Meet of the week
The brilliant spot is completely devoted to bikers – all day, every day
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