Saturday, October 07, 2006

Goodbye Gretl, Hello Maria

I went to Sturgis today in my mind intending to just "look" and test drive the pre-owned 2004 BMW R1150RT they had there. I suspect my wife knew that my mind was pretty close to made up and only a few gentle nudges where needed for me to splurge and buy it.

Rob, a co-worker friend of mine rode up with me. He came along not only to keep me company but to be the voice of reason per my wife's instructions. Rob's job was to make sure I was making good choices and not get overwhelmed by motorcycle lust, for this I am very grateful to Rob.

We left from Mt Rushmore which we all visited as a group, we went via Rapid City and I-90 to get to Sturgis. It was a very windy day, with the strongest and longest lasting gusts of wind I'd experienced in my brief motorcycling career! Incredible, scary at times and definitely something else.

We get to the Sturgis Yamaha/BMW dealer and talked to Pat. He showed me the RT, the GS and it variations and discussed tradein values for Gretl and such. He offered me $1500 more for Gretl than the BMW dealer in Denver and I think this is what really sold me on the RT. She was a beauty, great shape and specs, and damn near every farkle I'd been wanting on a motorcycle.

I took her out for a test ride and she was incredibly smooth, fast, nimble and easy to ride. I can't readily "flatfoot" her as I could with Gretl since I sit higher up with the RT. That's something I will have to get used to, along with having dual controls for turn signals now vice both sides combined into one control as on Gretl. I hit the horn button by accident when I meant to signal a left turn once. She's got a loud horn!

The RT idles as smoothly if not smoother than the Honda Aero...quite different from the C model that I had test riden in Denver! Apparently, according to the Sturgis BMW salesguy, they actually designed in the vibration on the cruisers to appeal to the cruiser crowd that BMW was trying to make headway into. This apparently did not go over big with BMW owners and the C class motorcycle was a short lived thing with BMW. For this I am mightily glad. Just goes to show you can't type classify a whole brand by what you experience with one single model.

So we go away for lunch, this was around 3pm and rode around Sturgis for a bit looking for a place to eat. Sturgis was quite sedate and uncrowded of course since the annual motorcyclefest for which its known had been over and done with for weeks. I did not think to take pics, it just wasn't "sturgis-like". It was a quiet, dusty little town. We discussed the BMWs merits and came up with questions to ask the salesguy once we were done with lunch.

We go back and at that point I told the guy, let's do this. About 30 minutes later I signed the papers, went deeper into debt, got the familiarization briefing on the motorcycle. They topped off her tank and Rob and I hit the road trying to get back to Custer before nightfall. This did not happen.

We took Vanocker Canyon Road south out of Sturgis(where the dealer was located by the way). We took one wrong turn which led us down a dirt road for about a mile until it dawned on my brain that we should turn back. The RT did fine on the dirt road which was of similar qualities to some of the dirt roads that Sanoke has taken me down in our rides in Colorado. Anyways, we get back to the pavement and cruised a really twisty and nice road all the way to 385 where we then turned South towards Custer.

Evening was falling as we sped towards Custer, the motorcycle was performing beautifully and I was having no issues keeping up with Rob's Kawasaki 1000 Concours. We got back to the hotel in Custer around 1845, it was dark and I came back to a worried wife. She was right to worry of course, because the wildlife comes out at night in the Black Hills and let me tell you we saw deer and cows and more deer on our travels south. Luckily neither of us impacted with one and we made it safely back. I promised my wife never to do that again. Not sure what I could have done today though, we got such a late start back but no, never again will I ride on unfamiliar roads, in areas where deer are prevalent, in the evening/night hours! It's just too risky.

Once at the hotel, everyone admired the motorcycle, I was informed by my wife that her name is now Maria. Still following the "Sound of Music" motif you see, now that I the captain have found Maria, there are to be no other motorcycles. I believe this is a very fitting name for the BMW since she'll last for years, no way I'll outgrow her capabilities for years and she's going to be a very good commuter/touring motorcycle. Once I get some kind of cruise control on her of course, my hand was a bit sore and I missed the vista cruise control on Gretl. I had no sore butt pain on the over an hour long ride back, knees got a bit sore but shifting positions forward on the motorcycle eliminated that. It's nice how well she seems to fit me so far.

Here's a pic of Maria from the dealer's website, more to follow.

Manufacturer BMW
Model Year 2004
Model R 1150 RT (ABS)
Color Titan Silver Metallic
Stock Number: B473A
Miles 19437
Engine Air/oil-cooled, twin-cylinder
Displacement 1130cc
Bore x Stroke 101 mm x 70.5 mm
Compression Ratio 11.3:1
Torque 74 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm
Fuel System Bosch Motronic MA 2.4 Electronic fuel injection
Exhaust Cam in head, 4 valves per cylinder
Horsepower 95 bhp @ 7,250 rpm
Ignition Two spark ignition system
Transmission 6-speed manual
Clutch 180 mm (7.09 in.) single dry plate, hydraulic assist
Final Drive 2.91:1
Frame 3-section frame using engine as stressed member
Length 87.8 in.
Width 35.4 in.
Wheelbase 58.5 in.
Seat Height 30.7/31.5/32.2 in
Ground Clearance 6.0 in.
Dry Weight 592 lbs.
Fuel Capacity 6.6 gallons including 1.0 gallon reserve
Suspension Front: Telelever w/central spring/strut. Linear-rate coil spring. Twin-tube gas-filled shock absorber. 4.7 in. travel
Rear: Patented BMW Paralever swing arm & shaft drive. Single-tube gas-filled shock absorber. Variable rebound damping. Progressive-rat
Brakes Front: BMW EVO 4-piston calipers w/dual 12.6 in. rotors
Rear: Single 11.2 in. rotor w/twin-piston caliper
Tires Front: 120/70 ZR 17 tubeless (Metzler 880s)
Rear: 170/60 - ZR 17 tubeless (Metzler 880s)

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