Route Planning

I am a planner by nature, and half the fun of this trip is in the actual planning and preparation.  One of the most important part of this trip is to plot the route so that we get to see and do as much as possible in the short amount of time we have.

With my new bike, I got the BMW Navigator V. It is a great device and I will do a review of it soon. It comes with software called Basecamp which you can use for free. The thing is, before I got the new bike I was already plotting the route using another routing software called Tyre (I had a TomTom Rider, which is a great GPS system, but the Navigator V integrates far better with the bike). Tyre is much easier to use than Basecamp and thankfully it is able to synchronise with my new Garmin unit.

With Tyre you can approach routing in a couple different ways. You can plot all the points you want to visit and let Tyre create a route for you. The second method, and the one I am using, is to still plot the points of the places you want to visit, but to force the route to go the direction you want you plot a whole lot of other points too. For example, what if I wanted to go from one town to another, but I didn’t want to take the motorway, check out the below two images:

Point to Point Route
Point to Point Route
Point to Point Route with extra points
Point to Point Route with extra points

Tyre is available for free. The free version has some advertising as you can see from the below screenshot.

Tyre Screenshot

I did end up paying for it as it gives you a couple extra features besides removing the advertising. I am tweaking the route all the time, and will post it up here soon. I have pretty much decided all the places we will go through and which route to take. The next step is to figure out where we will be staying during the trip.

So I sold my BMW motorbike

No I haven’t changed my mind about the R1200GS! There was a little problem though, it was called envy. The Adventure version was just so sexy! So I have traded in my ’08 R1200GS for a (very) low mileage ’14 R1200GSA.

As I have mentioned before, I am a big guy (my wife is tiny…she told me to say that). The R1200GS Adventure allows for a lot more weight on the bike. With my wife and I on the non-adventure we are left with about 10KG’s or so for our luggage. We get substantially more payload with the GS Adventure. We also get around a third more fuel in the big tank. I also just love the look of the adventure. I will post up a picture soon of the new bike, I haven’t had it out much since I bought it (stupid UK weather).

The biggest reason however for the change was reliability. We are doing a trip of a lifetime when we go around Europe and I don’t want to remember the trip for the breakdowns. If we had more time to do the trip, then sure lets take more risks and have a true adventure with a high mileage bike…but both my wife and I are Professionals with busy careers and limited time off. So we are making the most of the little time off we have by doing this trip.

I will be doing a video on the bike soon. I will talk about what a big change it was to switch from the 2008 R1200GS to the 2014 R1200GSA. Wow, what a change.

So I bought a BMW motorbike

My Dad has been a BMW rider for about 20 years now. Maybe it is because of this that I associated BMW motorbikes with “old guys”. When I was 20 years old my Dad owned a K1200LT (or Starship Enterprise as most other people called it) and he also had a R1150GS. We went to a bike rally (Bathurst Rally in South Africa), him on the K1200RT and me on the R1150GS. We did about 400 miles on that trip. I really enjoyed riding the GS. It was a fun bike…not exhilarating, but good fun.

The rally itself was great fun, and was the last bike ride I did with my dad before I moved to the UK. There was a lot to remember about that weekend, but I must be honest, the R1150GS didn’t leave too much of a mark on me.

Fast-forward to about 3 years ago. I was loving my ZX-9R. My Dad had now moved over to the UK, and we are doing a few rides together (camping trips etc.). He still has a BMW and is telling me that I should consider getting one too. No chance Dad! I then watched a little-known series called The Long Way Round and The Long Way Down. There is a lot of criticism about these series, but they do get your adventurous side stimulated! This was when I seriously considered switching to the R1200GS. I wanted to have adventures on a motorbike too! I wanted to be able to ride a bike all day without my back and wrists hating me.

Through my research and taking my budget into consideration, the 2008 model R1200GS seemed like the best bet. Within a few weeks I had sold my Kawasaki (for pretty much what I paid for it) and I took delivery of my black R1200GS.

It rode well, but had a few issues. It looked like it had been ridden the way it was intended and not babied. There was a lot of colour fade from being out in the sun a lot (on the controls and the seat). There was rust on a lot of the nuts and bolts, and it had the dreaded bubbling on the front of the engine. But these were all cosmetic issues, which I wasn’t too bothered about. The first big ride I did I noticed some play in the steering. I also noticed the fuel gauge wasn’t working properly. I found this one out when I ran out of fuel while the gauge showed half full. Both these issues were sorted out without fuss by the guy that sold the bike to me. Oh I almost forgot about the skid plate coming loose while on the motorway. The front two bolts had disappeared. I was hearing a lovely “pinging” noise from the plate bouncing up against the bottom of the engine. This too was fixed for no cost. Unfortunately the fuel gauge broke again, twice, during the two years of ownership (Seriously BMW, that electronic fuel gauge strip was a piece of junk, thank goodness you have gone back to a mechanical float system). The replacement was covered by warranty…the work to do the replacement was not however, and cost 30 minutes of the BMW engineers’ time.

Talking of cost. My first service of the bike, bearing in mind it was a minor service with no issues except having to also replace the fuel gauge, cost me close to £500! Insane! My most expensive service of my ZX-9R was £320 (it was a “big” service, and included replacing the alternator with a refurbished one). Now I know I shouldn’t be comparing the servicing of these two bikes, but at the end of the day I have certain expectations around ongoing costs of owning a motorbike. My next service will not be at a BMW garage. I have had quotes which come in at half the cost with the official BMW garage.

All in all, I am enjoying being a BMW rider. It is in a whole new league for me compared to other bikes I have owned. Yes, other riders tend to not nod or wave back to me anymore, but the brakes are incredible, power delivery is uniform and predictable, handling is surprisingly good for such a big bike, and best of all, every time I get on the GS I feel like I am heading out on a mini adventure.