The bike is dead. Long live the bike!

As I’m writing this I should have been on my way across Ohio or into Michigan on my motorcycle on the way to Madison for my daughter’s graduation, to be followed by a blast across the Dakotas and Montana to Oregon to visit friends then into California then to Utah to visit family.

Instead, I’m packing for an airplane trip. To Madison, thankfully, but not using the mode of transportation that I had intended.

So what happened? As I wrote a few weeks ago I had an “incident” with the bike which required some repairs. I made the fixes, but after getting the bike back on the road the brakes started giving me troubles. The ABS on this BMW R1150RT have been occasionally acting up over the past few years, and I certainly want operational brakes before a cross country trip. So I loaded the bike into the back of the truck (a task in and of itself) and drove to the dealer 45 minutes away. Of course by the time I unloaded the bike there and had the service writer take a look the brakes worked perfectly. Load back up and go back home.

I haven’t had much time this spring to ride due to moving and business travel. The next time I had to ride was a week or so later, when I went out for a couple hundred miles. You guessed it, quite a ways from home the brakes started acting funny, with the warning light coming on and the rear brakes disappearing. I made it home okay on the front brake, and then the next day after checking the bike both brakes were fine. As my planned cross country trip was two weeks away I thought it best to get the bike into the dealer, so rode the bike to the dealer with C following me in the car. Halfway there the rear brake died again, and about five miles from the dealer the front died as well. No brakes. I *carefully* rode the rest of the way without incident  thanks to the wonders of engine braking. Given that it’s springtime, the busiest time of year for motorcycle service, and only having a single BMW tech on staff (really?), the dealer (Montgomeryville Cycle) couldn’t even look at the bike for two weeks, and then if any parts were needed another few days would be added.

Big trip cancelled. I couldn’t be sure that the bike would be completed in time, and I couldn’t miss my daughter’s graduation, so had to get an airplane ticket instead.

Well, they finally got around to looking at the bike last week. They said it was just a loose relay wire, which they charged $125 to fix. C drove me to Montgomeryville on Saturday to get the bike. Halfway home the brakes disappeared again. Good quality work, those guys at MCC; highly recommended. Right.

I’d been thinking the last few weeks that it’s just time for a new bike. The BMW is eight years old with 66k miles on it, and despite BMW’s reputation for reliability and durability I’ve experienced nothing of the sort. The last three years have been a constant struggle to keep the bike running and on the road, and even before then the maintenance costs were not anything to be pleased with. After researching a number of different bikes (requirements: sport touring, upright riding position, lower maintenance costs, availability of accessories, dealer not too far away) I settled on a Triumph Tiger 1050.

I’ve been lusting after a Ducati Multistrada for the past year or so, but the high cost ($20k) was more than I can afford, and my experience with the BMW has shown me to distrust high tech on motorcycles — too many electronic features just provide more things to go expensively wrong. Cost is an important issue as I don’t make nearly as much as I did when I bought the Beemer eight years ago.So, off I go to the Triumph dealer (Hermy’s) who had a 2010 Tiger demo with a couple thousand miles on the clock, at a good price. Given the condition of my BMW (high miles, funky brakes, and maintenance items that I wasn’t aware were supposed to have been done, so hadn’t) they couldn’t give me more than, essentially, salvage value for the bike. But at this point my love-hate relationship with the Beemer has swung too far to one side. It’s time to send it away.

Other than the maintenance issues and expense the RT has been a great bike; the riding position was perfect for me and the combination sport and touring capabilities has made it a great all-round performer. I’ve taken it on a couple of long cross country rides (though I never got to the left coast), a number of Iron Butt rides, multiple trips up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway — and C’s first ride on a motorcycle. I’ve lost and replaced a Kermit riding buddy, made some great friends in a motorcycle club in Ithaca, and explored a great deal of the United States. I’ve made lots of good memories on that bike.
BMW at the Grand Canyon

I hope that the new Tiger 1050 will provide the same good experiences. I was quite impressed with the test ride. The bike is lighter by about a hundred pounds and has about 25 more horsepower than the BMW, so is much quicker. Like the BMW it’s going to take a bit of time and expense to get set up right; given my height I need to lower the pegs, I’ll want to upgrade the seat, and I need to add additional lights for safety, etc.

The big ride isn’t back on, yet. I still need to do my cross country ride; I still have a few states that I haven’t ridden in. I had hoped to ride in all the lower 48 on the BMW but that’s not going to happen. I’ll have to pick up the rest on the Tiger. I don’t really want to ride mid summer when the temperatures are hot, and while fall would be best for the weather I’m tied up with three weeks of business travel in September. I’ve got vacation time available but not sure when I can fit this trip into the calendar. And between having to buy a new bike and other expenses I’m not sure that I can afford the trip. But it’s gonna happen somehow, sometime.


About pininforthefjords

I'm pinin' for the fjords. That's all.
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