Running-In

With only 105 miles on the clock after the weekend trip to Angry Minge, running-in for 310 to 745 miles was going to take quite a while over the winter period.

But family staying over rectified that: when they left, they left behind their suitcase with a load of stuff in it that they needed, and a cunning plan was hatched, given a look at the weather forecast for the following day which was showing dry and bright but quite cool.

Perfect!

We tried to get the carry-on into the top case, but its wheels prevented that, so instead we filled the top case liner bag with the contents of the suitcase, wrapped up warm in our Klim jackets, Keis heated vests (and gloves for Alison)  and our ‘proper’ riding trousers.  Mine are now a bit loose but will probably still do the job, but I am contemplating buying the matching Klim Latitude trousers in the New Year as you can at least cinch the waistband up a bit (I’m currently around a 33″ waist, so I fall between two stools in terms of waist size).

Herself was also trying out her new Shoei Neotec 2 crash helmet that we bought at the NEC motorbike show last week (with a price reduction because they’ve just updated it).  It’s a flip-front style which she prefers for getting it on and off and which should also allow her to be able to take a drink on the bike once I source and fit a suitable cupholder and strawed water bottle.

Shoei Neotec 2

Shoei Neotec 2

With everything switched on we set off nice and toasty warm despite the temperature being an indicated 10-13ºC and supposedly with around 10 miles’ ‘buffer’ on our journey distance before we’d run out of petrol.  Or at least that was the plan.

It transpires that ‘making good progress’ gulps down the fuel and the dire reserve fuel warning light came on a few miles short of our destination so we popped into the next petrol station on our route to fill up.

We’d been chatting away merrily on the Cardo PACKTALK BOLD (why is the name all capitalised?) but I wasn’t receiving navigation prompts or indeed hearing music through the Cardo from the bike, despite it being paired and connected. Oh and saying “Hey Siri! Play some music” to the Cardo meant that the iPhone dropped both the Bluetooth and the WiFi connection to the RT – I have no idea why the Connected App has to connect that way for maps to be cast to the RT display when Apple CarPlay should be set up on BMW’s bikes as well as their cars – and took a while to reconnect, but at least it did all by itself.

Within two hours we were in Somerset and enjoying a cuppa before heading back.  The lights were excellent but then it was only dusk rather than fully dark when we got back.

So we’re now up to 311 miles – just within the lower limit for its first service – but I’ll probably wait until the New Year for that, when they can also look at why the emergency SOS system is now producing a warning.

As to the lack of voice prompts, the RT was paired with my iPhone 15 Pro  and with the PACKTALK, which was  then paired with the iPhone on channel 1 and the RT on channel 2.  The Cardo and my wife’s identical unit are on a mesh intercom system which works fine.  I’d previously paired her Cardo with the RT, but then she’d have to listen to the satnav and my choice of music rather than hers. so I deleted that pairing.

This morning I spent some time in the garage resetting the Cardo pairing completely. I then only set the pairing between the RT and Cardo on channel 1, ignoring the iPhone which I’d left paired with the RT.  And it seems to work: satnav voice prompts now work and I can play music from the iPhone via the RT to my Cardo.  Sadly the volume dial only brings up the middle setting but doesn’t actually adjust the volume, so I have to do that manually on the Cardo.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of the RT parked on the (vacant) neighbour’s drive – as in, there’s no neighbour yet, rather than they’re a bit vacant – while it was parked there for a delivery of a fridge/freezer to the man cave.

Parked Up

First Pillion Ride

Saturday dawned bright but cold so we decided to get some more miles on the bike.

Given it was cold, we also thought it would be useful to break out the Keis heated clothing that we bought years ago before the Austria ride (Eurothrash 2014) and couple it with the BMW’s heated seats (and heated grips for me).

So we decided to head to the South Coast, and looking at the list of “UK Biker Cafes” on Google Maps, we found the cafe in Little Preston, so we thought we’d pop by and see our friends Simon, Cheryl and Rob who live in Angmering on Sea – or “Angry Minge”, as we call it – but sadly the latter two were oop North in Stoke and Simon was working … at the Seaview Hotel.  Hmm. Lunch there then!  That was once we’d found it: BMW’s Connected App had disconnected and lots of faffing was required to get it to work again a mile or so from our destination.

The navigation also provide a helpful reading of a chequered flag with 00:02h throughout the hour and a half trip. It also decided not to show me where I was or where I was going on the mini-map again, before working properly again for no good reason.  Who knows why?

BMW, just give us Apple CarPlay like you do on your cars!

I fitted the GoPro but then as you’ll see from the footage I was unable to control it properly with the voice control hence lots of silence from me and missing out the ‘best’ footage.

The Seaview Hotel’s lunch was delicious if a bit expensive and as the temperatures started to drop, we were pleased to be fully wired up and toasty warm: I had the waistcoat plugged in to the front socket coupled with the heated grips and seat (Favourites Buttons 1 and 2) and Alison alternated between settings 1 and 2 on the pillion seat, with her heated waistcoat and her heated gloves.

Once home, it was time to get the drill out and mount the new numberplate that actually reads 8000 on the top line and RM on the bottom line in place of the one Bahnstormer had fitted (rightly or wrongly) showing 800 0RM.

It’s Arrived!

After an anxious couple of weeks checking the weather forecasts today was the day to go and collect the RT from Bahnstormer at Alton.

We drove over to Bahnstormer in the Abarth for midday and after doing a bit of paperwork it was time to bring it home. Oh there was a bit of trying on a helmet we’d seen for Alison and paying for the top box liner bag.

It was the first outing for the Klim Latitude jacket and some new Alpinetstars gloves as well as the GoPro Hero 12 Black that I’d bought.  I should have checked that the GoPro was properly mounted before setting off, so the footage is looking down too much; lessons learned.

Once home, I had to try putting it in the man cave alongside the Kawasaki ZRX1200R that I’d moved slightly towards the gear wardrobe but was pleased to see that the RT fits in really nicely.  Getting it onto the centrestand is an absolute doddle too.

Man Cave

Man Cave

Once safely parked up, the fettling could begin.

First up was fitting the tails for the Optimate charger to the battery which meant taking off a couple of panels and routing the cables under the seat.  I also fitted the Apple AirTag somewhere on the bike as well…

Then it was time to fit the Wunderlich Vario clutch lever: set to short to (hopefully) stop the empty fingers on my gloves from being trapped by the clutch lever when I engage it.  I also fitted the side stand extender plate to give the foot of the side stand a little more area and to stop it  sinking into any soft surfaces.

Then I thought I should fit the adaptor ring to the tank for my old tank bag but I do like the look of the filler cap and ring, etc. plus on full lock the bars would clash with it.  The RT also has a lockable compartment in the fairing which is big enough for the sunglasses, ear plugs, latex gloves and Ibuprofen that I usually have in the tank bag, so I decided against fitting it after all.

So it now has 24 miles on the clock and I need to run it in for a few hundred miles.  Tricky in the winter in the UK, especially as we’re still effectively living on a building site with all the mud that goes with that.

All The Gear, etc.

With the new RT on its way and with plans already made for a couple of long rides in 2024 – well, three, actually – it was time to consider what kit we’d need to update and/or put in place.

The RT is intended to be used as a workhorse, so my trips will be working trips for my photographer and nascent videography ventures, so one of the obvious choices was a new camera.  The other videos on my YouTube channel over the last few years (not counting the early ones with camcorder footage) have been shot using a Garmin VIRB Elite, but although that’s great for capturing video with all the GPS data embedded, it’s quite old now and bulky and the tech has come on in leaps and bounds.

So whilst I will still use the VIRB for pushbike stuff, for on-bike/in-car footage I’ve sourced a GoPro Hero12 Black Edition which I will be mounting – initially at least – on my Arai Quantic helmet.  The RT’s setup means that I would need to do some mods to the handlebar bracketry to mount it on the bars, but maybe that’s for a second camera in due course?

In the meantime, we also wanted some up to date protective riding gear.

I went to Gran Canaria at the start of October with some friends and was riding a Ducati Multistrada hired from the lovely people at CanaryRide and it was waaaay too hot as there was a calima and I was wearing my old Alpinestars leather jacket, which is black and padded.

Now I used to have some Triumph leathers that were water-resistant to go with some Rukka Ceres shorty gloves, but when I got killed (temporarily) by someone knocking me off my Triumph Sprint GT1050 my jacket had to be cut off and due to two of my fingers being “de-gloved” the resultant mess in my Ceres gloves was not for the faint-hearted to deal with so again they were disposed of in A&E.

So that just leaves my venerable old Rukka Gore-Tex jacket: totally waterproof, removable lining, but next to no ventilation.  Similarly Mrs Me also has a nine year old Dainese textile jacket and trouser combo that is also great for cold and wet but not so good for dry and hot conditions:

I’ve been researching jackets for quite a while now and the Klim ones looked exactly what we needed, but which one to go for in their line-up? Well I don’t need to go top of the range touring with the Kodiak as I already have a duck down jacket that might do well as a mid-layer and of course both of us have heated Keis waistcoats with accessory sockets on the RT to match. So the best choice looks like the latest version of the Klim Latitude for me and the ladies’ version, the Klim Altitude, for her.  And of course I needed replacement waterproof gloves to go with my Alpinestars race gloves for guaranteed dry days, so a pair of Alpinestars SMX-1 waterproof shorty gloves have been sourced as well, all from SPORTSBIKESHOP online.

Of course as the RT is white with grey or black bits, the Klim gear and gloves are similarly coloured: “Cool Grey” for the jackets and black and white for the gloves.  I’ll let you know how we get on with them in due course.

Tour de France 2024 – Oops!

If you’ve read this blog then you will know that I booked Eurothrash 2024 for July 2024 to suit other actual or potential family clashes; ah, the benefits of having a mahoosive family!

Today, the Tour de France organisers have announced both the dates and the route for this year’s race. Now, for a bit of context, you should know that for as long as I can recall I have watched the highlights on TV wherever I’ve been at the time and as it’s usually in July, it usually coincides with a holiday.

On Eurothrashes over the years the big climbs and famous finishes have featured in our planning and this year was going to be similar, with a visit to the Gorges du Tarn, Mont Ventoux and the Gorges du Verdon all featuring in my planning.

So anyway, here’s the route and dates:

Tour de France 2024 Route

Tour de France 2024 Route

So on the Gruissan to Nimes state – Stage 16 – we will be riding past but to the North of the route as we are heading to the Millau Bridge and Gorges du Tarn that day before making our way to our rest day at what was “the First Dates Hotel”.

On our ‘rest day’ we included an optional jaunt up to Mont Ventoux which – thankfully – would be slightly to the South of Stage 17, Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to SuperDévoluy.  The following day will be absolutely fine as we will be heading further South to Frejus.

On the Friday we head over to Grenoble via the Gorges du Verdon and  l’Alpe d’Huez, so fortunately we will be to the West of Stage 19.

Phew!

I’m sure we’d be OK though as the RT will look pretty much identical to the Tour’s camera bikes 🙂

It’s Bought!

The dirty deed has been done: having decided on the configuration I wanted I spoke to three dealers to get an idea of price and delivery as I really wanted delivery in March 2024 so it would be a ’24’ numberplate when I come to sell it on later, maybe.

BMW are bringing out a 1300cc engine this year but if the roll-out goes according to the 1250 release schedule, it’ll be R1300GS in 2023, R1300GSA in 2024 and R1300RT in 2025.

I’d already planned a Eurothrash in 2024 as we’re giving up our house in Fuerteventura this year so we can then travel freely in the EU without needing to worry about the 90/180 Schengen rule that the absolute shitshow of Brexit forced upon us.  I could take the ZRX but that’s not really a grand tourer like the RT is, or indeed my previous Triumph Sprint GT1050 that some tosser wiped out with me on it.

I think all three had their eyes on the same physical bike that BMW were bringing in to the UK at the end of this month, so all three were offering a deal on the basis that next year prices were bound to go up and I would be unlikely to recoup the additional cost when I come to sell the RT as a ’73’ numberplate rather than a ’24’ numberplate (which is all a bit immaterial while I own the RT as it’s going to have the 8000RM vanity plate on it anyway).

So yes, a 2023 BMW RT 1250 RT LE in “Alpine White 3” is coming my way with Active Cruise Control, additional fog lights and the large 49L topcase with integrated brake light fitted.

It’s going to be registered on 30 September (if it arrives by then) but as I’ll be out of the country I won’t be collecting it until November.

And yes, it was Bahnstormer at Alton who got the deal after they’d kindly lent me one for an extended test ride back in 2021.

Eurothrash 2024

I’ve planned Eurothrash 2024: our planned European tour for the summer of 2024.

All the hotels are booked and the ferry to Spain alongside the Eurotunnel back from France.

Here it is on Google Maps:

Road Test

So the guys at Bahnstormer stepped up and lent us a 2021 BMW R1250RT LE for a few days.  To get it close to a specification we would be buying they were going to fit an RT top case but didn’t have one when we turned up to collect, so Keith grabbed one off a K1600.  This is slightly different to the R1250RT one in that the K version has a more rounded backrest with a headrest bit and according to Alison was superbly comfortable, so that’s the option we would go for. 234 miles later…

We picked it up on Tuesday and headed up to No. 131 at Cheltenham – a “cool hotel” – which is run by a friend of ours, Ricardo.  This was the first time I’d ridden a motorbike since my little ‘off’ in July 2019… So why not start with a small 96 mile ride on mixed roads?

First thing, though, was to connect up the iPhone to the RT.  I’d already downloaded the BMW Motorrad Connected app and downloaded the maps for it.  So we then had to get the app to connect which was a little more difficult.  Retry and it worked. Next up was the connection of the RT to my Cardo PACKTALK Bold – the RT can connect to a phone and two headsets, so that’s a positive for two-up touring – which went effortlessly.  The iPhone then sits in a ventilated box with wireless charging.  That seemed to work intermittently, as I kept hearing it starting charging through the Cardo and watched it start to run down occasionally too.  I have no idea why BMW don’t simply move over to Apple CarPlay like they do with their cars. That way I could use Waze with the benefit of its warnings…  On our last day, a mile or two from our destination, the BMW Connected app … wasn’t.  It just dropped out and I had to reconnect.

Round to the Abarth where we packed our Triumph pannier liner bags into the RT’s panniers and my Givi 30L stuffer back into the top case – which has a high level brake light and an internal courtesy light – and put our waterproofs and spare gloves around it.  And then off.

Anyway, back to Cheltenham. We arrived after a great 96 mile ride and parked up … in the hotel’s restaurant which is now outside since COVID-19.

Restaurant Parking

A couple of gins later – they have hundreds! – we showered in our fabulous room and headed down for a delicious meal.

The next morning, we headed down to breakfast and our purchasing dilemma given our ‘unique’ living arrangements (spreading ourselves between London and Corralejo), registration dates and delivery periods, etc.

We then rode another brief 25 mile ride down to the Bay Tree at Burford, where we got married three years earlier. We sat out in the garden for drinks and then headed over to our friend Jules’ place at Kingston Bagpuize, another 30 miles in total.  This was on the apps “windy” setting, with the selection in the middle.  It took us down some ‘interesting’ B-roads to say the least.

We had tried Dynamic and Road modes and realised that Road mode is a bit bouncy but very plush over dodgy road surfaces, but Dynamic firms it all up and the information from the app shows some good lean angles and G-forces.

A romantic meal with a  bottle of champagne and off to bed.  We headed out after breakfast and made our way back to Alton, stopping only for fuel.  A very windy day but behind the fairing it was calm and despite its size, the RT wasn’t particularly affected by crosswinds.  Colder than the previous days, Alison was using the heated seat which is separate from the rider’s to keep her core warm.  Another 83 miles.

Superbly comfortable and capable. I don’t think the optional Akrapovic is needed as the standard is growly enough and the Akra isn’t any smaller or neater.

Our only issue is we shouldn’t get one before May 2022 because of our travel, the March registration change and winter weather to go with delivery periods.

And as for me riding a motorbike again? It’s good to be back in the saddle after two years.

Can I Get a Test Ride?

OK, so having narrowed the field down a bit in terms of a replacement for my deceased Triumph Sprint GT1050 (now that the amputations are all over and I’m just about fit enough to ride, albeit with some pain, following my little ‘off’), the BMW R1250RT LE is looking really positive, albeit with a couple of small caveats:

  1. For some reason BMW seem to be having problems with the audio system? Their website states that “unfortunately it is currently only possible to offer the audio system preparation for the motorcycle.”  Whatever that means.
  2. Despite Bluetooth connectivity and a connected app from BMW, Apple CarPlay isn’t an option so you can’t use Waze, Maps or Google Maps for navigation with real-time updates.
  3. Why no top case as standard on a tourer? The Sprint came with full luggage as standard.

Clearly, the next step is to try one for a test ride with Mrs RHM.  She had issues – understandably so – with the luggage on the Tiger 1200 which has put us off somewhat, although the long overdue model update might remedy this?  Jack Lilley (as they then were) were kind enough to lend us a demo for a couple of days and we did a few hundred miles on it.

So I contacted Park Lane BMW, or at least they contacted me after I’d had issues getting information from BMW’s website, but unfortunately they could only offer a couple of hours’ ride due to their insurance issues.  They suggested a rental company but they don’t appear to have the R1250RT, just the GS.

I have now contacted Bahnstormer at Alton to see if they can help out; they’re the people who sold my mate Yox his R1200GSA a short while ago.

And just in case, I’ve replied to BMW UK to see if I can grab one of their press fleet for the planned three day trip to the Cotswolds in August: a nice mixture of motorways, A-roads and B-roads.