BMWs go the course

These bikes de­mand ex­tra at­ten­tion, writes Craig Duff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Bikes -

EV­ERY mo­tor­bike ride is an ad­ven­ture, but BMW Mo­tor­rad takes the con­cept a step fur­ther. The com­pany’s dual-pur­pose GS bikes are rightly fa­mous for their abil­ity on bi­tu­men and in the bush.

They look good on the road but are tough enough to be rid­den home af­ter the in­evitable crashes when rid­ers take them off road.

And we’re not talk­ing gravel tracks. There are three mod­els in the range, from the F650 GS to the F800 and mon­ster R1200 GS and they’ll all tackle gnarly forestry trails, rock­strewn slopes and wa­ter cross­ings.

If the bikes are equipped to han­dle bush-bash­ing, many of their rid­ers are smart enough to ad­mit they’re not, which is why 13 of us find our­selves at the Wer­ribee 4x4 prov­ing ground for some train­ing on how to get the most out of the ma­chines.

The two-day cour­ses are led by pro­fes­sional coaches from Stay Up­right and are tai­lored around the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the BMW bikes.

Any­one who has seen an R1200 knows it’s a big bike and at 229kg, pick­ing one up off its side looks all but im­pos­si­ble. Then the Stay Up­right crew show you how.

The tech­nique is so sim­ple the biggest prob­lem on a slope is lift­ing the bike up too far and toss­ing it back down the hill. We’re all en­cour­aged to try it.

I de­cline, but the next day am putting the the­ory into prac­tice af­ter com­ing to grief try­ing to ride out of a greasy tyre rut. And at 70kg drip­ping wet — and I was — if I can do it, any­one can.

The course pro­gres­sively builds and links the skills to the point that over­con­fi­dence and lack of fit­ness are the biggest is­sues on the last day when we’re roost­ing up hills and duck­ing un­der branches as we ride be­tween trees.

One of the rid­ers — who’d rid­den from Can­berra for the course, which is held ev­ery six months— sums it up for the group when he says: ‘‘I took the back roads down and de­toured to avoid some of the ugly gravel roads, but I won’t be on the way home.’’

The cour­ses cost $675 so they’re not cheap, but nei­ther is a BMW mo­tor­bike — GS mod­els range from $16,750 to $26,500 — and in both cases it’s money well spent.

As Stay Up­right in­struc­tor Brad notes: ‘‘If you’ve spent the money on the bike, it makes sense to get the most out of it.’’ No one who at­tends would dis­agree.

Hardy: BMW’s GS range, ca­pa­ble on or off the road, is worth the in­vest­ment to learn how to best han­dle them.

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