The 650GS Sertao leaves the garage in exchange for the 850GS. It is sad in that there was nothing wrong with the bike, and it is probably the last modern single to inhabit the garage. The big Rotax single is legendary and will continue to be, but a highway cruiser it is not. I have sung its praises many times and it has done great duty when unpaved was much greater than paved. The challenge is that being further from good dirt riding, the paved will be greater than the unpaved. A machine more capable of doing both, with no buzziness, great mileage, twice the power, and 2 up capability, makes some sense. That said, someone will inherit a great machine.
2012 BMW Sertao
A day out heading towards the hills, but with a detour through some dirt roads in the Withlacoochee forest. The trails were soggy and sandy after all of the rain, so some areas were a slog fest. Back on the tarmac, the route had some nice back roads with some sweepers and scenic views of the lake region. A few high speed segments reminded me how competent the single is from 60-80+ mph. It was also a hot day, but no issues other than some heat off the engine at a few traffic lights. All in all, a good outing.
This was an opportunity to take the very long way to the shops for some bagels, which are usually very good. On this day, the ride was excellent on deserted roads in the cool morning air. The bagels, however, were not. Oh well, one out of two isn’t bad.....
It begins with 40 miles of 80mph+ highway on a warm day. In addition, it was into a fierce headwind with gusts. The windshield was helpful if I scrunched down behind it, but the Sertao is not happy at those speeds. It feels tight, and gets above 5500rpm on the tachometer. At the conclusion of that run, I immediately ran into city traffic where we crawled along in fits and starts, and really tested the clutch. Then after a break, it was more city traffic for 30 minutes followed by a highway blast to finish things off. Not the expected outing for the Sertao, but a good test of high speed bike, slow speed bike. It handled both, but did not feel happy about either.
So there I was in a gas station parking lot with darkness descending, and the bike would not start. It first just seemed like it would turn over without firing, but it very quickly became a spent battery. But how? I had just ridden about 15 miles and stopped to check air pressure. It had started fine and ran well ! Regardless, the machine died, and fortunately a police officer rolled in for a coffee break, and ran back to the station for his jump pack. The machine fired up right away, and I returned home without stopping.
I thought that the battery was not that old, but it was a BMW battery and may have been original. It had been on a trickle charger most of the time. Was that a faulty trickle charger? A bad battery? Why was it not charging while riding? In the end after sticking a meter on the battery while running, I decided that the battery was at fault. Bad trickle charger, plus bad alternator was unlikely, and a healthy 14v was present when tested.
The solution was a Shorai battery. It was more costly than a regular AGM solution, but lighter and supposedly better at resisting discharge. It matched the dimensions perfectly.
The new Givi windshield has had some around town and backroad testing, but no highway stint. Until now, that is. On a beautiful day, it was time to get a good highway run at speeds north of 70 mph. The Sertao is certainly capable of speeds up and over 80 mph, but in my experience, it is most comfortable around 75 mph. With the new shield, wind buffeting is greatly reduced, but the bike still gets blown around a bit behind trucks, and the fron end gets light. The instrument cluster is much better, and I can now run with the cell phone on a ram mount that is not blocking the instruments. The shield has not transformed the bike into a transcontinental tourer, but is is much improved over stock.
After finally getting the bike moved, a nice day allowed for a ride on some country roads. ...
Spring means that club and social gatherings begin. It is surprising how many people are not familiar with the model. They know the Dakar far better, but the Sertao with its short model life is more obscure.
When it comes to motorcycles, one size definitely does not fit all. While any given general platform is probably suitable for the average rider, I have never met the average rider. On the Sertao, the triangle of foot peg to seat to handlebars is pretty good in my case without any modifications. However, the windshield was such that the wind blast hit me right in the face shield. This was no big issue at low and off-road speeds, but was pretty annoying at highway speeds.
The Internet to the rescue. Checking the forums online and shopping around for options, produced a variety of alternatives. There was a wide range of pricing, along with a wide range of heights, widths, and colors. Part of the challenge that I have always had with windshield, is that it is very difficult to estimate how much more height or width you might need in order to get that perfect blend in the cockpit. You couple that with varied approaches by the vendors as to how to move air around, and there is a dizzying array.
In the end, I opted for a Givi unit. It was taller, wider, and on sale. Once installed on the bike, it also did not look like someone had attached a giant sheet of plexiglass to the front of the motorcycle, ruining it's lines. The initial test ride was in pretty cold temperatures, so it was pretty easy to tell where the air was flowing. The blast to the face shield was gone, and the air now clearly bounced off the top of the helmet which was about right. I could still comfortably see over the windshield. It was hard to tell what impact the width had as this windshield had cut outs to maintain the full turning radius. It would probably take a back to back test in order to fully understand the differences. It certainly felt like it made a difference.
After the last post, any ride has the feel of being something "stolen", a pleasure snatched from the jaws of winter. As such, these rides are all the more enjoyable. Just over an hour, sparse traffic on roads last seen with lush green vegetation, but now a winter wonderland. Invigorating, and a great way to stave off cabin fever....
With the riding season rapidly ending, this was a chance to grab the remaining daylight to break a two-wheel drought....
Here are a couple of early videos....
Shed light further down the road at night. These LED lights augment the headlight with their cooler blue spectrum.
This machine came without a center stand. I have always valued a center stand, And it is particularly important want to do a sport machine where you are likely to be changing tires or making other maintenance and repairs trailside or roadside.however, this bike is something of a mystery. The Sertao is taller than the normal G650GS, and has a unique center stand. This particular Sertao has a 1 inch lowering link by Kouba. This makes the regular center stand too tall for use, and in danger of touching down and reducing cornering clearance.
What to do? Well, after some measurements and experimentation, it turns out that the regular G650GS center stand is almost just right for this application. It is a little low, and acts more like a ride-off stand, but I am planning to get that remedied with a little welding.
Sometimes, the best rides are not in perfect conditions. The prior few days had been raining on and off. This day was forecast for rain again later in the day, so I decided to go out for a few hours in the morning. It was damp from the rain overnight, with completely overcast skies and cool conditions around 50 degrees. The conditions combined with the early hour meant that traffic was non-existent. Once out of town, the landscape was the kind of lush green that can only be created by days of rain. Leaves were changing, but still well short of peak colors. The grey skies provided a sort of uniform muted soft lighting for everything. It was like riding through a painting.
The chosen twisty route was without vehicles. The curves flowed side to side at a pace comfortable for empty roads and good sight lines. Left, right, left, right.....over hill and dale. Cows meandered out to misty fields, stacks of wood sat ready for the fireplace, streams and brooks swelled to test the limits of their banks, squirrels and chipmunks scurried about taking advantage of the gap in the weather, leaves glistened as they helicoptered to the ground. Left, right, left, right.....It was like riding through a movie.
It was drizzling by the time I approached home, and by the time I was in the garage it had evolved into a steady rain. I stood for a while drinking coffee and staring out through an open garage into the rain. The weather window had closed, but the day could bring what it wanted now. I had somehow stolen a glorious ride in a secret world that had now vanished......
The luggage flexibility quest continues with a rack from BRE for the Sertao. It arrived and we went right to work installing it. The majority of the time was consumed by the release mechanism for the seat. Once that was complete, I mounted the case and discovered that it would not lock in place. It turns out that the brackets were interfering. I emailed Steve at BRE and he will be getting me new brackets. Meanwhile, I flat spotted the rear pucks a bit to get it on so that I could use it in the interim. Now the 1190R and the Sertao share a complete set of luggage except for the tank bag.
It was tough to part with the Wolfman Monarchs, as they had served me very well. However, they funded a second mounting system for the Mosko Scouts. They have more capacity, are waterproof, and have a cool molle system for attachments. My mounting kit was missing some hardware, but I had enough to position the bags. I am now down to a single system for road trips regardless of which bike.
During the GS Giant rally, the bike had some long hard days. With the machine having 3000 miles, I felt it was time for an oil change. I also had a drain plug from Dimple that was ready to install. It was short work draining the sump and then the oil tank using the vacuum extractor. Two and a half liters of BMW oil which is ridiculously expensive went back in along with a new oil filter and o-ring. The drained oil was pretty clean, and there were no visible particulates. One of these days I will send some off for analysis....There was also a harmonic rattle/vibration on takeoff which turned out to be a front bolt for the Touratech bash plate. This time it gets loctite.
This machine continues to impress, with how smooth it feels at highway speed's, and the resulting gas mileage. It easily handles 70 to 80 mph without much of the buzz that you would associate with a single. It also delivers 50 miles per gallon at 75 to 80 mph, and I know that it is significantly better at lower speeds. the F800ST delivered better gas mileage than this, but it had a full fairing, a good windshield, and street tires.
Sometime during the GS Giants rally, I lost the left side roundel. This is purely cosmetic, and I flirted with putting something else in that nice round space. Something less than the price of an OEM replacement. Then I got a 40% off sale on parts and just got the replacement. It just has two locating pins and an adhesive strips. I added a little all purpose adhesive for insurance.
This was the first full day of the rally with vendors open and seminars underway. However, the overnight storm did some damage to the outdoor vendors, blowing away tents, knocking over bikes, and smashing displays. Wunderlich was particularly impacted, but a few others also decided to pack up given the carnage. Not a good start.
The vintage display was only partially populated, but it was already impressive. I sat in on an early global travel session, and then toured the vendor areas. This was the point where I finally pulled the trigger on the Mosko Moto panniers. The remaining outside vendors seemed to be doing ok, and the demo rides had long lines.
A few of us tried out the GS Giants course. What a blast! Varied, challenging, with water, sand, up, down, and slow technical sections. This was followed by a great late lunch., and then more seminars.