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1990 BMW R100GS Dakar

First Frost

Classic Velocity

Fall is beautiful in the northeast US. Cooler temperatures seem to suit air/oil cooled engines well and following the sweltering record-breaking heat of the summer, it is a welcome relief. Vibrant fall foliage creates Van Goghs and Cezannes everywhere. Just look in any direction, and add a frame. However, the beauty of fall is also the coming of much colder weather. You must enjoy fall because, as the name implies, things can go downhill from here for the riding enthusiast.

On this particular day, the weatherman said sunny with highs in the low 60s. I was headed out with a friend and neighbor for a few hours of riding starting early. In this case, early meant 40 degrees. And 40 degrees meant 30 degrees on the bike at speed. Standing outside it did not feel that bad; just a crisp morning with a little frost here and there. I had already committed to take the PD, and I refused to wear full winter gear as it felt ok, and it was still October after all. We of the limited riding season cannot admit defeat so early.

A week or two earlier, I had made a couple of adjustments to the rear shock aimed at improving rebound damping, and I had synched the carbs. The bike responded by increasing horsepower by 10 bhp and torque by 10 ft lbs. Or so it felt. What a difference, it was now more stable in the sweepers (relatively), and pulled stronger in the higher rev ranges. This made it a much better street bike. I am sure the cool air helped, but that would not be as exciting as unlocking double digit gains with cable adjustments! 

 


Once we hit the highway for a brief stint, everything felt fine, except for my hands. The hand guards on the PD are positioned to do a fair job against light brush off road, but they left fingertips freezing in this case. Cold hands are a weakness of mine, and I had just recently suffered the consequences of mis-judging the weather (see squandering the attention budget), so you would think i would be better prepared in the glove department. Well you would be wrong. What's that you say, turn on the heated grips? Well the switch had been rather finicky. The low position did not work at all, and on this occasion, the high position failed as well. End result, no heated grips. Note to self, always bring the heated gloves along.

 


The riding was glorious, and the roads were relatively empty. Sunlight filtered through the state forests as we rode, the roads were dry and lightly sprinkled with falling leaves, the riding gods were pleased this day. We stopped at a Diner in White Haven, and I adjusted the hand guards a little, and used fine sandpaper on the heated grip switch connections. Low remained non-functional, but high was now working. As we left, the temperature climbed into the sixties, negating the need for either repair. C'est la vie. We had a glorious return trip with the PD performing brilliantly, and being every bit the match for a Honda about 15 years younger. Fortunately, frosty ground and frosty fingers cannot detract from a great motorcycle.