Diary

With the RT booked in for its initial service in a couple of weeks’ time, I was surprised to receive a call the other day from Bahnstormer, telling me that there were a couple of additional recall items that need to be sorted in addition to the heated seat not being very warm (they’ll check it) and the SOS system not working (it’s apparently a known issue and is being looked into by BMW).

So what’s required in addition to those bits?

Total Recall

Total Recall

Well apparently they need it in to check on the build dates for the front and rear suspension units and if – as they suspect – they’re from a particular batch they’ll need to be replaced completely under a BMW Motorrad recall.

The other recall is for some footrest circlips which appears to be a long-standing issue, so I’m surprised my RT left the Berlin factory with dodgy ones.

Another ride out on Saturday to try to get some running-in done, check some more possible shoot locations, get some footage, and visit a couple of potential clients.

So I charged up the helmets and cameras and headed off … at 2-3ºC! I was wearing a base layer, a long-sleeved T-shirt, a short-sleeved T-shirt, the Keis heated vest and my Klim Latitude jacket over the top. I hadn’t been able to find my base layer Long Johns (which have probably been tidied away safely somewhere…) so I made do with a pair of Capri-length Nike running tights under my Levis.

Just over 100 miles down the M3 and A303 in an hour and three quarters as the traffic was fairly light.  I’d not bothered with the GoPro after all and regretted it as I rode up past Stonehenge as the first view from the top of the hill heading West is excellent.

With it being crisp and bright, the winter views with that muted brightness were wonderful.  Just a pity I didn’t catch any shots…

A quick sandwich in Street and then back in less than two hours stopping for petrol just before the M3 to make sure the nagging fuel warning wouldn’t come on.  Despite getting up to 11ºC at one point, it did take a few hours once I was off the bike to properly warm up again.

So the RT is now showing 603 miles and the app says it’s just 19 miles short of its initial service mileage (1,000km).  Perfect for the trip from here to Bahnstormer at Alton.

Oh Poo!

I forgot to mention in my earlier update that whilst parked at our friends’ house, some seagulls had decided to show their appreciation and crap on the RT. Nice…

So as it needed a wash anyway, I filled a bucket – it was too cold to reenable the outside tap and get the pressure washer set up – and gave the RT a half-arsed attempt at a clean.

Still, the results weren’t tooooo shabby:

Cleaned RT

Cleaned RT

 

When I wheeled it back into the garage I was horrified to see that the lacquer on the tank had peeled on one patch … except it hadn’t: it was just a small dot of bird crap that I’d missed. Phew!

I’ve also booked the RT in for its initial service towards the end of February, so I’ll try to add some more miles to the 396 currently showing.  I’ve asked Bahnstormer to look at the non-functioning SOS system and to check the seat heating whilst it’s in.

With the promise of a dry and possibly bright Sunday morning, I got the cameras charged up and the helmet likewise and decided to go and scout some shooting locations on the South Coast.

The RT is still saying its SOS function isn’t working, so that will need to be fixed on the first service.

I’d also tried fitting R1250GS mirror mounts to be able to mount the GoPros on, but sadly the clutch side one was the wrong one due to the additional LED riding light switch requiring a boss to locate into so that didn’t fit.

Likewise the brake lever one where the boss was cross-threaded – or not aligned properly – so the SOS switch  wouldn’t tighten up properly.

Back to the drawing board!

Having updated the maps in the BMW Connected app, I set a course for the Bluebird Cafe at Ferring (noting that the updated maps still don’t have our new estate in them), plugged all our heated riding gear in, and set off.

The first thing to notice was again that the heated grips are very warm indeed; despite wearing summer gloves, my hands were toasty warm the whole way despite low temperatures of 4ºC.  I just wish the same could be said of the heated seat which has five settings, none of which actually feel even warm.

The second thing to notice was the speed limit display: despite everything being set to mph, the latest update to the execrable BMW Connected app released before Christmas now displays the MPH speed limits in KPH which is really useful (especially as it doesn’t alert you to any safety cameras unlike every other satnav program)…

Still, once we got to the Bluebird Cafe, we stashed our helmets and gloves in the cases and went to get a cuppa. Big mistake as the wind was bitterly cold.  So instead we decided to gatecrash our friends’ house where they had offered us warm drinks and we could chat about arranging some shoots; Simon and Rob are photographers and Cheryl a model, stylist and retoucher.

Then back home before it got dark, although the sun now being behind clouds made it feel even colder.

The RT is now a tad grimy from streams across the road following Storm Henk.

With only 105 miles on the clock after the weekend trip to Angry Minge, running-in for 310 to 745 miles was going to take quite a while over the winter period.

But family staying over rectified that: when they left, they left behind their suitcase with a load of stuff in it that they needed, and a cunning plan was hatched, given a look at the weather forecast for the following day which was showing dry and bright but quite cool.

Perfect!

We tried to get the carry-on into the top case, but its wheels prevented that, so instead we filled the top case liner bag with the contents of the suitcase, wrapped up warm in our Klim jackets, Keis heated vests (and gloves for Alison)  and our ‘proper’ riding trousers.  Mine are now a bit loose but will probably still do the job, but I am contemplating buying the matching Klim Latitude trousers in the New Year as you can at least cinch the waistband up a bit (I’m currently around a 33″ waist, so I fall between two stools in terms of waist size).

Herself was also trying out her new Shoei Neotec 2 crash helmet that we bought at the NEC motorbike show last week (with a price reduction because they’ve just updated it).  It’s a flip-front style which she prefers for getting it on and off and which should also allow her to be able to take a drink on the bike once I source and fit a suitable cupholder and strawed water bottle.

Shoei Neotec 2

Shoei Neotec 2

With everything switched on we set off nice and toasty warm despite the temperature being an indicated 10-13ºC and supposedly with around 10 miles’ ‘buffer’ on our journey distance before we’d run out of petrol.  Or at least that was the plan.

It transpires that ‘making good progress’ gulps down the fuel and the dire reserve fuel warning light came on a few miles short of our destination so we popped into the next petrol station on our route to fill up.

We’d been chatting away merrily on the Cardo PACKTALK BOLD (why is the name all capitalised?) but I wasn’t receiving navigation prompts or indeed hearing music through the Cardo from the bike, despite it being paired and connected. Oh and saying “Hey Siri! Play some music” to the Cardo meant that the iPhone dropped both the Bluetooth and the WiFi connection to the RT – I have no idea why the Connected App has to connect that way for maps to be cast to the RT display when Apple CarPlay should be set up on BMW’s bikes as well as their cars – and took a while to reconnect, but at least it did all by itself.

Within two hours we were in Somerset and enjoying a cuppa before heading back.  The lights were excellent but then it was only dusk rather than fully dark when we got back.

So we’re now up to 311 miles – just within the lower limit for its first service – but I’ll probably wait until the New Year for that, when they can also look at why the emergency SOS system is now producing a warning.

As to the lack of voice prompts, the RT was paired with my iPhone 15 Pro  and with the PACKTALK, which was  then paired with the iPhone on channel 1 and the RT on channel 2.  The Cardo and my wife’s identical unit are on a mesh intercom system which works fine.  I’d previously paired her Cardo with the RT, but then she’d have to listen to the satnav and my choice of music rather than hers. so I deleted that pairing.

This morning I spent some time in the garage resetting the Cardo pairing completely. I then only set the pairing between the RT and Cardo on channel 1, ignoring the iPhone which I’d left paired with the RT.  And it seems to work: satnav voice prompts now work and I can play music from the iPhone via the RT to my Cardo.  Sadly the volume dial only brings up the middle setting but doesn’t actually adjust the volume, so I have to do that manually on the Cardo.

Here’s a gratuitous photo of the RT parked on the (vacant) neighbour’s drive – as in, there’s no neighbour yet, rather than they’re a bit vacant – while it was parked there for a delivery of a fridge/freezer to the man cave.

Parked Up

Saturday dawned bright but cold so we decided to get some more miles on the bike.

Given it was cold, we also thought it would be useful to break out the Keis heated clothing that we bought years ago before the Austria ride (Eurothrash 2014) and couple it with the BMW’s heated seats (and heated grips for me).

So we decided to head to the South Coast, and looking at the list of “UK Biker Cafes” on Google Maps, we found the cafe in Little Preston, so we thought we’d pop by and see our friends Simon, Cheryl and Rob who live in Angmering on Sea – or “Angry Minge”, as we call it – but sadly the latter two were oop North in Stoke and Simon was working … at the Seaview Hotel.  Hmm. Lunch there then!  That was once we’d found it: BMW’s Connected App had disconnected and lots of faffing was required to get it to work again a mile or so from our destination.

The navigation also provide a helpful reading of a chequered flag with 00:02h throughout the hour and a half trip. It also decided not to show me where I was or where I was going on the mini-map again, before working properly again for no good reason.  Who knows why?

BMW, just give us Apple CarPlay like you do on your cars!

I fitted the GoPro but then as you’ll see from the footage I was unable to control it properly with the voice control hence lots of silence from me and missing out the ‘best’ footage.

The Seaview Hotel’s lunch was delicious if a bit expensive and as the temperatures started to drop, we were pleased to be fully wired up and toasty warm: I had the waistcoat plugged in to the front socket coupled with the heated grips and seat (Favourites Buttons 1 and 2) and Alison alternated between settings 1 and 2 on the pillion seat, with her heated waistcoat and her heated gloves.

Once home, it was time to get the drill out and mount the new numberplate that actually reads 8000 on the top line and RM on the bottom line in place of the one Bahnstormer had fitted (rightly or wrongly) showing 800 0RM.

After an anxious couple of weeks checking the weather forecasts today was the day to go and collect the RT from Bahnstormer at Alton.

We drove over to Bahnstormer in the Abarth for midday and after doing a bit of paperwork it was time to bring it home. Oh there was a bit of trying on a helmet we’d seen for Alison and paying for the top box liner bag.

It was the first outing for the Klim Latitude jacket and some new Alpinetstars gloves as well as the GoPro Hero 12 Black that I’d bought.  I should have checked that the GoPro was properly mounted before setting off, so the footage is looking down too much; lessons learned.

Once home, I had to try putting it in the man cave alongside the Kawasaki ZRX1200R that I’d moved slightly towards the gear wardrobe but was pleased to see that the RT fits in really nicely.  Getting it onto the centrestand is an absolute doddle too.

Man Cave

Man Cave

Once safely parked up, the fettling could begin.

First up was fitting the tails for the Optimate charger to the battery which meant taking off a couple of panels and routing the cables under the seat.  I also fitted the Apple AirTag somewhere on the bike as well…

Then it was time to fit the Wunderlich Vario clutch lever: set to short to (hopefully) stop the empty fingers on my gloves from being trapped by the clutch lever when I engage it.  I also fitted the side stand extender plate to give the foot of the side stand a little more area and to stop it  sinking into any soft surfaces.

Then I thought I should fit the adaptor ring to the tank for my old tank bag but I do like the look of the filler cap and ring, etc. plus on full lock the bars would clash with it.  The RT also has a lockable compartment in the fairing which is big enough for the sunglasses, ear plugs, latex gloves and Ibuprofen that I usually have in the tank bag, so I decided against fitting it after all.

So it now has 24 miles on the clock and I need to run it in for a few hundred miles.  Tricky in the winter in the UK, especially as we’re still effectively living on a building site with all the mud that goes with that.

With the new RT on its way and with plans already made for a couple of long rides in 2024 – well, three, actually – it was time to consider what kit we’d need to update and/or put in place.

The RT is intended to be used as a workhorse, so my trips will be working trips for my photographer and nascent videography ventures, so one of the obvious choices was a new camera.  The other videos on my YouTube channel over the last few years (not counting the early ones with camcorder footage) have been shot using a Garmin VIRB Elite, but although that’s great for capturing video with all the GPS data embedded, it’s quite old now and bulky and the tech has come on in leaps and bounds.

So whilst I will still use the VIRB for pushbike stuff, for on-bike/in-car footage I’ve sourced a GoPro Hero12 Black Edition which I will be mounting – initially at least – on my Arai Quantic helmet.  The RT’s setup means that I would need to do some mods to the handlebar bracketry to mount it on the bars, but maybe that’s for a second camera in due course?

In the meantime, we also wanted some up to date protective riding gear.

I went to Gran Canaria at the start of October with some friends and was riding a Ducati Multistrada hired from the lovely people at CanaryRide and it was waaaay too hot as there was a calima and I was wearing my old Alpinestars leather jacket, which is black and padded.

Now I used to have some Triumph leathers that were water-resistant to go with some Rukka Ceres shorty gloves, but when I got killed (temporarily) by someone knocking me off my Triumph Sprint GT1050 my jacket had to be cut off and due to two of my fingers being “de-gloved” the resultant mess in my Ceres gloves was not for the faint-hearted to deal with so again they were disposed of in A&E.

So that just leaves my venerable old Rukka Gore-Tex jacket: totally waterproof, removable lining, but next to no ventilation.  Similarly Mrs Me also has a nine year old Dainese textile jacket and trouser combo that is also great for cold and wet but not so good for dry and hot conditions:

I’ve been researching jackets for quite a while now and the Klim ones looked exactly what we needed, but which one to go for in their line-up? Well I don’t need to go top of the range touring with the Kodiak as I already have a duck down jacket that might do well as a mid-layer and of course both of us have heated Keis waistcoats with accessory sockets on the RT to match. So the best choice looks like the latest version of the Klim Latitude for me and the ladies’ version, the Klim Altitude, for her.  And of course I needed replacement waterproof gloves to go with my Alpinestars race gloves for guaranteed dry days, so a pair of Alpinestars SMX-1 waterproof shorty gloves have been sourced as well, all from SPORTSBIKESHOP online.

Of course as the RT is white with grey or black bits, the Klim gear and gloves are similarly coloured: “Cool Grey” for the jackets and black and white for the gloves.  I’ll let you know how we get on with them in due course.

Alpinestars SMX-1 Drystar Gloves Klim Altitude Front Klim Latitude Front Alpinestars SMX-1 Drystar Gloves Klim Altitude Back Klim Latitude Back

If you’ve read this blog then you will know that I booked Eurothrash 2024 for July 2024 to suit other actual or potential family clashes; ah, the benefits of having a mahoosive family!

Today, the Tour de France organisers have announced both the dates and the route for this year’s race. Now, for a bit of context, you should know that for as long as I can recall I have watched the highlights on TV wherever I’ve been at the time and as it’s usually in July, it usually coincides with a holiday.

On Eurothrashes over the years the big climbs and famous finishes have featured in our planning and this year was going to be similar, with a visit to the Gorges du Tarn, Mont Ventoux and the Gorges du Verdon all featuring in my planning.

So anyway, here’s the route and dates:

Tour de France 2024 Route

Tour de France 2024 Route

So on the Gruissan to Nimes state – Stage 16 – we will be riding past but to the North of the route as we are heading to the Millau Bridge and Gorges du Tarn that day before making our way to our rest day at what was “the First Dates Hotel”.

On our ‘rest day’ we included an optional jaunt up to Mont Ventoux which – thankfully – would be slightly to the South of Stage 17, Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to SuperDévoluy.  The following day will be absolutely fine as we will be heading further South to Frejus.

On the Friday we head over to Grenoble via the Gorges du Verdon and  l’Alpe d’Huez, so fortunately we will be to the West of Stage 19.

Phew!

I’m sure we’d be OK though as the RT will look pretty much identical to the Tour’s camera bikes 🙂

We’re approaching MoT anniversary, so I thought I’d get in there early and book the ZRX in for an MoT at a local bike shop, A Force Motorcycles in Aldershot.

I trotted up there yesterday and a thorough MoT test was carried out … with Blue Rex’s first ever failure!

The Clear Alternatives LED rear light illuminates red (and amber with the integrated turn signals) but does not shine white light down onto the numberplate, so it’s a fail. There is what appears to be a small pilot type LED which might perform that function, but the general consensus appears to be that there isn’t one. I may be able to bodge something together, but in the meantime, I rode home and then took off the rear seat cowl – revealing a missing bolt to hold the rear mudguard and under seat plastic in place, so that was replaced. I then disconnected the LED light and refitted the OEM red one (having popped to the local Jet petrol station to get a couple of 21/5W tail/stop lamps) which I keep with all the other OEM parts I’d taken off*.

I also fitted the marginally larger numberplate – I think it’s the same sized font, but just more space around it – which was the other fail item – and then this morning popped back for a free retest and pass certificate.

Mileage this year is 19,621 miles, up 159 miles from last year.

*Now we’ve moved out of London, I’m expecting to do more miles on Blue Rex, such as last weekend’s Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Guildford & Surrey Hills, so I’ve removed the “spools” and refitted the grab rails for Alison.  Next job is removing the rear sets and refitting the standard footrests.

Here are some photos from the DGR: