Slow speed driving - I'm a noob - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 26 Old Jan 7th, 2019, 2:59 pm Thread Starter
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Question Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

Hello, I've been riding for 30 years but have never had a bike over 400lbs. Every bike has been either a sport bike or a dirt bike. My last bike was Ducati Superbike, slow was never part of my vocabulary. Last summer my daughter showed a lot of interested in riding so I decided that I wanted to get something more "family friendly" which has led me to my new bike, a 2002 K1200LT. I have to say that the weight is quite intimidating to me. I have been researching techniques for riding heavy bikes, especially at slow speeds. Most of the techniques involve slipping the clutch a bit and using the rear brake. I am guessing those things will not work with the BMW because of the integrated brakes and the dry clutch. What advice do you have for slow maneuvering of the K1200LT? Are there any good videos or books specific to the BMW? I want to make sure that I am proficient before I take my daughter on the bike.
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post #2 of 26 Old Jan 7th, 2019, 3:26 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

Hi Krazzz and welcome to the wonderful world of the LT. I found it intimidating at first too but the best advice I can give is just live with it and practice. The obvious things apply like never apply the brakes unless your handlebars are straight. Always plan where you are going to stop and place your feet. Slipping the clutch is not a good idea on these bikes with the dry clutch. Another thing you can do is remove the top box for a while until you get to know the bike more. you will be surprised at how this transforms the bikes balance and handling. It only takes about 15 minutes to do and you can put it back on later. Also don't fill the tank all the way, that will help keep the weight down lower while you get used to the big bike.
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post #3 of 26 Old Jan 7th, 2019, 3:41 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

Remove the 40 lb top case for a while--easy to do. It is a much less intimidating with the TC removed. Put it back when you get comfortable
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post #4 of 26 Old Jan 7th, 2019, 6:49 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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Originally Posted by krazzz View Post
Hello, I've been riding for 30 years but have never had a bike over 400lbs. Every bike has been either a sport bike or a dirt bike. My last bike was Ducati Superbike, slow was never part of my vocabulary. Last summer my daughter showed a lot of interested in riding so I decided that I wanted to get something more "family friendly" which has led me to my new bike, a 2002 K1200LT. I have to say that the weight is quite intimidating to me. I have been researching techniques for riding heavy bikes, especially at slow speeds. Most of the techniques involve slipping the clutch a bit and using the rear brake. I am guessing those things will not work with the BMW because of the integrated brakes and the dry clutch. What advice do you have for slow maneuvering of the K1200LT? Are there any good videos or books specific to the BMW? I want to make sure that I am proficient before I take my daughter on the bike.
The LT rides like any other bike. The key as with all bikes is, as we harp on constantly in the Total Control classes I teach, “head and eyes up!”. We tend to go where we look. If you look at the ground near your front wheel, your odds of dumping the bike go up dramatically. And you can slip the clutch at low speeds and RPMs for maneuvering without causing harm. And you can use the brakes at low speed while turning. I do all of these things and have not dumped my LT yet in 11 years and 74,000 miles.

The key is much like my primary flight instructor told me: make the airplane do what you want it to do. Don’t have some preconceived notion of what that will take. He used to laugh at the people who learned in a 150 and then transitioned to say a 182 and proceeded to bend the firewall by landing hard on the nosegear. They would then say “well it didn’t flare like my 150 did” and my instructor would say “so why didn’t you pull back on the wheel hard enough to make it flare like it should.” So, learn the LTs characteristics and do what is needed to make it do what you want it to do.

Yes, the servo brakes are touchy at slow speed, so the solution is to use a light touch at slow speed. Don’t “fly it like a 150”, but fly it like it needs to be flown. It really is that simple. Keep your head and eyes up, look where you want to go, use the brakes like they need to be used and the LT will do what you want it to do.
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post #5 of 26 Old Jan 7th, 2019, 8:42 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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Don’t “fly it like a 150”, but fly it like it needs to be flown. It really is that simple. Keep your head and eyes up, look where you want to go, use the brakes like they need to be used and the LT will do what you want it to do.
Thanks for the advice. I will make it do what I want it to do. I learned the "look where you want to go" lesson early in life. Put a brand new CBR600 into a ditch because I was focusing on not going into the ditch.
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post #6 of 26 Old Jan 7th, 2019, 9:06 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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Thanks for the advice. I will make it do what I want it to do. I learned the "look where you want to go" lesson early in life. Put a brand new CBR600 into a ditch because I was focusing on not going into the ditch.
Just remember my favorite quote: "Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree
than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect."

— Captain A. G. Lamplugh, British Aviation Insurance Group, London. 1930's

Replace “aviation” with “motorcycling” and the quote still holds.

I don’t think the LT is all that unique in its handling, but it does require solid riding skills. Sloppiness that a smaller and lighter bike will let you get away with with bite you with a bike as big and heavy as the LT.

The dry clutch will not tolerate heat the way a wet clutch will, but slipping it at low RPM and low load to assist in parking lot maneuvers will not be a problem. Now if you go and practice your parking lot maneuvers for 4 hours straight, that might be a problem!
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post #7 of 26 Old Jan 8th, 2019, 8:15 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

All good advice now go find an empty parking lot and practice. Start by making turns that cover two to three slots in the lot. Then reduce it by 1/2 slot until you are comfortable, and so on. Eventually you will be able to pull a U turn on a country road while never leaving the pavement or falling down. Head up eyes up and looking where you want to go. I did a lot when leaving work, I would back out part way and let the bike fall in the direction I wanted to go and I used the throttle to lift it back up when I was pointed where I wanted to go. After a while it gets to be second nature.
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post #8 of 26 Old Jan 8th, 2019, 9:00 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

The "Ride Like a Pro" and MSF "Ultimate Bike Bonding" courses focus on slow speed maneuvering and are both excellent practice.
Both stress keep your head up and look where you want to go, not where you are heading. Use of the friction zone. Trail braking.
A little practice and you'll be making 360s on a two lane street.
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post #9 of 26 Old Jan 8th, 2019, 11:39 am Thread Starter
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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The "Ride Like a Pro" and MSF "Ultimate Bike Bonding" courses focus on slow speed maneuvering and are both excellent practice.
Both stress keep your head up and look where you want to go, not where you are heading. Use of the friction zone. Trail braking.
A little practice and you'll be making 360s on a two lane street.
I have looked into Ride Like a Pro and they have a class a few hours away from me that I may take.

I have used trail braking on other bikes but I have never owned a bike with integrated brakes. Does trail braking have the same effect with the integrated brakes?
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post #10 of 26 Old Jan 8th, 2019, 11:44 am Thread Starter
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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All good advice now go find an empty parking lot and practice. Start by making turns that cover two to three slots in the lot. Then reduce it by 1/2 slot until you are comfortable, and so on. Eventually you will be able to pull a U turn on a country road while never leaving the pavement or falling down.
Luckily, I live at the end of a cul de sac and there are only two houses at the end so I have a very large and level area with no traffic that I can practice on at any time. I will probably grab some cones and some sidewalk chalk and go to town.
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post #11 of 26 Old Jan 10th, 2019, 8:44 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

I found the rear brake to be a little more forgiving. Grab a handful of front brake and you will get to practice picking up the bike...surprisingly easy to do, especially with a lot of adrenaline. Keep riding and you will get used to the weight and nuances. If she starts to go over hard, let it go and jump out of the way. Once it is past the tipping point, it is really hard to muscle the bike. With the good practice, you worry about the tipping point as you control the bike. Really, just use the skills you have already built over time, good motorcycle skills work on the big beast.

I learned to not go crazy on the friction zone on the clutch in parking lots but use light braking and look where I want to go while watching cars. With a head up, potential problems can be seen and planned for. Enjoy the bike! Ride, Ride and Ride some more.

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post #12 of 26 Old Jan 16th, 2019, 12:22 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

Greets!
Hehe! Same here. Just got one (2005 model) almost a month ago. Before that, never had such a beast between the legs. Luckily I'm tall enough to reach the ground with both legs while on the center stand, heavy enough to be able to "tame" it (same feeling I had on an English Draft horse of some half a long ton), and as a skier and lazy jogger have enough leg strength to lift it all by myself (yes, I dropped it once already in a right turn from a Stop, actually more like gently let it lay on the side).
What I learned I must do?
- first, make sure bike and rider are prepared to ride legally (DL, registration, insurance...) and
- bike is in proper technical condition. Then...
- be decisive with clutch and gas play when taking off from Stop to the left and particularly to the right, don't be too gentle, the engine may die on you and you're left without power (that's how I dropped it)
- plan your gear for the tight turns, the thing has plenty of torque in all gears, but is good to be in the sweet spot for every turn
- practice stopping at the line on a positive slope followed by right or left turn (very important)
- be in the 1st gear at stop signs, never in neutral, also be mindful, the gears on older bikes can sometimes be tricky to switch, once the display showed me a confusing black rectangle instead of 1-5 or N, likely a gear sensor error, confused a moderately busy 4-way stop intersection, as I didn't know why the heck I could not get it back into 1st
- practice switching gears, feet position, sound of proper switching (mine does a distinctive, clean "clunk" when the gear lands properly)
- practice leg-work at stops, learn to catch/hold the bike with either foot too, may come in handy
- brake with both brakes as taught by instructors even though the bike has integral brakes and ABS
- practice slowest driving and balance acts without taking the legs of the pegs if possible, I like to "micro-roll" at stop signs, then start from a momentary full stop while the bike is still in balance, don't recommend, but is fun, may get me in trouble if a cop sees me and doesn't like it, I practiced it with a lighter bike, so I'm just upgrading now
- practice 8s in 1st/2nd gear as narrow as possible, preferably in empty parking lots (be mindful of your temperature gauge)
- practice on small residential streets, preferably with slopes, lots of Stop signs, dips, turns, curves (I'm lucky to live in one such area)
- don't be afraid to lean it in slow turns, the bike is heavy, but performs admirably, surprisingly sporty in tight turns (wondering if HDs can do that)
- weaving is fun at around 30mph
- didn't practice emergency swerving and emergency braking yet, will do when it is safe
- will attend an Intermediate Motorcycle Course with the bike as soon as possible and
- practice more and more as soon as these damn storms stop battering Southern California with the heaviest and most persistent rains I've seen in like forever and which keep me grounded

Have fun with your LT!
Cheers!
Alex
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post #13 of 26 Old Feb 4th, 2019, 11:11 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

I finally got to ride it! After a week of sub-zero temps, we got a short reprieve of 40 degrees today and enough snow and ice melted to be able to ride, well sort of. There were still patches of ice and slush and it was lightly sprinkling but I was able to put a few miles on her. I was surprised at how light and nimble it felt once you get it going. I wasn't able to really get on the throttle but I could tell that it is more responsive than I was expecting. So far so good. Unfortunately, tomorrow it is back to 19 degrees and snow.
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post #14 of 26 Old Feb 15th, 2019, 11:45 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

When I bought mine 6 years ago, I only had been riding for 3 years, and never something so large.

During one "regular" maintenance, I decide to remove most of the fairing out just to see what was underneath.
It's a surprisingly "skinny" bike once you remove all the tupperware.
And just like that, my mental image of the bike changed, and became easier to ride.

Also, I use the rear brake a lot, specially at low speeds. I always drag it a bit. It makes the bike so much more manageable.
Mind you, this is an interlinked brake system, so the rear brake should work just like the front, but it doesn't. I find that it takes more input from the rear brake. So, it's awesome.
Just be mindful that if the front wheel is quite turned, the front brakes will actuate.

Riding the rear brake takes practice. These are servo brakes after all, but once you get it, it'll be easier.
Go on a empty parking lot and practice. That's what I do still now, to keep my skills fresh with my wale.
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post #15 of 26 Old Feb 15th, 2019, 1:53 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

Sooner or later...and this is worth knowing before it happens

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post #16 of 26 Old Feb 15th, 2019, 2:09 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

The best part of the video is at 9:55. Although, I suspect the LT was placed on the sidewalk above a dip as that LT went up way too easy.
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post #17 of 26 Old Feb 15th, 2019, 6:56 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

I have always had heavy bikes, except for the first BMW, a R26, single 250 cc 1956. What I have trouble with my 2004 Light truck is the power assisted brakes at low speed. Read parking spaces. Love the power assisted brakes. With all loaded up and pillion they are great. Not wrapped with the linked version. I like to use the rear brake only in corners to pickup the bike when going in too tight. Old bikers use this.
With all the wiss bang electronics you would think that someone would have worked out a way of once the speed drops below say 10 kM/hr the pump motor would be disconnected. This would have saved me several drops in parking bays. Challenge for you electronics persons. Using the pluses from the computer to drive the digital speed readout (and analogue one) have the pump motor cut out so as not to be so savage in slow conditions.
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post #18 of 26 Old Feb 16th, 2019, 12:31 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

I have been riding my K12LT since 2002 (its for sale btw in the forum Ad)… anyway, slow/parking lot turning and maneuvering is best accomplished by rear brake combined w/ lightly and ssparingly slipping the clutch while maintaining rpm's...
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post #19 of 26 Old Feb 19th, 2019, 6:16 pm
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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The best part of the video is at 9:55. Although, I suspect the LT was placed on the sidewalk above a dip as that LT went up way too easy.
He does make it look easy, doesn't he? Thing is, it actually goes up very easily when you're angry and embarrassed. It's kind of amazing, actually.
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post #20 of 26 Old Feb 20th, 2019, 6:16 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

So would it be safe to say that intimidation gets the better of us when it comes to handling the LT in a parking lot? We see others do it as if it was a 250 with seemingly no ill effects to any sharp, slow turn and yet my mind still doesn't want to believe the bike is capable.

I understand practice makes perfect but doing the physical manoeuvre is one thing where making your brain think "it is not going to hurt" is another.

By the way, can anyone attest to whether the GTL is any easier?

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post #21 of 26 Old Feb 20th, 2019, 6:27 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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So would it be safe to say that intimidation gets the better of us when it comes to handling the LT in a parking lot? We see others do it as if it was a 250 with seemingly no ill effects to any sharp, slow turn and yet my mind still doesn't want to believe the bike is capable.

I understand practice makes perfect but doing the physical manoeuvre is one thing where making your brain think "it is not going to hurt" is another.

By the way, can anyone attest to whether the GTL is any easier?
I think confident is certainly part of the equation as it is for almost any activity requiring eye/hand coordination.

I have never owned a GTL, but have somewhere around 7000 miles on rentals in Europe. I do not find the GTL any more stable at slow speeds than I do the LT. It is less stable at high speeds, but more responsive. That is the standard trade-off.

Where it has the advantage over the LT is a lower seat height which helps those with shorter legs and lighter weight so that if you do start to tip over at very slow speeds it is easier to hold up. However, until you get to the point of losing balance and starting to go over, I see no advantage to any bike over the LT. Kept in balance, all bikes ride similarly. It is when you get out of balance that the effects of rake, trail, CoG, etc., make their presence known. That is why I try very hard to keep my head and eyes up and focus on where I want to go. That helps maintain balance and keep the evil spirits at bay.
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post #22 of 26 Old Feb 20th, 2019, 7:53 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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I think confident is certainly part of the equation as it is for almost any activity requiring eye/hand coordination.

I have never owned a GTL, but have somewhere around 7000 miles on rentals in Europe. I do not find the GTL any more stable at slow speeds than I do the LT. It is less stable at high speeds, but more responsive. That is the standard trade-off.

Where it has the advantage over the LT is a lower seat height which helps those with shorter legs and lighter weight so that if you do start to tip over at very slow speeds it is easier to hold up. However, until you get to the point of losing balance and starting to go over, I see no advantage to any bike over the LT. Kept in balance, all bikes ride similarly. It is when you get out of balance that the effects of rake, trail, CoG, etc., make their presence known. That is why I try very hard to keep my head and eyes up and focus on where I want to go. That helps maintain balance and keep the evil spirts at bay.
Very well said! I believe that what prevents us from keeping our head and eyes up is our mind wanting to focus on what it believes will happen rather than knowing that you "need to keep the bike in balance" which is what, at the end of the day, why we need to train it.

I've been watching Youtube bike videos (I know I guess I have too much time on my hands) where, in my opinion, idiots are on the roads doing wheelies or going twice the speed limit in traffic where they feel they are showing off their "skills". I'm sure these also require a lot of skills to accomplish but it is a skill that my mind will never want to master!

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post #23 of 26 Old Feb 20th, 2019, 9:18 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

Funny looking back at my test ride of an LT in 2004. I took an hour in the show room just looking at it before I got up the nerve to take it out. There was a very busy 5 lane road right off the dealers parking lot and I was apprehensive until the salesman said just go down the road and turn at O'Charley's. That will take you into the Belle Mead with very light traffic. He was right and I was having a ball until I took a wrong turn and was headed back to heavy traffic. I pulled a quick "U" turn to avoid the traffic before I realized how hard it was to do a "U" turn on a two lane road with the LT. So yes it is all in the head. I can't do that now.

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2009 R1200GS (Gone)
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2006 Bushtec Turbo+2 Spell
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post #24 of 26 Old Feb 20th, 2019, 9:57 am
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Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

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Funny looking back at my test ride of an LT in 2004. I took an hour in the show room just looking at it before I got up the nerve to take it out. There was a very busy 5 lane road right off the dealers parking lot and I was apprehensive until the salesman said just go down the road and turn at O'Charley's. That will take you into the Belle Mead with very light traffic. He was right and I was having a ball until I took a wrong turn and was headed back to heavy traffic. I pulled a quick "U" turn to avoid the traffic before I realized how hard it was to do a "U" turn on a two lane road with the LT. So yes it is all in the head. I can't do that now.
I would not say it is all in the head as a long wheelbase bike like the LT with less steering angle lock-to-lock than some smaller bikes will take a larger diameter to make a U-turn, but as you said most two-lane roads in the US are wider enough to make a U-turn with an LT. However, I was on a number of “two lane” roads in the UK where I could not make a U-turn on a Grom, let alone a GTL or LT.

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1973 Kawasaki 100 G5
1970 Rockford Chibi (the orange one)

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post #25 of 26 Old Feb 21st, 2019, 1:42 pm
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 370
Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

Since you're new a this bike.
I'd highly recommend that (depending of the age of the LT, but if older than 4 years, which it has to be):

1- Install the John Gemil chip. The bike will behave better throughout. Specially low end torque gets a bit of a bump.
2- Replace the brake rubber hoses with Spiegler steel braided ones.
3- Replace the plastic fuel connectors with the updated metallic ones.
4- Since you are there at the fuel tank, replace the in-tank fuel hoses with new ones.

And of course, new filters throughout, and brake fluid change (that's tricky if you don't know how. Don't do it yourself, have someone who knows LTs do it for you... or get people here to assist you).

See if your stanchions (what look like shocks up front) are not bleeding. The seals migh need replacing.

and take your time to enjoy doing all these things to your bike. You'd love it more after it.

Finally, before your stereo also fails, check my thread on improving the ventilation to the stingray tray where the stereo is burning itself due to the lack of cooling.

Enjoy!

----------------------------------------------------
BMW K1200LT 2007
BMW K1200R: "Drophammer" 2006
BMW R1200GS 2008
BMW K1200S 2007
Suzuki DR-Z400E 2000
Sachs MadAss FY125-20
BMW R1200R 2009 (in my stable, thinking about it...)


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mondrage is offline  
post #26 of 26 Old Feb 21st, 2019, 1:47 pm
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 370
Re: Slow speed driving - I'm a noob

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob.K1200LT View Post
Sooner or later...and this is worth knowing before it happens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOTCxx6934k
I've seen a video, don't know if related to Kirk... where a woman, around 120lbs picks an LT. Impressive!

----------------------------------------------------
BMW K1200LT 2007
BMW K1200R: "Drophammer" 2006
BMW R1200GS 2008
BMW K1200S 2007
Suzuki DR-Z400E 2000
Sachs MadAss FY125-20
BMW R1200R 2009 (in my stable, thinking about it...)


-----------------------------------------------------
mondrage is offline  
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