Accepting the inevitable


After 6000 miles on BMW’s 800GS, I’ve come to at least one immutable conclusion. It can be either an astonishingly capable broadband street bike, or a reasonable capable mid-side adventurer, but not both. As delivered, it’s a street bike with dirty aspirations. The potential for more is there, but everything I’ve done to make it more functional and less horrifying in the dirt squelches the bike’s pavement persona. Have another look at the picture.Bark Busters are the best insurance you can buy against bashing your levers, knuckles and various other pricy bits against inconveniently placed trailside impediments. But the smaller bar-ends let more of the Rotax twin’s natural vibration through to the grips, so it’s a whole lot buzzier on the freeway now. Continental TKC80 quasi-knobbies are light-years ahead of the average street-biased adventure rubber, but don’t grip pavement anywhere near as well. I can live with slowing down in the twistiest bits, but when that pink Mary Kay Cadillac up ahead locks all four wheels in Wednesday commute traffic, all I can say is thank God for ABS. The Touratech headlight grill looks serious, and it’s saved the lens from the contrail of flying rock tossed up by a certain KTM 950 Adventure that usually ends up in front of me. But on the way home, that crosshatch shadow on the twilight pavement makes me crazy. My Wolfman Expedition tank bag is built like a tank, and as long as I'm sitting down, it’s fantastic. When I stand up, it’s a black and yellow distraction that always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So? It’s time to decide if most of our last 4000 miles together will be spent in the dirt or on the street. At this point, I’m thinking there may be room in the garage for a clean Honda XR650R, complete with lights and license plate. That would let the BMW edge back toward the sort of duty more befitting a 500-plus-pound plastic-wrapped twin: miles of twisty, bumpy pavement, miles away from the radar guns, motor homes and badly ridden GSX-Rs inflicting most of Southern California on any given summer weekend. The more I ride the GS as it sits, the more I like that idea.