Gear

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The first major overseas trip planned for the RT was to its birthplace: the BMW Motorradwerk in Berlin.

I knew this was going to be a pretty boring trip as my past experience of Northern France has always been that it’s the area you have to ride or drive through to get to the interesting bits, which is why this July’s trip starts with a ferry down to Spain…

Anyway, I checked the Michelin maps I’ve got for that trip and saw that I could actually have some ‘scenic’ stuff in Belgium on the way (given that I’d planned a two stop strategy on the way to Berlin, two nights in Berlin itself, and then one stop on the way back in the Netherlands.

So at around 6am on Sunday 9th June it was off to LeShuttle at Folkestone for our fixed time trip out.  On the way there, the truly irritating BMW Connected app had frozen on the A3 but fortunately I knew I was using the M25 and turned off in time, rather than continuing as the app was pretending to tell me.  As we arrived to check in, I realised that I’d left my wallet at home so I’d have to try to pay for everything with Apple Pay on my Apple Watch or iPhone 15 Pro…

It froze a couple of times in France and Belgium which meant we had to go a slightly different route towards Liege than I’d planned, and threw my trust in the app off even more.  I can see why some other owners have given up and ditched it altogether in favour of a mounted Garmin one (which also has the added bonus of showing “safety” cameras).  Why BMW don’t let us use Apple CarPlay is beyond me.

Still, at least I got a bit of footage in Dinant in Belgium, which was indeed scenic:

We stopped along the way in a lovely little town called Florennes for a salad for lunch.

RT parked up in Florennes

We got to the Mercure at Liege and checked in, asking if we could book a table in the restaurant. “No,” they said, “it’s not open on Sundays”. Well that’s not what it says on their website! We decided to get a drink in the bar anyway, but again, we were told that’s also closed on Sundays. We weren’t best pleased…  We did, however, find a little Italian restaurant nearby where we could eat.

The next day was a bit of a wet one as we headed towards Hameln (or “Hamelin” where the Pied Piper hung out. I’d booked us into the Hotel Stadt Hameln and frankly didn’t expect much, but the room was large and comfortable and the restaurant was absolutely outstanding. We also wandered into the old town to see if we could get some cash out on Alison’s Supplemental American Express Platinum Card, but sadly that service isn’t offered any longer.  This meant we had no cash for tipping.

The Klim Latitude and Altitude clothing, our Alpinestars short boots and our gloves had all  performed brilliantly keeping us dry as a bone, and with the heated seats, grips and waistcoats we’d been warm as well.

We then headed on to Berlin and two nights at the outstanding Hotel Adlon Kempinski at the Brandenburg Gate. I could definitely get used to champagne and caviar for breakfast every day!  At least we could use their temporary gym – the normal one is being renovated – to burn some of the calories off.

We also visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; very poignant.

On the Wednesday after brunch we went off to BMW Motorradwerk for an extended factory tour in English … except the English-speaking guide couldn’t do it, so the German one press-ganged a Polish(?) tourist into translating for him, which sort of worked but was a tad unsatisfactory.

Thursday morning after a workout and brunch we headed off to Eindhoven, seeing 207km/h or 129mph on the autobahns. Well that was irritating! One minute, you’re on an unrestricted stretch of dual carriageway in Germany and the next moment it’s the same road in the Netherlands with a 100km/h speed limit! The next morning was the same when we left the Netherlands and hit Belgium: the same road but now with a 120km/h speed limit.

The Park Plaza in Eindhoven was again comfortable after a really long ride but it featured the slowest lift in the world ever!

After breakfast we packed and headed back to Calais and then on to home. We’d booked flexiplus on LeShuttle so after ordeal by UK Border Agency as usual – including the jobsworth insisting we took off our crash helmets for no reason at all – we had lunch in the lounge before getting on the next train back to the UK and home by mid-afternoon on Friday: four countries in one day!

So yes: 1,418 miles with a maximum speed of 129mph and still averaging 47.8mpg for the trip.

At the last minute I’d added a Kriega US-40 Rackpack for our shoes and heated vests to go in, fixed to the frame and rack and sitting on the top of the top case (plus we had the top case and pannier liner bags to use).

I mentioned a while back that I’d bought some new Klim riding gear for Alison and me. I’d held off from buying the matching Klim Latitude Jeans for me and Klim Altitude Jeans for Alison as we both already had waterproof trousers, but Alison’s didn’t really fit and my Alpinestars ones were waaaaay too big and the Triumph Taloc leather jeans too big (but not massively so).

Klim Latitude Pants Klim Latitude Pants Klim Altitude Pants Klim Altitude Pants

I’d been using a pair of Alpinestars J-6 boots for general riding – as seen in this photo – but as I found out after a long walk in Gran Canaria to collect a bike from CanaryRide, they caused the odd blister after a while.  Now I could use my crashed-in but waterproof Alpinestars SMX Plus boots but they’re a bit heavy for walking around off the bike, so I decided to get another pair of boots that are waterproof, will go better with the light grey trousers, and should be comfortable off the bike. So I bought myself some Alpinestars Fastback 2 Drystar boots and at the same time bought Alison some Alpinestars Women’s J-6 boots, both of which are waterproof and should be good to wear off the bike.

Alpinestars Fastback 2 Drystar Waterproof Boots Alpinestars Ladies J-6 Waterproof Boots

These were all ordered – again – from SPORTSBIKESHOP but on their ‘try before you buy’ option using their Reading store. This was because the Klim sizing can be a little strange, apparently, although I’ve not had any problems.  We set off to Reading on Bank Holiday Monday to try the gear on.

We had followed the sizing guidance and had ordered my trousers in a 34″ waist on the basis that the feedback was they were a little smaller than that. They weren’t. Even with the thankfully adjustable waist cinched up small, they looked like a schoolboy’s first set of school trousers that you’d grow into eventually.  So I tried on some 32″ Klim Badlands Pro trousers and they seemed much better, so we ordered the Latitude trousers in a 32″ waist.  They arrived today – yes, the day after ordering late on a Bank Holiday! – and are fine; I can even cinch the waist up some more if I feel the need to before walking around. It looks like all my exercise might be paying off.

Oh and that noise you can hear? That’s my wallet crying…

 

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