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.
2012 BMW Sertao
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.
A $23 air bed and the use of my ear plugs made all the difference in the world. A solid 7 hours of sleep. I sat and watched dawn turn to day once again in the solitude of the campground. I charged the phone via the single portlet outlet on the bike, which reminded me that I must add another outlet up front, as it is not in a good location to use while underway.
After breakfast, it is off to Hamburg via mostly pavement with a few segments of dirt crossing from PA into NY. The dirt was easy forest service roads. The pavement was interesting in sections, following route 62 north through sections of Amish country, and dying towns that once thrived during the hey day of logging and mining. Through towns like Poland and Persia before getting to Eden. Eventually Hamburg and registration. Fortunately, I managed to find one of the last shady spots for the tent.
A portion of the Giants crew reassembled for dinner and the night's entertainment. A short but violent thunderstorm whipped through the rally grounds in the middle of the night sending tents flying and knocking down a few tree limbs. The Columbia stayed put thanks to the tree line, and stayed dry inside as well despite water settling on the tarp. Job done.
Today after getting a new permit, we rode some of the cook national forest. The trails were similar to Allegheny, but with longer stretches of double track. It was dusty in groups, so I waited for a gap to ride solo. By now, the Sertao feels comfortable in the dirt and gravel. it helps to have sorted out the ABS setting! It has gaps between gearing which seem a bit odd, but once you know, you can plan accordingly. The rear brakes are all I use off-road, and they have excellent control and feel, allowing you to slide the rear. The suspension worked very well also, handling big whoops and loose rear traction with ease. Rocky sections did feel like I was pounding the heck out of the chain and sprocket, but they were all in good shape at the end of the day. I did manage to lose one of the roundels, which is pretty good compared to some of the banged up machines returning to camp.
Out of the Cook forest, I headed east and rode some great roads up toward Bradford and Brockway and ended up down around the hamlet of Munderf in Amish country. I must have looked like an alien astronaut to the Amish children watching and waving as I passed. It was a hot day, and I stopped outside of Brookville for a cone at one of the disappearing drive-up ice cream stands. A few more pleasant miles returned me to camp. A dinner and cold beer on tap was followed by the raffle where I won a set of Giant Loop Proghorn straps! Another good day for me, but not for everyone, as two seriously damaged GS bikes came back to camp on trailers....
Did not sleep well, due primarily to the bed roll. It is small and light, but not enough padding. Must shop at the rally. Got up very early and watched the dawn break and heard the birds begin their song. Best time of the day.
I decided not to follow the schedule tour for that day and instead hooked up with a few guys who were going to ride some of the trails in the Cook Forest and the Allegheny Forest. We ended up with a beginner in the group who is not even comfortable standing up on the pegs and she went down only a few minutes into the trail. A group of the stock to help her and she continued on her way but another five minutes later she was down again. This time she tweaked her handlebars and was a little bit shaken up. We all decided to get her back to the ranger station as by now the group of been separated a little bit and waited for everybody to regroup.by this time it was early afternoon and everybody decided to take a lunch break. A wasted half a day with little off-road riding. The beginner and a group of folks decided to head back to camp, but a couple of guys (Ed and Emile) and myself decided that we were going to go ride the rest of the trails
They were far better riders than I and we had an absolute blast following the intermediate trails that had a real mixture of mud, whoops, rocks, steep uphill's, steep decline, and everything in between. Challenging for me and even for them at a few points. Ironically, I never laid the bike down for the entire trip of 80 or so miles off road, but Emile did once. It reminded me of exactly how heavy the R 1200 GS is when you have to pick it up on the trail. For about the last 20 miles of the trail, my fuel light came on. I had a liter bottle of fuel, but was reluctant to turn the bike off because I had such trouble getting the ABS to turn off. At the end of the trail was 20 miles of phenomenal blacktop that follow the river and lead us all the way back to camp. I arrived at the fuel station on fumes.
A relatively easy day of travel to the Giants rally. A first opportunity to see how the Sertao behaved on a long highway stint. The answer is very well. 75-80mph is 5k on the tach (horrible to read underway in sunlight!), which is about where the R100GSPD used to be. It does not feel too stressed until you get above 90mph. Fuel mileage falls to 60mpg, compared to 80+ if you just wander around B roads. Still impressive.
At the site there was an easy checkin, great dinner, and free beer! Camped beside Paul and his wife from PA, and Bob Winter from MN. Spoke with organizer Rick for some time and we swapped speeding ticket stories. I think he won 😀 Nice bonfire to top off the night. A good day one.
The garage has seen enough machines come and go to have a decent assortment of luggage laying about. Of course, most of it is for vintage iron, so it is of no help to anything modern. In this case, the Sertao is a capable multi-day machine, and so it needs some luggage capacity. Soft luggage is the obvious choice since we already have the Wolfman bags. However, they really need a rack. I looked once again at the Mosko Moto gear and that needs a rack as well. So I ordered the Givi rack because it seems to give me the most options for soft, hard, existing. They installed quickly and included an ingenious expansion bolt solution to attach to the passenger footpeg mount. They feel sturdy, and it was easy to mount the Wolfman soft luggage. Up front, the Chase Harper 450 tankbag is a decent fit, and since the fuel filler is in the rear, the straps are not a constant pain.
To test everything out along with the XD3 helmet and the PlugUp ear phones, I went for a couple of hours ride in the area and ran some errands. On the way back, I did a small section of gravel road to see how everything felt when the road got unpaved. The luggage worked fine, and the carrying capacity is now up to par. The one criticism of the bike that I would offer is the rear rack. Because the seat is released from inside the small rear hatch, you cannot really mount any permanent tail rack or luggage. It needs to be a soft solution as well ......