Magnetic Drain Plug
Stories about motorcycles with a Canadian perspective
PUREBREED and BMW Motorrad Canada - the Brooklyn Project Collaboration
Highlights - Classic café racer styling coupled with BMW S1000R performance - +15hp gain overstock - 24 kg. weight reduction - Quick-release customization for track day action - Orders being taken now for delivery in Spring 2016.
This collaboration will be limited to 40 custom café racers worldwide and based on BMW’s venerable S1000R roadster. While each unit will share the same mechanical underpinnings, every one will be uniquely crafted to the specific individual taste and requirements of their owner, making each model truly one of a kind.
The Brooklyn Project blends the technological sophistication of the 2016 BMW S1000R with unique retro-inspired café racer styling. Painstaking attention to detail was paid and no component was overlooked. Every new part was digitally rendered then crafted using 3D printing technology prior to development to ensure the proper fit and finish was achieved. Adding to the bike’s individuality and versatility, various pieces can quickly and easily be removed for track day duty and clipped back on for the ride home.
“We believe that The Brooklyn Project offers riders the best of both worlds,” says PUREBREED President and main builder Guillaume Brochu, “Owners benefit from the advanced performance technology and reliable modern engineering of the S1000R which is far and away the best motorcycle on the road, but we also saw its potential as the basis of the ultimate cafe racer by incorporating classic café racer styling elements.”
Modern Technology Meets Classic Style All of the stock bike technology was retained, including ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System), which can be disengaged, ASC (Automatic Stability Control), electronic suspension system, and selectable riding modes. Proprietary PUREBREED engine mapping and an optimized fuel injection unit helps increase the already lofty performance capabilities of the bespoke roadster, as did the addition of an aluminum racing radiator and oil cooler along with a full Arrow Competition titanium exhaust system. These various modifications result in an additional 15hp gain over the stock 160hp of the S1000R in a package that tips the scales at a sprightly 173 kgs. thanks to swapping the fuel tank, fenders, wheels, seat frame and cowl for lighter Carbon fibre.
A great deal of time and attention was dedicated to comfort and ergonomics for both the street and track. This includes the incorporation of folding brake and clutch levers, adjustable rear sets, the custom designed top tree, clip-on handlebars, and a custom tri-density foam seat upholstered in fine, treated leather. While many of the customizations were based on improving comfort and performance, there were also many stylistic changes made in order to bring Brochu’s vision to life, including custom engraving, LED taillight and indicators in the handlebars, bar end mirrors, custom CNC gas cap and brake fluid reservoir, an Aluminum sprocket cover, custom LED headlight, dash and tachometer, not to mention the custom graphics and tri-coat paint by Simon Galarneau.
About PUREBREED CYCLES: Featured on the 10 episode TV show currently airing in French on Historia in Quebec, Guillaume Brochu set out to build high quality bespoke café racers when opening his shop in 2012. After building 40 custom motorcycles, his most recent undertaking is a collaboration with BMW Motorad Canada named The Brooklyn Project. Currently based outside Montreal with a workshop in Brooklyn, NYC is opening this spring.
For more information, visit www.purebreedcycles.com
2015 - The Motorcycle Show Vancouver
All photos by Trevor Marc Hughes
It’s the scope of the displays that is most exciting. It also is what is most intimidating.
Where do you start? Will you be able to take it all in?
Walking into Tradex is something like seeing gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. It’s difficult not to start bounding along like an excited ten-year-old, zipping back and forth from booth to booth, hungry to find out what’s new and interesting for motorcycling in 2015.
First, my enthusiasm was curbed by the lack of something. As I approached the incredible new designs of Victory Motorcycles in the Polaris display, I discovered a distinct lack of an Indian Scout.
“There are no B.C. dealers yet,” Terry Fetter of Victoria’s Action Motorcycles explained to me.
It would seem the cost of building up sales momentum for the new Indian models is too much west of the Rockies.
“It’s just not worth displaying four Indian Scouts right now,” Fetter tells me.
It would seem it’s going to be awhile before I’ll be sitting on an Indian Scout at the Vancouver Motorcycle Show.
I tempered my disappointment with a visit to Ireland. Celtic Rider is just one of the many motorcycle touring companies at the show, a list which includes Compass Expeditions, Edelweiss Bike Travel and Renedian Adventures. I speak with Connor about who chooses to ride Ireland.
“About 95% of our clientele are women,” he tells me.
With tourism growing in Ireland, so it would seem is motorcycle touring. Each tour package comes with an “orientation” for those who are used to riding on the right side of the road.
“Riding on the left is not a big deal,” he informs me.
Further left down this great hall is a sea of orange. KTM has a display featuring what would not be the last of this sort of bike I would see at the show: the introductory motorcycle. The KTM 390 Duke looks a tight, durable little machine. And with an MSRP of $5499 and a dry weight of a little over 300 pounds, it’s an affordable bit of orange.
What’s new with Suzuki? Well, as one rep put it: there’s the compact GSX-S750, a streetfighter influenced by supersport models like the GSX-R750, or for the ADV crowd, there’s a revamping of the DL-650. The Suzuki V-Strom 650X features spoke wheels and a “beak” out front. Does that look like another large adventure bike we know? It comes in “Candy Daring Red” and “Metallic Mat Fibroin Grey”.
The Yamaha section is the most impressive for me, with the large red symbol hanging from the ceiling. What’s also red, and new, is a YZF-R3. I watch as several nervous young lady visitors try to straddle it. And I think that’s what Yamaha may be thinking with this new lightweight sportbike: find the new and upcoming riders. It looks like an R6, but the 321cc engine will be easier to handle for those just being introduced to motorcycling.
I speak with Clinton Smout, who writes a column for Motorcycle Mojo and appears on “Motorcycle Experience” with Dave Hatch, as we both eye the R3. He tells me his eighteen-year-old son is entering the motorcycling market and if he is thinking about getting an R6, he would tell him to think twice and consider an R3. Good fatherly advice there. At an MSRP of $4999 the R3’s a little easier on a young adult’s budget too. He points over to the new ADV option from Yamaha, the FJ-09, billed as a sport-touring model taking after the FZ-09. It’s not an off-road capable bike, but it certainly seems Yamaha’s trying to corner the ADV lifestyle market with this one.
Harley-Davidson dominates much of one end of a hall, but its bikes are looking smaller. The introduction of Street 500 and 750 models seems to indicate that the iconic American manufacturer is trying to corner that beginning motorcyclist market too. Over to the right, the Tron-like whir of an electric motorcycle can be heard. This is not a light-cycle. It’s a visitor trying out Project Livewire, a surprising new initiative, but still only in the late prototype stage. But it’ll be interesting to see
what is developed in an electric bike model for the motorcycle market to be seen at next year’s show.
Of course there are many other bikes to mention: Ducati’s 821cc slimmed down and much more affordable Monster, the increasingly “rough road capable” Honda CB500X looking to rival other sport touring models in its class, the more rider-friendly yet torquey BMW S1000RR, and, of course, the eagerly anticipated Kawasaki Ninja H2, cordoned off behind restraint straps as though its 1000cc supercharged engine is about to break free from its cage.
These are all impressive. But I choose to round off my visit to the 2015 Vancouver Motorcycle Show by meeting some of the adventurers that take motorcycles to their limits, live to tell the tale and write about it. Jeremy Kroeker wrote “Motorcycle Therapy”, a true story about his adventure on a KLR650 into Central America. His new book “Through Dust And Darkness” has done well critically. He tells me it’s not easy being an author, but he’s happy for the success of the latest book, which chronicles his motorcycle travels through the Middle East. A down-to-earth guy, he signs a copy for me on the spot.
Just as I’m about to leave, closing warnings booming over the loudspeakers, I see Rene Cormier. I met him the year before. His book “The University of Gravel Roads” is one of the best motorcycling circumnavigation tales I’ve read and now he heads Renedian Adventures, his own company that launches motorcycle expeditions all over southwest Africa. He spends half the year in Canada, the rest in Africa. He always has a smile and a handshake, and is someone I think would be great
company while traveling by motorcycle.
So, if I were to find overall themes that emerge from this year’s show, they’d have to be a trend towards manufacturers seeking to dominate the beginner motorcyclist market and continued growth, and fusing styles, in adventure motorcycles. Next year though, electric motorcycles, and the discussion they create, could be more of a focus. The show sure does what it’s billed to do though…make me excited for the upcoming riding season.
The Motorcycle Show Vancouver - http://www.vancouvermotorcycleshow.ca/
Renedian Adventures - http://www.renedian.com/
Jeremy Kroeker - http://www.motorcycletherapy.com/
Lake Superior Circle Tour
After putting the bike to rest for the night in the motorcycle parking area at the Victoria Inn, I grabbed a bite at the 5 Forks restaurant with my old highschool friend Kristen who I always meet up with on my way through T-Bay. After dinner we wandered down to the waterfront where I was shocked at how it has been transformed. Astonishing strides have been taken to reclaim the area with new docks, galleries, shops, restaurants and art installations that pay homage to the shipping heritage and native history of the region. Not to mention a significant investment to restore the old CN rail station to its former glory. Every local I talked to in the area had recommended Hoito Restaurant as a must-do for breakfast the next day, so naturally I had to see what all of the fuss was about. Renowned for their traditional Finnish pancakes, I’ve become a convert and am not alone judging by how busy it was.
If you are at all interested in learning more about the areas you visit or like to indulge in a little culture from time to time, or perhaps just want a place to walk around and rest your backside, the Fort William Historic Park is definitely worth a visit. Unsure of what to expect, the experience was literally like stepping back in time to 1815. Surrounded by trained actors in period-correct costumes providing re-enactments of various activities and customs of that era, I felt like I was piloting a time machine. The feeling of being out of place didn’t stop there as I crossed the border into Minnesota down highway 61 and found that I seemed to be the only rider wearing a helmet. As it turns out, helmets are optional for riders with a full license over 18 years old in all of the US states that surround Lake Superior; Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The spectacular views of the pristine shoreline were occasionally interrupted by quaint lakeside towns like Gran Marais where you can apparently find the World’s Best Donuts.
With plenty of daylight to spare before my check-in time in Duluth, I decided to stray West from the water off Highway 61 to scratch another item off my own bucket list by visiting Hibbing, Minnesota, the childhood town of one Robert Allen Zimmerman. You likely know him as Bob Dylan. While it offered less epic scenery, Highway 16 boasted miles of smooth, sweeping curves so remote I actually started to think something was wrong at one point when I didn’t seen another motorist for about 45 minutes. Looking exactly as they did when young Bobby was still terrorizing the town, his childhood home and Highschool aren’t much to write home about but it was interesting for this die-hard fan to see where he spent his formative years and played his first gig. Rolling into the Canal Park Lodge in Duluth, I gave the Beemer a quick detail in their exclusive motorcycle parking area and wandered down Canal Park Drive. Packed with people of all ages, the former industrial area was alive with bars, restaurants and coffee shops. The sight of a margarita the size of my head led me to the patio of Little Angie’s Cantina for a bite and a couple cocktails while I enjoyed being a fly on the wall in a strange city.
Wrapping up the Lake portion of my ride, I crossed back into Sault Ste. Marie and spent a couple hours kicking around the Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Centre before spending the last night of my epic journey at the Carolyn Beach Motor Inn located in Thesalon, Ontario. Sitting on the beach in a Muskoka chair with a nice single malt Scotch watching an incredible sunset, I reflected on my journey and realized that we all have bucket lists whether we’ve written them down or not but most of us will never complete them. If the Lake Superior Circle Tour isn’t on your list of bike trips, it should be. And if you are wondering when the best time is to start planning your trip is, there’s no time like the present.
Fundy Adventure Rally - 2014
|There's several cottages nestled amongst the trees. Rough camping sites were available in the treed section near the water at the top right which was a short walk from the main lodge.|
The Fundy Adventure Rally was a two day event that started on Friday afternoon with participation by a major sponsor - BMW Motorrad Canada who had brought a tractor trailer of BMW F800 GS's for demo rides and a few other bikes for show. Big thanks go out to BMW for allowing me to borrow a BMW F800GS to participate in the Rally with. BIG thanks! I came in from Halifax, following the GPS on my phone in towards the lodge. Guess the Rally organizers weren't kidding when they said there was no cell coverage at the lodge. My cellular signal actually dropped about 15 minutes from the lodge - if you know the way that is. Luckily I met another rally participant on my way in and we navigated the rest of the way together. (As it turns out I'd end up riding the entire Rally in a group of four with him amongst them - by chance really.)
|My motorcycle for the Rally. A brand new BMW F800 GS - lowered. It had less than a 1000km's on the odometer when I started the Rally. The Arai VX Pro4 was unboxed for the event and worked flawlessly and proved all day comfortable. Note the GPS secured with plenty of zip ties!|
It was a pretty laid back first day with most people arriving later in the day, going on a BMW test ride, setting up their tents, getting into their cottages, supper, and a riders meeting to review the Rally route. There wasn't too much partying - most people seemed to want to head to bed early to get a good night's sleep for the long day ahead still there was a lot of like minded motorcyclists around and Rob made sure they brought in at least a few good varieties of beer at the lodge. I 'might' have sampled one or two. Rally start time was 7:00 AM on Saturday for some so there was a lot to do at an early hour to be get ready for the Rally.
|The map and hashtag for the event. This was the guide book we reviewed at the riders meeting on Friday after supper was served in the main hall.|
I met up with a few guys who were also riding the "A" route of the event which was for teams with less experience or riders who were solo participants. Teams with off-road experience could take on a harder "B" route. Luckily for me two of the guys I partnered up with turned out to be fantastic navigators and led our group through the entire Rally because I never did get my borrowed GPS working properly. Note to self - buy a GPS and practice using it! It's a must for participating in this event. I wouldn't have gotten past the first couple of turns if it weren't for the guys I was following. Thanks to Moto Journalist Costa Mouzouris for trying to teach me how to figure out how to use my borrowed GPS!
|The BMW tent which served as the start and end point of the Rally and the starting point for the demo rides on Friday.|
Each team was equipped with a Spot device who were also a sponsor of the event. It added a extra level of safety for the participants knowing that if there was an emergency that help could be brought in. Luckily there weren't any serious injuries amongst the participants.
At 5:30 AM on the morning of the Rally I woke to the sound of coyotes howling (loudly!) followed shortly thereafter with the loud BRAP-Brap-Brap of a dirt bike starting and revving up. There's one in every crowd! An interesting way to start the day, that's for sure! Didn't even need my alarm I guess.
After the wake up call I was off to the lodge for a big buffet breakfast to fuel up for the day. I had a borrowed GPS and a mount that didn't really fit so I had to break out the zip ties to make sure it was secured to my borrowed BMW F800GS. I loaded up some Gatorade and snack food into a tail bag and strapped it onto the F8 with a motorcycle bungee cord. I didn't want to have any weight on my back and the the tail bag with the extra security of the bungee cords worked fantastic. Everything was secure, didn't bounce around at all - and best of all I didn't have to lug the extra weight on my back.
We hit the road at about 7:40 AM and the place was pretty foggy and overcast. We took a right turn out of the parking lot and after a short distance a bunch of riders were stopped at the very first turn. Apparently the GPS of a few riders knew a shorter way to navigate the route! Almost foiled at the first turn. In our haste to get going again two of my teammates ended up in another pack while myself and another teammate ended up riding together. We rejoined forces later at a break in the trail. Our team of four stuck together for the rest of the race.
|Stopping to fuel up the machines, water, and whatever other non-healthy snacks could be scrounged up at the gas station.|
The drive through Fundy Park was pretty amazing. We had the roads (albeit paved) to ourselves and while we couldn't see any of the amazing sites the solitude of having the place to yourself and 'being very careful' to stick to the speed limits made it an entertaining section of road. The stretch of twisty pavement uncovered that something was wrong with the bike though - I didn't know exactly what. The bike was riding very squirrelly and it wobbled markedly when I got on the brakes. I thought the front wheel felt a little soft but it didn't seem too bad in the dirt so I downplayed that possibility in my mind and thought it might just be a really bent rim. The pavement made the wobble pronounced and it was so bad I mentioned to my partner. Well, when we stopped a while later and checked the tire pressure we discovered I'd been riding on 13 PSI on the front. It was set to 20 the day before for the off-road demo but somehow lost quite a bit of pressure overnight. My team mates figured the dent in my rim might have caused a flat but somebody brought an electric pump and we hooked it up the GS1200 battery and pumped it up to 35. The bike rode great after that and held air all day! The reason for the pressure drop remained a mystery.
My mind was going through the worst possible scenarios... I was going to have to wait for the sweep truck to come pick me up maybe and quit! Arrgh... There was no way I wanted to end my adventure that soon. I was just getting warmed up! Saved by the preparedness of my teammates once again!
|A nasty little dent that I may have been responsible for after a close encounter with a big rock! The tire continued to hold air for the entire Rally though. Yipee!|
For somebody with off-road experience the off road A route might not have been too challenging but I have pretty limited off road experience so bombing down a gravel road at up to100 km/hr standing on the pegs was pretty exciting for me. There was plenty of slower stuff, rocky uphills/downhills, loamy sand, hard pack, mud, water, blind crests, tightening radius turns, pea gravel corners, bridges, even a covered bridge, wildlife (for some), culverts, plenty of rocks, and DUST, DUST and more DUST! It was quite challenging at times seeing through my goggles. I'd try wiping them with my glove and they'd be good for a while or absolute crap and I'd feverishly try to get a little bit of space to see through. I had to stop and wipe them a few times with a cloth I had in my pocket and then ride with a little extra pace to catch my navigator.
|Don't think this gear will ever come totally clean. The gore-tex boots worked fantastically well. I would've had wet feet for sure in anything that wasn't totally waterproof.|
I had one close encounter with two REALLY big rocks on the center line of the trail. I was in the #3 spot in my group and trailing the guy in front of me by a good margin because of the dust. We were riding at a pretty good clip on a fairly easy dirt road mixed with some buried rock. The road was used by logging trucks and had a slightly raised center line - that seemed like the safe line. Well, I found out otherwise. I was going a bit too fast over a slight blind crest and two bigs rocks were right on my line. They were too big and wide to go around at the speed I was going - so I could only brace for it and steer for the middle to try ride between them. I grazed the right rock pretty hard. This was after I already had that big dent in the front rim! The rock kicked me off to the left but I stayed upright. Yikes! That was a pucker moment for sure. I was more careful with the blind crests and making sure I was driving within my vision after that. Lesson learned. That rim continued to hold up though!
There were eight sections of varying length during the Rally and each of them ended at a gas station. That worked really well because you could gas up, have a bathroom break, take some time to rehydrate, and get a bite to eat if you wanted. There wasn't a ton of time for leisure if you wanted to ensure you made it back on time. At each stage there was a option that if you hadn't reached the end of the section by a certain time you were supposed to take a bypass/option route that took you on a paved route to the next stop so you could make up some time. My assembled team managed to not take any of the shortcut options and did the entire A route as intended. We may have been just slightly past the cutoff time at a point or two but some of that might have come down to that sit down dinner we had at the Big Stop in Salisbury! Who can pass up a hot turkey sandwich in the middle of a 500 Km off road Rally! It was a pretty quick stop but it still killed a lot of time. In hindsight - maybe not the best choice. I had enough energy bars and snacks to last the day but the team wanted to stop so I followed suit.
Once I got that front tire sorted out the BMW proved to be very capable for the mix of off road and pavement. I had a few troubles turning off the traction control and ABS but that was my fault. I should have practiced it and got a better lesson the day BEFORE the Rally. I can tell you from personal experience that you absolutely do not want to leave the traction control on when riding off-road on the F8! It takes the smooth predictable power output and seems to zap the throttle output in pulses. It makes getting up a rutted gravel road a terrible experience, especially if you're standing on the pegs! Once it's off though it's a different experience altogether. The F8 powers its way up loose thick gravel effortlessly. I found it best to gear up a bit to dull the throttle and smooth out power delivery. With so much power on tap it's easy to just start tearing up the road and showering the guy behind you with a pile of rocks. Gearing down on the descents and making use of engine braking worked great as well. Messing around with the ABS was interesting too. ABS is great for the road but crap off road. The ABS goes a little wild when it's turned on off-road. If I had to have either ABS or traction control on while off road- the lessor of those two evils was definitely ABS. It was really tough to feel in control of the bike off-road with the traction control on. Uphill gravel conditions made it a MUST to have turned off.
I was on the factory lowered F8 - not by my choice - it's just what BMW provided. It turned out to be a pretty good fit because I was able to very comfortably flat foot with both feet. I did miss the little bit of suspension travel they take out with that factory lowering but there's also lowering via a different seat shape as I understand it. I did get both wheels airborne on the bike at least once fairly impressively to test the suspension travel! A little extra suspension, however small, may have come in handy on that one! Did I say already that I enjoyed myself! I honestly didn't want the day to end. I was grinning the entire day.
|Me and the assembled team of solo riders - we made it to the finish! Awesome work navigating you guys! Nice pace too!|
The evening after the Rally was a little more festive than Friday with people gathering to tell some tales and enjoy a beverage. There was also the Rider dinner, charity raffle, a little speech from Chris Duff from BMW Motorrad Canada, a slideshow presentation of pictures from the event and of course the awards ceremony.
|The awards ceremony begins. Check out that trophy! You don't get to keep it actually... just hold it for a few minutes. Bragging rights and your name on the trophy is your reward!|
One participant might have partied just a little too hard the night after the Rally and left a candle in his tent - luckily he lit it then left the tent... lucky for him anyway and not so much for his tent and gear. He lost EVERYTHING except the clothes on his back and the stuff he had packed on his bike. Wallet, helmet, motorcycle boots, clothing, - everything! I thought I heard someone say 'fire' in the night but I was pretty wiped out and apparently slept through it. I helped him clear up the rubble in the morning and since I drove there in a car and was passing by his place on the drive home I ended up riding his bike back to his house and he drove my car. So I got to squeeze in one last BMW demo - not the best of circumstances but it made for a nice trip back home for me.
|That was one HOT fire! There was nothing left. That little thing at the top right above the yellow nylon rope is what's left of an AlpineStars motorcycle boot! All his stuff was reduced to dust and bits of plastic.|
Now that the Rally is over I've taken to watching F8 videos and checking on insurance rates on the Beemer. I sure could get used to the ability to see where all those dirt roads go, and trade in my Honda VFR 800. The BMW F800 GS was a joy to drive. It was very capable on road and off. Soaking up all kinds of bumps and power to spare for anything I put it through. I even turned on the hand warner's when he mist got really heavy and my hands were wet. Now that's luxury! Factory hand warmers on a bike as capable off road as the F8! It's pretty awesome!
Hey nice shirt!
I'll see you next year!
I think everybody really enjoyed themselves, judging from the tired dirty smiles at the finish line. You'd never know it was a first year event. Apparently they spent two summers testing out trails and working out routes to be able to pull it off. I'm expecting even bigger and better things next year and they're considering adding some rider training events and an extra day to the event. They've got September 11, 12, 13 booked for next year. Mark your calendars!
Special thanks to:
Rob and Courtney at Canada Moto Guide and Canada Moto Rallies
BMW Motorrad Canada - for the use of the BMW F800 GS
Arai Americas - for the use of the Arai VX-Pro4
'Trans Canadian Muskox. A special journey with the Goat, the Bull, and the Muskox.'
Since that first contact Scott has put together a book about the journey and is looking for a publisher. The completed manuscript came in at 145,500 words and they've shared the first couple of chapters with us and allowed us to republish it.
Here's the first couple chapters of their book:
Trans Canadian Muskox.
A special journey with the Goat, the Bull and the Muskox by Scott Wilson
The ‘Wreckhouse Winds’ hammered us like invisible rogue waves that rolled in from the forlorn Long Range Mountains. They crested the mountains, channeled in valleys and spilt onto the plain where they gathered force before breaking upon us. They were without doubt the strongest winds I had ever ridden through. The landscape was absent of the usual trappings of life, the wind was too strong for such things. It was barren yet beautiful in its austerity. The road before us was not a tricky one, there were no potholes, no off camber corners, no construction, gravel, or semis to get in the way, only the wind and rain. It was a simple piece of blacktop that ran from Port aux Basques in the south and headed north for three hundred kilometres to Deer Lake where it veered east for another six hundred before arriving in St. John’s Newfoundland. It wasn’t tricky, but is was long.
Setting off from Tofino, British Columbia on July 1, we had been on the road for ninety- five days. A day away lay our goal, to watch the sunrise at Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. It was a simple goal to be sure, yet one on the opposite side of this great country we call Canada. As we hammered along that goal was all that mattered. The battle with the wind was wearing on us, the muscles in my shoulders had begun to knot, and my chest was tight. I clenched the gas tank with frozen knees, and clutched the bars with head bent into the wind while Wanda clung fiercely to my waist. Our motorcycle, ‘The Muskox,’ relishing the challenge charged on obediently. This wasn’t the beautiful Sunday ride that motorcyclists endure the week for. This was an unadulterated rodeo of white knuckle madness. The excitement and fear was delicious, the worse it got, the more things tingled. The rain pounded us from a dark malevolent sky in a near horizontal manner as the wind shoved, pulled and bullied us as we barreled through natures garden.
We had been on the road less than an hour and the experience was slowly coalescing into one that I knew instinctually to be a summing up of our trip. There is a time during every endeavour when a moment of clarity presents itself, for good or bad. A moment when the inner acceptance that we will succeed, or fail, is finally acknowledged and the corresponding emotions wash over us. Our moment was approaching on that road in October on ‘The Rock’ as Newfoundland is fondly called. We were fully exposed with nothing to dull the event, as though our clothes had been torn away. We became like the landscape around us, determined, unflinching and unapologetic. It was a simple world, The Goat, The Bull, and The Muskox on a road with the weather. As if in slow motion our moment came and in that moment we became pure of purpose, one singular focus. There was no respite, no shelter, no question of stopping, only a road that led to our goal. All doubts, fears and unanswered questions had been collected up and slid into a drawer out of sight. The fact we had to make the return trip once the goal was attained, that we were almost out of money, that Wanda was still in her journey with health issues, that our relationship was somewhat strained and that we didn’t have a clue to what was waiting for us when we returned home, was all of no consequence.
In that moment, all that mattered was the road ahead and a sunrise at Cape Spear.
The Bull and the Muskox - Nomadic by Nature
On July 1, 2002, I went to a ‘Citizenship Ceremony.’
I was fleshing out an idea for a book on Canada and thought it would be good research. The memory of the ceremony has about the edges but the significance and emotion that filled the room that day will stay with me forever. There’s something to be said about the ‘last step’ of a process. To arrive at the end of something is a sweet thing as it marks completion, but it also marks the beginning of something new. The Citizenship Ceremony was no different. It marked the last step in becoming a Canadian Citizen. It is where the oath of citizenship is taken and the certificate of citizenship is received, and it’s where new citizens begin their journeys as Canadians.
The ceremony was held at Canada Place in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was ‘Canada Day’ so a bit more pomp was laid on as evidenced by Bagpipers piping their way into the room
at the beginning of the ceremony. It was a nostalgic way to set the scene. The room was full of citizens watching from the rear as those about to be sworn in stood at the front. Outside the sun shone as Canada celebrated it’s 135th birthday while inside it welcomed this new collection of people from around the world. The ceremony was a simple event. I watched attentively with my friend Gene as the event unrolled and I studied the faces of those about to take the oath. It was obvious emotion touched everyone in the room. Shoulders trembled, throats were cleared and eyes were dabbed. A sense of focus permeated the gathering. My mind was racing with questions as I wondered what their stories were. Life changing decisions had been made a world away and commitments taken to leave a life behind. Familiar landmarks and events had become memories, schools, mountains, shores, churches, festivals, and neighbors had all been cast adrift in pursuit of a dream. They wanted to be Canadian.
Why had they chosen us? What set us apart? What made us the focus of their dream? Why Canada? It was evident from the dress and skin tones of those in the room that they were a cosmopolitan group. Their points of origin were clearly different, yet they shared a common goal. Why had they chosen to leave their homelands, their jobs and perhaps their families. There were the obvious reasons such as persecution and war, but as I looked around the room it was obvious that some came from countries that offered what we offered, well heeled countries seen as our peers, and yet still they were here.
When the oath was finally taken as a group the mood in the room transformed from nervous anticipation to jubilation as backs were slapped, hands were shook and cheeks kissed.
They were now Canadian and in that moment I’d witnessed their dreams come true.
I will never fully understand what happened in that room on July 1, 2002, how could I? I’d never experienced what our newest citizens had journeyed through to become Canadian. Their journeys were their journeys, each unique in their own way and another reason I’ll never know is because I was born right here, just down the road at Burnaby General. I was already a member of the club, Canadian by birth. I thought about it and came to the realization the closest I’d ever come to that kind of life changing event was when my mother chose to leave Canada when I was ten. In the summer of 72 she’d walked away from the country of her birth, and even though it had been her decision and not mine, I went along for the ride. That had been a life changing decision for her and just as the lives of those at Canada Place had changed on July 1, so had mine when my mother chose to leave Canada.
Until that time we had been a typical Canadian family, living as Canadian families do. We lived on Tecumseh Park Drive in Port Credit, Ontario, in a lovely house on a rather large piece of land. We knew all the neighbors and for better or worse they knew us. I walked or biked to school in the summers, bumper hitched in the winters, and if I had time during lunch break I’d watch the Flinstones. I had a ‘Chopper’ bicycle, an impressive collection of ‘Hot Wheels’ and ‘Dinky toys,’ played in a tree house in the back yard and chucked rocks at passing trains from the park at the end of the road. I was an average kid in an average Canadian neighborhood.
Around my tenth birthday, my mother, who was experiencing some personal turmoil disappeared for a month on holiday. She disappeared a second time a couple of months after that and when she returned the second time a sign went up on the front lawn.
The sign filled my head with questions but as a 10 year old I didn’t have the where-with- all to ask the right ones. Instead I watched and towed the line. Recently, while writing this book I asked my mother why she’d made the decision to leave her beautiful home and life behind.
She’d thought about it for a second then said, “I needed to find solace.” “Why the Isle of Man?” I asked.
“Because I didn’t know anyone there,” she replied.
She didn’t know anyone there...well, either did I. I didn’t know where it was either. Didn’t know where England was for that matter, or Europe, I was 10 years old. All I knew was I had to sell my toys in a garage sale and say goodbye to my friends. I soon learned the Isle of Man was a small island in the Irish Sea lost between England and Ireland and at 32 miles long and 14 wide was big enough to make it onto some maps, but not all.
A plane skipped us across the Atlantic to London, England, then another, a Vickers Viscount prop job took us the last leg to Ronaldsway Airport in the Isle of Man. For a ten year old it seemed like a long way to go and indeed it was. We weren’t ‘relocating’ to another province, we were trading one life for another. My mother was 46 at the time and had decided to move to the Island and take my brother Kevin who was 15 and myself. My two eldest brothers, Tony and George remained in Canada.
As our new adventure began to unfold the first thing I noticed when we arrived on the Island was that everything was different. Everything was older, smaller and seemed more expensive. From the black cab that waited at the airport to take us to our new life, to the way in which the locals talked. ‘Ta,’ meant thank you, ‘Tura,’ was goodbye and ‘Dumbell’s Row,’ was a row of houses sewn together at the hips down in Laxey Valley. The houses were an unusual collection for us Canadians who were used to yards, but normal for the locals. The front ‘whitewashed’ stone wall crowded in on the sidewalk next to the road and rambled into the distance. It was evenly punctuated by vacant windows and doors painted different colours and sitting on their dreary grey slate roofs were chimneys that billowed black smoke into the sky from coal fires below. It was like a steam train convention. Dumbell’s Row sat like a grandstand that looked across the valley toward ‘Lady Isabella,’ a red and white water wheel 72.5 feet in diameter! It had been built in 1854 to pump water from the lead mines and now turned on it’s axle in the summer to give tourists a show. In the winter it was shut down so my buddies and I would jump the barrier and climb inside and run up it as far as we could and grab a spoke and hang on to get her going....and get her going we did, like mice running inside a 72.5 foot water wheel, all because we could!
My mother hadn’t bought a house, she’d bought a cottage, or to be specific, two cottages mortared together on Old Laxey Hill. The ‘newer’ addition was two hundred and fifty years old while the original had a century on that. We lived in the ‘modern’ half and in time it became known as ‘Rose Cottage,’ as my mother’s name was Rose. The older cottage was used as our motorcycle workshop. The stone walls were 18 inches thick and there was a coal burning fireplace in every room except mine. The ceilings were 7 feet tall with exposed black beams supporting white plank flooring above. The persistent rain was kept at bay most of the time by a slate roof though basins peppered the upper landing as a last line of defense. I was given possession of the smallest bedroom. It was the only room in the house without a fireplace, instead, I took possession of my very own water cistern. It hung on the wall like a growth and would talk to me in the middle of the night whenever someone had to use the facilities. There would be a loud long ‘sputshhhheeeeeeee’ that would eventually taper into an uneasy silence punctuated by the occasional drop of water as the float decided whether it was time to call it a night or not. The ‘loo’ was usually up to the job but if we had company there were always the two pull chain toilets in a structure outside next to the coal bunker.
It was damp, puny and an absolute blast, and that was just the inside!
Outside it was still damp but as my mother joyously pointed out on numerous occasions there were palm trees. “Gulf Stream,” she’d say proudly as though she’d had a hand in bringing it to the Island. It used to make me laugh, yes there were palm trees, but any resemblance to Florida and the Gulf Stream ended there. The water was so cold that during our annual Darbyhaven half mile school swim each of us slathered our bodies in a couple pounds of lard to insulate us from the anesthetic shock of the pretty waters offshore. There were Medieval Castles, Viking festivals, roundabouts, weird cars, kippers (smoked herring), Loghtan sheep with 4 or 6 horns, Manx cats with no tails and lots and lots of motorcycles and motorcycle races. We didn’t get forty channels on TV, the Manx had whittled that number down to three which dwindled to naught after midnight. Instead, we had a new landscape full of weird and whacky things to poke the imagination with. Imagine driving to school in Castletown and passing a section of road where the trees from opposite sides leaned toward each other and shook leaves above to form a tunnel. The section, marked by whitewashed rocks on either side, was called the ‘Fairy Bridge.’ This was the place where the ‘Little People’ hung out, the Fairies, and it was custom to bid them a good day on passing by, or, as superstition went, some misfortune might befall you. I happily played along and with a smile would say, “Ee vi vonny veg,” which translated to “Good day little Fairies,” as I passed by the Fairy Bridge. They didn’t get the Flinstones on the Island, they didn’t need them for they had Fairies, witch hunts, and the Moddey Dhoo, a large black dog that had killed a guard and haunted Peel Castle back in the day. The Isle of Man turned out to be a very special place as amongst other things it was a breeding ground for active imaginations.
As our time on the Island progressed I couldn’t help but compare the life I’d left in Canada to life on the Island, there was so much difference it couldn’t be ignored. Life in Canada had been glorious, of that there was no doubt. It had been well laid out and structured with slots where everything fit nicely. From the shows we watched on T.V. to the cars on the road and the construction around us, everything had a uniquely Canadian, or North American form to it. That form had become part of us and as the years rolled by our die had been cast. But the Isle of Man had a very different form and even at ten I was not too young to come to the conclusion that there was more than one die. I realized all things weren’t the same. The Island was old, very old, it had a thousand year old parliament, that’s right, a thousand years. They were implementing laws when Canada was still bush. To move from a house that was twenty years old in Port Credit, to a cottage that was older than Canada is something. To watch a motorcycle race from the same grassy bank on the same public road as spectators have since the days of the Ford Model T is something. To ride on a narrow gauge steam train dating back to 1874 as a regular means of transportation is something. I was experiencing things that I hadn’t or couldn’t in Canada. Why was Rose Cottage built the way it was, or Lady Isabella for that matter. Why was her wheel 72.5 feet in diameter as opposed to 75, why a wheel, why not a steam pump. Why were there cats with no tails and why the hell were those houses called ‘Dumbell’s Row?’ Why not, ‘Ham and Egg Terrace!’ Subliminally the move to the Isle of Man was effecting me in a profound way as it was changing the way I saw things. I started to look at them from more than one angle which in turn led to a greater understanding and appreciation of what I was looking at.
I stopped chucking rocks at trains.
Eight years later I returned to Canada to attend McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. I dropped out a year and a half later, something inside was resisting, I felt like a round peg in a square hole. My mother’s decision in 72 had irrevocably changed my path in life, just as those at Canada Place on July 1 surely had changed. My journey had been disrupted and now there was a restlessness inside me that couldn’t be ignored. I bounced out west and worked in Banff for a while before bouncing back to the Isle of Man to watch my brother race motorcycles. From there I hopped a ferry to France where I signed on for a five year stint in the French Foreign Legion. After that I put my training as a combat diver to use in South East Asia as a deep sea diver for almost a decade. It was there, in Singapore, that a diver buddy told me of a place called Costa Rica.
“It’s going to be the ‘in’ place man,” he said. “You should check it out, land’s cheap I hear.”
Costa Rica. It had a nice ring to it. I looked it up on the map and thought it might be an interesting place to open a dive shop. I flew to Los Angeles to buy a motorcycle and head south to check it out. Apparently there were some sweet deals on Suzuki's in LA but they didn’t pan out so I looked up the local BMW shop. I hopped a cab to Torrence and walked into a small shop and was sucker punched. I’ll never forget that day as it was the day I was handed the keys to a new adventure. When I’d walked through the door a lovely red R100GS sat in the centre of the showroom floor, I’d seen many before but never from the perspective of buying one. It was still ugly and unassuming, just as I knew it would be. Looks aside though, it was a bike I’d hankered after for many years and I knew it’s story well. It was the bike that Belgium rider Gaston Rahier had demolished the competition with and won the famous ‘Paris Dakar Race’ in 84 and 85. Posters of him ripping across the desert in full flight on the GS had stirred my pot for some time. You expect to see camels in the desert, not motorcycles blazing through barren landscapes leaving rooster tails of sand reaching for the sun. They were magnificent posters that would stop me in my tracks every time. Since those victories the R100GS had gone on to conquer every Continent around the globe many times over. This time the bike received my full attention, I could’ve been a doting parent. I poked and prodded and admired it’s functionality for that’s what it was famous for. In all honesty there’d been nothing beautiful about it, it was typically German, all business and efficiency, but what efficiency it had. It was the Swiss Army knife of motorcycles, it could do it all, mud, sand, tarmac, gravel, it didn’t matter what your preference, it would find a way to get you to the other side. I imagined some adventurer tooling through a remote village in Africa on a bike just like that. I closed my eyes for a second and thought about it, a man and his machine in the wild, when I opened them I realized I’d always wanted to be that man. Life was full of adventure, why not on a motorbike. I bought it fifteen minutes later for nine grand cash, the date was December 16, 1994. The nine grand paid for the bike and a BMW promotion gave me seven hundred and fifty dollars toward accessories. I returned the following day to pick her up and wearing a new bright blue Thor Enduro Jacket I rode out the door and headed south without an inkling of what to do or where to go. All I knew was Costa Rica was down there somewhere. I returned two and a half months later with 13,500 miles on the clock. The beginning of a beautiful relationship had been established.
My ‘Beemer,’ as BMW motorcycles are called became my sidekick and friend. We went everywhere together, she never turned down a challenge and more importantly she made sense. She had one purpose, to explore, and that suited me fine. My time in South East Asia was over, I had circled the globe and was now back in North America. I didn’t realize it at the time but subliminally I was slowly gravitating my way back to the beginning. I paused for a while in Los Angeles and wrote a script with aspirations of becoming the next Sylvester Stallone. I shopped it around for a while and a year and a half later piled my unwanted efforts into a dumpster, put my Beemer in storage and left.
That was sixteen years ago and today my Beemer sits in the basement. One of my brothers suggested I sell her, but I couldn’t. It had taken me on that first trip to Costa Rica and subsequently across the States, to the Yukon, Alaska, the Arctic Circle and around town a couple thousand times. The odometer had stopped working at 60,000 miles, we had history and yarns to share. Every time I glanced at her she whimsically took me back to an exotic destination we’d visited together, like the Mayan ruins in Tikal, Guatemala, or the Grand Canyon in Arizona or Diamond Tooth Gerties in Dawson City, Yukon. There was so much history, how could I possibly part with such nostalgia.
At one point our bond had become so strong that an idea had formed in my head. Wouldn’t it be cool to ride across Canada and write a book about the adventure. The idea stuck and the first stages of planning were taken when I applied for and received a personalized Yukon license plate that read ‘MUSKOX.’ I liked the idea of ‘The Muskox,’ there was something about the hairy creatures that roamed the far north that intrigued me. I think it was their upside down horns that first piqued my interest and any animal that could survive in the Arctic deserved a closer look. What a hardy beast, just as my Beemer was! The more I researched them, the more the excitement grew within me. I found out they were not part of the buffalo family as I’d originally thought but were relatives to the goat. The Inuit call them ‘Omingmak,’ or ‘the bearded one,’ because of their shaggy hair. They impressed me, they were cool, dignified and ungainly in an offbeat kind of way....and nomadic by nature....kinda the way I saw my Beemer, and myself for that matter, except for the ‘cool’ part. I pictured riding across Canada on a Muskox. The concept appealed to me. A book about a Bull, (I’m a Taurus, born in May) and a Muskox ripping across Canada. I decided the title of the book would be, ‘Trans Canadian Muskox!’ The pages flew off the press that rattled in my head.
A decade has since passed. The rattle is still there.
Preview and Slideshow: BMWC600 Sport and C650GT Maxi-Scooter
The luggage compartments share LED lighting and can also be equipped with an auxilliary power socket (accessory).
1. BMW Anti-theft Alarm
2.Highline Package, including:
- Heated Grips
- Heated Seat
- Tire Pressure Monitor
Accessories: A full range of accessories will also be available from market launch, including:
- Central Tunnel Bag (12L)
- BMW Motorrad Navigator IV navigation system w/integrated mount
- BMW Motorrad Communication System
- USB charging unit
- Drop-protection pads
- Scooter lock
- Akrapovic Sports Silencer
- Chrome features (passenger footrests and footplate inserts
- Additional power socket for luggage compartment
Pricing for the new BMW Maxi-Scooters will be announced in spring of 2012. The C600Sport and C650GT will reach BMW Motorrad dealers in fall of 2012 as 2013 models.
Technical Specifications C600 Sport
Engine Type: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, 8 valve, liquid cooled
Displacement: 647 cc
Output: 60hp at 7500 rpm
Seat Height: 810 mm
Dry Weight: 237 kg (522 lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 l
Consumption (l/100km at 120km/h): 4.8 l
Warranty Coverage: 36 months, unlimited kilometres
Roadside Assistance: 36 months
Technical Specifications C600 GT
Displacement: 647 cc
Output: 60hp at 7500 rpm
Seat Height: 795 mm
Dry Weight: 249 kg (549 lbs)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16 l
Consumption (l/100km at 120km/h): 4.8 l
Warranty Coverage: 36 months, unlimited kilometres
Roadside Assistance: 36 months
The Goat, the Bull, and the Muskox.
The plan was to buy a BMW and do a trans-Canadian trip in the summer of 2011. Those plans changed when health concerns arose with Wanda; they moved the trip up to the summer of 2010.
They've got a message for you!
Get Out and Do It!
The Goat, the Bull, and the Muskox.
On July 1, 2010 we locked the door to the house, saddled up the Muskox and took off for Cape Spear. Everyone has a bucket list and a trip across Canada had been on ours for quite some time. One hundred and fourteen days, 22,855 kms and six time zones later we returned home to Gabriola Island, British Columbia. It had been a sweet blast for Wanda and myself that gave us a true insight into just how great and beautiful this country is.
We often hear folks discuss travel destinations to 'exotic' places abroad...and yet we, as Canadians, probably possess one of the greatest, most exotic travel destinations on the planet.
The roads we covered, and there were quite a few, equal anything anywhere, from winding black top through mountain and vineyard in the west all the way to ancient trails that connect fishing villages in the east. There is a road here for every taste, every level of experience and every notch of commitment from the weekend affair to the long distance relationship. One simply chooses the kind of riding they want then consult the map.
As for scenery, a thousand people snapping photos of Lake Louise can’t be wrong and if the throngs crowd in on you, there’s always a camp site at the edge of the world at Meat Cove on Cape Breton Island where you can watch the sun rise in a Zen like state. Somewhere in between are ethereal lakes in Ontario, UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Quebec City and Lunenburg or the peace offered by the wide open Prairies. This is truly a stunning country and there is a landscape for every appetite.
At the end of the day new friends can easily be made, we are Canadian after all. Whether it be in the longest running bar in Western Canada (according to the locals) such as the Woodbine Hotel in Winnipeg where patrons run for cover at the sight of a camera. “You don’t know who’s with who’s wife,” a man explained to me after I put the offending piece of equipment away, or a camp site in Bakers Narrows where the couple across the access trail offered us their axe, paper and kindling to get our fire going.
Canadians are indeed friendly by nature and though we may be mocked by others for that, we quite enjoyed the fact that we didn’t feel any apprehension in approaching others, or in turn being approached by them to share an amusing anecdote or find directions to the nearest Tim Hortons. That is a beautiful thing.
Throw in fascinating history, unpredictable weather, beautiful beaches, good food, cold beer and relatively tolerant police officers during our times of indiscretion and this is, in our humble opinion, the 'chosen land'!
On that note, Wanda and myself would love to invite you to our site, www.transcanadianmuskox.com to share in some of our stories, photos and videos from our trip this past summer.
Most of all, we encourage you to 'get out and do it'!
Scott and Wanda aka the Bull and Goat....and yes, our beemer is the Muskox!
P.S. Keep an eye out for the book, ‘Trans Canadian Muskox. A special journey with The Goat, The Bull and The Muskox’.
Here's a few of the fantastic photo's taken on the journey across Canada followed by a video clip!
And a few more photo's for you!
Atlantic Motorsport Park - 2010 Parts Canada Superbike!
The weather was beautiful and sunny - warm - but not quite as warm as last year. That's a good thing - it was sweltering last year. This year I got to test out my new camera. Now the photo's should come with GPS coordinates built in to the photo EXIF data. Pretty cool.
Not nearly as cool as the racing though. If you haven't been out to a race - you really should go check it out. You will truly be amazed at the speed. They hit 190 KM/HR + at points on the track. It's a pretty impressive thing to see!
This was the first time I got to see the BMW S1000RR in action and it didn't disappoint; BMW took two of the top three spots on the podium. Amazing bikes!
We took plenty of shots of the motorcycles in the pits, and on the main stretch, not to mention some of the spectator's rides. Plenty of bikes to be seen.
Some people we'd like to draw special attention to at the race - Colin at www.MadFab.ca. He fabricates some really trick bike parts and tools right here in Nova Scotia. His presence could be seen all over the place at the races. Even on some racer bikes - like Todd Scott's. If you're looking for somebody to do some fabrication for you, or do crash repairs. Look no further. Colin knows his stuff!
I also took a few short video's that you can check out here:
Nice corner transition in this one -
If you like these photo's and would like to publish or purchase higher resolution copies - let me know. If you want to check out the camera used to take these photo's - take a look at this link:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (Black)
2010 Atlantic Motorcycle and ATV Show - A pictorial
I haven't heard about the numbers that came through but there were roughly 15,000 last year. I don't know that it was quite as busy as last year but if you're a fan of motorcycles you wouldn't have minded - it just meant it was a little easier to get through the crowds and there'd be a better chance you'd get to sit on a few more bikes.
Most of the big manufacturers were there showing off their newest 2010 models. There were a few standout bikes for me; notably the new Honda VFR1200, the BMW S1000RR, a Ducati 1198R, and Patrick Trahan's Dakar prepped Honda.
We took a few photo's and thought we'd share. More content about the show is coming soon.
Test Ride - 2009 BMW K1300S
Sure enough, not two hours after picking the bike up, I was standing on the side of Highway 10 north of Shelbourne with Ontario’s finest writing me up a ticket with more decimal places than I had deposited into my bank account last month. While the friendly officer was empathetic to my situation, citing that such a bike would be nearly impossible not to speed on, “The law is the law.” He then thanked me for being a law abiding citizen by pulling over as soon as the cherries started flashing. He put it best by saying, “If you had attempted to make a run for it, I wouldn’t have been able to catch you,” as he gave the bike an envious up and down.
The combination of excellent wind buffeting, Electronic Suspension Adjustment (ESA), and a powerplant that feels as commanding, smooth and linear as an airliner means that the K1300S is better suited to the Autobahn than the strictly regulated roads of Ontario. Luckily the ESA system (available for $850) can be adjusted to ‘Comfort’ mode to accommodate our sorely neglected road surfaces. The available ‘Sport’ mode is a welcome addition, useful for more spirited riding or trackday shenanigans.
On several occasions over the course of my eventful cottage excursion where hard braking was needed, the ABS demonstrated itself to be shockingly good. While I likely wouldn’t have the cajones to test the Anti-Spin Control (ASC) on dry pavement, it actually came in handy while negotiating rain soaked streets. The K1300S comes with many great options as standard equipment such as the aforementioned ABS and dual mode grip warmers. It may be June but after a run in with Mother Nature and with the sun beginning to set, the warm grips made the closing minutes of my ride considerably more comfortable and safe by keeping my wet hands warm and dexterous.
Displacement has also been upped from 1157cc to 1293cc, which was accomplished by adding a 1mm overbore and 5.3mm increase in stroke. Power has therefore increased seven horsepower, bringing output to 175 hp and 103 ft-lbs of torque. Throttle response has therefore been improved and with the glitches removed, the K1300S is a force to be reckoned with.
Another welcome update to the K series was the discontinuation of BMW’s traditional three switch turn signals in favour of the more user-friendly left-thumb-only configuration. While many Bimmer purists may cringe, I find the new switches to be a God send compared to the previous system.
Test Ride - 2009 BMW K1300GT
Test Ride - 2009 BMW K1300GT
want in your garage. Go check them out. If you're in the market for a new BMW, Ducati, or Yamaha contact Troy Leblanc @ 506) 383-1022. Tell'em CanadianMotorcycleRider sent you!
BMW K1300GT; A bit of a dull name for something that sets the high performance touring bar so high. One would think it deserves a name more fitting of its greatness! I guess it's tough to distill all the things that make this bike what it is into just one simple word, so K1300GT it is. Let it be known though that behind that name lies a bike that you can pretty much 'do it all' on - a short cruise around town or a trip across Canada; the BMW K1300 GT is ready for it. To tell you about all the features and technology packed into this machine would take a large book - we're going to hit what we feel are the highlights.
Protection and Ergonomics
The grab handles have some adjustability front to back should you so desire. Behind the passenger is a plate that can be used to mount gear on when touring, or perhaps a top box. The K1300GT I rode also had heated seats - another very nice feature that helps boost comfort and extend the riding season a little. The rider and passenger have their own independent control over what temperature they want. The drivers control is on the right switchgear which the passenger control is a small switch located on the right hand side of the bike between the back of the seat and the gear mounting plate.
The handlebars are adjustable for height and coming towards the riders body covering a range of 40 millimeters (almost 1.6") allowing you to easily customize the height of the bars to your exact preferences. The height of the handlebar is adjusted via a mechanical thread-and-bolt setting making it pretty simple and convenient.
Engine & Drivetrain
The bike produces practically no dive under braking because of its optimized Duolever front-wheel suspension. The Duolever has a newly designed lower longitudinal arm - made of aluminum instead of steel which brings down the weight by 2lbs. That may not seem overly relevant in a bike weighing 635 pounds full of fuel but every pound counts. Consider that it's unsprung weight too and if you drop pounds on a bike that's the best place to do it. In the rear you've got the Paralever single-sided swingarm that incorporates final shaft drive.
BMW’s new ESA II (Electronic Suspension Adjustment II) suspension is also available on the K 1300 GT as an extra cost option. This allows the rider to adjust the suspension at the touch of a button to optimize the suspension based on the load you're carrying; whether it's just you riding solo, solo with luggage, or you've got a passenger and luggage. These settings that are represented visually on the LCD situated between the conventional speedometer and tachometer by a single helmet, a single helmet with a suitcase, or two helmets with a suitcase symbol. Damping is user-selectable on-the-fly and at the push of a button you can ride in Sport, Normal, or Comfort mode to suit your riding style. Very useful features on a bike that will tempt you to seek adventure like the K1300GT will.
Speaking of adventure, the 32-litre side cases offer generous amounts of storage and easily swallow up full-face helmet. The latching mechanism is easy to use and so long as you don't lock them you don't require the key to open the cases. The key releases the bags easily from the bike and the integral handle makes them easy to carry into your hotel room. The GT also comes standard with a locking glove box on the right hand side of the fairing to keep necessities close at hand. If you need more enclosed storage you can get an optional top box in 49 or 28-litre capacity.
BMW's proven EVO brake system and BMW Motorrad ABS provide maximum safety, and the optional ASC (Automatic Stability Control) - which works together with the standard ABS to prevent rear wheelspin, and TPC (tire pressure control) give you extra peace of mind and control. The BMW Motorrad Integral ABS controls the front- and rear-wheels brakes through the handbrake lever, while the foot brake lever controls just the rear-wheel brake.
Brake discs measuring 320 millimeters (12.6") in diameter up front and 294 millimeters (11.6") in the rear pull this bike down from speed in a hurry.
A 24-litre fuel tank and BMW's claimed 5 L/100 km @ 90 km/hr OR 5.9 L/100 km @ 120 km/hr give this Gran Turismo a very respectable theoretical range of over 400 km's before needing to stop for refueling.
Available in three colours: Red Apple Metallic, Royal Blue Metallic and Magnesium Beige Metallic.
Here's some Canadian pricing information on the factory options:
- Closed-loop 3-way Catalytic Converter
- Colour Matched Luggage Cases
- Electrically Adjustable Windshield
- Heated Grips
- ABS Brakes
- High Windshield = $150
- Anti-Theft Alarm System = $250.00
- Lowered Seat 800/820mm = $ 0
- Safety Package: Tire Pressure Control, Automatic Stability Control = $ 600.00
- Equipment Package 1: On Board Computer = $ 215.00
- Equipment Package 2: Electronic Suspension Adjustment, Heated Seat, On Board Computer = $1,300.00
- Equipment Package 3: Xenon Light, Electronic Suspension Adjustment, Heated Seat, Cruise Control, On Board Computer = $2,000
Base price is $21,825.00 but you can easily option that up by several thousand dollars. The fit, finish, build quality, and overall feel of this motorcycle help you to come to terms with that sticker price. This is a high quality motorcycle.
If you're in the market for a sporty, comfortable, touring machine in a surprisingly nimble 1300cc package then you should most certainly check out the BMW K1300GT. I've had the opportunity to ride many bikes and this is one that I can honestly say ranks very highly on my list of bikes I'd like to own. It's practical, comfortable, and safe - but not at the expense of losing excitement. I thoroughly enjoyed this bike.
BMW F650GS test ride - Getting more than you bargained for.
It was Thursday and I had finished up the work for the week early in the day so I got to thinking… Hmmm – the BMW F650GS should be arriving at the dealership any day now if it hasn’t already. I better get down there for my monthly visit. *Those guys must really starting to be getting annoyed with me by now. I’ve been there probably six times in the last year and I’ve only bought a magazine.*
No matter, I head on down to the shop hoping to get lucky and spot the new 650. I arrive at the dealership and look left, look right. 1098 S - saw it, SportClassic GT - saw it, X-Challenge - saw it, R1200GS - saw it. Cruisers - check, dirt bikes - check. No F650GS in sight. Guess I’m out of luck - Well, I’m here, might as well look around. I nod at the sales guy and say hello - we both know each other because of the frequency of my visits. I even have made friends with the shop dog – Waldo.
Neither the sales guy nor me know the other’s name but I say; Just in for my regular visit; thought I’d stop in to see if the F650 GS (twin) was in yet. Should be arriving soon I imagine. “Hang-on” he says and heads off to the back room where he talks with a woman briefly behind a partly closed door. A minute or two later he’s out and says “C’mon out back - I’ve got something to show you.” I follow down the hallway and we end up outside at the back of the building. Sitting there amongst a few other bikes is a shiny new F650 GS, iceberg silver. I look it over carefully and we exchange some “great bike” comments.
Of course I want to sit on it and see how it feels but always ask first. Turns out it’s a customer’s bike. All of the initial allotment the dealership received had been pre-sold. No sitting allowed. There’d be trouble if the owner came around the corner and saw me all over his shiny new machine! So no sitting – I have to make do with looking it over.
Once I’ve had my fill we head back in the shop. I casually ask - thinking there’s not a chance! - So, do you guys offer test rides or have demo days? To which he replies, yes, we’ve got one on Saturday. What! You’re kidding me - that’s 2 days from now! *thinking* I really could have missed that whole event if I hadn’t gone in the shop, and if I hadn’t mentioned about the test rides I don’t think I would have found out about it either.
I should mention that a recent, and temporary, move to Winnipeg from the east coast had me thinking a few months prior I might as well leave my gear on the east coast for when I return, no sense bringing it with me for a few short months.
As soon as the words “test ride on Saturday” come from his mouth - It hits me. I have no jacket, no helmet, no gloves. The test ride is in two days! I only know a handful of people and none of them ride. Argh! Should I buy new gear? I’ve already got two pricy jackets and other equipment at home. Do I really want to shell out that kind of money and have to drag all that stuff across the country. No, I really shouldn’t. I’m highly tempted though and start thinking how I’m going to get my hands on some gear. I must go on a test ride!
I head home and immediately send off emails to all the people I know asking if they or anybody they know has any equipment. I don’t even know many of the people very well. I play Ultimate with them once a week. I live in an apartment building and there’s one lonely Vespa in the parking garage. I even write a note and stick it to the seat begging if I can rent some gear from them.
I’m a member of several motorcycle forums and so I post a note on one of them asking anybody if they have any gear that I can borrow or rent for a few hours. After many hours of waiting I finally get a bite on my request. “What size” I immediately reply back with some measurements and wait. I wait all Friday and no responses – it’s not looking good. I head off to bed thinking that I probably won’t get to ride. I mean what are the chances a total stranger will let me borrow their stuff. Not likely.
Saturday morning arrives and I immediately turn on my computer to see if I’ve gotten any responses - nothing. I make one last post on the forum at 9:27 am and resign myself to the fact that I’m not going for a test ride today. I grab some breakfast, and head back to the computer to work on a few things. At 10:12 am I get an email from somebody from the forum; they’ve got some stuff I can borrow! I call the dealership immediately and the earliest test drive is at 1pm. I reserve a spot and email the forum reader to say I’m on my way over!
I get to the fellow bikers place and try on the helmet (an MX style) - fits great. Gloves - good too. Jacket - he’s only got a summer one that I can use - no matter, I’ll put a windproof jacket underneath; that’ll be perfect. I say. Thanks!
I head home finish off the coffee I left behind in my haste to track down the gear, grab a bite to eat and get ready to ride. It’s only about 5 degrees out so I put on a thermal layer and head on down to the dealership to be there for 12:30 pm. I make my way to the counter, sign my waiver, have my licence photocopied, and hand over my $20 cash. Now the fun starts!
1 o’clock rolls around and we head outside and get the scoop on the ride. It’ll be about an hour - we’ll get some town riding, and some highway riding. There are about a dozen of us including the lead rider and sweep rider in the back. He goes over the instruments briefly and the unique BMW indicator switch operation. He suggests that we turn on the standard heated grips - it’s a little chilly on the highway. We’ll be travelling with traffic - typically about 20 km/hr over the limit. But please drive only as fast as you’re comfortable he says. Now it’s time to board our machines.
Somebody already snagged the flame red model so there’s two 650’s left for me to choose from. One is iceberg silver metallic the other is azure blue metallic. I want to get the standard height one if possible or the higher of the two at least. I take a look and decide on the silver one.
Turns out that the silver one had the low seat option (a free option), the blue had the lowered seat and lowered suspension (the lowest of the bunch and a small additional cost). The red one was the standard seat and suspension model. So I got the slightly lower than stock version (a no cost lowered option). Notably, the lowest model didn’t have a center stand which is due to the height. The two other models had them though. The center stand is a $170 option.
We start them up and I’m immediately struck by how different the new 650 feels and sounds than the previous 650 single. This new model is actually 798 cc and boasts 71hp. It’s a big jump up in power from its predecessor, which had right around 50 hp. Turning out of the parking lot and onto the road I fumble a little with the right turn signal. It seems small to me and not on the left like I’m used to. Canceling it proves equally challenging. I try not to look down but have to glance to hit the cancel button residing just above the right signal activator. They're under the bar and pressed with your thumb.
Note: Just behind the keyfob is a powerpoint. So hooking up the GPS or other accessories should be a breeze!
Working the signals continues to be an issue for me throughout the ride. I find that I can’t help but roll off the throttle trying to hit that right signal switch and the cancel switch. It’s not so bad when you're in an RPM range that doesn’t produce a big amount of engine braking when you roll off the throttle a little. But every time I pull away from a stop sign when making a direction change I’m not riding very smoothly.
The ride takes us on a route that moves on fast city streets, a bit of highway time, and a road with a couple twists in it too. No hills really, this is Winnipeg after all; they were lucky to find a road with a few bends in it!
The bike rides smoothly - the pavement is bumpy and full of dips and cracks after a long cold Manitoba winter. There are plenty of tar snakes as well. The bike handles all the bumps and road imperfections wonderfully. On my old Suzuki GS500 I would have had to brace my legs or risk bouncing up off the seat on some of the bumps we hit. I saw many cars heave up and down over the bumps in front of me. They didn't phase the 650GS at all.
The F650GS was smooth, the suspension soaking up the bumps nicely. The seat is very comfortable too. The amount of cushioning is good; firm, yet soft enough to help soak up some bumps too. The seat position doesn’t drive you forward onto the airbox either. I was very comfortable the whole time.
Note: The seats on each of the three models each have their own unique shape. This blue model was the optional low seat low suspension model, that comes at a additional fee, had the lowest seat and you can see a significant upturn in the seat near the airbox. The low seat option (silver bike pictured elsewhere in this article) has a curve but not as much. The regular height (red model in pictures in this article) has the least upturn in the seat. All were quite comfortable.
The rider position is fairly upright, I had no pressure on my wrists at all. My legs had lots of room. The windshield is fairly short but it also wide. The steering has a wide 40 degree lock stop that when turned all the way almost touches the windshield - you wouldn’t likely find an after market windscreen that could be much wider than the stock model. The F800GS will have a lock stop of 42 degrees reportedly.
I found that the wide but short m-shaped windscreen deflected the wind very well. I moved my head around a bit to see if there were any turbulent spots. I didn’t notice any. You’re in the wind unless you tuck your head down but had no buffeting problems. I’d previously ridden a 2002 BMW 650 Dakar for a ride around Cape Breton, NS. I think this new windscreen is an improvement over that model - at least for me. I had a really sore neck after only a few hundred km’s on the 02 Dakar. Still I’d be tempted to see what a slightly taller windscreen would do. My legs didn’t seem to get cool at all and I didn’t feel much wind on them.
It was a bit windy at points and I had to lean the bike into it at times, it wasn’t raining out or wet for that matter but I think the wind was still a good test of the protection offered by the bike. There doesn’t seem to be much frontal area but the wind tunnel testing of the screen seems to have been effective. You’ll know you’re not on a full faired bike but it doesn’t feel like a naked either. Those standard heated grips were a welcome addition in the chilly conditions. I'd seriously consider some hand guards and protectors to keep even more wind off my hands (BMW offers this as an accessory).
The mirrors are bit small but no smaller than the previous model they replace and they’re not vibrating nearly as much with this much smoother twin cylinder engine. You can actually see things if you have the mirrors adjusted properly! Both the speedometer and tach are sweeping analog. Personally, I prefer a big digital speed reading and an analog tach. I want to see quickly and relatively precisely how fast I'm going, particularly if I'm riding in a spirited manner. Analog sweeper for the tach is fine since I don't need quite so much precision there. To the right of the speedometer and tach you've got a big LCD display that comes with the on-board computer option ($215 option) that shows all sorts of useful information such as air temperature, gear currently selected, radiator water temperature, average fuel consumption, fuel level and current range, and a stopwatch. If you buy the optional tire pressure control (TPC) system that information is displayed as well. You toggle through the LCD display with an Info button on the left hand control. In this shot you can also see the big ABS button, horn, and left signal switch.
So what about that engine you say! I’ll come right out and say this is a fantastic engine. While it’s no wheelie monster there is a substantial and very noticeable increase in power and smoothness in this engine. It sounds and feels a lot different. I was doing 140 km/hr at a couple points and the bike felt like it had plenty left on tap. The bike had about 2,000 km’s on it so it probably would be even better after a few more kilometers on it. Many of the bikes still had that new bike smell - like things were still getting heated off when you pushed them.
This Rotax produced power plant has a huge, broad power delivery. As long as you’re in close to the right gear you’re going to pull away strongly and smoothly right up to near redline. I couldn’t feel any noticeable large surges in power at any point in the RPM range. It pulls evenly all the way up.
The brakes on this machine are strong; It only took a gentle touch of the front to get slowed down pretty quickly. I can only imagine how quickly you could stop if you really put the binders on. The ABS would certainly help keep things under control. If you want ABS it'll cost an extra $850 and adds just 1.5 kg (or 3.3 lbs) to the weight of the bike. The bike has a dry weight of 179 kg (394 lbs); unladen weight road ready and fueled weight is 199 kg (438lbs).
Unlike the old 650 BMW Scarver, this machine has a chain rather than a belt drive. It's an O-ring chain and features a chain guide rail that protects the aluminium rocker from damage.
I think there is no question that this bike is going to sell well. At $8,990 there are going to be a lot more people driving BMW’s. Couple that price with BMW’s excellent level of quality and 3 year warranty and you've got an appealing bike. BMW want to attract more young people to the brand and appeal to a broader range of people. This bike should go a long way in achieving that goal.
Now - it wasn’t all rosy for me with this bike, I mentioned it earlier but those signal switches were troublesome. I spoke to the sweep rider of my group ride and mentioned the difficulty I had and he said it’s pretty common with new BMW riders and that you get used to it.
It just seems that leaving those controls on the left would leave the right hand available to work the throttle and the front brake. Two pretty important controls on a motorcycle. Why add the right signal and the cancel switch for both to the list of right hand side tasks? Why not move the ABS button over to the right. That’s a button that wouldn’t be a frequent use item - That would give a little space to rearrange the left controls and put all the signal controls in one spot on the left side.
The signal lights on the instrument cluster were at the very bottom of the speedometer portion just above the tachometer. I found them a little hard to see – they weren’t quite bright enough - and the thick rounded edge of the tachometer hid them a little from my view as well. It was really at the lower edge of my peripheral vision. I suspect your ability to spot them would improve with familiarity but they’d be better if they were a bit brighter and maybe up slightly from their current position - in my opinion.
The brake fluid reservoir is way up high on the right hand side like it’s being honored on a pedestal. It’s rubber mounted and was jiggling around like a bobble head doll. I found it a little distracting at first. I did get used to it pretty quickly and didn’t notice it too much at least.
In the end I’d still say that despite the issues I have with the bike I still like it. The price, the engine, the warranty, the level of quality – it’s all top notch. The boost in horsepower adds some much needed excitement to the bike which was sorely lacking in its predecessor. The engine is a significant improvement in smoothness, power delivery, and feel; yet still very competitive with 650cc bikes in terms of the weight and size.
So when you buy this 650 cc bike you're going to get a little more than you bargained for - you're going to get a 798 cc! An extra 148 cc!
For more information on the F650GS check out the BMW Motorrad Canada website.
BMW F650GS (twin) vs. Kawasaki Versys 650 vs. Suzuki DL650 V-Strom
If you turn on the TV at any given time, chances are you'll find a program about building a custom chopper, or maybe a sport bike race. Go into any dealership and look around on the sales floor no doubt there will be plenty of cruisers and sport bikes. But what if you want something that offers a little more flexibility? Can't afford to have multiple bikes in the garage? Well - the bikes in this comparison are the Swiss Army knives of the motorcycling world. They'll take you to the other end of the country just as easily as they'll take you to the corner store or the dirt road to the cottage. They're meant to do a little bit of everything. All-rounders are not too big, not too small. They're just right.
Typically all-rounders offer a more comfortable seat than the hard, plank like, offerings of most sport bikes. A more upright seating position means you're not going to be in pain after a short ride suffering with aching wrists, back, and backside. Who needs that racing stance for the street?
The engines of these all-rounders are mid-sized and geared for real world riding. They're not the peaky, high revving beasts that sound like an angry bee hive each time you twist the throttle. They offer smooth and linear power. Why overdo it with a 1600cc, heavy, torque monster of an engine when you can have a 650 or 800cc bike that will offer smooth usable power at a fraction of the weight and cost? Not to mention your likely insurance bill savings.
Middleweight twins are often pegged with the unfortunate label of "beginner bikes" and so are sometimes overlooked by more experienced riders. Because many people think bigger is better and because of the usable and forgiving power these types of engines produce this label persists. It'd be a huge mistake to think these bikes are strictly for beginners though. The V-Strom's engine comes from the SV650, a bike that excels on the track. So don't let their "beginner rider friendly” labels fool you into thinking these bikes are only for beginners, they're not!
We're going to take a closer look at the Suzuki DL650 V-Strom 650 aka the Wee-Strom, Kawasaki Versys 650, and the 2008 BMW F650GS (twin). The V-Strom is the old timer of the lot having been around since 2004, the Versys was introduced in Canada in 2007, and the BMW F650GS is being introduced to Canada for 2008. Incidentally, the BMW actually uses a 798cc twin engine rather than a 650 in what is seen by many as a confusing departure from the commonly used industry naming conventions.
Despite it's slightly larger displacement its weight and position in the market put it squarely in competition with the Strom and Versys.
Kawasaki Versys MSRP $8,499
The Kawasaki Versys came to Canada in 2007 with a 649 cc liquid-cooled engine from the Ninja 650R but in a slightly retuned form for more low to mid range power. The name belies its purpose - Versys is short for Versatile Systems. US consumers were so enraptured with the Versys they sent emails in droves to Kawasaki (more than for any other motorcycle in US history according to Kawasaki) and the Americans got their wish; the Versys is on its way to 49 States (it doesn't meet California emissions unfortunately due to its lack of a charcoal canister. This is something that should be taken care of for 2009). They'll get to know what we in Canada already know about the Versys; it's a very capable all-rounder at a reasonable price.
Punisher vs. Versys
Kawasaki states that the chassis was, “designed for the discerning enthusiast, the Versys’s riding position, engine characteristics, chassis balance and suspension settings were all selected to maximize rider exhilaration on the street”.
Versys Swingarm Close Up
Photo by Geoff Smith
A Shiny New Black Versys
Stops are achieved with petal-disc design dual disc brakes in front with twin-piston Tokico calipers. A single-piston single disc handles the duties in the rear. The brake and clutch levers are adjustable for 2008. The wide handlebars and adjustable windscreen can be raised or lowered to three positions in 20mm increments make for a comfortable cockpit. You will have to get out the tools to make the adjustments though.
Cockpit of the Verysys
There are several available accessories including Givi saddlebags, optional windscreens, and a molded seat that is 2" lower (no price listed on Kawasaki Canada website while the US site lists it at US$439.95), 1" narrower and has a gel comfort layer. This accessory is sure to make this bike accessible to a wider range of riders.
Suzuki V-Strom (ABS) MSRP $8999
The Suzuki DL650, or V-Strom, is also affectionately known as the Wee-Strom because there’s a DL1000 too, and well, the 650 is the “wee” one of the two. This bike has amassed an almost cult like following since it was first introduced in Canada as a 2004 model in late-fall 2003. In fact, in 2006, Cycle World magazine wrote that the DL650 “may just be the most shockingly competent machine in the world today.”
Suzuki DL650 Side Shot
The Wee Strom possesses a middleweight engine taken from the popular SV650 that’s tuned to have a few less horsepower but a smoother power delivery. The Strom also features a final drive ratio lowered from the SV650 for improved low rpm performance. It’s a middle weight package that gives you around town versatility, sporty road performance, low seat height, good wind protection, all day comfort, and a fuel capacity to match. Season that mixture with rock solid reliability, a very reasonable MSRP, and tremendous after market support and you’ve got a winner.
The DL650 may appear to have been struck with the ugly stick a few times when you look around the showroom floor at your local Suzuki dealership. That hasn’t stopped it from quietly building a huge and loyal fan base though. Some even come to love its looks. Imagine!
Photo by Geoff Smith
JMV lower fairings and sport windscreen
The suspension of the Strom is a little plush and easily swallows up road imperfections that would cause grief for those riding a pure sport bike. On the Strom, you need not worry so much about road imperfections – a very good thing considering what widely fluctuating temperatures do to our Canadian roads; they’re often littered with bumps, cracks, ridges, and every other imperfection you can name. Dreaded tar snakes abound!
The 43 mm front forks have adjustment only for pre-load. In back, the shock offers knob-adjustable preload, and a screw-adjusted rebound damping. Under hard braking the suspension dives a bit but should not come as a surprise at this price point. The suspension is more than adequate for most situations you’ll face.
The narrow and purposeful fairing provides adequate weather protection. The windscreen can be manually adjusted for height but you’ll need some tools to do it.
Photo by Geoff Smith
One of the other traits of the Strom that riders love is its off pavement ability. The Strom is listed under the “Street” category of Suzuki Canada’s website but “Dual Sport” on the US site. So it would seem the Strom leads a bit of a double life. While you won’t be entering any off-road races with the Strom it’s a capable off-pavement steed that will make short work of fire roads and rides to the cottage.
The instrument cluster on the Strom is well designed with a compact step-motor speedometer, tachometer with LED illumination; plus an LCD display with twin trip meters, odometer, temperature gauge, fuel gauge, and a digital clock.
A large rear luggage rack with rubber-padded platform will help keep bags and other gear in place. A big 22L fuel tank ensures you’ll get a long way from home before needing a fill up. The Strom features the largest fuel capacity of the three bikes.
BMW F650GS (twin) MSRP $8990
2008 BMW F650GS
Azure Blue Metallic
Why did BMW call an 800cc a 650 you ask? Nobody we’ve talked to is sure really. In F650GS form the engine makes 71hp and 55.3* lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm (* torque numbers converted from 57 nm)
The new bike looks typical BMW GS style; a bit utilitarian, but the fit and finish is fantastic. The headlight is a side by side unit with one a little smaller than the other. It’s a look borrowed from the larger and tremendously popular 1200GS bikes. In terms of wind protection the BMW seems to offer a relatively similar frontal area as the other two bikes.
The windscreen is a wind tunnel optimized M-shaped design. The 16-litre tank is under the seat which lowers the center of gravity and has the added benefit of not getting in the way if you use a tank bag. The lockable filler nozzle is easily accessible on the right-hand side of the vehicle level near the pillion seat. It’s the smallest tank of the three bikes but should still provide an ample range for most riders.
BMW F650GS Seat Close Up
The Beemer delivers higher peak horsepower and torque numbers than its competitors in this article. This isn’t surprising given its 150cc advantage in displacement over the 650’s. The greater grunt comes at a slightly higher MSRP but along with that extra cash you not only get more displacement. The extra cash gets you a similarly sized package and BMW’s 3 year warranty; including roadside assistance. That’s 2 years more than these competitors. Neither Suzuki nor Kawasaki includes roadside assistance as part of their original warranty.
BMW is pretty much by itself in the 800cc category. Nobody else offers one in Canada. The new 800cc twin engine used in the BMW is actually built by Rotax. Rotax is a subsidiary of Bombardier (which was started by Joseph Bombardier in Quebec) and build for many different companies. They make the new liquid cooled engine in the Buell 1125R for example. They also make engines for snowmobiles, watercraft, ATV’s karts, and aircraft. So it would appear that BMW chose the maker of its engine carefully.
BMW F650GS Rear Side Angle
Brakes come in the way of single disc, 300 mm diameter double-piston floating caliper in the front and single disc, 265 mm diameter single-piston floating calliper in the rear. Switchable BMW Motorrad ABS is available as an option for an additional $850.
Heated grips come standard on the F650GS in Canada. Some other nice to have options: on-board computer, center stand, theft alarm, tire pressure monitor system, hand protection bars, and a wide range of side, tank, and top cases. There’s plenty more accessories too if you want to push that MSRP up even higher.
The on-board computer expands the range of information that can be displayed on the clear display on the combined instrument panel, adding the following details: tank display, gear display, coolant temperature, average fuel consumption, range, outside temperature and stopwatch time. A button on the left handlebar fitting allows the driver to switch through the displays and to select the information required. It is also used to operate the stopwatch.
Not too many people in Canada have had the opportunity to ride the F650GS as of yet but we spoke to a fellow who has. Wildwood Motorsports owner Paul Germain had a chance to ride the new BMW in Faro Portugal with BMW representatives and came away impressed. When asked about the bike he said, “The F650GS is a spectacular package! Although BMW didn’t have the old 650 single there for a direct comparison I can say based on my memory of riding the previous model that the new 650 is a much better road machine. It’s a much greater pleasure to ride than the old one. It’s smoother and loses nothing in off road ability to the old 650. At an MRSP of C$8990 and a 3 year warranty, this model is a home run.”
|BMW F650GS||Suzuki DL650 V-Strom||Kawasaki Versys 650r|
|Engine Type||Water-cooled, 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, four valves per cylinder, two overhead camshafts||Four-stroke, liquid cooled, 90º V-twin, DOHC, 8-valves||Four stroke, Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 8-valve, Parallel Twin|
|Displacement||798 cc||645 cc||649 cc|
|Bore/Stroke||82 mm x 75.6 mm||81.0 x 62.6 mm||83 x 60 mm|
|Fuel System||Electronic injection||Fuel Injection||Digital fuel injection|
|Lubrication||Dry sump lubrication||Wet Sump||Semi-dry sump|
|Transmission||Constant mesh 6-speed gearbox||6-speed||6-speed|
|Overall LxWxH (mm)||2,280 mm x 890 mm x 1,240 mm||2.290 x 840 x 1.390||2,125 mm x 840 mm x 1,315 mm|
|Seat Height||820 mm (32.3"); low seat: 790 mm (31"); lowered suspension: 765 mm (30")||820 mm (32.3")||840mm (33")|
|Wheelbase||1,575 mm (62")||1,540 mm (60.6")||1415mm (55.7")|
|Dry Weight||179 kg (394 lbs)||194 kg (427 lbs)||181 kg (399 lbs)|
|Front Suspension||Telescopic fork, 41 mm||Telescopic, cartridge-type, oil damped, adjustable preload||41 mm inverted telescopic fork with stepless adjustable preload and rebound damping|
|Rear Suspension||Cast aluminium dual swing arm, central spring strut, spring pre-load hydraulically adjustable (continuously variable) at handwheel, rebound damping adjustable||Link-type, adjustable spring preload and rebound damping||Offset laydown single-shock with 13 way adjustable rebound damping and 7 way adjustable preload|
|Front Brakes||Single disc, diameter 300 mm, double-piston||Dual hydraulic disc ABS||Dual semi-floating 300 mm petal discs with dual piston calipers|
|Suspension Travel (Front/Rear)||180 mm (7.09”) / 170 mm (6.69”)||Not available on manufacturer website||150 mm (5.9") / 145mm (5.7")|
|ABS||Optional extra: BMW Motorrad ABS (can be switched off) $850||Standard||None|
|Rear Brake||Single disc, diameter 265 mm, single-piston floating caliper||Single hydraulic disc ABS||Single 220 mm petal disc with single-piston caliper|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||16 litres||22 litres||19 litres|
|Colour||Iceberg Silver Metallic, Plain Flame Red, Azure Blue Metallic||Blue, Mat Black, Yellow||Candy Plasma Blue/Silver Frame (or) Passion Red/Silver Frame|
|Rated Output||71 hp at 7,000 rpm||67 hp **||63 hp at 8,000 rpm|
|Max. torque||55 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm||44.3 lb-ft at 6400 rpm **||45 lb-ft at 7,000 rpm|
|Warranty||3 years with roadside assistance||1 year||1 year|
** Estimates - Official information is not available from the manufacturer website.
Edit (03/29/08) - Originally the table indicated the Strom came with a center stand. It's actually a $228.39 option (price does not include taxes or installation and may vary by dealer.). Appropriate corrections made in Conclusion section as well.
The weight and size of the bikes are relatively similar with the Strom being the heaviest of the bunch. The BMW actually weighs 33 lbs less (without ABS) than the Strom, and 5 lbs less than the Versys. With a weight of 3.3 lbs, if you were to add the ABS option, the differential would drop and put the BMW pretty much even with the Versys. The BMW would still be a good bit lighter than the Strom even if ABS were added. You could even add on a center stand and it should still weigh less.
Suzuki lists the cost of the optional center stand at $228.39 while BMW doesn't list a price for theirs on the Canadian site. Neither manufacturer provides a weight for the piece but it may be a useful option for either bike.
The power advantage goes to BMW. With 71 hp it’s a little up on 67 hp estimate of the Strom we obtained and 8 hp over the Versys. The big difference comes in the form of torque. The BMW has a solid 10 lb-ft advantage over both the Strom and the Versys and it comes at only 4,500 rpm versus the Strom’s 44.3 lb-ft @6400 rpm, and the Versys’ 45 lb-ft @7,000 rpm.
In the features department the Strom comes with the most at the lowest price. Your base MSRP of $8999 includes ABS. On the BMW, ABS will add an extra $850+ to the MSRP. The Versys doesn’t come with ABS or a center stand and neither feature is an option yet. ABS wouldn't be too difficult for Kawasaki to to add in the future (It's already available in Europe for an extra £400) but the underslung exhaust makes a centerstand a bit tricky. The BMW also has the advantage of coming standard with 3 years warranty with roadside assistance. Still, the comparably equipped BMW will likely set you back right around $9,840 so you’ll have to judge for yourself if the extra power and warranty are worth it in the end.
At this price point the bikes juggle factors of price, performance, style, and versatility. Each of them make some compromises but all of them do a great job. I don’t think you’d go wrong purchasing any of these machines so long as you kept the intended purpose in mind.
If you’re in the market for an all-rounder that you plan on keeping for a while and putting some miles on be sure to check out all three of these bikes!
BMW F800GS and F650GS Test Drive in Portugal
I wanted to talk to him because I knew that he’d recently been to Faro, Portugal with the folks from BMW for a one day test ride. Incidentally, he’d also be to the Milan show in November where the F800GS was officially introduced.
What was particularly special about the trip to Faro though is that he got to ride the new F650GS parallel twin and the F800GS. Just in case you don’t know about these bikes, the new F650GS twin is actually an 800cc bike that uses a detuned version of the engine that’s on the F800GS. Why did BMW call an 800cc a 650 you ask? Nobody I’ve talked to is sure really. Calling a 800cc bike a 650 is certainly a departure from the standard industry naming convention. In F650GS form, the engine makes 71hp and in the F800GS it makes 85hp. The F650GS twin comes to Canada in May 2008 but you’ll have to wait until September/Fall for the F800GS.
Canadians are going to be the envy of American riders in 2008 because we’re getting the new F650GS twin before the US. The US won’t see the twin 800cc version of the F650GS until 2009. Instead, dealers in the US will be selling the old F650GS single models at a significantly lower MSRP than ever before. The singles days are numbered though and 2008 will mark the last year for the F650GS single.
[Note – I’m referring to the new 800cc F650GS as an F650GS twin to avoid any confusion with the single cylinder 650cc version that it is replacing.]
I basically asked Paul about his impressions of the new bikes and to tell me a little bit about his trip. I have paraphrased what he said during our conversation so these are not his exact words:
Seat Close up BMW F650GS
“The F650GS is a spectacular package! Although BMW didn’t have the old 650 single there for a direct comparison I can say based on my memory of riding the previous model that the new 650 is a much better road machine. It’s a much greater pleasure to ride than the old one. It’s smoother and loses nothing in off road ability to the old 650. At an MRSP of C$8990 and a 3 year warranty, this model is a home run. It’s a lot of bang for the buck. With 71hp it’s got a big power advantage over the old 650 which has about 50hp. The bike performs extremely well.
The new bike not only looks fantastic but BMW have put a lot of effort into making the height of this bike comfortable for the majority of riders. They’ve got three seat height options; you’ll be able to get a low seat version, a normal version with a lowered seat, and the normal seat height version. It feels so thin and small that you’d never know you’re on a twin or that it’s an 800. The lower seat height and thinness of the bike make it really appealing. I can see this bike appealing to many people that might not have had the leg length for the previous version. Women and guys who whose legs were a bit short for the old model will be really happy with this new one.
The 800cc size is a good place to be. It’s smaller but not bigger. Honda used to have the Africa Twin but that’s not around any more so BMW is standing alone in this segment.”
What’s the reason for the difference in pricing between the F650GS and the F800GS? I believe it’s around C$3,000?
There are some differences between the F800GS and the F650GS; the F800GS is standard height, you’ll find it comparable in height to the old 650. The F800GS has got a bigger front wheel than the F650GS. Of course the engine has got quite a bit more power too. It’s got 85 horsepower instead of the 71 of the F650GS. They are not the same even though they look similar. There are some chassis differences between the two and the camshafts are different too. There are some other engine differences as well. You can see the specs online to see all the differences.
[More on the specific differences later in the article]
Details of the riding:
“The ride was in Faro which is at the southern portion of [Portugal] on the coast. We got to ride the bikes for the day in conditions much like Southern California. There were a lot of big hills and scrub; pavement and some fire roads. It was a combination of riding ½ off road and ½ on road. I got to ride the F650GS a bit more than the F800GS. I’d say about two-thirds of my time was on the F650GS and the other third was on the F800GS. All told I’d say I did about 300 km of riding. It started to rain in the afternoon so conditions were really good for testing.”
* Originally quoted as Spain but looking at a trusty google map shows that Faro is actually in Portugal. Apologies to all.
Why the delay with the F800GS?
BMW didn’t really have too much to say about the actual reasons for the delay. They did simply say “Sorry”.
One could speculate the reasons behind the delay of course. BMW motorcycles and many other motorcycle companies such as Ducati, and Aprilia all have agreements in place for some pieces. These companies don’t necessarily have the resources of larger motorcycle producers like Honda. The smaller producers' time from concept to market can be dictated by outside forces. The new 800cc twin engine being used in the F650GS and F800GS is a Rotax built engine. Rotax is a Bombardier brand and they’ve no doubt got a lot of pressure from many different parts of their business. So if anywhere along the supplier line there’s a bit of a delay, that delay means a delay in the release of a bike. BMW just had the bike in Milan in November to judge interest.
[Story Notes: If you’re not too familiar with Rotax, they’re a subsidiary of Bombardier- that little Canadian company. Rotax builds a lot of parts for a lot of companies. The new Buell 1125R uses a 1125cc liquid cooled engine built by Rotax . Rotax builds engines for snowmobiles, watercraft, ATV’s, karts, and aircraft.]
On the topic of BMW still but a different bike – What about the G450X?
That bike won’t be available until September/Fall at the earliest like the F800GS. We didn’t get to ride that one but they did bring some to show us. They had brought in four expert class riders and had a motocross track set up across from the hotel, complete with some huge jumps. They even had a race to showcase the bikes on the track.
It’s a really, in my words, “unorthodox” frame concept. You don’t see too many tubular stainless steel motocross bikes. They do seem reliable though. It’ll use a KYMCO produced engine. BMW built it to be a winner and it’s already been successful in some races.
[Story Notes: Kymco have been around since 1963 and are based in Taiwan. Though known mainly for scooters and smaller displacement engines they have been building larger 650 displacement motorcycles for sale under the Kymco name in Canada for a few years now. Kymco has worked for big name companies too, Honda being one name that comes to mind. The 450 engine is being built to BMW specifications and is a very powerful unit.]
I ended the conversation with a “thanks” to Paul for his insight and thoughts on the new bikes.
CanadianMotorcycleRider final thoughts:
That concludes the discussion we had with Paul but we’ll move on to discuss some more details about the new models and some of the differences between them. Paul spoke very highly of the three models we spoke about (F650GS, F800GS, and G450X) but gave particularly glowing reviews of the F650GS. I get the impression that he believes folks shouldn’t necessarily wait for the F800GS to come. I can see his point. If you're not going to be doing serious off-roading the F650GS should be plenty capable. Be honest with yourself and what you'll be using the bike for. If you're like most people the F650GS is going to suit you just fine.
In the end it’ll be up to consumer, but I think the F650GS is a worthy successor to the old 650 and it’s well priced. If you think back to just last year a 650 Dakar model would have had an MSRP in the C$11,000 range. The new F650GS gives you a lot more power and an MSRP of only $8990; a real bargain seemingly. That gets you the 3 year warranty complete with roadside assistance. A 3 year warranty is pretty uncommon in the industry and BMW bikes are known for their reliability, dependability, and broad dealer support.
In short, I came away excited about the F650GS. It should rightly bring a lot of people in to the dealerships; some of whom may not have considered BMW in the past. So, if you’re in the Winnipeg area, head over to Wildwood to talk to Paul or some of the staff. You might even want to use some of that $3,000 + tax you’re going to save by buying the F650GS on some accessories that’ll make it even more enjoyable to drive. Maybe a 2kg saving Akrapovic slip-on silencer, some hand protectors, under-body protection bars, and engine protection bars. Sounds pretty good to me!
More Information on the Bikes and their Differences!
The target market for the F650GS is people who might not need quite as much off-road ability as the F800GS. It’s a great all-rounder, providing plenty of power and economy. It’s the ideal machine for everyday use. It features slightly less spring travel, a lower seat height, lower weight (8kg), and slightly reduced engine power. The focus for the F650GS is high torque at lower engine speeds coupled with excellent economy.
The F650GS comes with cast metal wheels and lower ground clearance which indicate an on-road bias. The cast metal wheels are slightly lighter than the spoked wheels so they're advantageous for street use. The reduced power and modified valve timings means there is no need for a secondary air system on the F650GS because fewer un-combusted gases enter the exhaust system and it meets tough Euro 3 emissions requirements as is. The F 800 GS is fitted with a secondary air system which, in combination with the regulated catalytic converter reduces emissions down to Euro 3 requirements. The engine differences also mean that you can use regular 87 octane fuel with the F650GS as opposed to premium with the F800GS. You’ll be able to use lower octane in the F800GS but it will require a software tweak that is easily reversed. The change increases fuel consumption slightly and drops the hp rating by 2 ponies.
F650GS vs. F800GS. The most important differences at a glance (according to BMW):
|63kW / 85HP||52kW / 71HP|
|Valve timings as per F 800 S||Power-reducing valve timing|
|Wide cooler||Narrow F 800 S cooler|
|Off-road-style fairings||Street-style fairings|
|Row 4, column 1 data||Row 4, column 2 data|
|High windscreen||Low windscreen|
|Front - USD telescopic fork 230mm travel||Front - Conventional telescopic fork180mm travel|
|Rear- WAD spring strut w/215mm travel||Rear - Gas pressure spring strut 170mm of travel|
|Spoked wheels||Cast metal wheels|
|21" front wheel||19" front wheel|
|Double-disc brake, floating front||Single-disc brake, front|
|Aluminium handlebar||Steel handlebar|
|880 / 850mm seat height||820 / 790mm seat height|
|Ready-to-drive weight 207kg||Ready-to-drive weight 199kg|
|--||Lowering kit (765mm)|
|--||Power reduction kit (if required)|
|transmission ratio of 1:2.625 (16/42 Z)||transmission ratio of 1:2.412 (17/41 Z)|
|steering lock stop 42 degrees||steering lock stop of 40 degrees|
* Note: In the information provided by BMW it indicates in one place that both bikes feature conically shaped vibration absorbing aluminum bars and then in another place indicates that only the F800GS has aluminum bars; the F650GS is said to have steel bars. The Spec sheet on BMW Motorrad Canada doesn't provide details on the bars so you may want to confirm with the dealer a little closer to launch date exactly which one it is.
Because BMW knows that people may take the F650GS or the F800GS off-road they needed a secondary drive that was not sensitive to dirt. Both GS models therefore have an O-ring chain. A chain guide rail protects the aluminium rocker from damage. Seat heights of 880 or 850mm available for the F800GS. Heights of 820 or 790mm are available for the F650GS (and 765mm with lowering kit).
The new GS models have a vibration-absorbent handle-bar that is made from conically shaped aluminium tubing. In the case of the 800 model, it features folding, wide steel footrests with hollow-chamber rubber surfaces. The rubber surfaces can also be removed if necessary to improve the ability to stand securely in the footrests off-road.
The GS is also a nice place for a passenger to spend some time too. The seat length and footrest position allow the passenger to relax, while the long side-holder brackets at the rear provide a nice secure place to grip. The higher wind-screen on the F800GS can also be mounted on the F650GS.
Both windscreens are a wind tunnel optimized M-shaped design.The 16-litre tank is under the seat which lowers the center of gravity and has the added benefit of not getting in the way if you use a tank bag. The lockable filler nozzle is easily accessible on the right-hand side of the vehicle level near the pillion seat.
According to BMW, there will be some special equipment and accessories available for both models.
Some are fitted at the factory in Berlin and some other items can be purchased at local dealerships. Some pieces you’ll be able to get (according to a BMW Press release dated 11/2007) include:
- BMW Motorrad ABS (with off switch)
- Heated grips (standard on the F650GS in Canada)
- On-board computer
- Main stand
- Low driver’s seat (850mm for the F800GS, 790mm for the F650GS at no extra cost if ordered on purchase of machine)
- White indicator lights
- Theft alarm
- Tire Pressure Monitor system (only for the F650GS)
- Lower positioning unit (only for F650GS - The lowering kit for the F 650 GS consists of a lower seat and a shortened spring strut.)
- Under-body protection (comes standard on F800GS)
- engine protection bars
- A rear splash protection extension
- Hand protection bars
- A wide range of side, tank, and top cases.
- BMW Motorrad Navigator II
Accessorized BMW F800GS
The on-board computer expands the range of information that can be displayed on the clear display on the combined instrument panel, adding the following details: tank display, gear display, coolant temperature, average fuel consumption, range, outside temperature and stopwatch time. A button on the left handlebar fitting allows the driver to switch through the displays and to select the information required. It is also used to operate the stopwatch.
Fuel Consumption/Acceleration/Top Speed:
90 km/h l/100 km 3.8
120 km/h l/100 km 5.2
Acceleration (0–100 km/h) 4.1
Maximum speed (km/h) over 200
90 km/h l/100 km 3.7
120 km/h l/100 km 5.2
Acceleration (0–100 km/h) 4.3
Maximum speed (km/h) 189
- Link to Wildwood MotorSports 1143 Pembina Highway, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2A3 (Site incorporates sound which plays automatically)
- Link to BMW Motorrad Canada.
The BMW F800GS is coming!
The F800GS is a middleweight bike that very nicely fills the gap in BMW's lineup between the F650GS and the monstrous but highly capable 1200 GS and GS Adventure. The engine of the F800GS is based on the same parallel twin as the F800S and F800ST released as 2007 models; it is 798 cc and in the GS produces 85 hp. BMW claims a weight of 207 Kg (or 456 lbs) with fuel and other fluids. It features a steel trellis frame (to see a description of various frame types this link offers a good explanation ), inverted forks, and a two-sided swingarm. It uses a chain final drive rather than a belt or shaft.
Here's some facts/specifications about the bike from BMW's website:
- Torque 61 lb/ft
- six-speed gear box
- switchable ABS (optional)
- 42-degree turning radius
- 400-watt alternator
- wide foot rests
- 4.2 gallon (16 liter) under seat gas tank keeps the center of gravity low.
* I was at the BMW dealership today (Nov 24/07) and was told that the "650 will start using a two cylinder engine and the current 650 single will be dropped." I've read the new 650 (twin) will have a little less power at 71 hp than the F800GS at 85. But 71 hp is a nice jump up from the 650 single. BMW's website says that the 650 GS actually uses a 798 cc engine - same as the F800GS. But in the 650 it makes less power.
Here are a couple of links you may want to check out for some additional information on the F800GS:
Third party site video's
Link to third party site review (detailed!)