Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another pic of Graf Zeppelin

Just posting a photo of the bike with the small top case.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

First Impressions of the Mighty GT

Consider my post title foreshadowing. I will make this quick, I hope.

I came to BMW motorcycles later than some. And most of my motorcycle miles have been on K-bikes. However, I spent the last two years on a 2002 R1150RS. A fine motorcycle. With a big flaw. The R1150RS has rubber-mounted handlebars. I hated them. Turning felt like that old pickup we have all driven, where the first three inches of steering wheel movement left or right provided absolutely no change in course.

The K1200GT does not have any soft components between my hands and the asphalt. And that new front suspension system ... is like riding with both hands directly on the pavement.

This is the best motorcycle I have ever ridden. Handling is far superior to anything else in my experience.

Wind protection is spectacular - I stay warmer in very cold weather, even without electric help. Graf has an accessory plug wired directly to the battery, so I can use my Gerbings. And it has heated grips and seats. I have not found the need to use them much, except for that one ride where we got snowed on at TWO.

Rain protection, much needed lately, is far superior to my 2000 K1200LT. Yes, even better than the LuxoTub. In a recent driving rain, only my forearms got wet. I have an iPod remote control zip-tied to the left handlebar of Graf. It is fragile, and by no means even water-resistant. Not a drop of moisture on it in driving rain (or snow).

The engine is smooth as silk. And powerful enough to ride it like it has an automatic transmission. On a recent ride to TWO, approaching from the north, I put the bike in third gear in Fannin County and shifted once, down to second, when crossing the Union County line.

Plenty of storage, especially with the small top box. I love the "glove compartment." Ergonomics are perfect for the way I like to sit on a bike.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Moonlighting Tour

Buster and I moonlight as tour guides for motorcycle groups. We take the job very seriously, and test roads before we take our groups to places we have not been, or places we have been previously concerned about.

Yesterday, I tested a road we found on MapSource - Otter Creek Road. It connects Wayah Road with NC 28 and parallels the Nantahala Gorge. At mile four, it turned to what you see in the picture. Since this group is road-oriented, we won't be using Otter Creek Road. What a shame. The Nantahala Gorge road can be quite crowded during kayaking season.

On the same trip, I also tested the whole of Wayah Road. The last time we rode it, the surface had just been converted from very nice asphalt to a really bad application of chip seal at the Wayah Bald Summit going north for about five miles. The road went from an A to an F. It is now a C+/B- and I will see if I can talk Buster into using the road.

At the south end of Wayah Road, I stopped for a Gatorade and a bio break. A group of local riders showed up, one on an R1150R. He quizzed me about Graf, asking the usual horsepower question (I was asked three times about Graf's output on the trip). He asked where I was headed, too. I pointed north. He said, "Ah, Thunder Road."

I'm not sure I like the name. I'm also not sure Wayah Road needs a motorcyclists' nickname. Look what it did for the Dragon - police patrols and dead squids.

What a wonderful day. MapSource says 337 miles with about 3,000 feet of elevation change from my home. And the weather was perfect. If only I could find a decent lunch spot in Andrews, North Carolina. If you are ever there, don't bother with any restaurant with the word depot in it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gutting Graf Zeppelin

Thanks, Ron, for the before picture of the bike.

Last Saturday, Ron, Buster and I spent most of the day gutting Graf Zeppelin. And bickering. We installed a RAM Mount for a Garmin 276C, the motorcycle power and audio cable for same, and a BMW accessory plug. Did I mention we bickered a lot?

The RAM mount attached to a bolt hole in the middle of the "triple clamp," under the plastic cap, located beneath the adjustable handlebar. I used a three inch arm to connect the bottom ball to the 276C holder.

We hard-wired the motorcycle power and audio cable to the battery, conveniently located under the small fairing piece just in front of the gas filler nozzle and just under the mounted GPS. The Garmin-supplied cable includes an audio-out patch cord which will allow interface with the BMW/J&M communications system yet to be installed.

Likewise, the BMW accessory plug was wired directly to the battery. The large side fairing piece required removal for this installation.

Both wirings either had or were fitted with in-line fuses.

And now for the rest of the story.... We bickered for hours. Several of us wanted to install a Centech fuse panel, switched with a relay, and route all wiring through that. One of us pointed out that we were only installing two items, one of which would be less useable if switched.

BMW uses a new wiring system in the K1200GT. The CAN Buss is a one-wire system, somewhat like ethernet. Amperage limitations exist, so battery tenders, air pumps, and most important, heated clothing may not run with an accessory plug fitted through the CAN Buss.

Projects One and Two complete. I owe Ron and Buster lunch for their help.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ride: Saturday, April 21, 2007

While most of the Nawth Jawja Rat Pack are weekending it to Chattanooga to see Allison Kraus in concert, I'm going to test some roads for my upcoming duty as tour guide. Meet me at the Palace Bagel in Toco Hills shopping center (see the map file starting point) at 7:00 AM Saturday morning, April 21, 2007.

I will be checking on the condition of Wayah Road on this trip, and I may detour from the route in the GDB file noted on the web page linked above.

Monday, April 16, 2007

And so it begins...

BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta took bike number seven in trade for Graf Zeppelin. And so it begins ... my second hundred thousand miles on motorcycles.

Check back here often for roads my friends and I love, for riding and wrenching tips, and for pics of our adventures.