Our BMW R1200RT now has a name. Naming motorcycles is not as unusual as you think. For example, the R1200RT’s predecessor, our K1200LTE was “The Magic Carpet”. Since the motorcycle is German in origin the name of our R1200RT is “Die Eule” (pronounced dee oila) which in English is “The Owl”. How did it come to be named Die Eule? Well to understand how it got its name just take a look at the picture below.
The R1200RT Now Has A Name
Where Have You Been?
Well it’s time to put a “farkle” on the R1200RT. So what is the new addition? It’s a cool little outline sticker of a map of the United States that comes with stickers of the 50 states that you fill in when you travel to them. Remember, you use the honor system here. Mine came from Two Wheel Vinyl where they sell them in multiple colors as well as reflective and non-reflective. I have to give a real nod to Nick at Two Wheel Vinyl as this is truly a home business and a labor of love! Just remember that you’re not ordering from Amazon! Nick also sends an email when he cuts your sticker and when he ships it. My sticker came packaged between a piece of folded manila folder in a handwritten envelope. Donna thought it was a card from someone! The return address label even had a dog with a Christmas present. My USA map is 6 ¼” wide by 4″ tall so make sure you have a spot to put it. He also sells North America maps that include the US and Canada.
What you get in your package is the outline sticker of the US (or US and Canada). And several sheets of stickers that include the states (and provinces) in multiple colors. Nick recommends just cutting out the states you need one at a time so it’s easier to keep up with the ones you’re waiting to use. It’s a two layer sticker system in that the main stickers are also covered in a sheet that is merely tacky to allow for positioning without touching the actual sticker. Now I’m thinking I should’ve gotten one of the reflective kits, but I like the one I got. As you travel to a state you merely just cut that state out (remember that time in school when they told you knowing geography might save your life?), put it in its spot and slowly take the clear protective cover off the top. Nick even included a sheet with the silhouettes listed by color and name to make it even easier. He even includes extra Rhode Islands because it’s so small! I only have 8 states filled in and so far there isn’t a state next to another state of the same color and I’d bet this is done by design. Since it’s been pretty cool I heated the spot where I was going to put the sticker using a hair dryer and not a heat gun. I just wanted it warm and not hot. I think the warmer surface made the sticker just a bit more pliable and helped it conform and adhere to the surface. I put mine on the back of the 49 liter top case. Why not brag about where you’ve ridden? After all, we’re not “poker run riders”. Two Wheel Vinyl also makes oval “GS” stickers in different sizes and colors. If you ride a BMW you’ll know exactly what that sticker is. Sadly they don’t have an “RT” sticker! Pointing at the images below will show you the description and clicking on it will give the full-sized image. Just use you’re browser’s back button to come back here.
January In Florida
Last week I took a solo trip down to my Dad’s in the Daytona Beach area of Florida for a visit and help him with a few projects. I’m not too fond of solo trips and really do miss having Donna sitting behind me. A solo day ride is one thing but a solo trip is another thing entirely. This would also be the R1200RT’s first long trip since we brought it back from Daytona Beach, FL back in October of 2014.
We live just north of Atlanta, GA which means going through or around Atlanta to get to Florida. I commuted to Atlanta everyday day before I retired so I already had a plan. That plan was to get on the road by 6:30 am to be just ahead of the bulk of the rush hour traffic. It would also mean leaving in the dark which doesn’t bother me at all. I’d rather start the day in the dark than end it in the dark when I’m tired. You either get on the road early or wait and get on the road much later in the morning. Well my plan was a disaster due to the lack of driving skills of others. A multi-car accident on an entirely different highway caused major gridlock on Interstate 75 South! Imagine looking down at the GPS to see that you’re travelling 7.9 mph, and that was fast for that morning. It took me over an hour to travel a grand total of 18 miles, 15 of which were on the interstate! I was normally able to leave for work just before 7:00 am and get to work by 8:00 am with what I call normal rush hour traffic. An hour and 35 minutes into the ride I was getting to the exit I used to use from the interstate to get to my office! But once I got inside I-285, Atlanta’s perimeter highway, it was pretty much a speed limit ride. It was also pretty cold that morning too! When I left the temperature was in the upper 20’s (F) and peaked at about 30° (F) for quite some time until around central Georgia, well south of Macon. The cold caused another predicament too. I was dressed for cold weather riding, not cold weather sitting. After some time in traffic I was actually getting cold because I had also started to sweat. I had to turn the temperature on the heated seat down but left the grips toasty warm. As I approached southern Georgia the temperature started warming to near 50° (F) and slowly warmed a bit more. I actually had the heated grips on until I was in northern Florida! On the whole trip down the R1200RT continued to impress me. I had the dynamic ESA set to one rider with luggage and the mode set to soft, being on the interstate. To break the boredom of interstate highway travel it was good to have the Sirius/XM satellite radio. Once I got to Jacksonville, FL I tuned it into Radio Margaritaville!
After a few days in Florida it was time to head for home. When I left it was sunny and quickly warmed to about 74° (F) for a good while. As I headed west on I-10 and then north on I-75 the temperature started to drop but it stayed sunny. The day’s forecast had already told me that I’d be riding into rain the closer I got to home. As I approached Macon I was still in the sunshine but could see gray skies ahead. Once in Macon it started to rain on and off just enough to wet the windshield a few times. As I pressed on approaching Atlanta the rain became more steady, but not heavy. I switched the ride mode to “Rain” and continued on. The new fairing and windshield design on the R1200RT does manage to keep a lot of the rain off you while you’re moving. I’m still adjusting the new timing of the gas stops between the new R1200RT and our old K1200LT. In fact the R1200RT has a half-gallon larger gas tank, gets better gas mileage and goes further between fill ups. I stopped for gas south of Valdosta, GA to fill up and then did not stop again until I got off the highway near home, a full 265 miles later! And even when I did stop, I still had more than a gallon of gas left. This was with the cruise control seat at about 75 mph on the posted 70 mph stretch which was nearly most of the trip! The R1200RT averaged over 53 mpg on that last tank! Now along the way I was checking the trip computer (which can be displayed on the GPS screen) and it showed I’d get home with 65-70 miles of gas left (depending on the speed). The closer I got to home I also started to suffer from “getthereitis” but I wasn’t tired. But I will admit that I did find out what I had always heard about BMW seats being hard. During those last 50 miles I could have sworn I was sitting on a cinder block! Our previous motorcycle, the K1200LT already had a custom Rick Mayer seat on it when we bought it. That stretch from Valdosta to home was good practice for an Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000! And it looks like a forecast of sunny and warm for this Saturday!
Cold Weather Riding And A Dripping Nose
If you’ve ever ridden in the cold, not cool weather, but cold weather then you’ve probably encountered a dripping nose. I don’t mean a runny nose like you get with a cold but an actually dripping nose like a dripping faucet. Yes it sounds gross but it’s probably happened to you when riding in the winter time. It’s really just a side effect of the cold air on your sinuses. You might think that the only way to prevent it is to put tissues up your nose!
But there is not only relief but prevention available! On a toy ride just before Christmas the wife of one of the riders told some of us (and one poor guy who was really suffering from the drips) to just use one of the over the counter all day allergy prevention medicines such as Zyrtec. I thought to myself “You know, that might just work.” During allergy season I routinely take a store brand of Claritin with great success. In fact, the store brand is from a wholesale membership club so I got a good-sized bottle of 365 tablets! Here in the U.S. there are three name brand medicines available of Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra along with store brands for all three. Claritin and Allegra both pride themselves as being “non drowsy”. I’ve taken Zyrtec in the past but have never experienced any drowsiness. All three boast 24 hour relief.
Well last weekend when we went for an all day ride and knew the beginning and some portions of the ride could be cold so I started the day off with my store brand of Claritin. I’ll have to admit that the advice was right on the money and I didn’t notice a dripping nose once. Go ahead and give it a shot. If it doesn’t work for some reason, at least you have some allergy medicine for next spring and summer.
Georgia’s Only Scenic Byway
Today was our first good, long ride of 2015. It was a day that totaled 226 miles for us. The weather was looking good to ride next week and we planned to head up to north Georgia and ride the state’s only United States Department of Transportation’s designated scenic byway, The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway. As luck would have it, a friend of mine, Buddy (yes it’s kind of ironic isn’t) brought up a few days ago that Saturday (today) was supposed to be sunny and near 60° (F) and wanted to know if we wanted to go riding. You see, Buddy bought a Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic last summer and was out-of-town on business a lot. He and his girlfriend Rhonda wanted to ride, even if was going to be cool. “Cold we can deal with.” is what they’ve said in the past. Buddy wanted me show them some nice roads and I was game to do so. We met up in the morning and it was still 40° (F) after the sun had come up good. It was only 24° two hours earlier in the morning. The highest temperature we saw all day was 56° and that was while on the way home!
The Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is a 40 mile loop that begins on Georgia HWY 17 just north of Helen. The Appalachian Trail crosses this scenic byway twice. Yes the loop is only 40 miles but we got our other miles getting there and then also riding in the area. Oh and of course we had to ride to lunch too! But back to the byway. GA HWY 17 is a very well maintained road heading up (or down) the mountains and has some really great curves in it. If you open up the map image you’ll get an idea of them. You’ll make a left turn onto Georgia HWY 180 (which later becomes Wolf Pen Gap RD) where you’ll pass the entrance to Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia. Before getting to US HWY 129, you’ll make a left turn onto Georgia HWY 348, The Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway. Highway 348 only runs between HWY 180 and HWY 75 Alt. and doesn’t meander anywhere else. There are some great curves and switchbacks on the Richard B. Russell too. It’s winter so as we approached the top of the mountain the temperature quickly dropped from 55° to 40°. Near the peak there are sheer rock walls lining the road and on a winter’s day like today they are covered in feet of ice. I know, we should’ve taken a picture but when we stopped it was too cold and we didn’t want to get off the motorcycles but wanted to keep going (and get back to the warmer temperatures). There’s also quite a number of pull-offs and scenic overlooks on the Richard B. Russell. GA HWY 348 will end at Georgia 75 Alt. where you’ll turn left and head back to GA HWY 17 and the beginning.
Today was Donna’s second ride with the new floorboards and actually her first ride of any length on them. The jury is in and she gives them 2 thumbs up. She says they’re much more comfortable than the stock foot pegs they replaced. It was good to get out and put the R1200RT to work. Wow this engine wants to run! Our old K1200LT was an inline four-cylinder engine and was actually pretty quiet. But the boxer style twin on the R1200RT hums loudly beneath you, producing an audible and muscular exhaust note. Plus the R1200RT averaged over 50 MPG today, since its fill-up when we started this morning! It was really good to get out in the sun and ride after a week of cold, overcast and fog. It did all six of us good! And by six I mean the four humans and the two motorcycles.
Okay we’ve owned the new BMW R1200RT for a couple of months now. It’s still an awesome motorcycle. It also came with the whole list of options. I had always looked at and priced motorcycles of interest. I mean who among us hasn’t done that? The R1200RT has quite a list of options and like buying a car, buying a package of options is often the best way to go, price-wise. The motorcycle has a few options that I always figured that if I were to purchase the motorcycle that I’d “opt out” of a few of the options. But now that I’ve been riding it a while some of them are really nice, a few are even things that I’d probably get again. So this post is about some of the more major and innovative options.
- Dynamic ESA electronic suspension adjustment: This is one that I had always figured that I could do without. Boy was I wrong! I figured that I would just continue to adjust the suspension just like I had been doing (and the way the R1200RT does without this option) and just turn the shock pre-load adjuster. With ESA I just scroll through the menu and select the suspension setting for that ride. It’s simple to do. I select one helmet if it’s just me, two helmets if we’re riding 2 up or one helmet with luggage if riding one or 2 up with the side cases loaded. While the suspension adjusts you can actually feel the motorcycle move slightly underneath you. Then additionally you get to pick one of 3 setting of soft (comfortable damping), normal (normal damping) and hard (sporty performance-oriented damping). It’s so easy to do and no more cranking an adjuster in or out. And it really does make a difference in the ride and performance of the motorcycle.
- Ride Mode Pro: This sets the Automatic Stability Control and throttle to one of 3 modes; Rain, Road or Dynamic (with the Pro option). The easiest way to describe it is from the throttle response section on the modes in the Rider’s Manual.
- In rain the throttle response is restrained and ASC intervenes early to prevent rear wheel slipping on wet roads.
- In road the throttle response in and stability is what you would normally expect.
- All I can say about Dynamic is WOW! It’s a sports performance mode. The throttle response is in no way restrained and is even quicker than normal mode. The ASC would intervene at the latest time and power transfer to the rear wheel is QUICK. The motorcycle was in dynamic mode when I picked it up and it flat-out took off. I pulled to the side of the road and figured out how to put it in normal mode.
- Gearshift Assistant Pro: This is nice to have but I’m not so sure I’d pay to get it added. What Gearshift Assistant Pro does is allow you to shift gears both up and down without using the clutch. That’s right, just shift. It’s made for performance oriented riding. I’ve used it when pulling out onto a highway from a stop. It works and it does shift quick. To shift gears up, just keep the throttle constant and shift. The trick is to relieve any pressure on the shifter between gear changes. To shift down, just be below the maximum RPM for that gear or let the throttle close a bit and shift down, again taking any pressure off the shifter between changes. It’s fun to play with but definitely not a “must have”
- Hill Start Control is another that is not a “must have” to me. I’ve used it to see how it works. It’s designed to do just what it says, to start on a hill. Or more precisely to start a fully loaded motorcycle from a stop on a hill. While stopped you shift to neutral, squeeze the front brake lever quickly and firmly and it will set the rear brake. The motorcycle will not roll. To release it, just squeezed the front brake lever again or when driving off, just use a little more throttle than normal. It does work. I’ve found that I’ll use it when Donna is getting on or off the motorcycle or when fumbling for the garage door opener in the left glove compartment. While it’s convenient to have I wouldn’t miss it.
The list goes on but those are some of the major options or the newer ones available. I’ll go over some of the others in future posts. Now I just wish it would warm up a bit for a pleasurable ride. Here in the south we can often ride year round but you don’t really want to do that when you wake up and it’s 7º F.
A Ride On The First Day Of The Year
Yesterday I wrote the last post of 2014 and today is the first post of 2015. We started the year off with a ride. It was a long ride but it was still a ride. It was a cool overcast day with temperatures just above 50° F but it was supposed to be sunny. My Blue Knights Chapter holds and annual meeting on New Years Day and that was our destination. It was also Donna’s first ride with Ilium Works passenger floorboards on the R1200RT. Before we were even out of the neighborhood she was saying how much more she liked them over the foot pegs. As we rode I could tell she was moving her feet more. It’s funny but on Christmas morning I took her into the garage to show her “one more present Santa left” and it was the floorboards already on the motorcycle. She actually jumped up a little saying “Oh boy, I love them!” How many wives get excited over a motorcycle accessory even when it is for them?
The meeting we were headed to was a lunch meeting at an Irish Pub. I had the lunch portion of the “Bangers and Mash”. A surprise was when I was presented a plaque for being the most active member in 2014. It wasn’t something I was expecting at all! This was my first meeting as a returning Vice President of the Chapter after taking a term off. I won’t be eligible for the plaque in 2015 because I’ll be a club officer. It was my task to record the ending odometer readings of our participants in the 2014 Mileage Contest. I can say this even thought the results haven’t been officially announced but I didn’t win. But for 2015 I’ll be eligible to participate in the mileage contest even as a club officer.
Until next time ride safe!
Our Last Post Of The Year
Well here it is the evening of the last night of the year. Tomorrow starts a whole new year. We rode over 8,000 miles last year on two different motorcycles. We started 2014 riding our 2002 BMW K1200LT and then in October we bought a 2014 BMW R1200RT. I put together a little video of our year in motorcycling. Maybe next year we’ll remember to take more pictures but maybe we were having too much fun! “At least I’m enjoying the ride!”
We hope you enjoy riding in 2015!
It’s Not Really A Farkle, But….
This isn’t really an end of year farkle but it is an end of year safety item. The new style BMW 49 liter top case has a spot at the top that you can install the optional LED brake light and then have the dealer program the motorcycle’s CAN bus electrical system to recognize the light. Let’s just say that with the price of this option that BMW is quite proud of it. To make the option work you need to have the top case that’s pre-wired for the light and the central locking system. My case isn’t. But I got to looking at where the light goes and the nearly flat black piece of plastic and thought I could do something to make the motorcycle more visible from the rear. I came up with the idea of red reflective tape. So today I took the plastic part off the top case (there are only 4 torx screws involved) and found that to get the flat part out you had to break the mounting rivets that were plastic. So what I did instead is made a template of the opening with masking tape and then trimmed it up and carefully removed my template. I then pinned a length of red reflective tape to a board and put the masking tape template right on the tape. Then with a hobby knife, slowly and carefully cut around the template. Since the template is made out of tape, it doesn’t move around on the reflective tape. Then I carefully applied the red reflective tape on the flat part. But while applying it I found that it’s not as flat as it appears and you can get bubbles along the edge at the slight curve. Patience in smoothing them out helps but I imagine heating the tap with a hair dryer would help even more. I didn’t think of the hairdryer trick until I was through. So now I have red tape up high in the top case and when headlights hit the tap it “lights up” red. Without the red tape there would just be black plastic there.
Here it is a week before Christmas and Donna and I would like to wish our readers a Merry Christmas! This year we are continuing a tradition we started a few years ago with a personal motorcycle related Christmas card. Welcome to our 2014 edition. Whichever holiday you celebrate this season we hope that you find yourself surrounded by family and friends while good memories are created. We hope Santa stops by to see you too. For some of us he came a little early this year!