Meet of the week

The bril­liant spot is com­pletely de­voted to bik­ers – all day, ev­ery day

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Contents - By Char­lie Lester

Some bike nights are just that: one night. But this is Loomies. ‘Run by bik­ers for bik­ers,’ it shouts. The bike-rammed fore­court is in con­stant flux with strangers ar­riv­ing and friends leav­ing, the flow­ers cas­cad­ing from old re­pur­posed boots and hel­met hang­ing-bas­kets. While of­fi­cial bike night is Wed­nes­day, when the en­thu­si­as­tic team keep the kitchen open un­til 9pm, the café’s lo­ca­tion at the cross­roads of two ex­cel­lent bik­ing roads draws bikes ev­ery day of the week, with hun­dreds on sunny week­ends.

In­side, a huge mod­ern hel­met rack and a strik­ing paint­ing of a cor­ner­ing racer wel­come the leather-clad clien­tele. The menu is a ni­trous­boosted evo­lu­tion of the derelict Lit­tle Chef that once stood on this site; serv­ing sump­tu­ous fare in­clud­ing the ‘Le­gal Learner’, ‘Track Hero’ and ‘Race-pro’ all-day break­fasts.

This quirky han­gout is loved so fiercely that two of its reg­u­lars stepped up to save it from clo­sure two years ago. Will Bain­bor­ough and Paul Ful­lick, a com­pany di­rec­tor and a me­chanic who met at Loomies, ren­o­vated and re­opened the place that brought the two friends to­gether through their love of bikes.

This isn’t some­where that tol­er­ates or pan­ders to bik­ers; our pas­sion is cel­e­brated in ev­ery fea­ture. And in this place of con­tem­po­rary dé­cor and tra­di­tional ca­ma­raderie, that both looks – and feels – damn cool.

The BMW R1200GS has been one of Bri­tain’s best-sell­ers since it first ap­peared. But it’s started to face some se­ri­ously tough com­pe­ti­tion. Honda’s Africa Twin has se­duced many with its ca­pa­ble road man­ners and com­pet­i­tive price – it’s nearly £5k less than the Beemer. And Du­cati have mus­cled in as well.

The Mul­tistrada S, tested here is aimed more at fast road rid­ing than mon­u­men­tal mud-plug­ging and it’s bristling with high-tech gad­getry.

But BMW have given its top-of-therange globe-trot­ter a makeover to en­sure it meets new Euro4 regs and to smooth out a few rough edges. We took all three on a blast to find out if the GS re­ally does have much to worry about.

BMW’S Triple Back TE

BMW have un­leashed this re­vamped R1200GS to bridge the gap be­tween the out­go­ing 2016 model and a more rad­i­cally re­vamped 2017 ver­sion that’s ex­pected around April time.

This ma­chine meets Euro4 (where the old one didn’t) and also boasts some other five-star re­fine­ments. BMW have added a jud­der damper on the trans­mis­sion out­put shaft, re­vised the se­lec­tor drum ac­tu­a­tor in the gear­box and there are up­dates to the trans­mis­sion shafts and trans­mis­sion shaft bear­ings. The clocks have also been up­dated.

In sim­ple terms, they’ve made the shaft-drive and gear­box smoother, changed the ap­pear­ance of the clocks and cleaned up the fu­elling. It’s hard to

no­tice the in­stru­ment im­prove­ments, al­though they do some­how seem neater.

But the im­prove­ments to the shaft­drive and gear­box are in­stantly no­tice­able; they now make the GS su­per-smooth. When com­pared to the chain-driven com­pe­ti­tion in this test it feels the most re­fined by far.

The GS re­tains an air of so­phis­ti­ca­tion and is a wel­com­ing and comfy ride with a stack of rider aids to make ev­ery­thing easy. The high-spec Triple Black TE tested here comes with rider modes, trac­tion con­trol, elec­tronic semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion and con­ven­tional ABS. But even with all these aids at your fin­ger­tips, the Mul­tistrada S still out-trumps the BMW in the ‘elec­tronic aids’ cat­e­gory as it also boasts cor­ner­ing ABS, which was a huge bonus in the tricky con­di­tions we en­coun­tered. How­ever, you can ar­gue the BMW doesn’t need such ad­vanced rider aids as the Duke be­cause it has con­sid­er­ably less power and finds ex­cel­lent me­chan­i­cal grip.

I did just over 600 miles over two days and de­spite the poor con­di­tions I was happy to be on the GS. Com­fort re­ally is 10 out of 10, some will ar­gue the man­u­ally ad­justable screen is too low but at 5ft 7in I found it more than suf­fi­cient. The seat, pegs and bars have a lovely bal­ance; you feel short-changed when the fuel light comes on af­ter about 150 miles mark as you’d hap­pily chug along for an­other hour.

‘Com­fort is 10 out of 10 and you re­ally no­tice the im­prove­ments’

That bet­ter be the flow­ers I smell… Loomies doesn’t of­fer a to­ken night to bikes, it lives and breathes it

More re­fined than ever, we were im­pressed with the smooth new trans­mis­sion

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