Tuesday, June 28, 2011

July 2011 Newsletter

July Club Meeting

Our next monthly club meeting will be held on Monday, July 11th, 6:30 p.m., at Jackson's Big Oak Barbecue. Jackson's Big Oak BBQ is located at 920 South Kerr Avenue in Wilmington.

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As reminder to everyone, the currently planned dates and locations for our club meetings through September are posted on our club calendar. You will also find an announcement for each month's meeting on our club web site.

June Meeting Photos

We had another great turn-out for our June monthly meeting at Fishy Fishy Café in Southport. The location allowed everyone to enjoy some good seafood and a wonderful view of the Southport boat harbor. Here are a few photos from the meeting, which are also posted on our Google Picasa web page.

Ride-to-Eat Events

On June 12th, we held another of our ride-to-eat events. This time we visited Southern Exposure Restaurant in Faison to enjoy Sunday brunch.

Five of us from the Wilmington area (Becky Hucks, Bill Murray, Eileen Sahlin, Bill Traina, and Paul Winter) made the ride together, and Jody Hudson rode from New Bern to also join us.

For July, since a number of our members may be planning on attending the BMW MOA International Rally July 21‑24, 2011, we will hold a club ride-to-eat event on July 2, 2011, to avoid conflicting with everyone's MOA Rally travel plans. To help avoid the worst of the daytime heat, this will be an early morning ride for breakfast. This time, we are heading for The Purple Onion in Shallotte.

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We will meet at the Purple Onion at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast.  Anyone from Wilmington who would like to like ride together can meet me at the Magnolia Greens C‑Store/BP Station located at the corner of Highway 17 and Grandiflora Drive (i.e., at the entrance of Magnolia Greens in Leland). We'll pull out at 7:30 a.m.

by Dick Williams

Editor -- Many BMW enthusiasts have been anxiously awaiting the release of the new K1600GT and K1600GTL, which is replacing the much-loved K1200LT. Last week, club member Dick Williams was visiting Capitol BMW in Raleigh for service work and learned that Capitol BMW has made the decision to purchase a K1600GTL as a demonstration bike. Dick was given the opportunity to take the demo bike for a ride and has provided a summary of his test ride impressions.

Dick Williams' Review

I was in Raleigh at Capitol BMW (attending to a recall matter for my K12GT) and discovered that they have a K16 demo bike. I ran it over to Fuqua and back on a totally unsupervised basis. Greg Murphy, the sales manager, explained that Capitol made a commercial decision to purchase the demo bike (even though the model is in such great demand) because Capitol management believes that only a demo ride will convince all of the "fence sitters" out there.


• Engine...turbine-like smoothness...free reving...good torque but power still builds with revs...pulls to redline but redline is lower than on K12GT.

• Exhaust note...sporty, Formula 1 car sound...sounds especially good at high rpms.

• Transmission...smoother shifting than on K12GT but not as smooth as K12LT...still some occasional "clunking"

• Driveability...less driveline lash and bucking with on-off-throttle response than K12GT but more than on K12LT...acceleration from low rpm in high gear exceptionally smooth/linear (better than both K12GT and K12LT)


• Engine Heat...admittedly, it was in the nineties when I did my demo run, but I could feel a bit of heat coming off of the GTL's motor, even at moderate cruising speeds...on my K12GT, I do not get this at all...perhaps the larger opening in the GTL's plastic body panels accounts for the difference...in any event, my tolerance for any kind of engine heat in the summwer is quite low.

• Wind Protection...although adequate with the stock windshield in the fully raised position, wind protection is not as good as on an RT equipped with a Z-Technik after market windshield and is a far cry from the K12LT...this will likely be an after market item.

• Seating...the rider's half of the GTL seat has almost no padding...it is almost laughably indequate in comparison with K12LT...even the K12GT seat has more padding and comfort...the seat is scooped out in the shape of a banana and produces a "sit in the bike feel"...however, my rear end began to fatigue even on the short ride to Fuqua and back from Capitol BMW...Capitol BMW's sales manager acknowledged this as a "miss" and predicted that the after-market seat makers will likely step in to fill the void...as far as the passenger seating is concerned, this proved a pleasant surprise...while the broad, well-padded seat is not quite on par with the K12LT's, it is better than both the GT's and RT's passenger seats...but, having said that, the backrest portion of the top case may be a little intrusive for some passengers...BMW seems to have tried to design in both lumbar support and support at the back of the upper arm area, but because the padding is very firm (in typical Teutonic fashion), it is unclear what the effect would be on a long trip...I predict frequent K12LT passengers, who are used to arm chair comfort for their backs, will not like it.

• Handle Bar Grips...these are hard and quite thin in circumference...very un-BMW like...with my summer riding gloves on, they felt strangely unfinished and tacky...I was amazed by how much more comfortable my stock K12GT grips felt on the way back to Wilmington...if the after market produces replacements, I bet they will sell like hotcakes.

• Throttle...this is a new electronic affair without traditional cables...the combination of the freakishly smooth engine and this new throttle produces a strange disconnected feel a little bit like that in a car...the motor revs when you twist your wrist, but there is no resistance or vibration...I suppose some will consider this a new pinnacle in refinement...however, for me it subtracted a bit from the overall motorcycling experience...although the GTL made my already pretty smooth K12LT feel like a Harley, I am not sure that I am ready to be quite so isolated from what I have come to expect in the way of motorcycling sensations.

• Instrumentation...here I have to say that I was flatly disappointed...the much bally hooed in-dash GPS is just too far away for me to comfortably read and is subject to sun glare...on my 40-minute ride, I could only really see it about 25% of the time...the situation would likely be different at night or on a cloudy day, but to me this is a small consolation...in another department, the speedometer and tachometer, though "space age" in design seem to me to be a step backwards in readibility...they are really small, allowing for little gradation, and therefore only give a general idea of MPH and RPM's...since, as mentioned above, the GPS is difficult to read, at times I only had a general idea of how fast I was going...give me the old white and black color scheme on large analogue dials any day.

• Multi-Controller...this all-in-one system will appeal to computer wonks and gadgeteers, but did not quite win me over...I found myself worried about "modes", control wheel angles, etc. when I should have been paying attention to the traffic and road conditions..this system requires a steeper learning curve than I am prepared to deal with.

• Other controls...again, I have to register my general disappointment...BMW is in downsizing (read cost-cutting mode) again and has produced a set of miniaturized controls for this new GTL that would look more at home on a machine costing thousands less...while I was able to work the tiny new turn signal switch (with some difficulty) in my summer riding gloves, I have no doubt that I would have greater difficulty while wearing my winter gloves...this also goes for cruise control, high beam/low beam, windshield, etc., all of which are now positively Lilliputian...to me the control set up on most BMW's (large, tactile and easily manipulated with all manner of gloves and hand sizes) is something to be proud of, both ergonomically and safety-wise...it seems to me that BMW has lost its way in this area.

• Finally, just a word about the GTL's exhaust note...although I have placed this in the "likes" column, there is one small caveat...unlike any BMW with stock silencer I have ever ridden, you can hear the GTL's exhaust note even when cruising at highway speeds...some folks may not be put off by this, but one of the things that I love about my K12LT and K12GT is that the exhaust note becomes inaudible at highway speeds, giving a feeling of effortless gliding...in contrast, the Moto GP sound of the GTL is always there, either louder or less loud, kind of like the Mustang GT automobile...you do not so much feel that you are "gliding along" as "motoring along".


• It seems to me that BMW has created a fine new motorcycle, but with many characteristics that will not appeal to traditional BMW riders. Perhaps BMW is produced this one, not so much for its hard core riders, as for a larger audience (in the same way it did for its S1000RR superbike).

• As should already be abundantly clear, I do not believe that the K1600GTL will cause much of a stir with hardcore K12LT riders and their passengers...although billed as a "luxury touring" bike, it does not really fit that niche very well...it cannot go head-to-head against the Honda Goldwing and the K12LT in amenities (since it lacks things like, in the K12LT's case, a first class audio system, CD playing capability, 4-speaker surround sound, a reverse gear, hydraulic center stand, map reading lights, automatic foot lights, etc.)...rather, it is in a new segment that should be called "luxury sport touring".

• I believe that folks who are currently riding RT's (especially those who ride two-up) who want more power and more refinement will likely be more attracted to the GTL than, say, a K12GT or K12LT rider will be. In this sense, BMW may be "cannibalizing" its own sales...a precursor, perhaps, to eventually discontinuing the RT all together?

• I likewise believe that current K12GT riders may be attracted to the new K1600GT, since the demise of the K13GT, but may be put off by some of the design changes that I mentioned...I will have a better idea about that after riding the new GT, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

Video-of-the Month

This month, I am sharing two related videos. Each May, the Isle of Mann TT is held. During the event, several hundred thousand spectators, mostly motorcyclists, come to the island to watch the racing. If you have never seen any of the racing action for the Isle of Mann TT, I recommend you watch a few minutes the next time it is shown on television (it is usually shown on the HDTHR cable channel sometime during the summer). The winners are now averaging 130 mph as they race through the streets and country roadways of the island.

This month's video contribution shows a few minutes of community policing on the Isle of Mann during the event week. This YouTube video is about 8 minutes long and is a lot of fun.


During week of the Isle of Mann TT, spectators are given one day (known as Mad Sunday) when they can ride the race circuit on their bikes. The second video shows a BMW R1200GS rider on a portion of the 37-mile circuit. While riding through the villages, riders are expected to follow the speed limits, but once on the countryside roads, anything goes!


GPS Tip of the Month

This month's Tip-of-the-Month includes an update and a tip.

The update: If you are a lifetime Garmin nuMaps subscriber, a new map update is available for you to download for your GPS unit. The latest map set is Verison 2012.1.

This month's tip is called "Save Your Tracks!" Most GPS receivers make a recording of the path you have just traveled. This recorded path is sometimes referred to as a "track." As you explore area roads on your weekend rides, when you return home, be sure to connect your GPS unit to your desktop computer and download the recorded track information. This is a great way to keep and accumulate a collection of roads you have ridden, and is an especially good way to archive those really special back roads that you just discovered during your ride.

Your GPS unit's track recording is also a great way to have a record of your ride during an extended journey. Some units, such as Garmin's Zumo series GPS units, can record several week's worth of travel information. When you return home, you can use the recorded track information to view your journey in Google Earth, or even "geo-tag" (embed location information into) your digital photos from the trip. (This might be the subject of a future how-to article).

There are several web sites where motorcycling enthusiasts post their ride tracks so others can benefit from and enjoy some good roads. I recommend you visit SundayMorning Rides.com, BestBikingRoads.com, and MotorcycleRoads.com and check out their collections of roads/rides.

BMW MOA International Rally

This year's BWM MOA International Rally is being held July 21-24, 2011, in Bloomsburg, PA [Google Map Link]. If you have plans to attend, I encourage you to share your plans with your fellow club members using our 2011 BMW MOA Rally Information Document (a shared Google Document). If you are looking for someone to share the ride with for the trip to and/or from Bloomsburg, a camping or hotel room-sharing partner, etc, this is a good way to connect with folks.

July SBK and MotoGP Events

The World Superbike and MotoGP racing seasons continue, and more events are scheduled for broadcast on SpeedTV during the month of July. Here are the broadcast dates and times for the events that have been announced, thus far, for SpeedTV:

Dutch Grand Prix - July 3rd, 4 a.m. (rebroadcast)
Italian Grand Prix - July 3rd, 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (rebroadcast July 5th, 1 p.m.)
German Grand Prix - July 17th, 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. (rebroadcast July 19th, 1 p.m. and July 20th, 3 a.m.)
Laguna Seca (USA) Qualifying  - July 23th, 11 p.m.
Laguna Seca (USA) Grand Prix  - July 24th, 5 p.m.
FIM Superbike
Czech Republic - July 10th, 2 and 3 p.m. (Races 1 and 2)
  rebroadcast July 13th at 3 and 4 a.m.
FIM Supersport
Czech Republic - July 12th, 2 p.m.
  rebroadcast July 13th at 3 a.m.
Be sure to watch the World Superbike events and cheer for the BMW racing teams.