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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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"IF THE CAMELS DIE, WE DIE" or Riding In Texas Heat

Ricardo Perez

We're in Del Rio at the WalMart gas pumps. They sit on a small bluff at the west end of town. As we sit on our bikes we fix our gaze west where you can see the city of Del Rio start to run-out into the vastness of West Texas. As we sit on the the RTs I imagine ourselves as Sherif Ali and TE Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, as I say, "There is the railway. And that is the desert. From here until we reach the other side, no water but what we carry with us. For the camels no water at all. If the camels die, we die. And in twenty days they will start to die."{from the movie, Lawrence of Arabia}

I thought of the movie because the ride to Alpine from Del Rio is approximately 205 miles, maybe a 20 day hike, and our camels were our RTs that would run out of gas about that point and die. There is gas in Sanderson some 115 miles west, but the possible gas stops in Langtry and Marathon can often be closed so it's always a calculated risk to run west of Del Rio without a full tank. Sanderson has two gas stations, but the nice small one on the east side of town only has diesel and regular 87 octane. We usually stop at the small one because it's got a nice picnic table where you can take a break.
Actually, the ride west was very pleasant; mostly over-cast skies and temperatures dropped to the low 70's as we dodged several thunder storms, weaving through them on Highway 90W by sheer luck. Thunder storm clouds just east of Alpine seemed to reach down and appeared to touch the ground. About eight miles out it started to rain just a bit, but not enough to make us stop. It was just enough to let us know that something was coming. We just beat a good thunder storm into Alpine by about two minutes.
The ride back from Alpine was much more like the movie just quoted. I can only imagine what it was like crossing the NeFud Desert, the 'desert's anvil'. By the time we made Del Rio it was past noon and the temperature quickly shot up to 104 degrees and for the next four and half hours it stayed between 104 and 109. The heat was almost unbearable, the lettering on my Shoei helmet started to slide off it's original place from the heat, and it was impossible to ride with your face shield open unless you wanted a hot blast of air hitting your face. I pictured myself turning into beef jerky, just dried up beef jerky sitting on a bike riding 80mph. I had to ride with the helmet face shield closed so it wasn't long before sweat started to run into my eyes, mixing with the sunscreen that was suppose to be sweat proof, it produced a concoction that caused my eyes to burn so bad I had to ride with my right eye shut for many miles. I wanted to pull over so I kept looking for a tree large enough to give us some nice shade, but there were none along the highway right-of-way. I didn't dare stop in the middle of nowhere thinking that if I did I would probably pass out before I could get my jacket and helmet off. So I endured the one-eyed ride, anyway except for the 18 wheelers from all the oil fracking there was surely no animal out in that heat that would dart onto the highway. I figured the highway surface had to be at least 120 degrees. I kept looking down at the rubber on my foot pegs as they felt awfully soft, thinking they must be melting!
I also kicked myself knowing that I had neatly packed my cold weather riding gear and especially my heated vest, but left behind my camel-back and my perforated riding jacket. I thought to myself that it can still get cold at anytime so why take chances. As we rode along my mind drifted to the debate I always have in my head, is it better to ride in cold 30 degree weather or in hot 100 degree weather. Seems I always side on hot when it's cold and cold when it's hot. "Be warned, you were drifting." {Lawrence of Arabia}
Sitting safely under the shade of the convenience store in Freer, I wanted to give thanks to God for helping us make it through 450 miles of the Nefud desert; call my wife and tell her I love her; and, write letters to my friends at the Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) for putting together a great machine that just hummed along ignoring the furnace road, and another to my buds at Metzler for having made a tire that can take that kind of heat. Rest now, Aqaba is only 150 miles away and it's now down to 100 degrees, soon the triple digits will go with the setting sun. Aqaba!

Spark Plugs and Motorcycles

Tomas Perez

New plug in the middle
Spark plugs have changed so much over the years. When I was young we tried changing spark plugs on US cars about every 10,000 miles. Back in those days it was easy to tell when the car was in need of new spark plugs and it was certainly easy to see worn spark plugs upon inspection. The typical signs that the plugs were bad were hard starting, miss-firing when accelerating, and bad cold weather running. Worn plugs have an increased gap. That makes it much harder for the spark to jump the gap. Increasing the compression only makes the problem worse. This increase of resistance now places additional stain on all the other parts of the ignition system including the rotor, distributor cap, and spark plug wires. Old timers will remember dealing with carbon tracks, cracks in the distributor cap, and glowing spark plug wires in the dark. In this article I'm only talking about spark plugs with an increased gap. I am not considering all the other problems you can have with plugs like broken components, oil soaked, soot, wrong heat range, loose wires, etc.

Well... those days are gone... for the most part. We don't have distributors (no cap or rotor) and many engines don't even have spark plug wires - they just place the coil on top of the spark plug. But the spark plugs are still a main part of our engines. Sometimes I think spark plugs are the forgotten step child of the engine maintenance procedures. People know about changing oil and filters but the spark plugs are left for last or totally forgotten. Many of my car driving friends never change the plugs until something happens. Recently one of my friends said "I just changed the plugs and three coils on the Ford".

I'm one of those guys that "forgot" to change the sparks plugs on my 2010 RT. I have a couple of excuses but that doesn't matter now (although I wonder why they were never changed at my dealer/mechanic provided services). The fact is that I rode my bike for 32,000 miles on the original set of plugs. I guess one advantage of dual plugs on the recent BMW boxer engines is that we can milk the plugs to the very end. The bike ran fine but look at the pictures above and below. You can see the center and side electrodes severely worn. The wire gauge I just used to measure the gap only goes up to 0.040 of an inch and it still had plenty of room left. At least 50% more gap.

Another view
I purchased the OE plugs for my bike. I'm not sure if there is a better spark plug for my bike but I figured BMW did their research and testing that's required with each of their engines. I am very disappointed on the way this spark plug is built... especially for a plug with a retail price of about $24 each. They simply welded on the side electrodes and then bent them over towards the center. That places the inside edge close to the center and most likely at the required gap. This method, in my opinion, presents several problems. First, the edge presents a sharp edge for the spark to jump to - it's the closest point to the center. Second, because it is a fine edge and all the sparks are jumping to that point it soon wears down. As it wears the side electrodes present a wider surface for the spark but by then the required gap is long gone. You can see what I am talking about in the pictures. The center is worn also but the sides are worn much more.
My idea on how they should be built

For $25 I think we should get the configuration shown above. Of course that means our spark plug companies won't sell nearly as many spark plugs as they do now. Look at some of the high end auto spark plugs and you see very well designed electrodes. The edges, if there are any, are not the closest point to the center electrode. The main objective is to be equidistant at all points.
Anyway, back to my bike. It feels like it's running better but it could be a placebo effect since I changed the spark plugs myself and feel like I did a wonderful job. In the future I'm changing the plugs as recommended by BMW or at the least every 20K miles.

Now at 38,000 miles I think I better change the alternator belt. I already have it - just need to do the work.

My Break-In Procedure: BMW R1200RT

Ricardo Perez

Start With Wine
In Case You Missed the Name
Wine Fact Sheet
Irma and I started my bike's break-in procedure the right way, toasting to the new bike with a surprisingly good bottle of wine, if you see kay . After finishing that bottle I got on to the business of doig the break-in on my new BMW 90th Anniversary Edition R1200RT . We had trailered the bike down from Austin on Saturday; a nice 660 round trip in one day. Sunday afternoon I took the bike out, escorted by my brother on his 2010 RT. We rode 150 miles and followed the break-in procedure recommended by MotoMan; a controversial procedure of hard accelerating to 5500RPMs and then down shifting to either 3rd or 4th and repeating the process. We did this repeatedly the first 25 miles and then more randomly the next 125 miles.   On Monday we rested. Tuesday we took it out for a 210 mile ride repeating the process, but I had increased the RPMs to 6500 after the first 120 miles. That day I also started using the cruise control a little so as to give myself a break.
I must say that I'm very impressed with the bike. It's got plenty of power for me, especially in the upper RPMs and it just hums along at 80mph without any effort. It's a new bike so the mileage at 80mph was running at 39.8 miles per gallon and in the 40s at slower speeds. I think we were right at 4,000rpm while doing 80mph.
Moto Hank's BMW Service in Dilley, TX
Those two days of riding totalled 360 miles then on Wednesday it was off to Dilley, Texas to have Hank of Moto Hank's perform the 600 mile service. We arrived in Dilley with 608 miles on the odometer and only 6 miles of fuel in reserve. We rode from the north side of Edinburg to Dilley, about 210 miles or so, on one tank of gas. The first service is important, but fairly simple, mostly change the crank oil and the final drive oil, check for faults and that's about it. Of course, I had Hank, a certified BMW service tech, sign and stamp my Owner's Manual.
We got back home about 7:30pm with an additional 482 miles for Wednesday. So I have 842 total miles on the bike this first half-week.
While we were at Hank's we met Frank Voellm from Stuttgart, Germany who's taking a few years to ride the world. You can check him on on Face Book and track his travels. He's been in South America and had just crossed over from Mexico on Tuesday after traveling extensively in Mexico. He had his GS bike in for repairs and new rubber before heading out to San Antonio. His plans are to head towards Florida and up the East Coast as weather permitted. He was then shipping his bike to Bangkok as he continues his world tour. He was an interesting guy to chat with and you always meet interesting guys at Hank's.
Just before lunch another rider, Albert from Medina joined us. Albert is 72 and still doing plenty of riding. He shared with us stories about his nice collection of motorcycles. That day he was riding his BMW cruiser for some maintenance work.
On our way up we rode to Freer then northwest to Encinal to catch I35. We can do 80mph on I35, but it's loaded with truck traffic coming and going to Mexico via Laredo. So on the way back on we took Hwy 624 from Cotulla to North of Freer. It's about a 60 mile ride with lots of fracking going on, but we had some entertainment as a pair of fighter jets went over us four times. They were low enough to where the jet engines roared. I don't know if they were just checking out the bikes or on maneuvers, but it was sure neat seeing them fly by. Somehow they didn't seem to have any trouble catching up to us!
Frank's World Touring Bike
Another nice road from Freer to Falfurrias is highway 339 which runs about 60 miles. It's actually free of fracking trucking so it's fast and more comfortable than Hwy 44 from Encinal to Freer. We decided to get on the expressway 281 as we headed back, trying to avoid the back country at night when all things wild come out and play on the blacktop.

The 2010 and 2013 RTs in Falfurrias, Texas

Tomas, Frank, & Albert
Notice Frank from Stuttgart Germany is right at home in 60 degree weather in his short sleeve shirt and sandals!

Here She Is - All Serviced Up Until the 6,000 Mile Mark

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