Sunday, October 08, 2006

Riding Maria back home

Morning broke over Custer in the form of overcast skies, windy and cold. We bundled up in our riding gear and headed out around 0830, taking the same route back that we took coming up.

My new motorcycle, the BMW R1150RT, aka Maria, rode beautifully throughout the trip. As I got more and more familiar with her handling, the better the trip got in terms of riding comfort and confidence. We added layers as we traveled since the day seemed to get colder, not warmer. The sun only peeked out once during the trip, otherwise overcast and cold. It even rained a little bit on us as we drove through Wyoming I think.

Through it all, Maria performed like a champ. Her heated grips precluded the need for glove liners which I then lent to one of my riding buddies. The one with the VTX 1800 was really suffering the most from the cold since his motorcycle did not have a windshield like we did. I gotta tell ya, the electronically adjustable windshield on the beemer is a great thing. In the fully up position it blocked the wind and its noise with ZERO buffeting experienced by me. In the fully down position once could feel the wind in one's face, just like if the screen was not there. Of course there's many positions in between fully up and fully down to suit one's needs. It significantly reduced the wind noise as well.

No wonder the other motorcycle manufacturers are starting to offer the same in their sport tourer motorcycles. Not to mention the fairing on the motorcycle which blocked a lot of wind from the gloves themselves seeminly, there were points in the ride today where I shut off the heated grips since they were not needed!

Although the riding position is very different from a cruiser's riding position for the rider, it was very comfortable for me. Every time my knees would start getting a bit sore, I'd just lean forward closer to the tank and rest my legs into the fairing and this relieved the pressure on the knees. I could point my feet downwards and sideways while staying on the pegs to also flex the leg muscles. Heck I could even slide backwards and upwards onto the pillion seat to stretch out the legs in that direction as well. No more sore butt symptoms either! Either the seat on a beemer is great when stock or it's a custom seat and I just don't know enough about bimmers to know. There were even a couple of times I stood on the pegs to stretch out the thigh muscles and it was no problem, it would not have been that easy on a cruiser.

Because she's a bigger motorcycle than my former Aero 750, I find myself not able to flatfoot her fully when standing still which is something I am slowing getting used to. Perhaps it'll be better with the old army boots on since they add about an inch to my height when I wear them. I can almost flatfoot the motorcycle when pressed fully forward against the tank.

Yeah, I know the seat height is adjustable on a beemer but I've got the seat in the lowest position right now! You have to wonder what the BMW guys have in their mind as the standard height for a German driver. The all must be at least six foot tall over there in the minds of the beemer's designers. : )

Only real hitch so far with the new motorcycle is that the riding position causes you to easily lean forward and put pressure on your wrists/hands. You have to conciously pull back into a straight backed riding position to relieve said pressure otherwise it cramps up your hand pretty quickly. I found wrapping my thumb above the grip vice below the grip helped as well. I am still going to have to explore some cruise control option for this puppy so I can rest/shake out the throttle hand easier and not lose speed while doing so.

Not much to say about the ride, wet and cold, at least it was not very windy for the most part! My riding gear came through with flying colors again, wore more layers this time which probably did not help the pressure on the knees.

So am I very pleased with my purchase of the R1150RT, I see what will hopefully be many long trips in my future, in comfort and with good performance. My wife says I proved to her that I was competent on the motorcycle so at least she's confident in my ability to ride safely. She'd been in the minivan trailing our group of three motorcycles all the way up and down from Custer, S.D. We're figuring it was just shy of 1000 miles round trip, a great riding adventure since it was the first long distance trip for two out of the three of us. The weather on the way back sucked but it was still a great ride, no one got hurt and no close calls during this ride. Nice.

Maria in her new home

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