Tag Archives: BMW

Bikes! Bikes! Bikes! so many lovely motorbikes!

Having made the decision to sell the Ural I walked away thinking about 650 BMW, v-Strom or a TransAlp – the seller being the seat height.  BMW chalked up the best on the seat hight, whilst the v-Strom best all round, and TransAlp as bullet proof reliable.

I didn’t go any further as would like to sell the Ural first and know my budget, however, I want to do some work on it first and waiting for Mick (our mechanic) to be free so no advertising as yet.  The clock is ticking if we are going to turn it all around before dead line for getting the papers for Russia sorted out and as time passes it is requiring greater levels of optimism!
styr_y0w-01A stroke of luck over the weekend, however, as a friend says they are hoping to pick up a Bandit 600 (road bike) for peanuts and said I could borrow it for our Europe trip.  There is only one snag though, the owner is a nightmare to contact.  This could be for a number of reasons, one of which it is possible he hasn’t used the bike in such a long time that he can’t find the keys!   I wait hopefully that something will pull through, though the hope fades as the days go by.

In the mean time I’m chatting to Mick about it and he gives me a push to sit on a few bikes to get a better idea of seat heights.  Not something I wanted to do because, naturally, once you start sitting on bikes you are taking your first steps in wanting something that maybe you can’t have…. I hate that!

media (1)

But he was right though, so today I went down to the local dealer.  Sat on a SV650, which is probably my max height and comparable to a Bandit, a Bonneville which had a horrible custom seat and a Shadow.

Hmmm the Shadow 750, super comfy cruiser with a shaft drive!   Sofia would love it!

So now I’m talking myself into the prospect of buying a bike rather than borrowing one (eeek!  I’ve not sold the Ural yet and the money is already spent!)  I start looking into prices.  Shadows hold their price around the £4000 mark, it really doesn’t matter the mileage or the year.   I ask Mick to keep an eye out and he comes back with a Kawasaki VN800 (chain) for £3000, now we are getting closer to what I can expect price wise.

VN_800_B1-B5_Classic_96-00_3

Cruisers are great comfortable bikes, but if I’m buying, I’m not just buying for Europe, I’m buying for around the world – and I have to think about the cruiser capability.  How would it be on gravel?  or worse – sand?  as a lower bike, there is less visibility to see pot holes and other horrid road hazards that can cause damage or a fall.  Certainly there would be no standing up if in an off-road scenario.

So now I go back to adventure bikes, and double-check the seat heights.  Yes, the BMW of the 650 size is the only bike that comes comfortably into my seat range – there is one for sale right now in Worcestershire for £2400.

media

I’m driving myself insane.  I wish I had not gone to the bike shop today!

Dead line for getting documents sent off for Russia is 3 weeks!

Whilst it would be great to go to Russia on the Ural, it has to be said that now I’m looking at a different riding experience, I am now wanting it more than the Ural in Russia experience – I have to prepare to be disappointed.

Please support us on Patreon for $1usd per month:  https://www.patreon.com/AfricaWithAutism

Update:  An now I have just seen Sofia’s perfect colour – Pink! for £2000  Someone please put a firewall on my PC so I can’t see any more bikes!

18119082_10158765823475160_2746011220654597056_n

 

OMG! What to Choose – BMW or Ural?

It’s no secret that I am coming into the motorcycling world a complete noob, not to mention no prior deep interest in mechanical terminology like ‘horse power’ or ‘cylinders’.   To me if a machine works, use it, if it doesn’t, get a new one.

Suddenly with this project, all this stuff matters, and not only that, advise given is to try out lots of bikes and get experience and build a preference.  Erm, with no license, this is hard to do.  So I have followed a journey on cold facts, and interestingly, in many respects, I am not sure that preference would have helped me make the right choice, only an emotional one.

The first thing I learnt very quickly was that the bigger the numbers the bigger the bike.  I also learnt very quickly that not all motorbikes have chains, like bicycles.  This was a fact I latched on to quickly, because I know about chains on a bicycle, and when it comes off, it can be a fiddle to get back on – heaven knows what that must be like on a motorbike!    The other type of motorbike has a drive shaft which sounds much simpler to me, safer, and less likely to go wrong.

So looking at bikes with drive shafts, I immediately honed in on two motorbikes that are designed as adventure touring bikes with this configuration – the BMW 1200GS and the Ural (all their bikes have this configuration).

1200gs
BMW 1200GS with a sidecar attached

You really couldn’t get to bikes more opposite on the spectrum of what is available.  Its like saying that the choice is between a Bentley and Lada car (if Lada’s where still in production) literally.  The BMW 1200GS has every comfort and convenience accounted for on those hazardous roads around the world.  The Ural is a solid Russian bike that hasn’t changed much since inception in the 1930s, it was built to last.  It has only been in the last year or so that they have included fuel injection as standard, a modern technology that now means that ‘software’ has finally made it onto the Ural.  Thankfully the Ural, much like Skoda did in the past, has looked outside of its knowledge base for these upgrades, and in this case I believe that the fuel injection has been supplied by Ducati.

So there we have it. Large choice, suddenly diminished to 2 bikes.   I chose the Ural.

1- Sidecar fitting on the BMW changes the standard structure of the bike so that it is no longer supported by warranty.  This is actually a very important point.  I know many say that the BMW will never break down, especially to the degree where BMW would have to get involved.  Personally, with my daughter in tow, I’m not sure I want to take that risk and ride into Africa on belief alone.

The Ural on the other hand is specifically designed with the sidecar, and with the fuel injection upgrade, they now provide warranty cover.  All thumbs up with Ural.

2 – Fix-ability is a major issue with the BMW.  The motorbike has so much technology now that really you need to have diagnosis tools, software programming degree, and 5 years working in BMW to even have a chance of fixing anything more major than a flat tyre on the road.

ural gear up
Ural Gear Up

The Ural, however, is still as simple as it can be.  Not as simple as the carburetor version, but you still have a good chance off fixing most problems with the bike on the road, and if you can’t do it yourself, you can probably find someone with a spanner who can. Strike 2 to Ural.

There are other minor graces of the Ural over the BMW, but needless to say, to me, travelling with my daughter in some remoter areas of the planet, my confidence will be much higher with the Ural.  Ok, so it isn’t fast, it isn’t sexy, and it doesn’t have 5 suspension options controlled by a panel on the handle bars, but it works, it gets from A to B, is a lot of fun and if it lets me down, there is a real chance of being able to fix it.

Thank you to everyone who has given me advise over the last few months!  I really couldn’t have gone through this process with out your input.  If the sidecar wasn’t in play, I think the BMW would have been my top choice.