returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them! - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 6:47 am Thread Starter
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Talking returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

As a teen I had a motorcycle, not in my 40's I have the funds again for such enjoyment in life. Ever since I was a young teen I dreamed of owning a BMW flat twin. Yesterday, after getting my permit and signing up for the 16 hour of safety classes offered by my state, I stopped by a BMW dealer to look at the R 1200 R. I was enlighten to a little detail of the K 1600 GTL I had missed on line: it is a STRAIGHT 6! It never dawned once that BMW would put a straight six in a bike, WOW! So this week I will be looking into purchasing my first (or maybe second) bike in a long, long time.

I say maybe second, because I have so many questions! The K 1600 GTL is a BIG bike and I have effectively zero experience with bikes. I am wondering if I should simply pick up a small bike, 500cc range, and used that until the safety class at the end of the month, which upon completing I will get my license. Then move onto the K 1600 GTL.

The next set of questions I have is about the extra gear, helmet, jacket, pants, gloves, boats, etc. The helmet is a no brainer, but with the prices range from $200 to $1000, what is the difference, really?

What about the jackets, I see some online for $200 ~ $1000, also. I love the look of the BMW clothing, but it is pricey, is it worth it or can you get just as good, if not better for less money?

And and all thoughts, tips, and advice welcome!
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post #2 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 8:11 am
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

Welcome to the group and the exciting world of two wheel travel. As you have already discovered, the 1600 is an awesome machine. Is it a great 1st bike? Maybe not. Assuming you're talking about the standard 1600 and not the Bagger, it has a seat height of roughly 32 inches which, unless you are pretty tall, can be a challenge for a new rider. Also, it weighs close to 800 lbs wet and with a few farkles installed. This may be a disadvantage for a new rider. So, your idea of purchasing a smaller, lighter bike with which to gain some experience is sensible. I would however, unless you have unlimited funds, wait until completing the rider training class prior to buying a bike. At the end of class you can discuss your 1st bike specifications with the instructors. They will have first hand knowledge of your aptitude and skill level and should be able to make an informed suggestion on where you should start. Besides, the whole reason for taking the course is to learn and practice the basic skill necessary to safely integrate with traffic. Doing so without some basic training is dangerous indeed. I would suggest that any riding you may have done as a teenager doesn't count.

As far as protective gear you pretty much get what you pay for. With helmets, theoretically, anything with a DOT rating will work. Higher end helmets will have superior fit and finish and maybe most importantly be lighter weight. When it comes to jackets, pants, boots, etc same argument. Yea BMW stuff is pricey but probably not so much more than any high end items. I still wear a BMW Air Flow jacket that is more than 15 years old. It still looks good, the body armor is like new and therefore functional. The only failure is that the jacket zipper finally failed a couple of months ago but my wife was able to install a new one for me so it;s still in service. The only problem that I have with it is that it seems to be shrinking.

So again, welcome to our world!
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Lynn Keen
North East Florida
MSF #28271 Retired
'99 Canyon Red RETIRED AT 93,000 MI
'05 GRAPHITE METALLIC retired at 87,000 MI
'01 R1150 GS- totaled
'02 R1150 GS sold
'85 K100/EML sidecar sold
'11 R1200RT currently being enjoyed

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post #3 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 10:29 am
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

Great comments in post #2. All that I will add is for you to consider your "physicality" relationship toward the bike you choose. The better you "fit" the bike as it is engineered and built from the factory, the less you will have to do to "adapt" to it. Don't fall into a trap of "More" (power, accessories, chrome, etc.) is better...but focus on how you will mesh with the machine. That means you need to consider your physical strength, height, and weight, along with your skill and confidence level.

I am 73 years old, 5ft-8" tall, 28" inseam (on a good day), and purchased my first BMW in March of this year. It is a 2011 R1200RT. I had been riding a '95 Honda VT1100C2 Shadow ACE for two decades. For me, it is quite an adjustment. Purchasing this bike has been kinda like going from "Freddy Flinstone's" foot-powered vehicle to a Star War's fighter...'cept I'm always contending with "gravity."

At an age when many of my contemporaries are trading in their physical activity toys for a recliner & TV remote, I'm reluctant to give up. In an age when nobody wants to admit their medical constraints, I keep no secret of dealing with my agent orange (Vietnam) related diabetes, and the other natural progression/constraints of "life." Therefore, I'm still adjusting to this new (to me) machine. I have a standard and low seat, a small adjustment in reach (bar risers), and Beemer Buddies (grip covers).
This bike is quite a departure in riding position over my Honda, and I'm used to a "Heel-Toe" shifter. I am enjoying the acceleration, adjustable windscreen, and better gas mileage. Along with better mileage is "range." Friday I rode over 200 miles and returned home with about a half-tank of gas. Having such wonderful instruments as a gas gauge, gear indicator, and tachometer is fantastic!

Currently, I'm still working out whether the "adjustments" I'm dealing with (low back pain, hand numbness, cramps) are related to my physical condition or the bike. The more you test ride, question, and contemplate your options before you buy, the better your chances of a positive experience. Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best.

Never declare a cherished memory as "the best day of my life"...it will forever diminish the possibility for "Tomorrow" being the "Best Day!"
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Last edited by Beemer tiger; May 6th, 2018 at 12:49 pm.
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post #4 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 11:57 am
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

My two cents: I rode lightly and infrequently in my early 20s on a 75/5. Turned 60 a few years ago and bought a 75/6. Rode it for a couple of years, then after doing some twisties in Arkansas, decided to upgrade.
Test drove a 2017 R1200RT and the second I cleared the dealer's parking lot I hit the throttle about the same as I was accustomed to doing on my 75/6--both hands flew off the handle bars and thank goodness for the upsweep at the rear of the driver's seat. I regained control and took it easy on the test drive. I bought a RT, and I drive it in rain mode so the unbelievable torque and power of the bike won't transcend my still novice skill set. The 1200 is a phenomenal bike with great balance, speed, and all the bells and whistles. More is not always better…the 1600 is 200 lbs heavier (33% again over the 1200), and imho has more power than you should get involved with at what you have implied your skill set and experience to be, let alone than you will ever need. My suggestion is that you consider taking it slow and easy, and oh yeah, watch out for fixation in the curves.
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post #5 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 12:06 pm Thread Starter
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

Gentlemen,

First off, thank you for such words of wisdom! What is to follow is not push back, but simply more detail insight of your insight:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lynn_Keen View Post
At the end of class you can discuss your 1st bike specifications with the instructors. They will have first hand knowledge of your aptitude and skill level and should be able to make an informed suggestion on where you should start. Besides, the whole reason for taking the course is to learn and practice the basic skill necessary to safely integrate with traffic.!
I had never thought of consulting the instructor on what he (or she) might think is the right type of bike to start with, that is GREAT advise, thank you!

So you know, you are partially right in the reason for taking the course. I say partially because one of the reasons is exactly what you stated, relearn how to ride a motorcycle, but... here in Ohio, the other reason is to avoid the driving test. If you pass this class you don't have to take the driving test!!!!


A little more about me: I am in my mid 40's, am 6'4" and a long distance cyclist (of the human power type of cycle), aka am pretty tall and have a far amount of muscle mass in the legs. One down side is that I eat too much so I am north of 280lb. About fifteen years ago I was looking at getting a bike and a dear friend who was an avid biker highly recommend that due to both my and my wife size that I don't consider anything less then 1200cc. He said we are simply too much weight for a 500~750cc bike. Thus this is why I was initially looking at the R 1200 RT.

So, in light of this extra info on my size, what is everyone's thoughts? I must admit, my #1 concern with a bike the size of the K 1600 GTL is not holding it up, once I stop squarely, I am sure I have the strength to d that. Rather my concern is in those unexpected situations when I am not READY to hold the wait due to inexperience and next thing I know the bike is on the ground.

So, I am trying to get my head around where exactly to start. I was looking on craigs list this morning and saw a Honda CB, links like it is about a 500cc, for $800. While I don't think it is big enough for both my wife and me, it seems like a good place for me to solo for a while before jumping into a bike big enough for both of us.

Your thoughts?
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post #6 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 4:56 pm
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

Here in Florida the only way to gain a motorcycle endorsement on your license it to take the MSF Basic Rider Course. Our DMV stopped motorcycle license testing years ago. That was probably a good thing.

Given your height and weight, I'd I would think that something in the 500 to 800 cc range would be a great starter bike. Regardless of what you start with, I wouldn't even consider riding two up until you gain some reasonable experience solo. When your comfortable with your skill level and you're ready to include the wife I would definitely look for a more advanced class that includes adding a passenger. The MSF Experienced Rider Course does allow you to include your passenger and it's an excellent program for both rider and passenger. (I retired from teaching 8 years ago and the name of that course may have changed) Remember, your passenger plays an active role in maintaining stability and control of your machine.

Good luck with your adventure.

Lynn Keen
North East Florida
MSF #28271 Retired
'99 Canyon Red RETIRED AT 93,000 MI
'05 GRAPHITE METALLIC retired at 87,000 MI
'01 R1150 GS- totaled
'02 R1150 GS sold
'85 K100/EML sidecar sold
'11 R1200RT currently being enjoyed

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post #7 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 5:19 pm
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

Quote:
Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Gentlemen,

First off, thank you for such words of wisdom! What is to follow is not push back, but simply more detail insight of your insight:



I had never thought of consulting the instructor on what he (or she) might think is the right type of bike to start with, that is GREAT advise, thank you!

So you know, you are partially right in the reason for taking the course. I say partially because one of the reasons is exactly what you stated, relearn how to ride a motorcycle, but... here in Ohio, the other reason is to avoid the driving test. If you pass this class you don't have to take the driving test!!!!


A little more about me: I am in my mid 40's, am 6'4" and a long distance cyclist (of the human power type of cycle), aka am pretty tall and have a far amount of muscle mass in the legs. One down side is that I eat too much so I am north of 280lb. About fifteen years ago I was looking at getting a bike and a dear friend who was an avid biker highly recommend that due to both my and my wife size that I don't consider anything less then 1200cc. He said we are simply too much weight for a 500~750cc bike. Thus this is why I was initially looking at the R 1200 RT.

So, in light of this extra info on my size, what is everyone's thoughts? I must admit, my #1 concern with a bike the size of the K 1600 GTL is not holding it up, once I stop squarely, I am sure I have the strength to d that. Rather my concern is in those unexpected situations when I am not READY to hold the wait due to inexperience and next thing I know the bike is on the ground.

So, I am trying to get my head around where exactly to start. I was looking on craigs list this morning and saw a Honda CB, links like it is about a 500cc, for $800. While I don't think it is big enough for both my wife and me, it seems like a good place for me to solo for a while before jumping into a bike big enough for both of us.

Your thoughts?
Congratulations on your decision to get back into your teenage love of motorcycling! Based on your comments, it's nice that it will be a passion that both you and your significant other can enjoy (as I do with my wife).

A couple of thoughts to add to the excellent advice you've already received:

1) Regarding a helmet, I also believe you get what you pay for. Before you start ordering your new lid on-line, it might benefit you to visit some bike shops and start trying on helmets. You will find helmets basically come in a couple of head shapes, more oblong or round. The shape of your own head can have a dramatic effect on the fit and comfort of any helmet and if, for example, you have a more oblong shaped head and you buy a round shaped helmet, you'll be miserable in short order. When you try on helmets, walk around the store for 15 minutes with the helmet on and you'll find out very quickly whether the shape is correct for you.

2) Also, regarding helmets, when it comes to price what I've found is while less expensive helmets may have a DOT sticker and may work fine in a crash, but the real world difference is in how quiet they are at speed. Wind noise can have a noticeable effect on comfort and fatigue while riding...higher end helmets generally win out when it comes to a quiet ride.

3) You mention your physical size and how you're not concerned about stopping and controlling the bike. I'm sure this is true, but the real test is not in stopping, but in your ability to control the bike at slow speeds (especially if you're also planning to ride with a pillion, which can change the balance of the bike rather dramatically). This becomes especially challenging for new riders in off camber parking lots, on gravel, pulling into parking areas, etc. This is a skill that can take a while to develop and trying to manage an 800 lb bike while learning these skills could be detrimental to your bike and your health (not to mention that of your pillion). A good test...can you make slow speed turns while turning the handlebars from right stop to left stop without putting a foot down? If you can, you've established very good control. If not, might want to work on it a little more.

Good luck, safe riding and welcome to the forum!

Life happens...you control your reaction.

2018 Honda CRF250L Rally (fun in the woods)
2015 R1200 RT (holy cow…what a bike)
2007 K1200 LT (sold)
2005 DR 650 (sold)
2002 Harley Ultra (sold)
1999 Harley Road King (sold)
1996 K1100 LT (sold)
1990 Honda Shadow (sold)
1978-1993 Raising Kids; Paying Mortgages
1975 Honda CB550 (sold but wish I still had)
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post #8 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 8:00 pm Thread Starter
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

Generally speaking, what wonderful advice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by powwow View Post
... in your ability to control the bike at slow speeds (especially if you're also planning to ride with a pillion, which can change the balance of the bike rather dramatically). This becomes especially challenging for new riders in off camber parking lots, on gravel, pulling into parking areas, etc.
Ah, thank you so much for defining what I meant when I said "those unexpected situations when I am not READY to hold the weight". Now that you have defined them for me, they are not really unexpected, just unknown to me when I wrote the previous post. That really helps me focus in on things, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by powwow View Post
A good test...can you make slow speed turns while turning the handlebars from right stop to left stop without putting a foot down? If you can, you've established very good control. If not, might want to work on it a little more.
Ok, I am IN TROUBLE! As I said, I am a bicyclist and I do a LOT of it and I don't think I could do that on my bicycle
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post #9 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 8:09 pm
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

Quote:
Originally Posted by carleton View Post
Generally speaking, what wonderful advice.
Ah, thank you so much for defining what I meant when I said "those unexpected situations when I am not READY to hold the weight". Now that you have defined them for me, they are not really unexpected, just unknown to me when I wrote the previous post. That really helps me focus in on things, thanks!


Ok, I am IN TROUBLE! As I said, I am a bicyclist and I do a LOT of it and I don't think I could do that on my bicycle
lol. It's not that you can't be a good and safe motorcyclist without being able to do that, but I've always regarded it as one of the ultimate tests of low speed control.

I'm also an avid road bicyclist and stop to stop would be a bit tricky, since it would literally be a 90 degree turn. Ha!

Life happens...you control your reaction.

2018 Honda CRF250L Rally (fun in the woods)
2015 R1200 RT (holy cow…what a bike)
2007 K1200 LT (sold)
2005 DR 650 (sold)
2002 Harley Ultra (sold)
1999 Harley Road King (sold)
1996 K1100 LT (sold)
1990 Honda Shadow (sold)
1978-1993 Raising Kids; Paying Mortgages
1975 Honda CB550 (sold but wish I still had)
Homemade Motor Bike (mounted a 3.5 HP Briggs & Stratton on my bicycle at age 12)
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post #10 of 11 Old May 6th, 2018, 11:54 pm
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

You're big enough and strong enough to live your dream on the K1600. Be careful. Buy cheap gear to get started until you learn what is out there. Helmets are much about which brand fits your head. Like anything, you get what you pay for. Some of the newer ones now have very large face shields for good view. Personally, I think the Aerostitch gear is better made than the bmw stuff. If you live in a cool area, a Gordons heated jacket liner is the key to staying warm. Moving on. Bike riding these days is a keep your eyes open hobby. The thing about K bikes that is the maintenance costs. An Rt is about 60% of the K bike. It certainly helps to do some of your own work of course. That is why these forums exist, to help with that. (and YouTube). Don't discount the GS series of twins. 90% of them never go off pavement and they are comfortable. But the RT has superior weather protection. BMW dealers all do test rides. Go out for an hour and get the feel of your new dream.

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post #11 of 11 Old May 7th, 2018, 3:25 pm
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Re: returning to two wheels! I have questions, lots of them!

My two cents:

Start with a used and smaller motorcycle.
Go to the safety classes (required on some US states before you can even get a license to motto around)

Gear: a 110+ helmet is good enough. The issue with helmets is: Do they fit the shape of your head?
I found HJC cheaper helmets fit me better than Shoei. And if you are planning long distance, comfort is of the essence. So it is with Jackets, whose choice should be related to weather, cold, rainy, or hot as sheet...

You are still a young buck at 40. Ride a smaller rig for a year before you decided if you wanna tour, Adventure-ride, commute, or bar-hop.

...I have met the nicest folks ever on a motorcycle, good luck
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