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Newbie II

>> Cees, it takes a year to learn to really ride an R1100RT and get
>> everything out of it that it offers.
>Hmm.. So maybe it's worthwhile to get some lessons from my old
>instructor (he rides the same bike).

Well, I don't know your old instructor, but I had my eyes opened wide on a day
trip with the BMWSporttouring crowd (then called BMWRT.COM) at their first
"Unrally" in Gunnison, CO.   We had some really great rides that year and I
never longed for a loud pipe again.    Quiet is good!  You get away with a lot
more.  If you have to make noise to have fun, you're not trying hard enough.

>> How far is your commute?   Will you tour with this bike?
>Depends - I'm a freelancer/contracter. Sometimes half an hour,
>sometimes an hour. And yes, I'm of the conviction that a couple of
>times per year, one should strap a tent to the buddy and go someplace
>with twisties ;-)

Well, good!  I was afraid you bought the wrong bike.   It's probably not the
best machine for a 10 mile daily commute.

>> Do you notice any low speed surging with the engine?
>As soon as someone explains 'surging' to me... you're number three to ask...

OK.  I'm sure everyone else will also explain it, but here goes anyway....
When you run the bike at a steady speed in 2nd or 3rd or even 4th gear at 3000
RPM or so, does it not want to stay at that speed?   Does it hunt around or
buck?    If you don't know what I'm even talking about, you have a good bike
that doesn't need help.

>> If you're going to ride it fast over long stretches of road, an Aeroflow
>> windscreen or a Cee Baileys Type 3 windscreen are strongly
> >encouraged.

>I'm toying with the idea of attaching the Laminar Lip I salvaged from
>the old back to it - first in some temporary manner, to see whether it
>helps to reduce buffeting in the screen's highest position.

Well, you can goof around with the stock windscreen all you want, but if you
get on a bike with an Aeroflow, you won't believe the difference.   It's the
single best thing you can do for the bike, in my opinion.   If you can find a
decent used one, you'll save some money.   I sold a used Cee Baileys for $100
and the guy who bought is thrilled after riding with the stock screen for over
a year on his 1150.   The advantage is that the screen is bigger and better
shaped so you can get out of the wind and the noise without putting it up all
the way.  Because the screen is only half way up or so, you still have a lead
angle at the bottom... no buffeting or getting hit in the back by the wind.

I don't like those lip things because that edge is kind of distracting to me.
A good clear screen can stay pretty well down out of your line of sight and
still keep the wind and noise off you.

>> A more comfortable seat is also a good idea, but costs some money.

>I've never understood the fuzz about aftermarket seats, so I probably
>have an iron butt or something :-)

>> You'll have a seat that's more "flat" and doesn't give you a "wedgie" as
>> pulls your crotch steadily towards the tank as you ride.
>Hmm... Haven't been bothered by that so far, but thanks for the tip,
>I'll keep it in mind.

Well, if you run two or three tanks of gas through the bike in a day, your
iron butt will surely begin to understand what I'm talking about.   It will
dawn on you eventually that your "privates" are "falling asleep" while riding.
Raising the front of the seat solves this.  Doesn't matter if you're tall or
short.  I used the middle setting on my 1100RT, but I'm long waisted, so I sit

The Sargent seat is another significant step up...that's what I bought for
mine after using the stock seat, elevated in front, for about a year.   The
Iron Butt Riders over here swear by Russell "Day Long" seats, which are
designed specifically to your body and cost a bit more.  The other brand that
does this custom seat thing is Bill / Rick Mayer saddles.   These are all
good, but if you can find a used Sargent, you won't have to be concerned about
modifications.  One size fits all.

>I'm tall, and currently testing with the seat in its highest position
>- - bar-backs might help there as well, because they're a bit too far

Bar-Baks are easy to add to the 1100.   A few bolts and follow the
instructions.  No modifications of the brake or clutch cables are needed.
Just a little re-routing of one cable on the right, I think the throttle...no
unhooking of anything.  Simple.  Raising the front of the seat also takes some
pressure off your wrists and shoulders.

> Riding position will be more comfortable, wind will no longer be a factor
>> can ride at 100mph with two fingers on the handlebars!!!) and life will be
>> good.

>You mean, just like on my R80RT... ;-P

Yeah, but you get to 100 a lot sooner.

>(with the drawback that the R1100RT doesn't have a throttle friction
>screw, need to fix that as well...)

Ah, that's easily done with a "wrist rest" from Bob's BMW in Maryland
www.bobsbmw.com  or get a throttlemeister, which is what I had.    It just
screws on the end of your bar and you turn it to lock the throttle.  There's
another piece for the other side, so they match.  There are proponents of each
type.  Bobs is knurled, which gives a better grip on it.  I've only used
Throttlemeisters, so I can't tell you which is better.  They're installed the
same way and work with the same principals.   They're also nice for synching
the bike because you need to hold the throttle at a set RPM while you do the
last adjustment.

>Don't you just hate these trade-offs? Anyway, for the time being I'll
>stick with the BT's, because - alas - most of my miles are done on the
>highway and I always square off my tires.

Well, they're both great tires, so it's not really that big a trade-off.  You
won't go too wrong with the BT020.  It's been improved again this year as tire
compounding has advanced a bit.  You'd never guess it from Bridgestone's
recent F1 performance, but my last set of 020s was the best ever.  I'm on Z6s
now but may change back.  It's unbelievable to me that these tires can stick
this well and still work really well in nearly all conditions.  If I lived
near the hills, I'd buy Metzs.  If not, probably 020.  They're both very
advanced technology with great compounding.  The carcass construction is the
difference between them.  The Z6 sort of favors the sporting edge and the 020
is a little more forgiving of straight line wear.  Both stick well, but the
Metz feels better doing it....when it's new.

>There's no getting around this balancing thing, is there? I thought
all the computers and electronics on the bike would have settled that
for once and for all.... ;-)

The Bosch Motronic system on the 1100 is no brainiac.  You'll see that it's a
pretty simple thing when you start reading about it.   It saves gas and gives
a little more performance than carbs, but it's not very smart.   You have to
synch.  Bigger cylinders mean a bigger bang and bigger bang means more
vibration when the thing is out of synch.

The 1200 has just about solved it with BMWs own system (no longer Bosch), but
it still needs a little tweaking (dealer computer required on the 1200...at
least so far) after a valve adjustment.   The 1100s can be balanced pretty
easily with a set of mercury tubes or some other carb balancer.   That's a
whole other subject.   Let me know when you're ready to tackle this and I'll
send you a nice, long private email about the tricks of the trade.    I'm sure
this list has seen it many times.  www.ibmwr.org has a lot in the Oilhead tech
section, but if you can't make sense of it, let me know.

This bike is a large displacement twin.   Whenever you have two big cylinders,
you've got to synch.  It smooths things out unbelievably when it's done right.
My Aprilia also benefits from synching.

I actually wouldn't let my BMW dealer adjust valves because I'm better at it
than they are.  Not because I'm more skilled, but because I can lavish more
time on the job than they can. They can't take the time required to get the
valves perfect.  When the valves are perfect, the synch can be perfect.   The
bike then runs smoother at all engine speeds.   If the valves aren't right,
you get sweet spots of smoothness and other spots that aren't quite right.
Adjusting valves on these bikes is similar to airheads, but you have to be
fussy to get it beautiful.  It's one of those things that can be done just OK
and won't really hurt anything, but can be very rewarding when it's really
done right.  You can feel the difference...definitely.

The real fun starts when you remove and replace the side fairings...only about
30 screws....to do most any service on the bike.    Stainless steel
screws...standard on the 1200RT, can be had for the 1100 from the aftermarket.
www.cyclegadgets.com   The advantage to them is that they are harder, so they
don't round out no matter how many times you use them and they don't corrode
even a little bit.  Not necessary, but a nice luxury if you work on your own

Also check out Big Mak tank bags while you're on the cyclegadgets site.  The
"SS" size (4"deep) is the one I like.  They don't touch the paint and they
flip up for fueling.  Very convenient...my favorite bag.   It's been on all
three of my RTs and is still going strong.   The map pocket has a cool extra
compartment where an Ipod or Walkman CD player can be hidden.  Use Sony
earbuds or molded earplugs with speakers in them for great stereo while you

While we're on the accessories subject, I bought Ohlins for my 1100RT, had
them converted to 1150 specs when I changed and tried to have them changed to
1200 specs for my new bike, but Ohlins wasn't ready for me,  so I sold those
shocks and bought Wilbers.   I think you can get by with the remote preload
option only (like stock) on these shocks and be fine.  I bought the fancy
model with the double compression adjustments and found them to be
unnecessary.   Wilbers are a bit cheaper to buy that Ohlins and work very well
indeed.  They're rebuildable and, as a result, very sellable if you trade the
bike.  Keep your originals for trade in time or when you want to send shocks
in for rebuild.  Food for thought.

I'm sure this all sounds like a hellish nightmare, but it's not.   The quality
of construction and interesting, rugged and beautiful design of this bike make
it all pretty fun and worth the time you put into it.

Like every German product I've ever encountered, it's got foibles, but they're
all well-known and the answers are documented on the net.   The bikes are a
joy and get more addictive the more you ride them.   I have a 5 year old
Aprilia Mille R at home.  It's a fabulous bike, and fast.   My new RT, bought
April, '05, already has more miles on it than the Aprilia.   All three of my
RTs got more miles than my car gets in a year.   I bought a Ducati ST4 and
traded it because it was less comfy and wasn't any more fun to ride than the
RT and the RT was much easier to service.

- -TB