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Re: BMW in Cycle World...

Hello All,

Tom Brown <tbrown@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

>> (John wrote):
>> Especially considering that the boxer remains down on power (BMW ought to
>> bring out a blown ~850), and in terms of styling, the twins these days
>> from "What do you expect, it's a GS" (at best) to "What the hell were they
>> thinking?".
> John, you read too much Cycle World and do too little actual riding!

I think that's an unfair statement, unless John tells us otherwise. John is
correct when he states that "the boxer remains down on power". Just compare it
to four cylinder liter-class bikes, or to other large twins, many of which
best the boxer's peak horsepower rating. Whether that truth matters to the
rider in real-world street user, is another story. In my opinion, "around a
hundred ponies" is ample for a street motorcycle in most cases, testosterone
or not (I've included an interesting story later in this posting). Because of
this view, I feel BMW is doing a decent job in their "twins" category in terms
of peak power, and a rather good job in terms of usable power as expressed by
the torque curve and peak torque numbers.

The other thorny issue that John touched upon is styling. According to J.D.
Powers and Associated, styling is the Number One reason that a potential buyer
will not purchase a specific model automobile. I don't know how true this is
with bikes, but I can tell you that it is quite common for someone to buy a
motorcycle because it "looks awesome" rather than for more mundane, practical
reasons. BMW's new styling direction has polarized the buying public with the
most often expressed position being that of "nay" rather than "yay". This is
true with their cars as well as with their new boxers. Like BMW's cars, their
bikes deliver an noteworthy ride, and a really good balance of power and
handling making them excellent "real world" vehicles, though not top dogs in
any "extreme" category (that's one reason why they aren't race winners in
multi-brand competition).

Take the GS, for example. The GS is not beautiful, but it is a great
all-around bike, and awesome for something that is a good street bike and a
capable machine in the loose stuff. So it's a great bike, in spite of its
looks. The new RT looks like a "transformer", or a hodge-podge of tacked
together, apparently ill-fitting pieces. Sure it rides really well and is a
great touring bike, no qualifiers necessary. Sure it's a major step up in
performance (more power, lower weight, and better handling) than its
predecessor RT. But those looks: Not pretty! I am confident that many folks
can forgive the styling department because of all the positive traits the new
RT has. I'm sure a small minority will even find the new style gorgeous (just
like a number of people actually like the taste of Spam), but BMW's new bikes
are not styled in a manner that makes significant number of people say nice

As for Cycle World, my hat is off to them for not commenting negatively about
BMW's styling. They just presented the facts that the styling isn't for
everyone, and then went on to say loads of positive things about the bike,
much like us BMW fanatics would. And that's a good thing when a non-fan has so
much good to say about a BMW bike.

On Bikes and Power

A buddy of mine is a very talented rider, as proven by his track times. He has
been aching for more power since I have known him, around 5 years. His last
bike was a Kawasaki ZX-10R with awesome power, light weight, and admirable
handling. In his words, when the engine hits 11,000 RPM, it gets frantic with
power. He took it on the track several times, and concluded it was overpowered
in the twisties. He took it on public streets and concluded there weren't any
local roads on which this bike could stretch its legs. After less than a year
of ownership, he sold this Uberbike and bought a dedicated 250cc track bikes.
He's now building his track skills to professional levels by refining his
line, braking skills, and throttle control. There is something to be said when
"ultimate power" connects with a good brain :-)

- -Steve Makohin
 '01 R1100S/ABS
 Oakville, Ontario, Canada