Blog: April 17. BMW R1200GS Rallye X release

It’s Friday morning – Good Friday – and I arrived back from Victoria yesterday. I was lucky enough to be included in the media release of BMW’s 2017 R 1200 GS range, and that included the Rallye X.

The bike was fantastic. Really frigging awesome, and I had a ball.

The base model R 1200 GS was nice, and pretty much what I expected, and the top-of-the-line Tour model was the same but with a heap of options. In the middle sat the Rallye and the Rallye X.

Well…the Rallye X was supposed to sit in the middle, but I found it to be light years ahead of the other bikes. I’m still struggling to understand how that bike, sharing the same engine and mechanicals as the others, could be so hugely different. The essential variation is the suspension, which has more travel and some different components, but the result is astonishing.

BMW Motorrad obviously thinks so too. We had one base model 1200GS, one Tour, and about eight Rallye Xs at the event. And the terrain clearly was meant to show off the off-road capability of the Rallye X, which is getting fairly serious, by the way.

Greg Smith from iKapture was on board as photographer, so I experimented with shooting pics and video on the phone. Here’s a snapshot of the ride, and it’ll give an idea of the feel of things…

I had a shocker on the first day.

I fell twice before Miles from BMW pointed out I had the taller seat (which the BMW guys called ‘Pharlap’ because it made the bike ‘feel like a racehorse’). Both falls were when I went to put a foot down and missed the solid surface. Sure enough, fitting a standard seat cured the problem.

Then we hit a couple of hills and I got stuck on the first one. I managed to wrestle the bike around, ride back down and have another crack. I got stuck and fell again.

It wasn’t even a ‘real’ hill. Miles Davis tried to coach me in getting the best from the traction control, but after a failed second attempt I turned the electronics off and rode up as though it were a flat trail – which is what you can see me doing on the video.

Then we hit an even less-threatening hill covered in loose rocks. Miles pulled me over and talked me through the whole ‘no-revving-bum-on-the-pillion-seat’ traction-control hill-climb method, so I pointed the bike at the slope, hit it, fell and felt embarrassed and stupid as every other rider looked down from the top. My only saving grace was when Miles went to demonstrate, he got stuck as well.

When I arrived at the top someone asked what was going on. I said I was fighting the traction control. Geoff Ballard said, “You can’t ride hills like these with traction control switched on!” and everyone else clearly thought the same.

By that stage I was fairly shagged. I left the traction control switched off for the rest of the ride and had no further problems, but still, it was humiliating. I could see what Miles what was telling me to do, but when things started to get sketchy my instincts and reflexes took over and I found myself fighting against the traction control instead of working with it and letting it do its job. By the time that happens – it takes about a second – it’s too late to save anything. I do really want to learn how to get the best out of the rider aids, so I’ll have to keep at it.

Today begins Easter, so I guess there won’t be a lot of riding going on, but next week I’m planning to run the Ducati out to Bourke and Wanaaring for a few photos, and the following week is the 2017 KTM Adventure model release. That one’s looking very interesting with the new 1090 getting some rave reviews from overseas media.

Meanwhile, have a great Easter, and I’ll catch up with you all next week.


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