A couple days after seeing my Consumption Therapy and Moto-Porn post Craig Kissell told me he would be taking a BMW R100 GS on trade and it would have my name on it should I want to buy it. It seemed as if the universe was conspiring to have me become an owner of a BMW. Who am I to argue with fate?
I took the afternoon off from work and despite the rain decided I would have to take the BMW (cover your ears Mr. Riepe) Airhead for a ride. It had already passed the visual test. All that was left was the road test.
After Kissell Motorsports mechanic Tom Christensen went over the bike and made sure it was ready for the road I left the Vespa and headed out in a light mist. The bike was, well, amazing. Started easily, idled perfectly, sounded amazing, and shifted with ease. Sales Manager Nate Mattern said the transmission had been rebuilt and the circlip and other issues corrected. You could tell it was ready to hit the road and ride for a long way. After some experimenting with the brakes and controls I stopped on Skytop Mountain to make a picture.
The two aluminum side cases were sturdy and functional — just like the rest of the motorcycle. I was completely impressed by the mechanical feel of the bike and the sense of purpose and capability. For a 1988 machine with 60K miles on it I would have thought I was riding a much newer motorcycle.
The BMW R100 GS is pretty. As a photographic subject I could make use of it on Scooter in the Sticks. It seemed like a natural partner for my Vespa and would lend itself to a new variety of riding. Or so I was trying to tell myself.
On the highway the power of the big boxer engine is apparent. Even with the Metzler Enduro tires which were a tad too aggressive for a lot of pavement riding the bike was smooth and stable cruising at 70mph. And there was plenty of throttle left. If I had any concerns at all it would be the older brakes — disc up front and drum on the rear — I tested them on several high speed stops and while they worked well it’s definitely not the same as modern braking systems. It would not let this stand between me and the BMW though.
In dirt, mud and gravel the R100 GS was perfectly comfortable. The bike feels heavy compared to the Vespa and takes a bit more maneuvering to get around. It was about this point in the ride that I began to sense something wasn’t quite right. Not with the bike. There was something amiss in regard to my riding needs.