The first day’s high-speed blast through Joshua Tree National Monument, the Colorado and M
Wrist: Matt Samples
MSRP (2011): $16,630
Mods: Throttle Rocker, Metzeler Racetec K3 rear tire
This past May I flew to Los Angeles to take part in Motorcyclist’s “Class of 2011” sportbike comparison, but I only booked a one-way ticket. Why? Because I rode home to Chicago on my new long-term BMW S1000RR, covering 2481 miles in four days.
BMW promised the magazine a long-term testbike last year, but wasn’t able to deliver until now. In the meantime I did my research, scouring the various forums to see what mods owners were making to their bikes, and what sorts of problems they’d experienced. But I didn’t get too carried away. Editor Catterson’s vision is clear: simple changes that address actual shortcomings and deliver the most cost-effective solutions. No carbon-carbon brake rotors or magnesium wheels, in other words. So let’s have a look at my notes from the road and see if we can find some room for improvement...
The Firstgear heated jacket, pants, gloves and socks I wore were critically important in t
Day 1: Palm Springs, California—It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’m blowing past palm trees in the SoCal Desert. Wind protection is good; I can tuck in behind the screen with ease. BMW’s transmission defines precision. The quick-shifter saved precious fractions of a second on the racetrack; on this journey it’s saving my hand muscles. Toeing the shifter without touching the clutch lever or backing off the throttle is a riot. Roll on the gas and all the engineering in this Berlin brute is inspiring, but it’s not quite perfect. Fast Utah corner exits make the chassis nervous. But the bike runs cool through it all, showing 153-175 degrees on the coolant-temperature gauge. If you haven’t ridden through Zion National Park, you should. Progress report: 700 miles down.
Day 2: Provo, Utah—A Throttle Rocker ($12 from www.throttlerocker.com) makes the stout throttle-return spring tolerable for long hauls. BMW’s ABS injects a milli-second’s delay between lever movement and actual deceleration, which is straight-up freaky until your mind adapts. Regular applications of Gold Bond by day and post-shower Neosporin by night keep my posterior from looking like a baboon in heat. Newsflash: Freight-train power is hard on tires. The rear Metzeler Racetec K3 was toast after 1200 miles, so I replaced it with a fresh one ($253.99; www.us.metzelermoto.com). The tripmeter reads 1350 miles.
Day 3: Wheatland, Wyoming—It was an epic, 950-mile day through the Black Hills and the North Dakota badlands. I even saw Mt. Rushmore! Temperatures ranging from 39-44 degrees were accompanied by rain and sleet. The BMW’s ABS and traction control proved reassuring. Rain mode reigns in the ponies just enough to deliver a safe ride on wet roads. Total distance covered: 2300 miles.
Day 4: Cedar Rapids, Iowa—Just 181 miles to go! The Beemer feels nimble skirting the bluffs along the Mississippi River. I meet some Wisconsin riders and switch off the TC to let the front end float. Huge, responsive power allows wheelies for days, elevating the hooligan factor. Around town, this well-mannered German gentleman is smooth, polite, quiet and tame if asked to be. The seat is phenomenal. Everything else hurt after four days on the road, but my backside is fine. Home at last, I don’t even have time to take off my helmet before my wife and little girls swarm me with hugs. Life is good.