March 9, 2012

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Ride Friday: 20k miles on the Bike

The key component, my motorcycle.
This week I passed an important milestone for myself and my bike. I have completed 20,000 miles in the saddle of of my BMW R1100RTP, my first bike. I

purchased the bike back in October of 2009 and have ridden it a heck of a lot since then. I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of time in the saddle (though it is hard to REALLY enjoy yourself when you’re ass is sore from eight straight hours of riding) and thought this would be a good time for some reflection.

Most people would recommend a smaller/less expensive bike for their first, and I’d agree. However, to be fair I borrowed John’s bike (a Suzuki VZ800 Marauder) for a winter before I purchased my own. I also got mine for a steal of a price. The reason everyone suggests buying a smaller used bike is because you’ll screw up and drop your bike. I’m going to come clean and admit that I have dropped mine (but oddly never John’s) — three times in fact. The first two drops were within the first month of ownership — once at a gas station and one in my garage. The third drop was at a gas station last summer when I failed to completely put down the kickstand — stupid mistake.

Not my actual odometer
During the last 20,000 miles, I’ve had three “incidents” with the bike, but I consider myself very lucky. The first incident was lane splitting a stop light (at night). I clipped a car’s mirror with my own… and mine popped off (at speed), hit the deck and was promptly run over. If you know the R1100RT series, you know the mirrors/blinker units come off a little too easy… and cost a less-than-shiny $300 a piece to replace.

Pretty, but you don’t want to be broken down on it
The second “incident” was the least expensive, but the most frustrating for me. I had just finished getting a major servicing done at

BMW Motorcycles of San Francisco and was riding back to SF across the Bay Bridge. Not 60 miles after the servicing, the bike up and dies — on the damn bay bridge. I was stranded halfway between the Island and SF on a very busy bridge with no shoulder. CalTrans came along and dragged my ass back to the dealership. I was angry mostly because there is nothing as embarrassing as SITTING on the bridge blocking traffic. SF BMW treated me fantastically and spent 6 hours testing the bike (for free) and never found a cause, though I suspect it was junk in the fuel line.

The third incident was a case of an ill-placed Prius. I’ll save you the long drawn out version, but it was raining, I was in stop-and-go traffic and tried to change lanes. Someone was speeding in that lane and I had to abort the lane change, which was unfortunate for the Prius in front of me. Why unfortunate for them? Because the Prius’ bumper met my cylinder heads… and lost. I did a good number on their bumper (and broke my OTHER mirror). I was fortunate in the fact that I didn’t go down or even get a scratch.

When I’m not fighting off rogue PrionsPriuses, I enjoy my time on the bike. I ride almost everywhere (yes, I have alternate transportation, a Truck, no I don’t use it). Even though I’ve got a 90 mile commute (total) each day — which I ride — I still get out on the weekends and go tooling around. I’ve ridden all the way down Highway 1/101 from San Francisco to L.A (and back). I’ve ridden to Tahoe. I’ve even had some joyful adventures over Mount Hamilton.

As it’s my first bike, I’ve beat it up a bit, but I still try to take good care of her. I don’t think I’ll ever sell the bike, but I sure would like to get another one. I’m glad I let myself get talked into riding (Big Thank You to my previous persuasive co-workers). I just hope the next 20,000 miles are as uneventful (all things considered).