I’ve been in Sydney for most of the week, and on one of the days I was able to do a few laps of Eastern Creek as a guest of BMW Motorrad. Beemer runs an event called ‘RR Experience’ which is sort of a ride day. Punters can bring their own bike along, no matter what brand, and spend a few days cutting laps. But the essence of it all from BMW’s point of view is owners and potential customers can book in for a race-track session on one or more of several new models. Of course the good ol’ GS is there, but for the road-bike guys the 2018 1000RR and 1000R are available.
At just on 200 horsepower and weighing 185kg or so, the 1000RR is a missile without wings. It also has high-end electronics which I suspect wouldn’t be out of place on a high-tech missile.
Obviously, if you want any idea at all of how a bike like that might perform, it needs a race track. Thus, the RR Experience.
I kicked off on the RR and was a tad frustrated when there was so much going on I couldn’t get to grips with it in a single session. My biggest problem was the quickshift pro. The way to get the best from the clutchless gear-change system is to hold the throttle open and work the gear selector. That’s it. Don’t touch the clutch.
Because I’m an old dog incapable of grasping new tricks, I kept flicking the clutch and blipping the throttle on the downchange. All that did was upset the rhythm of everything. The bike became ever-so-fractionally unsettled, and at those speeds with a rider of my non-existent abilities, it’s enough to ruin a lap. Do it for 12 or so of the 18 turns and you may as well stay in the pits and drink coffee.
There was a lot more going on, but that was my biggest problem. The slipper clutch was incredible, the motor superb, and the brakes seemed at first unusable. They were so frigging powerful it was hard for me to believe. Of course, when the bike’s ridden the way it’s supposed to be ridden, it needs brakes as good as those.
So as I flailed around trying to get to grips with at least one aspect of this fabulous bike, I had no time to think about body position, the track itself or what the tyres might be like. Any time I might have had a single brain cell free to direct to those things, BMW Superbike rider Glenn Allerton or Isle Of Man TT rider Cam Donald would shoot past at sufficient pace to upset the airflow enough that it was all I could do to keep my sphincter clenched and hang on to the shaking ‘bars.
Just as the session ended I was starting to grasp some of what was going on and thought I might have a chance of a smooth lap, but it was too late. I’d blown it.
From there I went to the 1000R.
It’s mechanically near-enough the same, but a little detuned and has flatter ‘bars for a more open riding position. After the insight gained in the first session I fell in love straight away with the 1000R. I began to put smooth sections together and even snuck past off-road coach and top-bloke Shane Booth (he was adjusting his visor at the time, but that doesn’t matter. It counts).
Finally I went out on the 1000XR, which again, has the same mechanicals in a lower state of tune, and it’s a dead-set road-oriented dualsporter. Lapping on it was a lot of fun, but felt like sightseeing.After that session I hung around the coffee shop for a while until a 1000R became available in a later session. I found out why when I got out there. The track was wet and it started raining again halfway around my first lap. I stayed out for a while, but it got too sketchy. I didn’t want to ruin a great day by trowelling one of Beemer’s bikes, so I pitted, stripped of the wet leathers and headed to office to get some work done.
It was a fabulous day. One of those ones I’ll never forget…although I’m still annoyed I didn’t come to grips with the RR. I’ll be looking for another chance to ride that bike. A huge thanks to Kris Hodgson who was there to photograph some real riders, but snapped a few pics of me as well.
Meanwhile, Cousin Matthew sent an e-mail saying:
“The original bad-ass Coffs District Motorcycle (touring) Club is having its 30-year reunion this Saturday.
“Although the club no longer exists (per se) friendships formed all those years ago are still strong, with many of those members now in their 60s and still riding motorcycles.
“These guys and girls do not let age weary them, travelling and partying like no others. This Saturday there will be laughter, tears, and stories told true of great adventures travelling State to State attending motorcycle rallies, camping, drinking and partying.
“These bikers also did their fair share of charity work and fund raising for community groups and hospital special needs in the Coffs and Bellingen shire all those years ago.
“Oh to be a fly on the wall at this get-together on Saturday.
Foot note: I was a junior member on my Learners and still have my T-shirt.”
Speaking of good times, work’s Congregation is this coming weekend, so I’ll take a leisurely run up to Green Valley Farm during the week to what sort of shape the area is in and report back. Then it’ll be the Congregation itself, of course, and that’s followed by Mac Eggins and I hopefully heading out to the KLR Riders’ Rally at Stonhenge in Queensland a few days later. I haven’t spoken to Mac for a while, but last communication his bike had lunched some internal engine parts, so I don’t know if we’re still going.
I’ll let you know.