North­ern ex­po­sure

When it comes to two-up rid­ing bikes don’t come much com­fier

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage -

Tour­ing Scot­land in late au­tumn might sound like mad­ness – far more sen­si­ble to hop on a ferry down to San­tander, surely? But get some half de­cent weather and you’re in for an ab­so­lute treat, as I dis­cov­ered head­ing to the Cairn­gorms on the RT with my fi­ancée Sarah along for the ride.

Scot­land is stun­ning this time of year; the forests and land­scape are burst­ing with colour and breath­tak­ing in golden beauty. The sum­mer traf­fic has all but dis­ap­peared, as have the in­fa­mously in­fu­ri­at­ing midges. Bet­ter still, it’s eas­ier to book ac­com­mo­da­tion.

But what about the risk of bad con­di­tions? As the ex­plorer Sir Ran­ulph Fi­ennes once said ‘there is no such thing as bad weather just in­ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing’ so for this rea­son we re­served one of the RT’S pan­niers just for spare gloves, wa­ter­proofs and even two heated waist­coats. With the added large BMW soft tail­bag (£157), Sarah and I had more than enough stor­age and sac­ri­ficed a pan­nier just for some ex­tra warm kit.

Bet­ter still, we struck lucky and en­joyed dry roads for all three days and cov­ered just over 650 fan­tas­tic miles. Early in the morn­ing and at dusk the tem­per­a­tures did drop into sin­gle fig­ures, but with so many crea­ture com­forts at my dis­posal I didn’t even have to change from my light­weight sum­mer gloves. The heated grips get so warm you could cook hot­dogs on them, and you can feel the heated seat work­ing through thick Cor­dura trousers. On the back Sarah also had the ben­e­fits of a heated seat, with two lev­els of tem­per­a­ture on of­fer. The huge elec­tric screen com­bined with large fair­ing takes away 90% of the cold wind-blast, not just for me but pil­lion also. The screen is fine for 80mph vi­sor-up tour­ing, and makes a wel­come dif­fer­ence for the pil­lion too, (see box out, be­low).

With­out be­ing rude to lovely 5ft 3in Sarah, we were car­ry­ing some weight. A 12-stone fully kit­ted rider plus nine­stone pas­sen­ger, two full pan­niers and the huge tail­pack meant the RT was a hand­ful at low speeds. It’s easy to fine tune the elec­tron­i­cally ad­justable sus­pen­sion, adding more preload and even change the damp­ing on the move. But I did strug­gle a tad when try­ing to fil­ter through sta­tion­ary traf­fic around Ed­in­burgh.

In hind­sight I should have opted for a lower seat to make life a lit­tle eas­ier; I’m only 5ft 7in and I found it hard work to lift the bike from its side­stand when fully loaded, even more so with a full 24 litres in the fuel tank.

But, con­sid­er­ing the ex­tra weight, the RT coped ad­mirably once on the move above 20mph, in fact we had some fun on the end­less twists and turns in the Cairn­gorm moun­tains. I thought the par­tially water-cooled boxer mo­tor might strug­gle with the ex­tra weight and bulk, as the RT’S 120bhp isn’t huge power es­pe­cially when com­pared to the com­pe­ti­tion, but I never felt it lack­ing. Fast cruis­ing up the A1 wasn’t a prob­lem, and it was so com­fort­able that Sarah even strug­gled to stay awake at one point. There was al­ways plenty of power in re­serve when over­tak­ing slow-mov­ing traf­fic; quick over­takes might have re­quired a down­shift or two, but the quick­shifter made changes back up the box as smooth as pos­si­ble.

My only re­gret is that we left our mini break too late in the year, my RT goes back to BMW shortly which is a shame as we were al­ready con­sid­er­ing an­other ex­pe­di­tion up north.

‘The grips get so warm you could cook hot­dogs, and you can feel the heated seat through thick Cor­dura’

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