GS 1150 ADV thoughts and aspirations
Thoughts and aspirations,1150gsa
Oddly, I have never set eyes upon one of these beasties in the flesh before now. My impression upon first seeing it close and having being reared on sports bikes is that it is simply enormous, intimidating even. It stands around the five foot mark. And it is certainly not beautiful, it has a squint, a bulbous buggy eye, like a third division boxer chancing his luck in a division one fight. although as an example of industrial design i feel it to be rather fine, imposing then. We will settle for imposing. I'm reasonably tall at a little over 6 foot so once installed it feels tremendously spacious, like sitting in a bath chair. No sports bike thigh cramps, neck strain or raging sciatica. I feel at home.
I like the shuffle and shudder from the big twin. I enjoy too the hippo fart exhaust note, and the torque. Once under way there are other surprises. The ride quality is one, it glides and wafts, where previous sporty steeds crashed and skittered. An alien experience but so completely and immediately at home on our terrible roads. This subtlety to the suspension inspires great trust in the handling, pounds seemingly shedding with speed as I gain confidence.
The throttle takes a real twist, it's a long travel affair for sure, but there is a steady shove to counter, building to around 6.5k and falling off steadily after that.
The brakes feel a little wooden initially, but improve as the miles roll by. I think the hippo has been standing for a while. Initial dive from the forks is quick but I feel this is perhaps as a result of the soft ride and corresponding feathery damping. It is note worthy that no matter how much brake is applied, there is plenty of travel left to cope with our often monstrous and mountainous roads.
Gear changes? Well it changes gear. I learn a technique that seems to suit the bike. Roll off the throttle, preload the lever and 'snick', well mostly snick and sometimes clunk but reasonable nevertheless.The change is nowhere near as bad as I had been led to expect. It's not buttery, but with care and finesse demonstrated with the controls it is acceptable.
The commanding view over other traffic is useful and enables considerable forward planning, this with the formidable engine braking means there is little need for the brakes. Perhaps I'm just too slow, but it suits my style.
As the miles thrum by, I feel fresh, relaxed and ache free. This is unusual and entirely welcome as my spine is creaky, intolerant of contortion, prone to aches and spasms. None so far. I am enjoying myself.
The controls? Well, I'm getting use to them. BMW have the left indicator on the left handle bar, and the right indicator on the right handlebar. Following? Yes of course you are. But to cancel the indicators one pushes a separate button on the right. Unless it's the left but anyway that is where the horn push is I think. Paaarp! Yes that's it. Horn push. Not indicator cancel.. I cheerfully toot my way around roundabouts, all fingers and thumbs. I settle initially for hand signals upon left hand exits, whilst waving apologies to vexed drivers for my frequent and entirely unnecessary hooting.
It grows on you, slowly like a fungus. it's appeal is not immediately obvious, but despite its German origins it is charismatic, idiosyncratic even. Hippo feels hewn, unburstable dependable and likeable. It is also big, with corresponding heft. This makes it slow by conventional standards. Its performance, as Rolls Royce would say, is adequate.
The miles fall away, and the old bus settles in for a steady 70 mph cruise. I'm feeling really rather good. It was in the 80s when the first of the bumble bee GS came to my attention and I took a shine to them. Of course, then as now a new one was an impossible dream. The bikes I have owned in the intervening period have largely been ghastly affairs. Worn out and with significant accident damage but all with one unifying feature. They were cheap.
So this is my first decent bike. It stands above the others, not just in its stature, but also in its condition and broad range of abilities. I love this bike.
Impressive stability regardless of weather conditions? Yes it has that too, once again Herculean weight giving some payback. It is a bugger to heave around and sad to say I have dropped it. A full tank of fuel an adverse camber, leaving it running side stand down just to post a letter, six steps and whump! I didn't hear it through my ear plugs, but I felt the seismic tremor. Remarkably, after an exciting gush of petrol from the breather I hoisted the hippo to find there was no damage. Sticky out pots with even stickier out crash bars and head protectors did their job. What a relief.
My increasing confidence in this fine iron has led to several little forays off road. These are by design, and not from running out of talent/brakes/ground clearance. Norfolk has little to offer by way of significant hills, but I find some lovely trails on the Ringland estate. Now I have ridden off road before on a KDX250 although this was twenty years ago and well before decrepitude and middle age fatness crept in to the equation . I was never an accomplished dirt rider back then, and adding 100kg to the bike and 20kg to me has done little to improve matters.
Initially I feel very much like a passenger. The slippery and often rutted ground is the boss and I concentrate on keeping myself seated and upright. But as with most of life familiarity breeds initial confidence that may yet be punished by complacency although I have yet to reach that stage.
Having tackled a steepish wet grassy slope, feathering the throttle to find traction countering diminishing velocity I make it to the top. Yes, I am indeed eighteen feet tall and made out of high carrot gold. Life improves further when I ride standing, perched on broad pegs. The hippo is free to buck and writhe beneath me. Overall it is less alarming. Not bad, not bad at all.
I have a bike with tins. It has three of them and they are fantastic. Generously sized, usefully deep I can put things into them. Shopping things. Camping things. Tools. I cannot understate, after years of having thing storage confined exclusively to my pockets, and in extremis, the front of my jacket what a colossal revelation this is. It is more than practically. It represents possibility. Teased by the internet crusaders world wide adventures is at the heart of this. I could just pack everything for a modest mobile life into my panniers and just go. Dover, France and keep heading west. Or south. Or just up to the coast. Yes, possibility and per chance to dream, and dream I do.
Reality grounds me once again, and having less than £100 in my account and still a few days off payday limits what is both practical and realistic. I plan a visit to the Lake District. A long weekend Friday to Monday. I'll be reminiscing, as I have visited this beautiful rugged slice of north west England on perhaps a dozen occasions. I have fond memories here, the A66 weaving and serenading, teasing with distant and tantalising views of rugged beauty. It is no tease of course it really delivers. I am genuinely excited about this. It is 5 hours in the saddle so it will be a test of me at the least. It'll be a steady trip. I think I can do the whole lot for £100.
One enduring pleasure for me is campsite cooking. With two pans, an enthusiastic petrol stove and a euphoria born of mild carbon monoxide induced hypoxia I can produce a perfectly passable three been, two species chilli. Or a significant spaghetti Bolognese. A curry too. But never a pot noodle or beans out of the can. Camp cooking, I should clarify, campsite cooking rather than mincing around wearing chaps, a chefs hat and brandishing a pastel coloured whisk is all about ceremony. Yes, it is a faff, takes twice as long to produce as it would in even the most meanly equipped bedsit kitchen but the satisfaction at having tamed your volatile stove, your environment and indeed your ingredients to produce an edible meal and not suffer from a prolonged bout of catastrophic life threatening shits is a satisfaction rarely found anywhere else.
I may head for the hills. Hard to avoid indeed but I have allowed myself to become fat and unfit in equal measure. There is a mine as I recall a manageable distance from the camp. I'll settle for a waddle to see if I can, and admire the view. This is all weather dependant of course. Despite how I saw myself in my youth, I am not a hardy outdoorsman in the mould of Ray Mears. I do not like or tolerate getting cold or wet, never mind cold and wet so I will pick my weather window carefully, throw my kit together, and head off. A selfish solo indulgence.