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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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Filtering by Author: Tomas Perez

BMW R1200RT and BMW K1200S - A Dilemma

Tomas Perez

The RT in high places...

From Merriam-Webster:
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...


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?

Built quality
High quality pads
Pockets, pockets, and pockets
Fanny pack.

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

Thanks for reading,

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


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,


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


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.

  • 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


  • 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

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.


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.




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.


Posted with Blogsy

Posted with Blogsy

Schuberth C3 Review

Tomas Perez

Schuberth C3 - The World in black
This is a short review of the latest Schuberth C3 helmet.  My recent helmet history starts with the C1 that I replaced in late 2005 with the tri-colored C2 in black, white, and silver.  I chose that color because it matched my 2003 Honda ST1300.  In July I broke down and purchased the C3 World in black mostly because my old helmet was showing signs of wear on the form area around the bottom of the helmet.

The decision to buy came about because several sources told me that no discounts were offered on the new helmet so when a vendor advertised 15% off on all orders over $300 I pulled the trigger.  In addition I was preparing for my yearly long tour.  I wanted the new helmet for the ride and it served as a good 4,400 mile test ride.  I don't recommend taking a helmet that is only 2 days old on an extended ride but it fit me rather well even when brand new.  By that I mean that it was a firm fit but not too tight.  The helmet broke in even better after about 3 days of riding.

Size - The C1 and C2 are both XL.  I tried the Large size a couple of times but it simply was too tight on my face. The C3 is the same size as my older helmets.  Schuberth helmets run on the small size.  All my helmets prior to the Schuberths have been Large.  With the Schuberths I had to go up to XL.

Comfort / Features - First positive impression was the weight, or lack thereof, of the C3.  After so many years with the C2 I noticed the lighter weight of the C3 every time I turned my head to check traffic.  Second, the center chin bar release button makes opening the helmet a one handed operation.  The C2 requires 2 hands to open.  You can open a C2 with one hand but it's not easy.  Opening the C3 with one hand is a natural action.  Third, dropping the sun shield is easier on the C3.  If you grab the chin bar with your left hand your thumb falls on the sun screen lever.  Fourth, I noticed a better upper vent air flow.  Not much better but better nevertheless.  I need to add that the face shield seems to stay open at higher speeds better than the C2.  Once again, it's not a big improvement - just slightly better than the old helmet.  The inside head liner is better on the C3.  It has much better padding.

The one item that I am negative on is that the chin strap rides all the way back under my jaw and sometimes it pushes against my throat.  I have to grab the strap and pull it forward every so often.  If I rotate the helmet back on my head the problem does not exist but it doesn't feel as natural on my head(at least not yet).

I'm neutral on the chin strap racket attachment system.  On the C2 you could adjust the strap for size and it always clicked into place whenever you locked the chin strap.  I found myself setting the C3 a little too tight and had to adjust it while under way.  I'm learning the number of clicks that I need to hear or feel for a proper fit.  The C3 method might be a better solution if you use different types of helmet liners making it easy to snug up.

I'm also neutral on the face shield sealing.  Once during my 10 day tour I got small water droplets inside the shield while riding in the rain.  I'm neutral at this point because this happened only once.  I'm thinking I did not seal the shield properly that one time.

Wind Noise - Much better than prior helmets.  I find myself doing more riding with the bike windshield down and the helmet face shield closed.  The helmet is quiet if you are in a steady stream of air.  Have your head in turbulence and it's no longer quiet.

Quality - Top notch.  The helmet and face shield construction shows attention to the details.  The helmet has ridges in front and back and the face shield has little triangular bumps along the top edge.  I'm sure these are the result of wind tunnel testing.  The paint job is awesome.  I got the black for the looks and it kind of matches my bike.  The white would have been better choice because I live in a very hot climate.  Another reason for not choosing white is that one of my riding friends has the White The World and I didn't want to copy him.

Cost - Expensive.  The model I got cost $749.  The solid colored models cost $699.  Recall that I got 15% off plus free shipping.  I might add that my second choice helmet cost $650 at the dealer.  I justified the extra $50 and then upgraded my order another $50 to get the World model.

Notice - I regret not installing the fog shield for my trip.  I could have used it when we hit rain.  I'll update this review once I try it out this winter.

TSP Rating: 4.5 (1-not recommended to 5-recommended)


Wolfman Waterproof Bag Review

Tomas Perez

Wolfman Duffel Bag in the Rain

Wolfman Dry Duffel Bag

This is a short review of the Wolfman waterproof bag.
On my last long tour I used a SAC bag that was given to me by a friend.  Actually he gave me two bags but one seems too small and the other too large.  I used the small SAC bag on my last tour.  I had two problems with the bag 1) it was too small to hold what I couldn't fit into the saddle bags and 2) the bag is water resistant - not waterproof.  I was carrying my sleeping bag and thermarest on top of my seat along with the SAC bag.  Well... that was only good until the first rain.  A friend carried my sleeping bag for the rest of our tour.  The size of the SAC bag is 16 inches long and 10 inches diameter.  

Thus the reason for the purchase of the Wolfman bag.  I looked at several bags including the BMW Roll 2 but the BMW bag is currently selling for about $250.  That's too much for me.  The wolfman looks very good and cost me $103.99 with free shipping.  I got it through Amazon but the shipping company was Rocky Mountain.  I went with the medium size bag.  The official name on my invoice is "Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag medium yellow".  One thing I like about this bag is that it comes with lots of straps.  I think the total number of straps is 6 straps plus the hand and shoulder straps.

I put a few items in the bag that I will be carrying in this bag because they don't fit in my saddle bags - for example my sleeping bag and pad.  I also threw in a pair of riding pants, waterproof pants, under pants, camp pillow, and a pull over shirt into the bag for the purpose of taking these pictures.  This bag comes in three sizes. All are about 11.5 X 11.5 inches and come in lengths of 20, 24, and 28 inches.  Like I said - I went with the middle size.  By the way, my sleeping pad fits in the bag without having to fold it in half.

The bag straps on to my bike much better in this position
Here's the weird thing about this review... I've never used it on the road let alone in the rain.  But having said that I am sure that it will not leak water.  It's just too well made.  Look at the top photo and you can see that it does not even come close to sitting on the bags.  This size fits perfect even if you mount it lengthwise (see the photo above).  Comes with the straps that you need but I will be using my Rok straps to tie it to my bike.  I will update this review if I need to after I field test the bag.

Another piece of advise... don't fold the opening like I did in the photos above.  It fits and seals better if you fold the opening in small folds.  The straps on each end keep the fold closed on the ends.  The top straps keep it closed on top.  The straps on the seat in the photo above are used to strap the bag on to your bike.

TSP rating for this bag = 8. (1-poor, 10-best)


Update: Rode in rain and my stuff stayed dry!  In addition to the rain you see in the video above we rode about 400 miles in rain.  I had zero problems with water leaking into the Wolfman.

Grip Buddies Review

Tomas Perez

Original Beemer Buddy
Updated... (see bottom of article)

I got these grips mostly to make the grips a bit thicker than stock - not so much to reduce vibration.  To this end the grips feel just right when I'm wearing Summer riding gloves.  With winter gloves the grips feel a bit fatter than what I want.  I also got a chance to use them in cold weather.  The heat transfer seems to work fine in both low and high heat settings.  I guess they help with vibration also but I can't tell if they help in this area.

My weak points with the grips is that they look like an add-on item.  In addition they are a wrap around product not a slip on product therefore they have a seam the length of the grip.  The instructions say to place the seam where your hand and fingers don't touch it.  Good advise of course and that also places the seam near dead bottom for each grip.  The additional advantage is that you can't see the seam in that location.  My problem is that I still know the seam is there (it's like an OCD thing for me).  I'm also wondering how they will hold up with wear and tear.  My original grips were showing signs of wear with 24,000 miles.  Neither is an expensive item to replace.

The seam
The cost was $19.95 plus shipping and purchased here.

Update - 09/17/2012
After my long tour this Summer the Grip Buddies took a beating.  The ride was 4,453 miles in 10 days.  I am guessing I had 3,000 miles on the grips before my ride.  As a future point of reference I am at 33,000 miles on my bike.  The photos below tell the story.  The foam is cracked on the right grip and is wearing off on two different areas on the left grip.  I still like the grips but keep in mind that they seem to have a rather short life.  Not too much to complain about for a $20 (plus shipping) item.  As a point of reference the stock grips showed a little wear with a total of just over 20,000 miles.

Left grip - front view

Left grip - rear view

Right grip

Update - 04/08/2013
I removed these grip buddies this week.  Bike was at about 38,900 miles.  The wearing you see above was not too big of an issue with me.  The reason I removed them was that the left side grip was always rotating on the grip.  It's weird that the right side (throttle side) that is always being twisted did not move much but the left side did.  I think it was tension that was on it as I held the clutch in.  Anyway, I got tired of fixing it on the road so I removed them.  Rating changed to reflect this issue.

Rating=5   Scale 1-10 with 1=lowest rating (save your money), 5=average, 10=An excellent product.


Headlight Upgrade Review

Tomas Perez

Tail of the Dragon ride

I'm always for more light while riding at night in country roads.  The reasons being both my aging eyes and the fact that I do a lot of country riding on Texas roads and highways.  We have lots of deer, javelins, feral hogs, and even cows and horses that can get out on the road.  This review is the beginning of the changes to my BMW R1200RT lighting system.

I used the OEM headlight bulbs on my bike until the first burned out after about 18 months.  I was at a bike rally and many miles from home so I had no option for a major upgrade but I did want something better than stock.  I found an Auto Zone store in a small town and found the Sylvania SilverStar Ultras on sale.  The RT uses two H7 bulbs for low beam and one H7 for the high beam.  It took me about an hour in a hotel parking lot to replace the first H7 with the new Ultra bulb.  The second bulb took me about two minutes to replace.  If you plan to replace the bulbs on your BMW RT take the time to find out how the bail wire hooks up in it's locked position.  That can save you a ton of time.

The Ultra seemed to be better than stock but this review is for the Osram H7 Rallye 65 watt bulb.  I got two bulbs from Candlepower for $36 and free shipping.  This bulb is rated at 2100 lumens and 500 hours.  The stock bulb is rated at 1400 lumens and the same bulb life.  I first replaced the left side bulb and wanted to compare that to the right side.  I could tell the light was brighter for the Rallye bulb when I pointed the lights at my garage door but the comparison was difficult because the light pattern of the left and right side bulbs is different.  I went ahead and replaced the right side bulb.  I also used one of the old Ultra bulbs for the high beam.  That set me up with the 65 watt rallye bulbs for the low beams and an Ultra for the high beam.

I went for a ride immediately after I finished the install.  The difference is not an obvious change in lighting.  I had to ride some country roads that had no lighting to notice what seemed like greater range.  Using the high beam did seem like an obvious improvement.  Once I turned around and headed back home and only using the low beam is when I started to notice the difference.  Side lighting was better than before and what I really noticed was that on roads I regularly traveled I was seeing and reading road signs much sooner than before.  It was also easier to read street names.  I always had a problem with this with the old lighting whenever street names were posted higher than normal.  The old light pattern seemed to miss them.

I'm happy with the upgrade.  It is an improvement but I hope the extra heat from these bulbs doesn't do any damage.  Also, I'm still considering doing the HID upgrade but for now I'll run this setup.  These bikes have great lighting and now it's even better.


Bike under a tarp...

Tomas Perez

1979 R100RT
We are going to go look at this bike tomorrow.  I've seen it a car port for a couple or three decades and finally stopped by the house and asked the guy about it.  It's rather low miles for the age of the bike.  Also, that is not a RDL saddle.  It's custom made by I think a boat company.  The pan is thick fiberglass.

Besides the seat, the bike has driving lights, fork brace, mud flaps (kind of beat up), remote mounted fuses, has working amp and clock in the dash, and it has the bags that came with it.  Notice the heel and toe shifter? I thought it was aftermarket but I think these bikes came with this shifter.

We put a booster charger on the battery and started the bike!  I think the 79 was the first R100RT in USA.

Comments welcomed.  I had a 1984 R80RT but this bike is bit "different".

Looked at the bike today (2/28/2012).  It has new tires and battery.  Also comes with a weird top box.

Things That Work (for me)

Tomas Perez

Motorcycle Content

Updated: 2012/07/23

These are things that I have gotten or use with my motorcycle.  I have another posting for the same thing but featuring items that are not motorcycle related.  This is not meant as an all inclusive list.  There is no way that I can try all boots, jackets, lights, etc.  In addition, I want to keep the review as short as possible with, in some cases, a link to a detail review.

Motorcycle Gloves - With many years of riding I've had a lot of gloves but I did start out using non motorcycle gloves.  I'm a hard fit for gloves.  Normally I have to try on a lot of pairs before finding something that fits me somewhat well.  My last four sets are the best I've had.  I live in Texas - it gets real hot here therefore my main gloves are summer gloves.  I had the Tourmaster GX Air for summer and an old pair of HD winter gloves that I only use if it is very cold.  A couple of years ago I replaced the GX glove with the Held summer glove (don't recall the name but similar to the current Air).  Last week I purchased a middle weight glove and I really like them.  I am thinking I can retire the heavy, fat finger HD gloves and use the BMW Allround 2 gloves.  I rode several hours in the rain and I never got water inside of the gloves.  The Allround 2 gloves retail for $75.  The Held was about $80 but discounted at a motorcycle dealer in central Texas.  Conclusion: Held for the summer and the BMW Allround 2 for cold weather and rain.  Looking to try out the BMW AirFlow II gloves whenever the Held Air gloves give out.  They are showing some wear after about 20K miles of use.
Update - 2012/07/23 - Got the Airflow II gloves on 7/18/2012.  My first impressions after just 265 miles of use: Plus: These are the best fitting gloves I've had.  They fit great just wearing them on the hands and also while wrapped around the grips of the bike but maybe that is because the 8/8.5 gloves were a little too tight and the 9/9.5 fit just right around the palm but some of the fingers were a bit too long for my hands.  I'm hoping they don't get too loose after I break them in.  Minus: Compared to both the Held and the GX air gloves these gloves flow very little air.  Instead of an open mesh feel I would say these gloves are breathable.  Stick your hands out in the air stream and air is felt on the back of the hand and the fingers (nothing on the palm).

TM GX Air (Summer)

Held Air (Summer)

BMW Allround 2 (Mid weight)
Notice 2 straps and reflective strip

The Harley winter gloves

BMW Airflow II gloves

Power Distribution Panel - There are several on the market that you can choose.  I am using the Fuzeblock.  I liked it because I can select between switched and unswitched for each circuit that I need.  Everything I've added to the bike that requires power is control via this unit.
Link: FuzeBlocks

Power Amplification - Disclosure: I have only used one type of amp - the Amplirider.  This amp runs off the bike's 12V supply, has 3 source inputs, and a remote volume control.  The main thing that I like about this unit is that I have used it for many miles and years on my prior bike and had zero problems.  I purchased a new one for my new bike.
Link: AmpliRider Amp

Boots - I use a true motorcycle boot plus have two casual type boots that I use both on and off the bike.  My official bike boots are the Sidi Way Rain street boot.  They are light and totally waterproof.  For local riding I just got a pair of Timberland PRO non-steel toed work boots.  They fit me very well, are very comfortable and are also waterproof.  The other pair I use for local rides and casual use is a pair of Bates GX-8 waterproof boots.  The Bates is a tactical type of boot so they are made to walk and work on for hours at a time.  The Bates have a lace up system and a side zipper for easy on/off.  The Bates and Timberlands are both about $120.  Both are first class boots but may not protect your feet as well as a true motorcycle boot.  For serious riding I use the Sidi boots.  By the way, get a few pair of really good socks.  You will be surprised how big of a difference good socks can make.  The Smartwool socks are reviewed in this blog.

Ear Bud Speakers - After trying many I am happy with the S Plug ear buds.  They fit well, easy on, don't fall out, and have good sound quality.  I have the single speaker ear buds.  Cost - $140.  Not cheap but I think they are good.  I've had them for over a year and still going strong.
Link: S Plug Ear Buds

Jacket - I started with the full Tourmaster jacket with the winter liner.  This jacket was just too hot for summer riding so I got the Tourmaster Intake.  The Intake is a big system with two different liners - one for rain and the other for colder weather riding.  After using that jacket for a number of years I decided to go with the BMW Airflow 4 jacket and Tourmaster Sentinel rain jacket to make the Airflow a 3 season jacket.  The Airflow is expensive but very well made and it just hangs on you so well that you forget you are wearing it.  Not nearly the air flow of the Intake but I think that is a good thing.  I think too much air flow can dry you out faster than normal.  The Airflow seems to manage the air going into the jacket very well.  My record high with this jacket is 113 F.  Review pending.

Additional Brake Lights - Several around.  I got the P3 lights and like them. Very bright with a flash mode when the brakes are first applied.  The flashing lasts about 4 seconds.  When the LEDs are on normally the LEDs have a flicker to them.  The flicker mode can be switched off if you don't want that feature.  Details in a future review.

Pants - This past winter (2011) was my first time buying true motorcycle pants.  Only used them one time so review will have to wait. They are the Olympia summer riding pants with inside rain liner.  I have used the liners as rain pants with good results.
Update - 2012/07/23 - I got to try these pants on a two day ride this Summer and really liked them.  They are much cooler than jeans in temperatures from 88 to 98.  I want to know how they handle 105 to 115+.
By the way, don't use a leather belt for touring.  I know use a web belt that is both strong and is not damaged by water.  The time will come when you either ride in the rain without your rain gear or your rain suit will leak.  A wet leather belt is hard to deal with and it remains that way for a long time.

GPS - Zumo 660.  Expensive but fairly good and made for motorcycles and comes with the hardware to use in your car also. Review here: Zumo 550 & 660 Review

Seat - After 15,000 miles on my RT I bit the bullet and got the driver Corbin heated seat.  It's my third Corbin - I like them.  Seats are very personal.  Try as many as you can before you decide if you are thinking of buying an after market seat.  IMO it took about 4,000 to break in the seat (factory I think says 1,500).  One reason I choose the Corbin seat for the RT is that I had the Corbin with the Smuggler trunk on my ST1300 and really liked the trunk.  I may at some time add the trunk to the RT.

Headlight Upgrade - I added a little more power to the H7 headlights by using the Osram H7 Rallye 65 watt bulbs.  The Osram puts out 2100 lumens compared to 1400 of the stock bulbs (50% increase) and they have the same bulb life of 500 hours.  Review here: Headlight-Upgrade-Review
Update - 2012/07/23 - I did the HID upgrade for my upcoming long summer ride.  Much more light but not a perfect implementation IMO.  Detail review pending.

To be continued...

How Smooth is the Honda ST1300?

Tomas Perez

When I was selling my 2003 Honda ST1300ABS with 48,000 miles I took the picture below to demonstrate how smooth the engine was even after that many miles.  I saw this performed on a used car (Lexus) so I thought I would try it on a motorcycle.  Notice that the engine is idling at about 1100 RPMs.  The coin used is a nickle and no, it is not glued to the gas cap.  :)

I miss that bike but still like my current ride.


My Review: BMW RT vs Honda ST

Tomas Perez

2003 ST1300

2010 R1200RT

I decided to review the Honda and BMW sport touring motorcycles after riding the Honda ST1100 and ST1300 for about 11 years and then replacing the 2003 ST1300 with a 2010 BMW R1200RT. I wanted to wait until I had some miles on the RT before I started this project. I'll be comparing the 2010 RT to the 2003 ST1300 I had. Starting with the front of the bikes and working my way to the back...

Please note that a 2010 ST1300ABS is essentially the same as the 2003 ST1300ABS.

Headlight - The RT has got very good dual H7 powered headlights and a third H7 high beam. The ST has a pair of special H4 bulbs that only Honda sells. Most tourers put in higher powered H4s in place of the OEM bulbs. I did that on both my STs with good results but I still think the stock RT headlight is better. Winner RT.

Dash - Slight edge to the RT. The BMW dash just looks more professional and the LCD display is easier to read in most daylight conditions. I also like that you can check remaining range whenever you want on the RT. The ST displays remaining range only when it goes into reserve. Both fuel and temperature gauges appear to be very accurate. Winner RT.

Mirrors - Let me rate these on a scale from 1 (very bad) to 5 (very good). I would rate the ST mirrors a 3 and the RT mirrors a strong 4. Both are positioned perfect for protecting the hands from wind, bugs, etc but the ST mirrors show too much of your hands in most conditions. I found myself dipping my head in order to get a clear view of whatever was behind me. Not so on the RT. Both offer a clear view (little to no vibration). Winner RT.

Seat - This item is so subjective and no two riders will have the same impressions on any motorcycle seat. I replaced the stock ST seats (both 1100 and 1300) with Corbin seats. The Corbin was much better than stock and better than the RT OEM seat. I am forcing myself to like the BMW seat since it has the heated option at a cost of $350. Nevertheless I may upgrade in the future. Winner RT (comparing stock seats).

Transmission - Both bikes have top notch transmissions. I'll give the nod to the RT for smoother shifting and 6 speeds. In my opinion the ST is geared slighter lower in high gear. I find myself looking for another gear while on the highway. The RT seems to be geared perfect for highway cruising but first gear is very tall (high). It idles in 1st gear at about 8 MPH. I've never found a false neutral on the RT in just over 10K miles and I expect the RT transmission to get even better as I add miles to the bike. Winner RT.

Brakes - Both bikes were equipped with ABS and both are awesome. Slight edge to the Honda for the ABS. You never know it's there until it's needed. Winner ST.

Suspension - I liked the ST setup but the RT has the electronic suspension option (ESA II). I like being able to change the settings from normal to comfort for the highway and then to sport if the going gets twisty. And you can do that while riding. Preload on the RT has to be set via switch while you are stopped. Setting are 1 up, 1 up with luggage, and 2 up. Riding the BMW with paralever and telelever suspension is a unique experience. I like it. The 2010 has ESA II which addressed several concerns with the older system. Winner RT.

Cases - Both are very good and can hold a full face helmet. I give the edge to the RT because you can leave the bags unlocked plus they have 4 latching points. Also the RT looks a lot better without the bags. The ST does not have a clean look when the bags are off. Winner RT.

Tank (mileage) - The ST1300 has a 7.3 gallon tank and the RT has a 6.6 gallon tank. I modified the ST with a K&N air filter, Two Brothers mufflers, and a Turbo Tom fuel pressure regulator. Those changes made the ST much better and increased my mileage. At low speed the RT has better mileage. At high speed the ST was better. Slight edge to the ST but both bikes can do over 300 miles on a tank on a good day. Winner ST.

Fairing - BMW did it right with the new RT. The ST is good but the RT offers better protection and less wind noise. In addition, I can have the windshield lower and still have the wind stream go over my helmet so I don't have to look through the windshield. Winner RT.

Weight - The BMW is about 120 pounds lighter ready to go. One of the reasons I purchased the RT over another Honda ST or BMW K bike. Winner RT.

Options - Hands down it's the BMW. I ran out of money before I ran out of options for the RT. Winner RT.

Engine - Like them both - a lot - for different reasons. The Honda V-4 is simply awesome in the way it delivers its power. Riders talk about sweet spots for cruising. I like to say that the ST's sweet spot is 60 to 110 mph. It will cruise at any speed you want very easily and the engine pulls from about 2,000 rpm on. I do a lot more shifting on the RT. Going down a road or highway I say the ST is best for 5 to 25 mph and the RT is better for 25 to 75 mph and the ST taking over again at speed over 75 mph. Both engines are very smooth. The Honda does kick out a lot of heat whereas the BMW has nearly zero heat hitting the rider. Nod to the Honda engine. Winner ST.

Handling - Once again - subjective but the total package of the BMW makes for the better ride. I find myself using the RT for short, around town trips. I normally would not do that with the ST. Lots of factors involved - lower COG, lower weight, suspension bits, brakes, etc. The total package goes to the BMW. Winner RT.

Dealer Network - No contest! My Honda dealer is about 5 miles away - the BMW dealer is 265 miles away. Winner ST.

Cost - I think the ST cost me $14.5K in Nov 2002. The base cost for the 2010 RT is $17K and a little over $21K with the options I added. Winner ST.

Reliability - Honda makes good stuff. In 50K miles I had 3 things go bad on the Honda - oil leak (within a week of purchasing the bike), bad CPU that gave a FI fault (took the dealer a year to fix), and a brake valve (drove 600 miles with only the front brake). In 10K miles the BMW electric windshield refused to go down. I'll have to give this one to the Honda. Winner ST.

Throttle Response (update) - The ST had some reported issues with throttle response and a lean spot that was there to meet EPA regulations. I never really had much issues with this but did have a few times that the throttle response was rather abrupt. It wasn't often and only lasted a half second but it did happen. Going from the ST1100 to the ST1300 it is the one thing I noticed the most (besides more power and better brakes). The RT on the other hand has been perfect on throttle response so far and it is the only bike that I have had that just seems to get better overall as I put miles on it. Winner RT.

Body Panels (update) - This may seem like a trivial category but it was such a pain taking the Honda to the dealer for any type of service. Whenever the dealer had to remove a panel I never - I repeat - I NEVER got the bike back in the right order. I know that this is more a dealer issue than a bike issue but it created a number of problems in either case. For those of you that don't know, the bike uses at least 3 different panel screws plus plastic rivet type locks in other places. The plastic locks don't last too long and the metal screws have different size threads, different lengths, and different size shoulder depth! And some are Phillips and others Allen. Some black and some alloy. It's a mess. The problem with the dealer was so bad that I got to the point that I was stocking my own set of panel screws and they are not cheap! And yes I reported it to the main guy and yes I showed them what went where and yes I even loaned them my service manual. The 2010 RT has only one type that I know of. I haven't taken off all the panels yet but the ones I've had off are all the same size, color, wrench size, and they are all Torx. In addition, the panels on the RT just fall into place - no bending or twisting of panels to get them to pop in place. Winner RT.

Both bikes are awesome to ride and when I purchased the ST1100 I thought it was the perfect touring motorcycle for me. But overall it's the RT for me. Too many things that I like about it. The lighter weight and lower center of gravity makes it much easier to move around and ride at slow speed. The handling is top notch, the range is very good, brakes are great, weather protection is one of the best, good set of practical options, good cases, etc. In addition, I wonder how I rode for so many years without a cruise control. It took me about 3 months to get used to it but now I use it whenever I hit the highways. I also really appreciate the gear indicator on the dash. It's amazing how many times I glance at that whereas on my prior bikes I tried shifting again - either up on 5th or down after I was in first. For some strange reason the RT is just a pleasure to ride. I look for excuses to ride.

Kind of long winded but I wanted to cover the main areas of each bike. In any case... both bikes are awesome.

Update 2012/1/10 - Honda is selling the ST1300 again.  Price seems to have gone up to $18,230.  That's getting up there with the BMW RT cost.

2010 R1200RT