GS can really screw with your head…
BMW R1150 GS Adventure – my first BMW motorcycle. She was 2.5 years old and 48,000km on the clock when she came into my life back in 2006. She is also the first bike I have ever bought costing more than $20,000 (a brand new CBR1000RR was going for something like $19,000++ then), so it was something to think about a lot before plonking the money for her. A new bike never crossed my mind as I have only owned 2 new bikes in all of my 20 years of riding, a Honda CB919 and a Gilera Runner 200 scoot.
I was looking more from a bike than just going up and around Malaysia. To go farther and explore the northern regions of my other neighbours. Never heard of a GS till someone introduced and showed up with it. Sh*t, it’s a huge beast!!! The fuel tank cap was higher than my waist and it was more than 4 times my weight fully fueled and luggage! Yes, this beast weighs a ton to me. The ergos felt great, wide and tall handlebars, high seat to pegs clearance and 2 big coconuts sticking out from both sides forming the cylinder heads. I’m sold.
Glad I did, ’cause life has never been the same ever since especially on the road and road trips. Back then, there were few GSs so she was a head turner during traffic stops. Guys would look at the beast and gave me a thumbs up, the kids would be pointing and jumping frantically from the back seat of dad’s car to get his attention and the ladies would start screaming and remove their blouses then hop onto the rear seat…, the latter is a dream but you get the idea. The attention this machine gets is priceless.
Why a GS? There are other BMW models on the market too. I got the GS firstly for its simplicity. I like to wrench my own bike and car so the air-cooled, 2 cylinder boxer layout was ideal. I can reach a lot of engine without removing a lot of plastic and liquid. Air-cooled so I have less thing to worry about.
Then there was the ride but I only found this out after owning her, I knew nothing about the GS before this and surely did not get the GS for off-roading. The cockpit (the triangle points between my arms to the wide handlebars, the seat and the pegs) were just right. Coupled with the sound and pull of the boxer twins… I just didn’t want to get off the bike! I went as far as to take the long way home most of the time. 🙂 Riding the beast for the first few months was like you owned the roads, the ride was high (900mm seat height), wide and just plain BIG. Kinda like an SUV for motorcycles. For the first time I was looking over the roofs of cars, allowing me to see farther down the road. A safety feature not published in the sales brochures for sure.
As all engineering and production have limits, she not without faults either. At 85hp, she was really under powered to haul more than 280kg. With this in mind she was an alcoholic by today’s Euro4 standards. I could only manage 16km/l at best, averaging 14km/l most of the time. Bikes with more power had better mileage than this.
My drive shaft U join was shot on a trip while returning from Thailand. Caught it just in time but had to limp the rest of 600km at no more than 100km/hr as not to overheat and break them. Home suddenly felt like on the other side of the globe! The shaft was replaced with a used unit. A new drive shaft would cost $1100… ouch… somebody pinch me please!!
There is the gear change. Annoyingly, if you have driven a Leyland bus or Bedford truck then you’ll know how and when to change up and down gears. I think the gearbox was made by them too.
And then there is the weight, she is a whole lot of motorcycle for sure. She gave me blue-black marks on my wrist from lifting her onto the main stand on the first week! Later I found a solution to the main stand issue… the bike came with a side stand, ha!
Thai / Myanmar border at Kanchanaburi, Thailand (2006)
She was the first bike to bring me to far away fairyland and mystical places I have only read and dreamt about as a boy in literature class. The first far away mystical place to go with the beast… Kanchanaburi, Thailand. I knew nothing about the place we’re going to, only had a rough idea about the route, no GPS, no comms set, no Bluetooth this and that, no Agoda or AirBnB for advance hotel booking, no idea where to stop for fuel. Mobile Internet was 2G and expensive. With so many unknowns, Kanchanaburi really was a land of mystery and magic. There is one thing I knew for sure, she consumes engine oil along with fuel, so I carried 1 litre of that. The only safety gear I brought along and used, well other than the riding gloves and helmet or course, is a pair of ear plugs.
All good things come to an end in this mortal world we live in. I didn’t sell the beast, oh no, how could I? It was taken from me, sigh. For the guy(s) who had taken her, I will strike down upon you with vengeance and furious anger that you will know and call out my name even when you slumber, you A-hole.
That day my heart weighed a ton. The beast had it all, she made my heart light as helium and heavy as a whale. Who can forget their first love?