to move over to a new bike. 

Here's the new style base on bag.

Here's the new style base on bag.

...and here's the mating tank ring.

...and here's the mating tank ring.

Here's the older style bag base. It looks very different, but both the new and old look very well made and sit on the tank ring without any loose movements. 

Here's the older style bag base. It looks very different, but both the new and old look very well made and sit on the tank ring without any loose movements. 

Installation is easy. The tank ring has four holes and supplied with four new screws (longer than OEM) four spacers, a base for the tank ring and the tank ring itself. Goes on in minutes. The base on the bag is not installed. You have to do that yourself, by placing it on the tank ring, adjust it to where it fits (move it back and forward) and looks best (making sure it's not to front forward to interfere with anything (turning radius). Keep your desired location by lifting the bag and base up, off the tank ring, mark its location. Once you know where you'd like it to sit then it's just a matter of drilling four holes, with the supplied drill bit, and screwing on the base plate through the velcro closed inner covering and you're done. Just snap it on, pull the cord to take it off and it's that simple. 

Essential carrying handle makes it a snap to carry around with you. 

Essential carrying handle makes it a snap to carry around with you. 

For those unfamiliar with the quality associated with these bags, it's great. The ballistic nylon will take a beating, on and off the tank.

For those unfamiliar with the quality associated with these bags, it's great. The ballistic nylon will take a beating, on and off the tank.

These bags have a handy carrying handle so you can just pop the bag off the tank and take it with you or lock it up in your saddle bag during those extended pit stops. They also come with a rain cover that will cover the bag in both when extended and non-extended. 

The little Micro almost doubles in size when expanded. Note the sealed port for your ear phones or an external power cord. 

The little Micro almost doubles in size when expanded. Note the sealed port for your ear phones or an external power cord. 

Accelerator Module

Tomas Perez

This is one of those difficult items to evaluate so I waited until I had a little over 1,000 miles on this device before writing my review.  I know opinions on these types of gadgets run from being pure snake oil to being a miracle cure for all that's wrong with a bike.  With that in mind...

I purchased this device for my 2010 R1200RT which I purchased new and currently have 67,750 miles.  I state this so that you know that I am very familiar with my motorcycle.  When you have that many miles on a bike you get to know it well and it's amazing what muscle memory and other sensory inputs play in the way you control your motorcycle.  I took the approach of riding my bike like I always do - doing nothing special.  Almost like a blind test is that can be done on a bike while riding it.  This device is meant to help the slow speed drivability of the motorcycle.  Don't expect power gains, more torque, extra mpg, etc.

I installed it (a very easy task - people say it takes 20 minutes... I took at least two hours) and went for a short test ride.  First thing I noticed is that while riding out of my neighborhood I found myself in a higher gear at my normal 20 and 30 mph limits.  I found that rather strange since I noticed that about 100 feet from my house.  When I got to roads that had posted limits as high as 45mph I noticed the same thing.  It made my RT feel more like my K1200S which I tend to short shift because it seems to have tons of torque.

The second thing I noticed was that I no longer had to feather, nudge, caress my throttle in order for the engine not to cough or stumble or hiccup... When you become one with your bike you know what I mean.  It's not obvious but it's there.  It's very difficult to put your finger on it but it's something that you learn to do automatically.  A thousand miles later and I still find myself NOT having to feather the throttle in those special cases that come up.  For example, when the engine is very cold I had to baby it for about a minute or about 1/4 mile so that it would take off from a standstill smoothly.  I no longer do that and just shift as normal.  In addition, it has a very nice feel while shifting and goes from a low gear to a higher gear in a way that doesn't have what I can only call a lag between gears.  I can only guess that the engine is not throttling down lower and faster than it used to with the module in place.  I need to say at this point that I have a full Remus system on my bike.  That means that if anything my bike was running lean (assuming the electronics don't make any adjustments on the fly).  The new Remus system retains the flapper valve - a good thing in my opinion.

Many riders have reported improved gas mileage with the module installed.  I wondered how more gas into the engine could translate into better miles per gallon.  At this point I have only used the trip computer to evaluate mileage but I have been very impressed with the numbers.  Today while riding mostly 2 lane farm to market roads and thru very small towns (no street lights but lower speed limits) I averaged 51.2 mpg and a average speed of 54.5 mph.  If I remove the last 20 miles which was against a head wind my trip computer was showing 52.2 mpg over a distance of about 80 miles.  Our highway speeds were a steady 65 mph and at times 70 mph.  I'll have to check mileage by calculation instead of using the BC function in the future but this too is not very scientific since no two road conditions are identical.  

Some riders have reported that since the engine is making more power at near idle speeds we are shifting sooner or at a lower rpm to the next higher gear.  In my experience I found this to be true.  Perhaps that's the reason for the mileage improvement although I don't know how that shows as improved mileage on a 100 mile ride.  My longest day ride was 688 miles with similar results.  Riding with me was my brother on his 2013 R1200RT and in all cases my bike used less gas.  (I weigh more than he does in case you're wondering.  Same tire air pressure)

Installation pictures on my R1200RT follow...

The old connector...

The old connector...


The module connected.

The module connected.

I placed the remote sensor up front.  You want it away from engine heat.

I placed the remote sensor up front.  You want it away from engine heat.


This is module is like others offered from several vendors.  If you search you'll see that I have another type installed on my K1200S with very good results.  This module is simpler and much cheaper than what I installed on the KS.  I was looking for something like this because the RT needed so little help making it run smoother (better?).  Smoother running with better mileage - what's there not to like!

 

tsp rating: 10/10

 

Sena SMH10R - Low Profile Motorcycle Headset

Ricardo Perez

I was on a long ride out West and had gone days just with ear plugs listening to nothing but the desert air. Then I used my S-Plugs to listen to my music on my iPhone and finally I used my Bose Noise Canceling Ear buds. All three left me wanting something else. (I've reviewed the S-Plugs and the Bose on earlier posts.) After a couple of thousand miles I can honestly say that just using the ear plugs is okay, but eventually you'll get tired of listening to nothing at all. The S-Plugs are good, but don't block much of ambient noises, and the Bose ear buds are just a bit too bulky to wear under a snug fitting helmet. That's not to mention the fact that they are scary quiet, almost too quiet for safety purposes imho. 

So as we pulled into A&S BMW in Sacramento, California I noticed on one of their displays the Sena SMH10R "Low Profile Motorcycle Bluetooth Headset & Intercom" box and grabbed it to just read, not buy. One of the trusty clerks noticed that I was looking at it and gladly offered to open the box and show me what it looked like. I must admit that I was impressed with the size which is much more sleek and slimmer than the previous models. I had thought of getting the Schubert helmet with the communications system built into the collar, but that would set me back about $900 so I decided to buy the Sena unit. 

The install is very simple and I did it myself while I waited on the other guys to finish their business. There are three main components to the system: (1) speakers, (2) Control Unit, and (3) battery pack. The two speakers are fairly flat and take almost no space in the helmet. They're secured by some very good velcro strips and can be moved should you like to reposition them. They also come with some spacers should you desire to get the speakers closer to your ears. The microphone boom is easy to install and it comes with an alternate 'mic' which is great for a full faced helmet (non-flip-up). I like how sleek it looks and may try to use it on my flip-up helmet.  The Control Unit fits on the outside of the helmet approximately where the left ear is. The battery pack can be placed in many different positions, but I placed my on the rear of my helmet about two inches above the bottom. All of these components are connected by cables which have plugs unique so that it's impossible to plug the wrong cable into the wrong socket (dummy proof). 

As far as performance I would rate it as very good. Once I figured out how to use it and how to move between features it was a snap to use. The sound quality of the speakers was very good. I wore my ear plugs and still could hear the music without any problem. Without the ear plugs the volume was too high and I had to lower it. Of course, wearing the ear plugs is a personal preference. 

I'm not too sure how long the battery runs, but I believe it's about eight hours. I ran down the battery twice, but that proved to be no problem since the box contains a USB port charger that plugs into the control unit and charges the system as you ride. 

As you can see by the picture the unit is capable of many things. It has 3.0 Bluetooth and it can do four-way bike-to-bike conference intercom conference; Phone and Intercom Call; and GPS connection.  I used it to listen to music and to make/receive phone calls. I was on a conference call at a high rate of speed and I didn't have any problems hearing or speaking during the call. I once connected with my BMW Nav V GPS unit to hear turn-by-turn directions, but opted to listen to uninterrupted music instead.

The control unit is sleek and it took me some time to get used to where the "+" and "-" buttons are and the central button. At first they seem too close together, but after some time in the saddle it came fairly easy to know which was which. 

I've just put a couple of thousand miles with the Sena unit installed so I can't give you a long term use opinion, but for the time I've had this unit it has been a pleasant surprise. I'm glad I finally got it. 

I probably placed the battery too high on the rear of my helmet, but I wanted to keep it off those ridges and have it snuggly on the helmet. The battery will slide off the base, with an upward motion.

This is the neat flexible mic that is used for full face helmets (non-flip-up), but I am going to use it on my Shoei anyway and will report on how it works. 

Michelin Pilot Road 4 Tires

Ricardo Perez

Just installed the new Michelin Pilot Road 4 tires on my 2013 BMW R1200RT. I only have 238 miles on them so I've taken it easy to get them scrubbed-in, but what little experience I have with them, I like. I had over 11,000 on my stock OEM Metzler tires and liked them, but I'm looking for an improved rain handling tire. These Michelin tires are suppose to give a 17% better stopping power in the rain so we'll see how they work. I'll provide a long term usage report this summer.    

BMW-AF-XiED O2 Sensor Manipulator Review

Tomas Perez

BMW-AF-XiED

BMW-AF-XiED

I've always liked my new to me K1200S.  There are several posts in this blog pertaining to my purchase and how I feel about the bike (especially since my main touring motorcycle is an R1200RT).  The one thing I found sub par on the KS was the rough idle and more importantly the fact that every once in a while the engine will die when cutting the throttle at slow speeds.  The latest firmware update improved the situation but it was still very present.  BMW NA - picture rolling to an intersection at night and the engine quitting on you in mid turn... release the clutch and risk a low side or use the starter and have your headlight turn off while cranking.

My desire was to correct or at least improve on that "shortcoming" and thus the reason for my purchase.  I think every review I read was positive so I decided to give it a try.  I like that the installation can be totally reversed without leaving cut or spliced wires.  If I didn't like it I could return it or sell it.

Review conditions: 

  • Bike: 2008 K1200S
  • Mileage: 7,200 miles
  • My experience with the KS: 4,200 miles (purchased at 3000 miles)
  • Bike modifications: Remus muffler and K&N air filters
  • Typical climate: Rather hot most of the year with mild winters (snowed in 2004, 1967, 1953?)
  • Test mileage on device: 260 miles
  • Device setting: 7 flashes

Before boring you with the details of my review let me start out by saying that - so far - I find this device amazing.  I was expecting a slight improvement at best and perhaps only under certain conditions.  I was even suspicious of their claim to ride the bike with the AF-XiED installed for a couple of tanks of gas.  Another concern was the possibility of a big drop in gas mileage.  The bike is already a little weak for long travel having only a 5 gallon tank and mileage in the 40's.

I installed the device on my 2008 K1200S which required removing the gas tank.  And as chance would have it I was 15 miles short of a full tank!  I purchased a rubber hose at an auto supply store and siphoned nearly all the gas out of the tank (at least 4 gallons).  I didn't want to keep the gas... I put it in my wife's SUV.  Someone has an excellent write up in one of the BMW forums for installing this device in a KS so I'll skip those details in this review.

I have a GS911 but I did not reset adaptive values after installing the device.  I wanted to see how it felt just minutes after riding the bike before the installation.  I start the bike and it doesn't sound much different than before but it always runs rather smooth after a cold start.  Pulling away I notice it was easier starting from a standstill.  My block ride, which I always take very slowly to keep peace with my neighbors, was about 75% better.  It still had the engine bucking but not nearly as bad and hardly any jerking of the drive train.  Once on the highway the bike feels stronger in all the gears.  I continue to ride for about 10 city miles (low fuel light has been on since I started).  That evening and the next morning the bike died on me twice.  I was forcing myself not to work the throttle in an effort to prevent the stalling condition.  Not perfect but better than before.

That night, after riding 15 test miles, I fill up and ride 35 highway miles in 72F weather. The bike felt better than my earlier test ride but it was pass midnight so I park the bike for the night.  By this point I noticed the idle was much better than normal.  The following day I rode 135 miles.  It's so hard to tell but to me it felt so much stronger thru all the gears.  I wanted to make sure that the bike wouldn't miss or hiccup at higher speeds or RPM range.  Placebo or not but they bike felt much faster.  All riding modes felt good.

The next day I go for tank #2.  During this tank of gas I make the following observations:

  • I like the idle rumble much better - Remus sounds meatier now
  • Cold starts have a higher idle RPM (100 - 200 more)
  • Adaptive changes have made a big positive difference
  • Idle is 90+% steady now
  • Engine has not died after the first tank of gas
  • Slow speed running is about 90% better
  • Running at 2,000 rpm is much easier now even in 6th gear
  • I hardly apply any throttle to start from a standstill
  • Pass 2500 rpm you can use any gear you want - normally use 6th when I used to use 5th
  • Steady 60 mph yielded 47 mpg
  • Steady 75 mph yielded 42 mpg

Like I said, I only have 260 miles on this unit but if anything it has gotten better the more I ride the bike.  In addition, I haven't tried it at any setting other than 7.  I want to see how it works in 6 and in 8 just to see what it does.  I'm more interested in setting #6 than #8.  So at this point what's not to like about it?

Pro

  • Transforms the bike into what it should be
  • Easy install
  • Reversible installation
  • Low cost for the improvements

 Con

  • I read that it might harm catalytic converters due to enriched AFR
  • Cost was about $220 for me.  Some may consider that a minus.  I don't.

tsp rating - 9/10  (I'm saving the 10 until I have more miles on it)

I want to try this device on my 2010 R1200RT.  Two considerations: the RT behaves a lot better than the stock KS and the device cost more because it requires two modules because it has two O2 sensors.  Can the RT engine get better?  Post a comment if you have this device on a camhead.

Thanks for reading,

tsp

 

Bags Connection "City Model" Tank Bag Review - BMW RT Tank Bag

Ricardo Perez

Here's my Bags Connection Tank Bag!

Here's my Bags Connection Tank Bag!

I have the Bags Connection, City Model, tank bag for my 2013 BMW R1200RT and have had it now for over a thousand miles of use. As we know, the RT is fitted with a rail system on the tank which will hold the BMW tank bag. The two closest dealers (275 miles and 330 miles) did not have the BMW bag in stock and I hesitated ordering it online since it looked too big for short weekender trips. For the price, I didn't want to end up with a bag that I wouldn't use on a regular basis. So I opted for the Bags Connection tank bag. The base fits right over the gas cap base and mates to a similar base on the tank bag. 

The connection is really solid and it's not loose once it clicks into place. My fit is near perfect as there is no extra space between the bag and the downward curvature of the tank. I looks like it belongs there. As I mentioned the bag is secured to the base by a pin which is tensioned by a spring so that it won't open on its own. The bag just clicks into place without having to pull the pin outward. To remove the bag you do have to pull the strap that's conveniently connected to the pin and the bag just lifts off the tank base. Did I mention that it's really a secure mating of the base plates!

Installation is very simple. The base plate on the tank only requires that you pull four screws from the tank's ring that is around the gas cap lid and place the base plate over the tank's ring and secure it with the longer screws provided with the base. The base on the bag is a little more complicated since you have to decide where you want to place the mating base plate. Location of this base plate determines how far forward or back the bag will sit on your tank. I placed the bag over the tank to help me determine where to locate the mating base plate. If you get it wrong or don't like how it sits on your tank all you have to do is move the mating base plate, but that will leave a set of four holes through the bottom of your bag so it's best to get it right the first time.

The bag itself is a medium sized bag that's perfect for my quick to grab stuff like my cell phone (on the front separate pocket with the port to run your ear bud cord through), garage door opener, flash light, ear plugs, sun screen, lib balm, towels for wiping down bike, and my cap. The two side pockets are for my receipts and any medicines/vitamins. It sure beats having to reach into your saddle bags or the handy right hand pocket on the fairing that's nice, but too deep to keep any smaller items or bigger stuff like a cap.

The beauty of the Bags Connection is that you can buy different sized bags, including a very small tank bag for short rides that will hold your phone, change, and other smaller items. From there you can go up to the larger bags that are made for those long cross country rides. 

Base plated mounted over existing gas tank ring.

Base plated mounted over existing gas tank ring.

Side view of base plate shows that it is about the same height as the existing stock tank rail system.

Side view of base plate shows that it is about the same height as the existing stock tank rail system.

Here's the mating plate that goes on the bag. The pin secures the bag in place and it does not need to be pulled in order to insert the tank bag base onto the tank base. It does need to be pulled to remove the tank bag from the base. 

Here's the mating plate that goes on the bag. The pin secures the bag in place and it does not need to be pulled in order to insert the tank bag base onto the tank base. It does need to be pulled to remove the tank bag from the base. 

Bag Name.JPG
It comes with a handy tote handle, plus a shoulder strap for those D-Rings, and it also comes with a rain cover. The snap directly below my fingers & the cable port hole is the cord leading to the pin. Just unsnap the cord and pull the strap to remove the bag from the base plate. 

It comes with a handy tote handle, plus a shoulder strap for those D-Rings, and it also comes with a rain cover. The snap directly below my fingers & the cable port hole is the cord leading to the pin. Just unsnap the cord and pull the strap to remove the bag from the base plate. 

This rear pocket (or pocket closest to rider) is perfect for carrying a cell phone. I also have an extra pair of ear buds in this pocket. 

This rear pocket (or pocket closest to rider) is perfect for carrying a cell phone. I also have an extra pair of ear buds in this pocket. 

The cord port must be cut open in the standard "+" configuration and you can lead your ear bud cord through there. There is a similar port on the front of the bag that serves well for a charger cord or auxiliary power cord. 

The cord port must be cut open in the standard "+" configuration and you can lead your ear bud cord through there. There is a similar port on the front of the bag that serves well for a charger cord or auxiliary power cord. 

Here's the bag mounted and the snap cord is un-snapped. 

Here's the bag mounted and the snap cord is un-snapped. 

Computer Diagnostic GS-911 Tool For BMWs

Ricardo Perez

GS-911 1.JPG

Since we have a few BMW bikes to maintain we decided to get one of these tools.  My bikes are a 2008 K1200S and a 2010 R1200RT.  I've used the tool a few times on both bikes and two other friend's bikes.  I'm impressed with the information that you can view with this tool and even better are the different functions that you can perform on various systems.  Something to note is that the newer the bike the more information and functions that you can perform.

The software included with the purchase is strictly Windows but it ran perfectly fine on a Mac running a Windows emulation program.  As a matter of fact it ran better in that way than on my Windows Laptop.  The laptop is older than the Mac but it's one of the higher cost laptops, i.e., it cost more than the Mac.  There is also limited functionality on certain phones (no iPhones!).


Software running on a MacBook Air

A detail review of this tool will follow after I have used it much more.  At this time I do want to report that my K1200S seems to be idling and running at slow speed much better than before.  I also used it to help bleed the ABS module that I had replaced when I purchased the bike earlier this year.  That made a big difference with the front brake feel.  I had run an entire bottle of brake fluid (12 oz) through the system before I did the ABS cycle function.  I do have a MityVac but did not use it when I was doing the bleed.  The MityVac might (should?) have done a better job than regular bleeding but cycling the ABS module is best and there is no way of doing that in the garage or under a shade tree.

I'll give a thumbs up to the software also.  It seems to be updated several times a year.  I like that.  Being a techie I hate stale software.  As you can see from the picture above I'm running the beta version.  If you don't want to be at the bleeding edge stick to the release versions but it's easy to downgrade if you need to do that.


Short and to the point


No rating of this product yet but it looks like it will be a high rating.  In addition, with software upgrades it can only get better.  I recommend this product if you do a lot of your own maintenance.  Heck, for me, it's worth half the cost just to be able to reset the service reminder.

Warning: If shopping for one of these be careful because there are Chinese copies out there.  The Chinese copies are not supported by the manufacturer and you won't be able to upgrade the software of your unit.

Thanks for reading...
tsp

BMW R1200RT and BMW K1200S - A Dilemma

Tomas Perez

The RT in high places...


From Merriam-Webster:
Dilemma
3. a :  a problem involving a difficult choice...

I've had a perfectly good BMW R1200RT since 2010.  I purchased the bike new without a test ride. It was not my first boxer BMW although my last boxer was a 1984 R80RT.  The 2010 was a new model year with engine and body changes.  It was too many positive changes to pass up.

I've always liked the boxer engine.  It has some weak spots but the basic design also has some positive attributes.  And there seem to be many others that feel the same way to the point that BMW boxer has been in production for 90 years.  Even more revealing is the fact that production stopped once but public demand brought the bike back to production.


What I like about it is the simplicity of the engine, low center of gravity, the unique shape and sound of the engine, and the way it feels while under power.  It's hard to describe but it's like a lazy lope at normal highway speeds.  Push it hard and you get a vibration from the engine but it's the low frequency type that does not bother you as much as a high frequency type vibration.  At higher speeds - in the order of over 85 mph - and that vibration is worse.  The times I notice most are when I fall behind a riding group and I'm running much higher than normal speed in an effort to catch up with the group.  But keep in mind that the other 99% of the time I'm one with the bike.  

For the highway I find the RT hard to beat.  Starting with the lower weight as compared to other touring bikes and adding the range that the bike has makes for a very good touring bike.  I have gone 265 miles at high speeds and over 300 miles at lower speeds on a tank of gas.  I can carry 10 days of clothes and camping gear on the bike without too much trouble.  I have also set up my bike with music and GPS navigation which makes long distance travel that much easier.  Don't get me wrong.  It's not all a bowl of cherries.  I've had my share of the typical BMW problems but the basic machine has been very solid.  By the way, let me add that I still don't understand why BMW took so long and in some cases never added some of these problems.  My problems on the RT were the handlebar switches and one fuel strip gone bad.  All things considered I obviously like the RT since I still have it and don't have plans to replace it any time soon.  

But then this year I find this hardly used 2008 BMW K1200S stored in an enclosed trailer.  It had a dead battery and a flashing brake failure light which normally indicates a non functional ABS system.  We put a new battery in it and it starts up right away.  The sound alone was impressive.  Did I mention that it had a Remus muffler on it.  That makes a big difference.  I decide to take a test drive.  Since the bike had hardly been used in about 5 years I was careful and concerned about the test ride.  In addition, it not being my bike I was very gentle with it - no hard acceleration nor hard braking (also had that blinking brake light to worry about).  I did not even check the tire pressure and I also did not check the suspension settings but in spite of this the bike handled very well during my short test ride.  Just months earlier I had purchased a Honda VTR1000 (Super Hawk).  It's Honda's copy of a Ducati - at least as far as engines go.  It's a V twin (90 degree), carburetors, chain, choke - you get the idea... old school hot rod.  In addition it came with a set of carbon fiber mufflers that when I added them it made the bike sound that much more like a hot rod bike.  The bike also had suspension and carburetor work that resulted in a nice total package.  It's about the same horsepower as the RT but it's much lighter and smaller.  I like the handling a lot but the riding position is rather sporty.  



BMW 2008 K1200S 
After test riding the K1200S I could easily see that this bike was in another class.  I know that the Honda is a 1998 and the KS a 2008 but it goes beyond that.  I was forcing myself to stick to the Super Hawk as my hot rod bike with zero intentions of using it for touring.  I liked the basic elements of the Super Hawk and did not want something too close to the functionality of my RT.  That is also the main reason I never considered the GT as another bike.

After riding both bikes for a month I decided the KS would be my second bike.  Now that I have ridden it more - a total of 3000 miles - I am liking it even more.  Although I never meant for it to be used for touring I have added a tail rack to it and use my BMW Sport Bag on it as well as a small waterproof bag.  I added a Ram mount on the battery cover so that I can mount my Zumo 660 but instead I have been using my iPhone for music and GPS.  Having both of these very nice bikes reminds me so much of John F. Kennedy.

I've ridden both bikes back to back to back on the same day.  They are so very different yet I love the way each rides and handles.  That is my dilemma... which will be my main bike?  If I ride one of them for an extended period (days) I look forward to riding the other bike.  My logical side of the brain also tells me that I don't need anything more than the BMW R1200RT but then the K1200S stirs the soul.  There are many times that I ride the KS in a very civil way felling secure that if called upon the bike can do so much more.  Getting on the expressway via an access road is a joke for the KS.  It's just so easy to merge into the flow.  Of course right after that I have to let up on the throttle because I am normally way beyond the speed limit.  It's exactly like they say - the acceleration is intoxicating.  About 10%... maybe more like 5% of the time I tell myself that I need to sell the KS before I get in trouble with it.

Sunday morning breakfast run

Getting back to John F...  My good ole dependable RT is my Jackie Kennedy...  the KS is like... well... like Marilyn Monroe.

For now... I'm keeping both...

tsp



Review - First Impression - BMW Rallye 2 Pro Suit

Tomas Perez

BMW Rallye 2 Pro Jacket - Size 44R USA


This review is for the BMW Rallye 2 Pro riding suit which includes the jacket and pants.  In addition both jacket and pants have winter/rain liners.  Both parts have CE type pads with the jacket having a mesh liner that holds the back, elbow, and shoulder pads.  This suit is meant as a year round suit or perhaps a three season suit in extreme areas.  In my case I intend to use it year round for my long rides.  On short local rides in the summer I still intend to use my BMW Airflow jacket.  For additional protection I have a Rev'It wind barrier for under a jacket and a Tourmaster rain jacket for over a jacket in extreme cold or rain.  This suit is very heavy but like the Airflow jacket it just seems to hang on you so well.  It's like a well tailored suit.  You hardly notice the jacket on you although it is large and heavy.

I'm calling this review a first impression because I only have about 700 miles with this suit and most of that was done in one day.  A followup review will follow soon as I plan to use this suit for my long tour this coming week.  I'm plan on adding a lot more miles to this suit next week.

Let me start by saying that this 700 mile review ride was on a BMW K1200S which is a sport touring bike that leans a lot closer to sport than my 2010 R1200RT - my normal touring bike.  The KS flows a lot more air than the RT on the upper torso.  The legs have about the same amount of shielding on both bikes.  In addition, my "normal" jacket is a BMW Airflow (no number means the latest).  Testing took place in South Texas to Central Texas in August i.e., very hot conditions.

Since I left at 5:00 AM my cold weather riding (in August) was in the low 70's and I was lucky to get that.  I left my house without the liners and all jacket vents open.  The jacket has vents on the back, chest, and sleeves.  The sleeve vents are full length but I just opened the upper part (by the shoulder) a few inches.  As I headed north the temperature dropped to about 70 F just before sunrise.  Certainly not cold but cool enough at 75 MPH to let me feel the air flowing in.  This condition afforded me the opportunity to adjust and/or close the vents while under way.  I wanted to know if I could open and close the vents while under way - excluding the rear vents of course.  With little effort I was able to close the chest and arm vents on the jacket and the thigh vents on the pants.  I decided to stop at a Whataburger and get a few cups of coffee.  While having my coffee I opened all vents again.  I'm expecting high 90's later in the day.  As the sun came up so did the temperature.

I reach my destination in north Austin before 10 AM.  The trip was pretty much uneventful.  I was enjoying the new to me KS - a bike that is very difficult to ride at legal speeds.  The true hot weather test was to be on my return trip.  I installed the K13/K12 rear rack on my bike so that I could use my BMW Sport 2 Small tail pack (that's what BMW calls it).  I invested $200 for the rack because I really like the Sport 2 Small bag and a rack provides a very stable mounting point for these bags.

Review / Comparison: BMW Sport 2 Bags

My bike was competed by mid afternoon.  That is normally the hottest part of the day and sure enough the temperature was 97 F as I pulled away from the dealership.  On my last visit here I purchased a HyperKewl vest and I was carrying it along with my rain gear in the tail pack.  But I wanted to evaluate this suit without any artificial means of cooling and decided not to use it.  Once I hit the country roads the bike is showing 104 F and I can tell it's hot.

The jacket does not flow air like the Airflow but it still did a good job of flowing enough air that I never felt sweat anywhere except my back.  You might know the feeling... you shift so that the back pad comes off your back and you feel the air flow hit a wet spot on your back.  I think the Airflow is very good in this regard partly because the back section that contacts your back has ridges over the entire length.  These ridges allow air to flow up and down your back.  They must be doing the job because it is one of the first things I noticed with that jacket.  The cooling effect of the Rallye 2 jacket was much more obvious when I stopped to gas up and left my jacket on.  Once you get back on the road you feel all these cool spots on your now slightly damp shirt.  It's something you don't notice when you are not moving. The pants flow much better than jeans but not as good as my Tourmaster and Olympia mesh riding pants but they are built much better and protection appears much, much better.  For example the knee pads go around your knees and really stay in place and the pad really goes down your shins to protect that area.  Conclusion: the jacket and pants seem to do the job in hot weather but a true hot weather test has to be above 106 in my opinion.  It's just so different when you get above 105 and then again above 110.  This is when you must close face shields due to the heat blast in your face.  I'm thinking this jacket, because of the way it's built, might do very good at those elevated temperatures.  I'll do an update to this post when I hit those conditions.

I'm using the Rallye suit next week because we are expecting temperatures from over 100 to low 40's  in our multi state ride.  I should also be able to evaluate the liners with conditions like that.  I'm looking forward to putting this suit to the test.  I'm not taking another jacket so I'll be stuck with it for the duration of our tour.  But then again, it's not a bad jacket to be stuck with.

Update:  I have done several long rides with the Rally suit.  My longest ride was the multi state ride I just mentioned above.  I used the jacket every day and the pants I used on days where we expected to ride at least 8 hours.  In other words if we were visiting different areas, parks, shops etc. I used jeans instead of the riding pants.  I packed the liners for both jacket and pants but never used them.  On the cold days I simply zipped up all the vents on the jacket.  In addition, when the temperature was below about 55 F I used my Rev'It wind blocker jacket.  The combination worked very nicely.  I'll be testing the liners this winter and reporting back.

TSP Rating : 9/10 - Do it all jacket?

Pros:
Built quality
High quality pads
Vents
Pockets, pockets, and pockets
Fanny pack.

Cons:
Cost - but you get what you pay for
Heavy
Inside liners will be hard to put on while on the side of the road.

Thanks for reading,
tsp

BMW K1200s - New to me Bike

Tomas Perez

I'm a touring bike type of guy.  Well... maybe sport touring type of guy with much greater emphasis on the "touring" part.  But being a technical type of guy I also realize that everything is relative.

Rolled out of trailer and waiting for a new battery

I've been a fan of the boxer engine for a long time.  I like the way they propel the bike down the highway.  I don't know about the newer boxer engines but the older engines had this awesome burbling sound as they passed you on the highway.  In addition, the vibration of the boxed engine is a low frequency type (compared to 4 and 6 cylinder engines).  It doesn't appear to bother a rider as much as a high frequency buzz.  It's a win-win for a touring rider that spends many hours on the saddle.

But then there are times that you simply want (or need) pure unadulterated power.  At times, while on the RT, I miss the power of a modern 4 or 6 cylinder engine.  Don't get me wrong - the new RT is powerful and fast.  The RT is like two different kinds of bikes.  You have the old man touring mode where you shift at 4K at the highest and the engine never gets close to 6K rpm.  But if you press it beyond 6K rpm it's like a different animal.  On top of that it handles so well that experienced riders can hold their own in most cases.  

Disclaimer - I do not fall in that group...

 A step brother to the RT boxer is the K-GT touring bike.  I recently test drove one and it brought back memories of past sporty touring bikes that I've owned.  The search was on for a K bike.  I didn't want the GT because it's too close to the function/purpose of my RT.  I first looked at the R but found it a bit too raw or naked for my taste.  I then found a very low mileage 2008 K1200s that fits the bill between a tourer and plain bike very nicely.  It's a brute but at the same time can

almost

replace my RT as a touring bike.  The KS strikes a nice balance between a hot rod and a sophisticated long range bike and being a BMW it also has character (some of it good, some of it bad).

My first gas stop.  I was glad to put fresh gas in the bike.

I've ridden the bike 300 miles and it seems like I am adjusting to the riding position.  The proof will be when I use it on 100 to 300 mile rides.  My RT is still my long range tourer and the Super Hawk is better around town than the KS.  My evaluation and ride reports on the K1200s will follow after I added more miles.  I just got it titled, tagged, and insured yesterday.  By the way, insurance for the 2008 K is double what I pay for the 2010 RT.  It must be that 167 HP, 96 ft/lb of torque and 11,000 rpm redline.  In the background of the photo above (gas station photo) you can see some of the vastness of Texas.  It's ideal for a bike like this.  It was so hard keeping it under 75 mph on my way home.  Once, while merging into the interstate, I looked down after shifting though all 6 gears and see 100 MPH on the speedometer.  I'm sure I was shifting at 50% of red line!

Cruising home somewhere on highway 77

Very clean bike.  Cleaned up but not detailed yet...

Bike ready for a run (disregard old sheepskin - it has the low seat)

Update: 2013/07/19:

 The gas tank had so much vacuum at my last two fill ups that I had to use a screwdriver to break the gas cap loose.  A few days later and although the gas tank was still nearly full I decided to investigate and look for the cause.  Tracing the vent line coming off the top of the tank I soon discovered a double kink on it.  It was totally blocked off.  Since the bike is hardly used I am suspecting that this might be a factory error.  It was a simple matter to reroute the line and all is good now.  Since the gas tank was removed I decided to look at the ABS module.  My "brake failure" light has been on most of the time.  It was fairly simple to remove the unit.  It has four brake lines attached on the top, three bolts holding the unit on the bike, and two wire anchor points on the sides of the module.  The unit is off for a rebuild right now.  Update will follow as soon as I get it back.

Line now free flowing

Update: 2013/07/30:

 In a total of 8 days I shipped out the ABS module and got it back after it was rebuilt by Module Masters.  I installed it the same day I got it and my ABS is fully functional again.  The repair was done at a fraction of the cost of what the dealer wanted to fix the ABS.

Update: 2013/08/15:

I took the bike to a BMW dealer to get to bulletins (recalls) done on the bike plus a software (included a fuel mapping upgrade) flash.  The result of the update is better mileage, smoother idling (still not perfect), and much better in town riding when in 2nd or 3rd gear and RPMs less than 3,000.

Update: 2013/10/07:

I got a pair of used Helibars and installed them on the KS.  It's a minor change to the stock bars and they look totally stock but you do notice (feel) the change on long trips.  I did have to modify the left bar a bit to get a better OEM fit of the switch gear.  The standard mounting holes place the switch gang rotated too much in the clockwise direction.  For example the left turn switch was directly under the bar.  The right side can be adjusted but the left side has mounting screw holes to hold the hand grip in place.  What I did was drill another hole slightly CCW from the existing holes.  The photo below shows what I did.  The shiny area around the hole is where I chamfered the hole slightly.  It's a very nice (actually better) fit now.

Helibar Mod

Thanks for reading,

tsp

BMW Motorrad Sport 2 Bags - Comparison

Ricardo Perez

Large BMW Motorrad Bag

My brother and I just happen to have the two BMW Motorrad Sport 2 luggage bags so here's a side-by-side comparison of the two. The obvious difference is the size, but there's more to it than that.

Size: The bigger tail bag is 55 liter capacity while the smaller one has a capacity of 30 liters and can expand an additional 6 liters for a total of 36 liters. For us non-metric guys that about 14.5 gallon capacity in the larger one and 9.5 in the smaller one. The larger one will easily fit a helmet and more stuff.  I was able to fit my Schuberth C3 in XL size in the small bag.  It's a snug fit but it fits even without expanding the bag.

Pockets: The larger one has two sealed zipper pockets on the sides. I use one side pocket for my wires, phone, connectors, sunglasses case, etc. and the other side pocket for my tums, sun screen, vitamins, BMW MOA directory, etc. There is a neat smaller rear pocket where I keep my important papers such as title, registration, and insurance as well as gas receipts. Then there are two other pockets on front and back which hold the carrying handles, but they are zippered so they can hold my Plexiglas cleaner and towel and other stuff that you don't need on every stop. On top is a clear pocket for a map. It can hold two unfolded sections of a typical highway map (ie - Texas map) so that's neat. It's also neat to see a map other than my Garmin Zumo screen, kind of a kickback to the old days when paper maps were the only thing and it's nice to glance at the map to see what's in the area that you might want to visit. This is my favorite pocket. I also stick my State and National Park permits in there so they're in plain site for the rangers. Last, but not least is the biggest pocket which is the main storage. You access it by the double zippers that open the flap where the map pocket it at, but it's not part of the map pocket so that stays undisturbed. Inside is enough space to easily hold a sleeping bag, shaving kit, rain gear, cold riding gear such as a heated vest, with plenty of room left over for a few days worth of clothing. It's also has a neat bag type strap that you can pull shut, like a laundry bag, which is an added protection against rain water. I took it out on a short trip across west Texas and we had a slight rain, but nothing to really test the water resistance of the main compartment or the side pockets. I would venture that they are fairly good. During this three day trip I had everything in this bag and left the side saddle bags for my tool kit, air pump, and for storing my helmet during restaurant stops.

The smaller bag has five pockets.  Each side has thin pockets that can hold smaller items.  On one side I carry extra straps and at times a small 4 oz flask (for emergency use only) and the other side I normally carry my phone and an extra handkerchief.  There is additional room in each of these pockets.  The back of the bag - the side facing to the rear - has a small pocket that holds a phone or multitool.  The remaining small pocket is on the lid of the bag, i.e., the top of the main compartment.  It's the largest of the smaller pockets.  I carry papers and other small items in this pocket.  It gets used at nearly every stop.  Then there is the main compartment.  Like the larger bag this compartment also has the waterproof draw bag inside.  Each side of the inside has a cord loop so that you can tie the waterproof bag out of the way thus keeping the top open for easy access.  I have yet to use the draw string.  All the pockets are water resistant.  The small bag holds much more than I thought it would.  In the main compartment I carry a micro cloth, Corbin seat cover, rain pants, rain jacket, BMW mid weight waterproof gloves, windbreaker, baseball cap, water bottle, and an extra item or two with still some room to spare.  My logic is that if I hit rain while on the road I only need to access this bag and do not have to deal with the saddle bags.

Zippers: The zippers are rubber lined self sealing so as to resist water penetration.  As stated above, all pockets are water resistant with the main compartment having a waterproof liner inside which is attached to the bag.  It stays in place but can be tied wide open to allow fast, easy access to the main pocket.

Reflective Material:  Reflective material exists on both sides of the bags and on the rear facing side also.

Straps & Mounting:  The Sport Bag 2 comes with three sets of straps.  There are 2 long, 2 medium, and 2 short straps included with the bag.  You can probably make either of the longer straps work but I use the two small straps and two medium straps regardless if I mount the small bag on the passenger seat or the luggage rack.  They are the perfect size for mounting on my RT.  If you mount the bag on the seat the bag has a backrest built in that works rather nicely but it looks much better mounted on the rear rack.  In addition, because of the straps on the bottom that hook on the back rack, it is in my opinion that it's a much more secure mounting.

Workmanship & Materials: The bags look first rate.  I have over 3,000 miles on the small bag and it looks new and once mounted I have not had to adjust any straps.  The bags carry a 2 year BMW warranty.

Conclusion: The larger bag is great for long trip simply because of the additional capacity and I would definitely want this bag on those week-long trips. The smaller bag has the advantage of being mounted on the passenger pillion and serves as a nice back rest whereas the larger one cannot be mounted there because it will rub on the saddle bags. The larger bag also obscures a small part of your rear view vision. The smaller bag just looks neat and sleek and the bigger one looks like what it is, 'a big bag'. So depending on your riding style you have two good options.  I (tsp) replaced my Touratech Flat tank bag with the small Sport 2 Bag and really like it.  Where the tank bag had everything mixed together in one compartment I can now separate those items into 5 different pockets thus all my common use stuff is much better organized.

tsp rating: ********** 9.5/10   (Down pour testing pending)

Small Bag

Large bag


Small bag

Small bag

Small BMW bag with the medium Wolfman bag


Motorrad Large Luggage Bag
Where Am I?
Big Bag with Map in Top Pocket

Side Pocket

Small Motorrad Luggage Bag





Top Carrying Handle

Smaller Bag Padding To Lean On
Large Bag

Review - BMW Pro Touring 2 Boots

Tomas Perez

BMW Pro Touring 2 Boots

Normally I like to really put a product through it's paces before I do a review.  In this case I just purchased these boots last Monday but in that one week I have put them through a rather complete test.  My main touring boots are (were) the Sidi Way Rain boots that are about 8 years old yet still look very good.  Sidi boots are very good but recently I have been looking at the BMW boots.  I was considering two boots - the Airflow and the Allround -  for different reasons.  The Airflow boot should be a cooler boot and I live where it's hot about 10 months out of the year.  But then again, I liked the Allround boot because ... well they are good all around boots.

To my surprise the dealer where I took my bike for a LH switch gear exchange was having a sale on boots including a large number of Allround, a few Air Flow, and one pair of Pro Touring 2 boots.  The Air Flow and Allround boots were discounted to $218 while the Pro Touring had a much better discount.  The regular dealer sticker price was $379 and the sale price was $226.  A quick check with Amazon showed a price of $359 plus $23 shipping so my attention shifted to the Pro Touring 2 boots.  I'm explaining the pricing in detail because I really wanted the Allround boots but for only $8 more I had to get the Pro Touring 2 Boots.

Even though I've only had the boots for a week I have put about 2,500 miles on them, hiked over miles of rough terrain, ridden in the rain, ridden for 100 miles in 44 degree weather, used in a low of 31 and a high of 96 degrees, and walked across a shallow river with these boots.  Let me start off by saying that during all these rides and walks I never felt the boots were an issue.  As a matter of fact the only times I thought about the boots was when I felt I was abusing them like while rock climbing and walking in ankle deep water.

The day after purchasing the boots I had a leg on our tour of about 150 miles from Fort Stockton to Carlsbad Caverns NP.  The temperature was 44 degrees and stayed at that temperature for about 100 miles.  The only issue was that I felt a little cold air flow in from the top of the boot down to my ankle.  I felt the same thing the day before where it was hot (mid 80's) and considered that a nice feature.  But now it was cold and my riding gear was mostly summer gear since we were touring in Texas and New Mexico in late April.  We did not expect these weather conditions.  This was only my second day with the boots and knew little about all its features but while riding I raised my pant leg and redid the Velcro upper closure on each boot.  Totally different feel.  No more cold air drafts!  Totally comfortable in cold weather riding.

The boots claim to be comfortable for every day walking.  I totally agree with this claim after hiking down to the base of Carlsbad Caverns.  It's all down hill for about 750 feet.  It's a tough test for new shoes or boots but once again I had no problems with the boots.  Later that day we rode to Guadalupe Mountain NP and then to Fort Davis.  After we rode up to the McDonald Observatory we went to the old Fort Davis Park and toured the old military base on foot.  More walking with the boots but this time it was mostly on flat dirt and gravel trails.  Easy test for the boots.  The major walking test was the following day at Big Bend NP.  I hiked the Window trail which is 4.25 miles round trip both up and down terrain and rocks and boulders to walk over.  This is where the boots took a beating from the rough terrain but I was surprised by the comfort of the boots and how well they gripped the rocks I had to go over.  I was exhausted after the hike but my feet felt fine.  Next came the Santa Elena Canyon that is craved by the Rio Grande River.

Middle of a very shallow Rio Grande River

I decided to walk to Mexico since the water was so shallow.  My main reason for doing this was to test the waterproof feature of these boots.  I felt the coolness of the water but no water got into either boot.  My stay in the river was only minutes but it did get a little deeper than the photo above.

I used the boots every day for six straight days and really like them.  There is little not to like about these boots.  They are taller than any of my other boots which I like.  I haven't really tested them in very hot weather and by that I mean over 100 degrees F.  The outer material is leather which my Sidi boots are not therefore I would think these boots still need some more break in time.  The leather seems softer than any of my other boots.  They should get even better as the miles add up.

TSP Rating: ********* 9/10

tsp


Rough terrain for hiking


The upper inner material is very soft


After cleaning them up a bit

A Cheap Second Helmet

Tomas Perez

The final two helmets I considered
I went with full face helmets about 35 years ago. For one thing I figured they were safer than an open face helmet. In addition, my motorcycle insurance company was running a promotion on a generic full face help for about $20. I couldn't go wrong with that price but at first I felt all boxed in. It took me a few months to get used to the full face helmet.

So why did I purchase an open face helmet this past week after so many years of using full face helmets? In addition, I recently got a new expensive full face helmet so why buy a cheap second helmet? The reason for the new helmet is my new second motorcycle. It's a bit of a sport bike with that forward lean created by low, narrow bars. I found that when I used my Schuberth C3 I had to really cocked my head back more than normal because the helmet rides rather low over my brow. It's never a problem on my touring bike but doesn't work too well on my sport bike. I found that I really enjoyed riding the Super Hawk without a helmet but that's a no-no. Thus my justification for buying a new helmet.

I intended to purchase a helmet with minimal features and extras. The first ones I looked at were half helmets. The price of a half helmet and a regular open face helmet was about the same so I decided that I might as well get a better grade helmet. We all know the saying... "what value do you place on your head..." The two I settle on are shown in the picture above. I really liked the pilot type helmet shown on the left in the picture above but when I closed the face shield the bottom edge of the shield was about 1/8 of an inch from the tip of my nose. I figured wind blast would push it again my nose. No returns on helmets at the store I was at so I didn't want to risk it. I decided on the Fulmer 75B helmet. In the store it looked very nice and the cost was ok at $109 (plus tax).

I put the helmet on and rode home on the Super Hawk. Once I got home I switched bikes and went out for a ride on my R1200RT. The helmet is very nice. Here are the pros and cons as I see it after a short week of using the Fulmer 75B.
Pro:

  • Economical
  • Light weight
  • Built in sun screen
  • Materials and inside pads seem very good
  • Not too noisy for an open face helmet
  • Sun screen lever is logical
  • Removable liner

Con:

  • More noise than a full face helmet
  • D rings (takes much longer to put on)
  • No lip on clear shield to help in closing and opening shield
  • Venting system inadequate
  • Face shield cannot be fully raised and remains in the line of sight


Front view - shield up



Nice sun screen


Lever used for sun screen

D ring system


Fulmer on left.
$109 vs $750
Schuberth on top
Fulmer liner not bad for the cost

My New Ride: BMW R1200RT 90th Anniversary Edition

Ricardo Perez

2013 BMW R1200RT - 90th Anniversary Edition

Had one of those milestone birthdays and my wife gave me a gift to remember, a 2013 BMW R1200RT - 90th Anniversary Edition bike. The bike is still on some container ship coming from the motherland to NYC Port, due there on 02/18/13 and then at Lone Star BMW in Austin about a week to ten days later. I'll followup with pictures once we pick it up.

Here's my birthday cake!







Triumph Trophy SE - First Impressions

Tomas Perez

First ride on the Trophy SE

 

Updated - 2013/1/27 - See Below

I had a chance to ride a 2013 Triumph Trophy for a short test drive recently. My ride was way too short but I was very interested in comparing this bike to my current 2010 R1200RT. These are my first impression of the bike and are not meant to be any type of detailed road test report. Like I said - too few miles to give this bike a truly fair review.

 

A few key points on the 2013 Triumph Trophy SE (BMW 2010-2013 R1200RT figures):

  • Engine - 1215cc liquid cooled inline 3 (Boxer 2 cylinder)
  • Wet weight - 662 lbs (571)
  • HP - 132hp @ 8900 rpm (110hp @ 7750rpm)
  • Torque - 88.5 lb-ft @ 6450 rpm (88 @ 6000 rpm)
  • Gas tank - 6.9 gal (6.6 gal)
  • Cost - About $19,990 (BMW - $17,200 to about $24,000)
  • Maintenance Schedule - minor at 10,000 miles/ Major at 20,000 miles (BMW - 6,000 miles)

 

The Trophy SE is aimed at the BMW R1200RT and perhaps even the K1600GT. Some reports say it is aimed to fall between the two BMW standards. Let me start off by saying that I am a boxer fan. I have always liked the basic engine design and my current BMW is my third of a relatively short list of bikes that I have owned. I'm just keeping my options and eyes open to any new sporty touring bikes. Besides, the Trophy dealer is only 6 miles away vs my closest BMW dealer at 265 miles and my independent mechanic is only a bit closer at 250 miles.

 

The bike was so new that the dealer had just prepped the bike. When my brother and I got to the dealer the bike was still in the bike wash bin. A sales person pulled the bike out to the shop area. I looked the bike over and to me it looked like a slightly larger RT. The bags are a bit strange in that they swing together on their mounts. Push in on one bag and the other bag moves with it. That feature is part of the design and is suppose to prevent bag movement from offsetting the balance of the rest of the bike. I can't speak on this feature since there was no way I could test that. I asked if I could start the bike and was told sure (although we were still indoors and all the doors were closed). One thing led to another and I was finally talked into taking a test ride. As it was, the day was beautiful and I had ridden one of my bikes to the dealer so I had all my riding gear with me.

Sitting on the bike and starting it I immediately notice a few things in comparison to my 2010 RT. The bike looks and is larger than the RT and lifting it off the side stand I also notice that it feels heaver also. Starting the bike had a pro and con for me right away. The pro was that the engine felt very smooth at any engine speed. As a matter of fact I did not have a sensation of high power at any time while at a stand still (not a pro or con). The con for me was that the throttle feel is very light. I mean VERY light! First thing I thought of was that this bike must be drive by wire! (I need to check but I think it is) The soft throttle is probably something someone can get used to after some time with the bike.

Just pulling out of the parking lot

 

Well... time to get rolling. I'll share my points as they came to me during the short ride. No drama putting the bike into gear from the start or at any speed after that. Not as smooth as my RT but I have nearly three years and 36,000 miles to adjust or get used to that bike. Getting on an access road from the dealer's parking lot I slightly over rev the engine before I release the clutch. It's that very soft throttle thing. I adjust my throttle feel again and leave the dealership.

Very normal running through the gears once I'm on the access road. It's my first run thru the gears so in my opinion I am not smooth at all. A new ride and you have to adjust your shifting, clutch and throttle movements. The Trophy has no issues - it's just that all bikes are different in this regard. Thinking about it now I was probably shifting at a too low RPM because that is what I am used to doing. Shifting at low rpm is not an issue with this bike since it has a good torque curve but it did make the bike feel very normal i.e. not exciting. I was expecting more. But to get that rush I am required to rev the engine much higher than what I'm used to. Before I forget to mention it I must say that a big plus for the bike is that the heavy weight seems to melt away as soon as the bike starts rolling. The ST1300 felt a little like that but not nearly as well as the Trophy. Good job by Triumph.

I do a lazy U turn under an over pass to head in the opposite direction. That gives me a chance to rev higher in each of the gears as I approach the on ramp. Ah... much nicer feeling of power and speed. By the time I get on the expressway I'm doing 65 mph. I first notice that I am getting way too much wind in my face and it's noisy. Btw, I use a Schuberth C3 and it's normally quiet as long as there is a smooth stream of air directly across the helmet. I ride an RT and a sport bike with hardly any fairing but this was really bad. I move the wind shield up and down but it is only a smooth quiet ride when I fully raise the wind shield. I don't like riding like that. The RT is much better in this regard and I'm using the OE wind screen on my RT. I think the reason for this is that the RT puts a tremendous amount of air behind the screen. This air stream seems to push the air coming off the top of the screen much higher than it normally would. The wind screen is flat with no curve or flip on the upper edge and it's that way on the RT and the ST1300. This is one of the first things I noticed on the RT when coming off of my Honda ST1300. The ST1100 has an upward flip on the screen and does a better job than the ST1300 of keeping wind off the face of the rider when looking over the shield. But the ST1300 trumps the ST1100 by having an adjustable wind screen. In this regard the RT blows these bikes away (sorry for the pun) and many owners say that after market makes it even better. I'm happy with my RT screen so I still have the OEM screen.

As I move over to the left most lane (i.e. fast lane) I think "after market wind screen" for sure and forget that issue. I up the speed to 70 mph. The bike is smooth - very smooth. If you really search for vibration you have a very slight buzz on the grip and even less on the pegs. I am talking very, very little - nothing to be concerned about. Both the Trophy and RT are very smooth at normal speeds yet very different. I kick it up to 80 mph. Same observations. Move up to 90 mph and it feels much like the 70 mph speed. At higher speeds the Trophy is smoother than my RT. When you push the RT you get that low frequency vibration that in my opinion is much less intrusive than any high frequency vibration or buzz. Push the RT and the engine lets you know that it is working harder. It's part of the boxer "experience". Since there were no cars behind me I slowed down to about 70 mph again and accelerate again to 85 mph. The Trophy had no problems doing this although it did not feel exceptionally fast. Maybe it's because it doesn't give that vibration that my RT gives me when I push it. The Trophy just pushes forward with smooth power delivery. These high speed passes were all performed in 6th gear which is very tall in the Trophy but presented no problems for the bike. It has the power and torque to make these higher speed passes easy. That tall gearing in 6th is a big plus for a touring bike. I like it.

On my way back to the dealer I see a large flea market with a huge parking lot. I decide to turn into the parking lot in order to test the slow speed behavior of the bike. Shortly after getting into the parking lot I turn into a lane that has people walking in the middle of the driving lane. This bike must be quiet because they don't notice me until I am right behind them. I'm riding at slightly faster than walking pace. Conclusion - the Trophy handles very well at slow speed. I did not notice any wobble or hunting for balance when I was doing this. It was as if I had been riding the bike for years. I felt at home.

Out of the parking lot and back on the access road. I decide to stay off the expressway so that I can do more stop and go driving on my last leg back to the dealer. The bike had a seat labeled "Low Rider". I asked if it was a special seat but the sales guys kept telling me that they knew very little about the bike plus they had not received any sales information on the bike yet. As the bike was offered to me it is a lot lower than my Corbin equipped RT with the seat set on the high setting. In the low setting the two are probably much closer but I think the Trophy would still have a lower seat height. I'm 5'10" with a 32 inch inseam. It was a very easy straddle for me. I'm negligent of not checking the seat setting before I rode off on the bike but in any case this is not a tall saddle. Stop and go riding is uneventful. I had no issues of any type. Braking, turning, and lane changes were all easily performed. The one issue, as I stated before, was the soft throttle but it was not as severe as when I first started off. I'm sure it's a matter of getting used to it.

Conclusion...

The Trophy is a sweet ride in many ways but I'm not sure it will knock the RT from my favorite list. I felt the Trophy fits exactly between a two cylinder and inline 4 bike. Like I said at the start of this article - I'm a boxer engine fan. In addition, I like the V-4 engine of the ST1300 better than the inline 3 of the SE. The Trophy just sounded like a lot more was going on while under way compared to the RT. I'm sure that if I ride the bike for a lot of miles many of it's finer points will bubble to the top. Maybe it's mileage or maintenance (lack of) or balance or radio (I did not try it) or the electronic suspension or the total package (what I like about the RT). The Trophy is a very good bike that simply felt normal to me. It did everything well but did not wow me in any. I need to mention that I did not race or push the bike in any way. The Trophy engine is the type that has to be revved to get the extra power from it. It wasn't my bike so I did not push it at all. But saying that I can also see myself being the owner of a Trophy SE for a number of reasons. For now I like the dealer network, range, mileage, options, light feel once it's rolling, and the bike has a good supply of power and torque. I switched from the ST1300 to the RT because of the 160 pounds of weight savings. By the same token the RT is about 90 pounds lighter than the Trophy SE. I see it as carrying a bag of Portland cement on my RT. Maybe not a big task for a young fellow but for my old bones and muscles it swings the scales to the lighter bike.

 

 

Update - 2013/1/27

I forgot to mention something that I think is important. The maintenance schedule for the Trophy consists of a minor service at 10,000 miles (like oil change) and a major service at the next 10K miles i.e., 20,000 miles. The Trophy uses shims under buckets for valve adjustment (major service) so I suspect that they will maintain their setting for a long time. So if you keep your bike for 30,000 miles the Trophy will require only 3 service visits during that time whereas the BMW will require 5 service visits. Double those visits if you keep your bike for 60,000 miles (6 vs 10). Makes a difference. If you do your own service it will be a lot cheaper but the labor and parts are still required. This is big plus for the Trophy. Warranty is 2 years/unlimted miles for the Trophy. The BMW is 3 years and 36,000 miles.

I listed a price of $19,990 above because that is what the dealer quoted me. The actual price of the Trophy SE is $18,990. My local dealer is also charging $900 for frieght and prep making their total cost for the SE nearly $21,000. My understanding is that other dealers don't have this extra charge.

This is a minor point. The Trophy has a rather small fairing pocket but the good news is that it is wired. It's a good place to charge your cell phone or iPod. The pocket is also locked whenever the bike is shut off. The BMW has only one pocket also but it is several times bigger than that of the Trophy. I would never determine a bike purchase based on a fairing pocket but they sure are handy. My RT pocket is always full of things.

 

tsp

 

The Other Bike

Tomas Perez

1998 Honda VTR1000F Super Hawk

No matter how happy we can be with our current bike(s) there always seems to come a time when our eyes wonder and we like/must have/need to try another bike. I have always told my friends that I am sticking to my current bike... at least until further notice. In addition, what makes this a rather strange or different move on my part is that I have always owned touring or sport touring bikes. And I would further clarify that the sport touring bikes that I have owned are 80% touring and 20% sport. A "mature" person's motorcycle. :)

Maybe it was my brother's influence when I saw him having fun working on his old 1979 R100RT or just a need for something different for my short rides. I did not want anything similar to my main bike and that being a touring bike. I am very happy with my touring motorcycle because it is made for eating up miles on end, light weight for a tourer, carrying capacity, good mileage and range, and a long list options available to meet just about anybody's needs. But on with my search... The first bikes I looked at were cruisers. And they were made by the least likely motorcycle company - BMW. The R1200C is a middle weight cruiser with a rather weak engine (in regard to HP) but has a good amount of torque. I found it very easy to ride because of it's low seat and low center of gravity and lots of torque. But in many regards it was overlapping what I currently have. As a matter of fact many of the C models are setup with the larger windshield and saddle bags. Then I rode a Super Hawk that a friend had for sale and asked me to check it out for him. The bike had sat pretty much since 2005 since that was the last time it was liscensed and the bike showed it by refusing to idle. That made it very hard to ride but I was nevertheless very impressed by the feel of the 90 degree V twin engine. Lots of torque and power across a very wide RPM range made it a pleasure to ride and I was limited to a large parking lot! I never got past 3rd gear!

I've had the VTR1000F Super Hawk for only 2 weeks but I have taken it out for short rides every day except for a few days when we had rain. For the last two weeks I have been working on little things on the bike. The engine and all running gear are in very good condition mostly in part because the bike only had 9,500 miles and the prior owner did a good job of maintaining the bike. The previous owner recently stopped riding the bike because of health issues so there were a few things that needed a little TLC plus I wanted to make a few changes with the extra parts that were included with the bike. I started the same night I got the bike home by washing and waxing it. Following is a partial list of what I did to the bike in the first 10 days:

  • Replaced the touring windshield with the stock windshield.
  • Replaced the stock mufflers with a high mount MIG exhaust system.
  • A little WD40 fixed a signal switch that was slow to return to normal.
  • A heavy throttle was fixed by using a little chain/cable lube.
  • Front fork returned to normal from a 15 mm drop (maybe not as quick to turn but more stable).
  • Front preload was set back to normal (it was set very light).
  • Dampening was returned closer to normal from a very soft setting.
  • Chain lubed - twice.
  • Throttle lock (Vista Cruise) installed.
  • Engine oil and oil filter replaced with Mobile 1 10W-40.

The bike came with a Factory Pro jet kit that was removed by the previous owner but it is running so nice that I don't want to mess with it in that regard. There are days that I think about that jet kit and ask myself "can it get any better than this?" but, I like said before, it is so nice as it is now. The stock jets are in the bike right now.

Today I took the bike out for my first long ride and away from traffic. Shortly before sunset I went to a small farming community located to the north west from where I live. We pass that area often when we travel west or north which is most of the time since we have very little riding area to the south (MX) and not much more to the east (Gulf of MX).

This area produces a lot of grain

A little McCook history

My goal was to make it to the small chuch that serves the community and take some photos if the daylight holds out. It's hard to call McCook a town because the main intersection is only a four way stop and there are exactly two convenience stores at the intersection. That's right, two of the four corners are empty lots.

Since the roads in this area are seldom traveled it gave me the opportunity to see what the bike can do at speed. I know the bike is fast but I wanted to know if it was stable and how the fairing and wind shield protected the rider. What I like about this bike is regardless how fast you are going simply twisting the throttle open takes the sag off the front end and the speed increases at a rapid rate. In addition, running thru the gears is a pleasure. The sound from the engine and the thrust is very nice. I find myself shifting at 4,500 or 5,000 RPMs but the engine redlines at 9,500! I'm still telling myself that this bike is too much bike for me. Time will tell.

The other bike...

I find the low bars nice at speed because the wind blast helps to support your upper body. Lucky for me that I have a rather quiet helmet although from about 80 and above it is loud when riding without earplugs. The same goes for vibration... very smooth until I'm above 80 when I start to get buzzing on either hand grips or foot pegs depending on speed. But at normal speeds I am surprised how smooth the V twin is. On the ride back I came upon a line of 5 pickup trucks in a line headed south. I came up behind them right before a long easy curve so I waited until after the curve to get around them. Once past the curve - which they took at about 60 MPH - I proceeded to pass them. I hit 70 MPH and only manage to be even with the last truck. Obviously they too were accelerating once out of the curve. I'm on a 2 lane road so I either drop back or get on it and pass them all. I twist the throttle a little and with a rush of speed and an intoxicating exhaust note I pass all the trucks. I look down at my speed and the speedometer is at an even 100 MPH and not even breaking a sweat. I twist on for an instant before I let up on the gas just to get a feel for how much more the bike can pull and once again ask myself if this bike is going to get me in trouble. That's what the brain says... my heart says that I need this bike.

It's old fashion with no ABS and carburetors just like my brother's R100RT. It even has a chain. I haven't had a motorcycle with a chain for many years. The old BMWs are known to be very reliable but so are the Honda products. It's rather light with a dry weight of about 426 pounds. It's a 265 mile ride (one way) to get my BMW serviced by a dealer but I have a Honda dealer only about 4 miles from my home. The Super Hawk has a forward lean but I'm telling myself that it's a form of exercise for me. I need to add here that the bike had the clip ons replaced with VFR clip ons that raise and widen the bars. That's a welcomed improvement for me. The bike is very easy to maintain - takes minutes to change oil and filter. Even changing sparks plugs is done in minutes. The bike has 2 cylinders with 100+ HP and 70+ lb-ft on a small frame. Yes... it is very different than my R1200RT and a joy to ride but it will never replace my RT for long touring. Just a different ride... my "other" bike.

tsp

Posted with Blogsy

Posted with Blogsy

Honda Super Hawk 996

Ricardo Perez



Tomas, Pancho Cummings, and I made a trip out to Elgin, Texas on Friday, 12/28/12, to look at a 1998 Honda Super Hawk. Tomas ended up buying it so we trailered it home that same day. When the owner saw us showing up with a trailer in tow he must have figured that these guys meant to buy something.
The bike has approximately 9,500 miles on it, and came with lots of extra parts; two additional exhaust systems, a second seat, pegs, rear shock, wind screen and two maintenance manuals, plus maintenance DVD, jet kits and two extra oil filters, and brake pads.
After a short test ride we loaded the bike and headed home. A quick 700 mile trip to pickup a nice looking bike in great shape. They say it's a poor man's Ducati, but with Honda reliability. It sure rides great and looks like we'll soon be on the road to give it a long test ride.



Corbin Seat on My BMW R100RT

Ricardo Perez



Corbin Saddle
As I continue with my restoration project of my 1979 BMW R100RT I replaced my seat with a new Corbin Touring saddle. When I purchased the bike it had America's ugliest saddle, one hand made by a boot maker somewhere in south Texas. I replaced that with an old custom made cafe racer styled seat which was a much better look than the original, but still not too comfortable for extended rides. My brother has always used Corbin saddles and I like the fact that they are leather instead of vinyl.
The Corbin website has exactly what I needed, a touring model seat for my vintage 1979 bike. The fact that they still carry a saddle for an old BMW and had one in stock was enough for me. It's listed at $399 and I ordered it and within a few days it arrived at my office.

I was expecting some degree of work in making the seat fit, after all, we're talking about a 33 year old bike, but the fit was perfect. The cafe style saddle I had on was rubbing on the tank so I had to use a color matched, specially fabricated material (duct tape) to keep that seat from scratching the tank. Well, that can come off with the Corbin seat allowing just the right "gap" between the seat and the tank. I had ordered the cowling that goes under the seat from Maxx BMW and had it painted before the seat arrived so I was a little concerned that the saddle may not be a good fit or that the holes on the seat would not align themselves with the cowling, but everything fit perfectly. The hinges also fit perfectly as did the plunge bar that locks the seat in place.

True to the story line, the seat is "firm" and it takes some riding to "break-in" the seat. I've only about 500 miles on the seat so I'm of the opinion that I've got another thousand miles or so to get through the "break-in" period. My seat already feels much more at home on it than when I first got it and it's starting to feel "just right".

Perfect Fit At Tank
The seat not as wide as the Corbin on my brother's 2010 RT, by about three inches, but for a guy my size it seems to be just right. I'm 5'10" and weigh 172lbs with a 33 waist. Of course, riding the 2010 RT is a joy and the seat is very nice. A seat that size on the R100RT would make it look disproportionate to the slender 100RT design.






On Cowling
Here's the writeup from Corbin, "Maximum comfort and classic looks. This model is extremely popular on RT models for two-up distance riding. Ergonomically engineered platforms provide deep supportive bucket and long range comfort. Sculpted to eliminate hot spots and provide better weight distribution for longer riding range.
Accepts a removable backrest in the passenger AND rider's positions for added comfort and security (requires hardware #OPL). We offer a variety of backrest styles to suit your taste and the amount of support you desire. Corbin backrests install easily with a single bolt and are adjustable to provide a tailored fit to your copilot's posture.
Inside, our Comfort Cell foam material provides a firm, resilient ride that lasts. Our foam won't break down like the stock pad so you remain in comfort all day. Although Corbin seats feel firm at first, it is this firmness that allows the seat to support your body over the miles.
Includes genuine leather seating in your choice of colors and styles. Leather will provide a luxurious perch that breathes with your body and will break in along with the foam shape for a personalized fit. Be sure to care for your new leather saddle properly with a good conditioner like our Saddle Cream. This will help it to age gracefully and remain weather resistant.
Mounts up easily to your BMW dual cowling and includes new hinges and adjustable latch pin."