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Well, I started last months 'Look Back' by declaring April as my busiest month so far, but I may have spoken too soon, as May was just as good!
On the 8th of May I represented Motorrad Tours in my role as a Tour Leader and headed off to Preston in Lancashire to take part in the annual Bowker Motorrad customer tour to Scotland. Normally each Motorrad Tours tour, allocates one Tour Leader, but the Bowker tours are so well attended that there's always two of us, so this year it was me and 'Big Mark'.
For the tour we were alloacted a BMW R1250GS and a BMW S1000XR, similar styled bikes but very different in engine configuartion and power output, but more of that later.
We met the customers and ticked off all 28 of them as they arrived.....yes, you read that correctly, twentyeight! That's far more than we would normally have on a tour, usually no more than 10 or 11 bikes, but the Bowker Scotland trip is very different and always very well attended. All of riders have a link to the dealer, usually as a customer and although they don't all know each other on arrival, people are soon chatting to one another and talking all things bikes. Fortunately all 28 don't ride together either and ride in their own respective group of friends, which are usally no more than 4 or 5 riders.
The tour mileage was about 1500 miles and took in the towns of Oban, Ullapool, Grantown On Spey and Drymen before retuning to Preston, 4 nights and 5 days later. It was my second year on the tour and it really was a fantastic 5 days. Great hotels, amazing scenery, fantastic roads and of course, a fantastic group of customers. Infact I enjoyed it so much again this year, that I've already asked for it again next year!
Here's a few pictures from the tour, including 'Big Mark' probably deciding a Kawasaki 300 isn't the bike for him....
Regards the two bikes Mark and I had, I had the 1250GS for the first 2 days and then we swapped for the next two days. I've ridden many of the Boxer engined twins in their various guises but never had more than an hour here and there on an S1000XR, so I was really looking forward to the experience.
The GS is so easy to ride, plush, all day long comfortable, great luggage capacity, 50+ to the gallon, every button and gadget you could ever need, very easy to cover ground on quickly and the new 1250 engine is an absolute peach and a nice 'step up' from the previous 1200. I'd picked the GS up on the Wednesday, ridden 150 miles to Preston and then covered a further 500 miles in the first two days of the tour and thoroughly enjoyed it but on the Friday, it was my turn to have the XR.
Friday morning came and after seeing the customers safely off from the hotel, I got kitted up and climbed aboard the XR. It immediately felt familiar and similar to the GS, similar reach to the bars, similar seating position. But then I started it up and that similarity changed from the GS purr to a growl....and then I rode off and.....wow....it's like a GS on steroids! High seating position, wide bars, but much firmer suspension and a throttle response that propels you towards the next set of bends at such a rate that it could very easily leave you without a licence or your liberty! It became very apparent, very quickly that gentle throttle use was the order of the day and instead make the most of the handling and enjoy the bends rather than the out right speed....but it's a bit like having an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other, one screaming faster, faster, faster! and the other reminding you that getting a ban really wouldn't enhance your life!.....(plus I'm still far too pretty to end up in prison!) So it was full on (ex) police motorcyclist mode and making smooth progress but within the speed limits....mostly.....haha.
I covered 500 miles over two days on the XR before handing the keys back to Mark for the final day. I was initially thinking the GS wouldn't be the same after experiencing the XR, but within a few miles I was back enjoying that new 1250 engine, the slightly softer seat, the slightly softer throttle response and the plusher suspension. Infact, I think it's probably the case that I could cover the same ground on the GS as the XR, but probably wouldn't be working quite as hard for similar rewards.....albeit I have no doubt that around a track an XR would lap quicker, but in genral road riding a well ridden 1250GS wouldn't be far off the pace. Here's me with both bikes in front of another beautiful Scottish back drop.
So, what esle did I get up to in May?
Well, I managed another mention in Mays edition of RiDE Magazine, well, two mentions actually. One was part of their Ride5000 feature and the other was part of an owners review of the BMW S1000R. As some of you wil know, I've owned 2 of these bikes, a 2016 model and a 2018 model. They are amazing bikes and I feel sure I'll have another when the next upgrade comes along, which will hopefully feature the new S1000 engine and a TFT dash.
May was another great month for training with the usual mix of bikes and riders. Tony started things off on his 1250GS, followed by Karl on his Harley, Pete on his Triumph, Anna on her Aprilia, Adrian on his F800, Pete on his KTM 1290 and finally Stuart on his GSA. A big 'thank you' from me to all of you for chosing me for your training.
On the 17th, the Tutor Team from my local RoSPA group set off for their annual 3 day training weekend. This is something I've organsied for the group for the last 4 years, but unfortyunately this year, despite arranging it, I wasn't actually able to attend! However, as a show of 'good will' I met the guys for the send off, took a few photos and helped out with the first days training, before waving them off and returning home.
Having seen the RoSPA guys off on their way on the Friday, I returned home and Kim and I packed a pannier and headed off on the GSA for a weekend away in the Durham countryside. We took a very meandering route throught the Yorkshire Dales via Hawes, Middleton In Teesdale and other such places before arriving at Whitwoth Hall Hotel and Deer Park and very nice it was too. On the Sunday we returned home and all in all covered about 300 miles.
To round the month off, Barrie Robson BMW in York invited me to add a few running in miles to their new for 2019, BMW S10000RR. Now it's 10 years since I last owned a full on sports bike and nearly as many years since I last rode one, but I wasn't going to turn the offer down, so on the 23rd and again on the 30th, I took the bike out.
Obviously, having had 3 years on GSAs with their high seating position, wide bars, comfy seat and low pegs, that initial ride was a bit of a culture shock and as I rode away from the Barrie Robsons BMW I realised that I'm nowhere near as bendy as I used to be! However, within a few miles I started to feel more 'at one' with the bike and it was a great experience to ride a full on sports bike again. Unfortunately, it was a short lived experience as I had to be else where that day, but I did manage 45 miles.
The second ride on the 30th was much better, I was already aware of what the riding position was going to be like and my brain was almost recalibtrated for what to expect.
I collected the bike and rode up to Olivers Mount at Scarbrough via Fridaythorpe and Staxton, took a few photos, then retraced the route back towards York and finished off around some of the narrower training routes I use. I managed 125 miles on that second ride and really enjoyed it. The bike has lots of 'modes' for lots of things such as engine mapping, throttle response, wheelie control, suspension, traction, ABS, the list goes on and on, but I set off in 'road' mode and never touched anything again for the whole 125 miles. It has to be said that the bike is amazing, with technology that would shame a full on GP bike from a few years ago: 200bhp, super light, no doubt capable of speeds close to 190mph and yet also comes with heated grips and cruise control! If you're one of the lucky owners to be, I doubt you'll be disappointed and if those lottery numbers come up anytime soon...
For more details about the S1000RR or any bikes in the BMW range, contact Barrie Robson BMW at Clifton Moor, York.
And that my friends completes my 'look back' at May. Thanks for reading and we'll do it all again next month.