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