BMWs go the course
These bikes demand extra attention, writes Craig Duff
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.