What better excuse to leave work at 15h45 on a warm sunny Tuesday than a date with a lady?
Who cares if she is fat, ugly and high maintenance when she rides like that!
Ok, racy puns apart. We did book couple of BMW’s GS Speedates: me on the R1200GS an my mate on the F800GS both in the taller&fatter Adventure version.
I rode the original R1200GS Adventure a few years ago in the mountain roads around Sintra. Didn’t really like the bike, it felt too big, too heavy and not agile enough. A few years later I had the opportunity to ride one of the standard R1200GS with the new air/water cooled engine, I remember being absolutely surprised with how much better the engine felt compared to the old bike. Still not a mind-blowing performance but still proper fun to ride around N108, Porto, Portugal.
As soon as I spotted the GS Speedate events on BMWs website I jumped at the opportunity to try this new air/water cooled engine on the big Adventure version!
After a 45min ride around a mix of urban and countryside roads, including a sequence of narrow twisty dike roads I have to say the big GS did not disappoint, very much the opposite. I got confirmation on how much more I like this later version of the Boxer twin and was mindblown by how different from my memory of the old GSA this one is. Maybe I just got older and more used to tall fat bikes but I have to say the massive GS handles better than many standard bikes around. The way it flicks from side to side defies gravity and how easy and natural it all feels to the rider is nothing short of engineering Vudu!
Is it a bike for me? It could be, although it’s universal success (read omnipresence) and massive price tag do make it a very unlikely reality.
A BMW R1200GS Adventure Test-ride recently (which I will talk about in a future post) reminded me of the fact that about one year ago I went with some mates to a SpeedDate with BMW event to try out a couple of their new bikes.
I went for the S1000XR and they went for the R1200RS, R-nineT and F800GS. The only thing I can say about the S1000XR is that it is a brilliant bike! Compared to my Ducati Multistrada 1200S it lacks the low down punch of the V-Twin that makes it want to wheelie coming out of every traffic light but it makes up with a much more refined feel and more equipment (like Cruise Control). The engine feels basically the same as the one on the S100RR and I think I would only really tell the difference when riding the the two back to back, the brakes are as with all the S1000 range, very near perfect and the whole bike feels really well sorted. Except…it isn’t! One tiny, niggly fault that would probably stop me from buying it: The infamous vibrations at motorway speed that simply numb all of your limbs!
I’ve been told it is solved on the newer 2017 bikes and that on the older ones a set of heavier bar-end weights helps a lot but what I can’t stop wandering is what kind of test-riders BMW hired that did not spot the obvious issue trough all of the testing??
Anyway, here are the photos:
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An unwritten rule of motorcycling states that once you get a motorcycle built by manufacturer X, you loose all ability to make rational decisions, become hopelessly in love with all merchandising that includes X branding, will sign-up to all and any online forums for your bike’s Make (or even Model) and will only ride with people who own the same make or model. It’s called the fanboy effect.
One of the consequences of said effect is that the few unaffected by it are left with a feeling of misplacement. There is nowhere for us: the Maker agnostic.
Sure, I’ve written a couple of blogs based on the bike I had at the time; I’ll even confess to owning a pair of (very stylish) KTM boxer shorts, but the fact is I don’t understand how anyone can commit to a single brand. At the very least you’ll be missing out on experimenting with a whole host of wonderful different bikes.
Having said that, I am a sucker for brand events (regardless of the motorcycle maker in question) and given the opportunity to jump in on Yamaha’s Dark Side of Japan Tour to test-ride of the new MT10, I just couldn’t say no.
Having been to a few of these events throughout the years I have to say no one does it better than BMW (hard to compete with Circuito do Estoril race track booked for a full day to offer riders free test-rides on track), Yamaha however seems to be the best of the Japanese brands at it!
A nicely (albeit slightly empty) decorated Kromhouthall, free drinks and nice food. Oh, yes and bikes, too!
Considering we are in a flat country with absolutely no good riding roads and the only half interesting ones on any given sunny day are full of bicycles, cars and tourists Yamaha did a decent job at finding us a route to try the bikes. At 41km and over one hour it was probably one of the longest test-rides I’ve had. And despite the low average speed due to road conditions and traffic meaning I only got to use 1st and 2nd gear, the MT10 did prove to be a fantastic bike with superbly smooth fuelling and exciting power delivery. The suspension also did a decent job of absorbing the potholes despite being obviously on the firm side and the little I could experience of the handling felt great. The biggest take way though is the engine, that crossplane motor sounds and feels better than any other inline 4 I have ever tried!
I’m a big fan of big naked bikes and the MT10 is still not quite up there next to the Inline Triple of the Speed Triple or the V-Twin of the Super Duke but damn did they do a great job with that 4 cylinder!
As for theroute if you want to have more detailed look at it, click HERE
1,2,3…seems about right!
It may look like one of the aliens from Distric 9, but it’s a tremendous road bike!
Yeah…only a mother could love that face!
At least he can rotate the tyres when the rear starts to wear…
MT07 Tracer and MT09 outside enjoying the (rare) Dutch sun.
Yes it’s true, after years of bad jokes about Harleys I finally got the opportunity to try one myself. Potentially resulting in a public apology for all my previous unfounded opinions on the subject.
Of course, given the opportunity to try just one bike I went for one of the quintessential Harley cruisers: the Street Glide!
Has my opinion on Harley’s changed after the 20min test-ride?
Humm, yeah, sort of!
Just standing still the Street Glide looks majestic, the deep black paint reflecting the moody skies above, combined with the mirror like finish of the immaculate chrome. Have no idea how well the finish would cope with the Dutch winter but on a new bike it looks great.
Seating on the bike and starting it bike seems more complex than necessary. The remote fob replaces the need for a proper key (like in my Multistrada) but the staring procedure involves rotating a knob on the triple clamp to unlock the steering, then switching the engine cut-off switch to ON and finally pressing a separate starter button!
The bike comes to life with a fantastic sound, shaking and rumbling all over. Standing her up of the side stand the weight becomes obvious and unlike most heavy bikes, doesn’t disappear when you get a move on.
It’s like it was designed to not hide it’s weight. Everything feels substantial: the grips are thicker than usual, the switchgear is oversized, the gear, clutch and brake levers are massive and thick.
The clutch action is heavy and the gearbox is clunky. It accelerates briskly but nothing close to fast – think more of sporty car acceleration and less motorbike – cornering is a affair best planned ahead and so is braking. The combined braking system using the foot actuator (70%front brake + 30% back brake) doing a decent job of slowing down the massive thing, the front brake lever though seems to not do much unless you have forearms like a Swedish lumberjack.
But then you ignore all the things that make it different from most bikes and start to enjoy it for what it is: a cruiser.
And for cruiser I must say it felt brilliant.
The top dashboard is beautiful with it’s classic truck like styling and the lower section has a great touchscreen with Navigation, Radio & MediaPlayer. On the right hand side a small compartment is designed to fit your smartphone, with a USB Port for connectivity.
The dash is easily controllable with both Touchscreen and buttons on the sides. There is also a joystick next to your left thumb that you can use to skip song/radio and adjust volume, simple but effective!
The only other bike I’ve ridden that was equipped with a radio was the BMW K1600GT and although I loved the bike, I hated the Radio. For some reason trying to focus on riding the bike fast while having the speakers blaring outside the helmet was confusing my senses and I ended up shutting it off and just listening to the six cylinder soundtrack.
In the HD however it’s a completely different affair, you’re hardly ever going to be making an effort to go fast so the music surrounding you has you cruise along feels perfectly natural and adequate.
At the end of the day, am I ready to get a Harley? Definitely not!
Did I enjoy riding the Street Glide? Most certainly yes! It feels brilliant at what it does, cruising & relaxing. Forget any kind of sporty pretensions, rush to get somewhere or desire to hit the twisties. A sports bike is like sex, the HD is like having a warm apple pie when you’re really huyngry. One does not replace the other but they are both pretty damn good feelings!
Finally a big thanks to Harley Davidson Amsterdam for giving me the opportunity to test-ride the bike. The staff there is a bunch of really nice guys and the shop is a really nice place to spend some time, be it staring at all the shiny bikes or just having a great cup of coffee.
Harley Davidson MT500 army bike (HD’s version of the Armstrong MT500)
Harley Davidson MT500 army bike (HD’s version of the Armstrong MT500)
Harley Davidson MT500 army bike (HD’s version of the Armstrong MT500)
I have always kind of dissed on the Harleys but the truth is I’ve never tried one. I think it’s time I get some time on one to be able to speak from experience, and if I’m going to do it, it’s going to te on the mothership: the Touring Ultra Limited!
However, because I’m affraid I’ll like it and start feeling like an old fart, I also booked a test ride on one of these:
But the one I REALLY REALLY want to get my hands on is this:
Haven’t been able to get a KTM test-ride yet, but I’m hoping for it.
And you, what were the last bikes you got to try or are looking to try? Shoot me a message in the comments.
I have been wanting to try the new Scrambler Ducati since I first saw their promotional video.
I am not a massive fan of Cafe Racers, Scramblers and Retro/Classic looking bikes, but there are a few out there that I quite like. The Scrambler Ducati caught my interest because besides having a familiar design to the original Scrambler it also looks modern and most of all fun!
When I got an email from Ducati a couple of weeks ago announcing the Scrambler Beach Experience in Zandvoort I jumped at the opportunity and signed in immediately. After all if I have to put up with the downside of being a Ducati client (see my previous post…) I might as well enjoy some of the perks too, right?
The venue included a 30 min guided test-ride of the Scrambler and a BBQ at Tijn Akersloot, a beach cafe in Zandvoort that I thoroughly recommend: great location right on the beach, helpful staff and an amazing surf inspired decor.
The test-ride included a mix of riding around the irregular cement block paved streets of Zandvoort, going past the entrance to the racing circuit, past Blomendaal aan Zee and out on to N200 before doubling back.
All slow speed riding (I think the fastest we got up to was around 100km/h) but good to have a feell for the bike in the kind of environment it was made for: a short ride to the cafe, or to the beach.
First impressions, the bike is small. I mean really small! I’m 1,85 so I seat on it and have both feet on the floor with my legs bent at a 60 degree angle or so. getting a move on the footpegs are placed quite far back making it a bit of a weird reach to the gear lever and back brake as my legs are so bent, but my torso is straight.
I guess if your shorter the riding position should be just perfect, but not for me.
The suspension is soft and very compliant and together with the big tires make the bike super comfortable over rough surface, potholes and speed humps. Even two up it coped really well with the uneven surface and it was a lot more comfortable than my Multistrada. A handicap if you want to ride it hard on good surface but that is not what is bike is for and the gain in comfort and the feeling that you can just go over anything makes it a lot of fun.
The bike I rode had the standard exhaust and sounded pretty discreet but a couple of the other bikes on test had the megaphone style Termignoni, and that one sounds awesome.
The dash is more form than function and although it displays quite some information but on the move I found it very difficult to read anything other than the speed. The rev counter for example consists of a series of tiny black lines filling a bar on the lower half of the dash, running from right to left!
For what it is meant to be, a biker for non bikers or for return bikers looking for something stylish fun and unintimidating the Scrambler ticks all the boxes.
It looks great (especially in Urban Enduro version), sounds menacing with the Termignoni but is as easy to ride as any learner bike I’ve ever tried.
Yes it could do with a smoother gearbox, the throttle can be a bit jerky at low speeds (but at the same it adds a bit more excitement when you do open it up) and it could do with a bit more ground clearance, but all those changes would mean a compromise that I’m not sure would result in an overall better bike!
Would I buy one? No, it’s not the kind of bike I need right now, but you will never hear me say no to the chance of riding one!
It feels fun, simple and modern while looking great with that classic inspired design. Want to have an idea of what it feels like to ride one, rewatch the promotional video . This is one of those cases in which they did get it right.
P.S- The one thing I did not like on the bike was really the size. It’s small and that makes it accessible to shorter riders but also makes it too short for anyone around my height. I also found the ground clearance to be pretty limited as I had to scramble to avoid having my boots touching the pavement every time I gave it a bit more lean angle going trough a roundabout. I will however give it the benefit of the doubt, I was riding two up and didn’t have the opportunity to adjust the preload on the rear shock (the Scrambler’s manual recommends Preload at max for two up riding).
They decided to take the Scramblers to the beach for a photo shoot.
…and one got stuck on the way out! (Also a paraglider decided to photobomb me)
The only good thing about having to replace the fork seals on my MTS is that I got to ride a “new” bike: a 2014 Multistrada 1200S in “very boring silver”.
There was also some eye candy at the dealership, like this two gorgeous Panigales and the new Diavel
As for the Test-Ride, to be honest the weather was absolutely terrible that day and I didn’t really do much riding other than from the dealer to my place and back to the dealer to pick up my bike later in the day. It was however enough to spot a few of the small updates the newer bikes have.
First of all, the motor: the new twin spark engine is indeed a lot better at low rpms, the 2014 is so much better around town than mine that if that was something I did everyday – why one would use a MTS for daily riding around town is something that I don’t know – it would definitely be worth considering the later model. It’s not perfect but it is a lot more refined an less jerky than mine.
The rear brake is also a lot better, which is to say that it brakes, something the original MTS didn’t do!
As for the rest:
– didn’t like the Sachs Skyhook suspension very much, seemed less compliant and with a slightly harsher behavior than the Ohlins. You wouldn’t notice it riding it in isolation but coming from one to the other it seemed different. But again it was a very short ride at slow speed around town.
– The software has been updated and now when it displays the mode you are in immediately shows also the Power, ABS and TC settings included in that mode. On mine you only see the mode, to see what settings have been defined in that mode (because you can change them from default, my bike for example is always at 150hp) you have to go in the menus. Not a major difference but I liked the new one.
– The new seat has a different cover and looks great!
– The Ducati logos are 3D and glued to the fairing instead of just being painted over. They look great,
– The screen is different and is adjustable with one hand, on the move. (didn’t really felt much need for this mod, but the new system is clever).
– The On/Off switch is different and in a very weird colour.
– The wheels are different too.
– The little storage compartment on the front fairing opens the other way around and has a slightly diferent shape…it’s still mostly useless though.
And I think that’s it! Not massive changes or anything really interesting but thought it would be (half)interesting to mention this little changes I noticed.
I recently had the opportunity to try a Ducati Monster, while my MTS was having an oil change. It was the smallest one of the family, the 696 Dark, not the 1200S unfortunately. But the fact I wasn’t expecting much from the entry level low powered, air cooled Ducati made it all the bigger surprise!
I was expecting a vanilla naked bike, like many others from different manufacturers but boy it’s so much more than that!
When you first sit on it the position is a bit awkward with a long reach to the handlebars has if you were trying to grab the headlight. I guess this is the famous Monster seating position that most reviews refer.
I have owned and ridden several naked bikes but none had this strange (at first) reach to the bars. It’s not uncomfortable though and as soon as you get moving comes the second surprise: it changes direction like a rabbit running away from a dog! It’s lightning fast, just think about changing direction and the bike just does it! The lightness and the skinny tires help and the initially awkward seating position becomes just perfect for hitting the turns.
As for the engine, I only got to ride around town so I’m not sure how it would cope with higher speeds, but at moderate pace (under 100km/h) it has plenty of grunt and not for one minute feels bland. It leaps forward with every twist of the right wrist and comes with a glorious sound track to match. Seriously, with the exception of the Yamaha MT-01 I’ve never heard a better soundtrack coming out of a standard exhaust! It’s a loud, deep howl with a glorious burble on the overrun. I was laughing inside my helmet the first time I stretched first gear before closing the throttle and coasting to a red light.
It’s not a super powerful bike, it’s not very practical (it’s a naked!) and in places you can see it’s been built to a price, but I can’t think of any other beginner bike with such a nice design and charisma!
Now if only I could get my hands on a Monster 1200S….
She’s good looking
Skinny by modern fashion standards 160 section rear tyre