Not sure if there’s a point to this post. It was a beautiful day to ride, a small ride in the magical autumn light of long shadows and mild, fragrant air that lulls the spirit into a relaxed state before the jarring blow of cold weather. The light and shadows of late afternoon.
Saw this motorcycle (I think there’s one under all that gear) at our local BMW dealer (Kissell Motorsports soon to be renamed under new ownership) when I dropped my friend Paul Ruby off to pickup his scooter. It got me thinking about the need to carry a motorcycle tool kit. Along with all the other gear this rider had packed on his motorcycle, he had the tools necessary to do some work on the front wheel.
Do you carry a motorcycle tool kit with you on the road?Continue Reading
Meet Natalie and Gary. Two students on their way back to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. — just 90 miles to the west. They were on the last leg of a one week adventure that took them from Indiana to Niagra Falls, across New England to Acadia National Park in Maine and back home. Over 1500 miles of two-up riding, camping and constructing memories. I couldn’t help but think they were experiencing something that would gently haunt them for the rest of their lives.
Our paths crossed at the motorcycle parking spaces across from Schlow Library in State College, Pennsylvania as they secured their gear and made sure everything was ready for departure. Normally I wouldn’t say anything to strangers, riders or otherwise, but in this case, as I watched them while I was locking up the Vespa, their adventure mystic moved me to say hello and ask a few questions.
“After such a long trip are you ready for your own motorcycle?” I asked Natalie. Gary said he’s suggested that very thing but Natalie expressed her contentment as the pillion passenger. As they checked straps and cords it was obvious they had developed a working routine forged through miles and miles on the road together. And they were both still smiling.
The journey was made more impressive by their choice to sleep on the ground. Camping sounds romantic but my body’s incessant reminders of how hard the earth can be and the lack of hot showers would soon wear me out.
Still, I couldn’t help admire their pluck at undertaking such a trip.
A final inquiry about the motorcycle and it’s performance — a 1987 BMW K75 performing flawlessly — and they were ready to roll after I made a quick portrait and offered them my email address should they want to share a picture or two of their trip.
And off they went.
I can only assume they arrived home safe and their motorcycle adventure is shifting to memory. How many travelers do this same thing, traverse the world on two wheels, one behind the other, living, experiencing, squeezing the marrow from their time on the earth?
Here are two.
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.