‘I once rode to Milan just for dinner’

Long-distance reader Graeme Ferguson has put nearly 200,000 miles on his 1996 BMW since he bought it in 1999


Name Graeme Ferguson, 66 Bike 1996 BMW K1100LT SE Total Miles 225,214

Miles per year 25,000

GRAEME FERGUSON LOVES to eat up the miles, to the extent that he’s just become President of the Iron Butt Associatio­n’s Ireland branch. In the 80s he rode from Belfast to Cape town on a Yamaha XT500 (which he still owns, along with a variety of 80s and 90s BMWS, a 2010 Goldwing and a 1971 Velocette) but it’s on this BMW K1100LT that he puts in most of his big rides. And they really are pretty big, often involving what the IBA calls Rides To Eat (RTE)...

“I rode to Milan just for dinner in late October, and rode the Route Napoleon on the way back, and in Spring I attended the RTE in Portugal. I also do some of the FIM Touring Section events, including their Motocamp in France in June and Mototour in north-east Greece in October.”

The bike’s got a few modificati­ons to make it distance friendly. “I had to shorten the suspension as the K1100s are ridiculous­ly tall. I run two Garmin GPSS and a Sony Experia for Google maps as back-up. I have tyre-pressure monitors from Amazon for peace of mind, extra brake lights at the rear, LED daytime running lights and LED Cyclops lights (broad 20° beam on the left and narrow 10° beam on the right) for night-time. I also carry a fold-up chair, so if I start to get drowsy, I stop for 20 minutes and have a power nap.”

At nearly a quarter-of-a-million miles, you might expect there to have been a few mechanical issues on the way, but Graeme’s had very little grief. “There’s a design fault with the exhaust system which is all one piece and prone to cracking, and I’ve put in a couple of clutches, one of which was due to a weeping main oil seal. It’s had two ignition wiring looms as well, due to constant turning of the headstock. It still does 45-50mpg. It’s due an engine overhaul this winter though, as it’s starting to use a bit of oil.”

Despite having recently bought a Goldwing, Graeme’s got no plans to pension-off the LT. “I’m planning to keep riding it until it gets unfeasible due to the weight and size as I get older, at which stage a sidecar will be fitted. I bought a K75RT this year which is lighter and more manoeuvrab­le round the garage and of course the Goldwing is perfect for long interconti­nental spins.”

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