The F800GS in repose, kitted for sub-rosa desert duty. The stock muffler is heavy, but it'
Ringleader: Tim Carrithers
MSRP (2009): $12,175
Average Fuel Mileage: 48 mpg
Accessories & Modifications: Continental TKC 80 tires, SW-Motech crash bars, Barkbuster VPS handguards, Wolfman Expedition tank bag and a calculable percentage of the Touratech catalog
It's been a while, but rumors of my BMW F800GS's demise are greatly exaggerated. We're both alive and well after being bumped out of the long-term rotation by a blizzard-induced incident last February. The spiral-fractured ankle is fine too, thanks. For those who missed the Christmas newsletter, it's not like we've been sitting around since that frozen 2.5-mph tip-over cost me a clutch lever and some bodywork. The first order of business was a set of SW-Motech crashbars ($195 from www.twistedthrottle.com), fashioned from just enough 27mm mild-steel tubing to save the really expensive bits. I added a set of Barkbusters VPS handguards ($159.99) to save my hands from cold wind, Pinyon Pines, Mesquite (watch those thorns!) and other hostile high-desert flora. The Australian-made 'busters do a lot more than keep your gloves clean; there's a contoured length of very solid aluminum stock behind that plastic VPS shield. Get out of shape and smack a tree just once and they've paid for themselves four or five times. Installation is simple, and the only downside is a bit more buzz on the freeway without the stock bar-end weights.
A Touratech (www. touratech-usa.com) oil-filter guard ($86.70) and small aluminum engine guard ($124.65), along with the engine guard extension ($65.50) that bolts to the centerstand, have protected the 799cc twin's undercarriage for the last 5870 miles. Those stainless-steel headers are still open to attack, but so far, so good. Touratech's kickstand extension ($32.10) only seems trivial until the stock stand's tiny foot buries itself, allowing the 800 to capsize halfway through an emergency pee. A steel headlight guard ($99.50), also from Touratech, saved me from riding home in the dark after fending off a fast-moving piece of granite from a faster-moving KTM. The shadowy grid it casts in the beam after dark is annoying, but much better than no light at all.
Standing on the BMW's scrawny stock pegs finally made my feet hurt badly enough to do something about them; enter a pair of Touratech's long-distance footpegs ($111.40). Aside from providing a more comfortable 3x2-inch serrated-steel footing off-road, two different models move you 18mm closer or farther away from the shift lever and brake pedal. A Touratech adjustable shifter ($65.50) makes gear changes easier, sitting or standing, and survives repeated straightening after disputes with various solid objects.
Touratech's locking GPS mount ($159.30) holds my Garmin Zumo 550 more securely than anythi
If you're over 6 feet tall like me, a set of Touratech 20mm risers ($32.10) lifts the bar just enough to take the pain out of standing on the pegs. And speaking of pain relief, their tall breathable seat ($640.60) is worth 10 times its weight in Aleve and baby powder after a hot, sweaty weekend on the road. Available in low and standard versions as well, the high one adds just enough legroom to accommodate my 35-inch inseam. Nicely contoured and firmer than stock, it also breathes enough to avert the dreaded Monkey Butt. The tough outer fabric offers a lot more grip than the stock stuff on wet rides, and a Gore-Tex liner keeps water from soaking the foam beneath.
If it looks like I spend a lot of time with my nose buried in a Touratech catalog, I do; nobody puts more gadgets and gear for adventure-touring bikes in one place. Everything fits, everything works, and the people on the other end of the phone are always easy to deal with.
Some people load their BMWs up like the Clampetts' 1921 Oldsmobile. I like to travel light. Most everything I need fits in an old Malcolm Smith fanny pack and/or the 10x14-inch Touratech aluminum luggage extender that bolts to the stock saddlebag mounts. Most street-going tank bags are either too fragile or too clumsy for dirty work, and though I still unstrap it for hard-core rides, the small Wolfman Expedition tank bag ($109.99 from www.wolfmanluggage.com) goes everywhere else. The PVC-coated exterior is waterproof, and the top secures to the bottom with tough plastic buckles; no finicky zippers to jam with accumulated crud. A simple storm flap and drawstring keeps my stuff secure and dry. There's even a compression strap to prevent partial loads from bouncing around. You won't find a tougher, better built all-surface tank bag. At least I haven't.
I never liked the original-equipment Bridgestone Trail Wings, so a pair of more dirt-worthy Continental TKC 80s ($224.50) superseded them at 4800 miles. And though 3070 miles over a rough mix of surfaces has taken its toll, there's more rubber left than I expected. They're still more fun off the road than on, and only okay on the pavement. There's a stickier pair of Pirelli Scorpion Trail radials waiting to go on after these are gone, so stay tuned.