Beemer Beemer chicken deener! (Ride report) - Page 3 - BMW G310 R/GS Forum
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post #21 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Day 13: Saturday 5th of May 2018: Grants NM to Cottonwood AZ

348 miles

7am alarm: I really didn't know what day it was anymore... ah Saturday, according to my freshly charged phone piled high on my stack of clean laundry.

I elected to forfeit breakfast now (other than a splash of free coffee for the motel reception, which I have to say was more than reasonable in this instance) for the promise of a tasty pie a few miles - 67 as it turned out - down the [dirt] road...

I'd stayed in Grants before in the past, right after a pretty epic day of dirt road riding north, en route for Colorado - and knew of a network of fun trails that ran north and south to the west of here.

However, I had commitments in Arizona that afternoon, so elected to take a more direct dirt road south via Pie Town New Mexico, a section of road which actually forms part of the Continental Divide Trail from Mexico to Canada.


photo. I don't know what's at the end of the rainbow, but I'm pretty confident that I know what I'll find at the end of this road...


photo. this was my initial destination - the Pie-o-neer restaurant in Pie Town, which I last visited ten year's ago when riding my Yamaha XT660Z - that happened to be another black, single cylinder, ADV bike, with minimal luggage - I seem to have a thing for those ;o)

edit. aha, here's a photo of that very instance!



Unfortunately this time my beloved Pie-o-neer was closed (I hope not indefinitely), so I took my pick of the two other establishments on this dusty main street (which is effectively highway 60), electing to eat from the plate less populated, and try the Pie Town Cafe which was 'under new management' and spread the pie love around...



While it may not have been the best piece of pie I'd ever had (no whipped cream, no ice-cream!), it was an interesting twist on a traditional apple pie with green chilli and pine nuts - a quick google seems to suggest that '[New] Mexican apple pie' is indeed a genuine thing, and not just the ******* brain-child of a sun-addled hippy who lives off the grid in the middle of the desert. ahem.

I have to say, the new owners were very relaxed, topped up my coffee with an attentive but not obtrusive regularity, and let me avail myself of their reasonably efficient WiFi to upload a few photos from the previous days. It was also getting proper warm sitting outside in the sun. Result!

But it was still like three hundred miles to Cottonwood the way I intended to go, so it was time to split.

A few notes from the road: Great Donut/lunch restaurant in Show Low AZ - I can recommend the Crunchy Pig sandwich (don't tell Piglet!) and their brew coffee is not bad either... however, the icing on the cake, both literally and metaphorically is their traditional glazed donuts - divine!

It was a fun ride/route that afternoon winding my way west though the Arizona highlands (still typically 7000+ feet around these parts), and I picked up a fun and fast dirt section: 'Fire Control Road' that cuts the corner of highway 260 north of Payson, and is highlighted on the Butler Map of AZ (FS64) as a recommended through route on dirt - nice.

However, as I was ragging along at 50 even 60 mph on the loose gravel (this bike is actually deceptively fast off-road with the Rally Raid suspension fitted), I started to notice a bit of chattering from the rear end...

Nothing seemed much out of the ordinary, although I recalled an email that John had forwarded me from another G310GS owner who'd just got back from a big cross-country ride (around 4000 miles as I recalled) and said that his cush-drive rubbers had worn significantly and prematurely, and had been replaced under warranty by his dealer - and who was passing this info on for both Amy [Harburg, who's riding from Mongolia to the UK] and myself [all over North America this summer] to keep an eye on things.

Sure enough, when I inspected the cush-drive there was now at least a good quarter inch of fore/aft movement of the sprocket - so it was actually pretty f**ked after what was currently only 3500 miles, and of primarily on-road riding. Now that is a bit disappointing I have to say.

Still, there was nothing I could do for now (until I got to camp, where I'd have facilities to service the bike), so took it easy for the rest of the ride into Cottonwood. A sign said that the next dirt road I'd intended to take (708 between Strawberry and Verde lakes) was closed part the way along, which was a further disappointment but would at least mean I put less stress on those cush rubbers; and I have to say, the long decent through the Fossil Springs Wilderness along hwy 260 to Camp Verde (another highlighted 'gold road' on the Butler maps in case you were wondering), was a joyful compensation.

cont.
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post #22 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 07:49 PM Thread Starter
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cont.

Day 14 & 15: Sunday 6th/Monday 7th May 2018: Cottonwood AZ.

I have to admit, I was utterly exhausted after these past few days hammering across the country. Fortunately it was lovely and warm in Cottonwood, the campsite agreeable with clean facilities, and the perfect opportunity to finally relax with friends, and to check over the bike which had now covered over 3800 miles since it had first turned a wheel out of the dealer in Roanoke just two weeks ago!

Rather than prop-up my bike on rocks or logs in lieu of a centre stand (don't get me started on that subject again!), I was able to borrow a hydraulic lift-rack that a friend uses to carry her trail-bike on the back of her car, and plugged it into the receiver hitch on Lisa's 4Runner:



I'd elected to spend the day around camp today (rather than go out trail riding with the tiddlers), not least as I was not feeling great with both blocked sinuses plus a chesty cough that I'd been nursing this past week, and which the long days on the road had exacerbated. the weather was also proper roasty too, so I factored this would be a good opportunity to finally get a day off, and get to know the bike a little better.


photo. Access to the rear shock is really easy on this bike, one of things I consider a positive for my list (see below).

I wanted to try and reduce the preload on the spring. For info. the shock (120 weight spring on my bike) comes set from the factory with 11mm of static preload already added, and I'd specified the remote preload adjuster to allow me to quickly dial in the exact amount of sag I'd require, depending on the load being carried - typically trail-riding unladen vs. riding with all my luggage attached). However, during the initial set up of the bike, I considered that I already had more than enough preload for my weight and preference, and so the hydraulic adjuster (which offers around 10mm range of adjustment) had remained in the minimum position, rather than somewhere between the two which is far more preferable.

So removing the shock allowed me to easily wind back the base setting a few turns (5mm), which in turn could be reinstated by setting the remote adjuster in the mid position, allowing me to add or reduce the preload by 5mm in each direction. Bingo.

I also pulled the rear wheel, and inspected the worn cush-drive rubbers - sure enough, the three fingers of the sprocket carrier were now loose between the compressed rubber cushions on either side - so as a temporary repair I packed the free space with strips of rubber cut from an old inner-tube (a trick I'd picked up from the XT660Z owners forum - another bike which tended to suffer from premature cush-rubber wear, albeit not quite as quickly as the G310 seems to have worn).


photo. Initially I tried two strips of rubber (one either side of each finger on the sprocket carrier), but ultimately it would only go together using a single piece in each segment.

The other thing I wanted to try was to fit the taller screen that Rally Raid had included with my order. Initially I had wanted to see how the stock screen handled riding big distances (plus I really liked the all black look of the polythene screen you get on the US bikes), then would be in the position to make a proper comparison with the Rally-Raid Adventure screen during the next leg of this cross-country trip.


photo. Tall screen fitted, and minimal luggage - all you really need to cross the country ;o)

Although I didn't get much of an opportunity to test the screen at higher speed until I left Cottonwood for California on the Tuesday, I have to say it does make an appreciably difference to the wind noise that I get from my Icon Variant Dual-sport/Adventure style helmet... Certainly when I'm on my Honda (with the Honda Accessory Tall screen fitted) I notice a considerable wind-roar from the sides of the peak on that helmet when travelling above 60mph. On the GS (with the stock screen) it was already appreciably quieter, and I'd experimented with raising my hand to approximately the height of the Rally Raid screen which seemed to cut the noise even further.

Sure enough - for my height and wearing this particular helmet at least, the tall screen on the GS, makes a noticeable difference particularly at higher highway speeds, and especially if you just dip your head/the peak of the helmet slightly so that the wind is deflected over the top. it was so much quieter than I was used to [on the Honda] that I could even hear my iPod without having the volume cranked up to the max.

I really enjoyed the time off the bike, soaking up some sun and catching up with my riding buddies. Ultimately however, it transpired that the next stage of my plan would have to change slightly - I had hoped to head straight up to Moab after this sojourn, meet with Juan Browne, and put together some video of the bike in action on the slick-rock trails and more technical terrain you get in that area.

However, logistically this would then make getting my bike registered in California (it is currently on a temporary tag from Virginia of course) a bit of shlep, particularly as I also had committed to (and paid for!) attending the Overland Expo back in Flagstaff the following weekend (18-20th May). I was also a bit narked at the worn cush-drive - it wasn't a deal breaker by any means, but I'd want to register the issue with a dealer at least, and try and get some replacement rubbers as soon as possible.

So I elected to head straight for California this coming week instead, get the bike sorted (included a couple of wiring jobs I wanted to incorporate during the initial build, but had run out of time), and basically really get everything dialled-in properly before heading to Moab to meet Juan the week after Expo instead. In turn, this logistical about-turn would mean that rather than have to leave the bike in California while I returned to the UK next month, I could feasibly leave it somewhere more in the middle (either Utah or Colorado), and collect it again early in July - dramatically reducing the amount of time it would take to get back across the country to my scheduled commitments in Toronto and the following week in Iowa at the BMW MOA rally (where I intend to debut my dedicated G310GS video/slide show of the adventure so far...)

This would mean another long road ride of course - something I was getting used to by now admittedly, but which turned out to be the longest ride yet!

More soon!

Jenny x
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post #23 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Day 16: Tuesday 8th of May 2018: Cottonwood AZ to San Jose CA - yes really, in one day, on a 300cc bike.

746.1 miles (that 0.1 is important you know!)

As if two 1000+ kilometre days last week were not enough, I think today proved the ultimate long-distance capability of this bike beyond any doubt!





Honestly, there really isn't much to report (or that I can even recall) about this particular day, other than a tasty breakfast sandwich at the Red Rooster Cafe in Cottonwood (I can recommend everything I had - including the bacon & goat's cheese on sourdough sandwich, the banana & blueberry smoothie, although it was quite possibly the smallest 'double' espresso I've ever inhaled) before hitting the road at about 10am.

On average I'd be stopping about every 2-2.5 hours to refuel, and as I crossed into California (having detoured off the I40 along what I consider is the nicest part of Route 66 - between Kingman and Needles, via the cowboy/donkey town of Oatman), the weather got proper hot*

*Lisa (who was driving her car about an hour ahead of me the whole way) later confirmed it reached 106°F across the Mohave Desert east of Barstow that afternoon.

I knuckled down, dipped my peak a touch to minimise that wind roar, and cranked up the tunes in my earphones. The ride was uneventful, other than fighting against a strong headwind as I rode up the pass near Tehachapi - the fuel economy dropping to as little as 39mpg while trying to maintain close to 70mph as I could - WTF?!

As the evening got cooler, and the wind subsided, I settled into a peaceful and almost trancelike state for the final shlep up I5 - pausing only to ingest over twelve hundred calories courtesy of Carl's Jr. and finally rolling onto Lisa's driveway at two minutes to midnight.

The odometer clicked over 4590 miles as I pushed the bike into the garage.

Crossing the country - done!

Jenny x
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post #24 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 08:25 PM Thread Starter
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Summary so far...

So a quick summary of my thoughts on the new bike, now that I've racked up nearly 5000 miles (in three weeks of ownership to the day today).

To recap, before flying to the east coast and collecting the bike from the supplying dealer (Frontline Eurosports in Roanoke/Salem), I'd probably ridden a G310GS less than a mile, and spent as little time actually looking over the bike, other than the photos and information that John at Rally Raid had been sharing between us of course.

Unlike the Honda CB500X 'Adventure' project which I'd been instrumental in developing, the G310 range of upgrades has been much more of John's own work - and while they are effectively a derivative of what we'd already developed for the Honda (ie. dedicated heavy-duty spoked wheels with tubed/tubeless options that accept all the OEM drive and braking components, together with a choice of standard travel or longer travel high quality and adjustable front and rear suspension; plus substantial engine protection and a range of ergonomic and longer-distance travel specific accessories), I'd not spent any time myself on the pre-production examples, so would effectively be approaching this build and subsequent 'adventure' on the bike in just the same way as any other regular customer might be - and therefore the perfect opportunity to appraise the bike more objectively that otherwise perhaps?

I'll aim to include a few of my personal assembly and preparation hints & tips below, but generally speaking, the kit went together perfectly, and was very straightforward to fit (My LEVEL 1 GS kit being less time-consuming than the equivalent LEVEL 2 Honda kit, which gives that bike similar travel, ground clearance and wheel size/wheelbase as the GS has as standard).

One thing I did appreciate with the GS was how easy it was to remove a lot of the superficial plastic parts: the chain guard and shock protector for example are separate items that you can leave off or replace individually as required*.

Another example is the front fender bolts on using 3 x 5mm allen head bolts each side, and can be completely removed while the brake hose stays in place - meaning that if conditions got particularly muddy, you could feasibly continue with the fender bungeed to your back seat/luggage.

The rear fender extension (and stupid rear light location) is very easy to remove and replace with the R&G Tail-tide assembly, and if you choose the red rear lamp lens option as I did, I think looks very factory still with the OEM rear turn signals reattached?



I noted that the headlight bulb is also easy to access too if required. Conversely however, it does seem rather difficult (or at least long-winded) to remove the fairing and other bodywork panels to gain access for wiring-in accessories neatly for example.


*One thing I did have to do (you may notice that initially I had not refitted the rear shock guard) is to trim the plastic with a Dremel if you want to fit the remote hydraulic preload adjuster, but otherwise everything is completely bolt on, and therefore off again should you ever wish to remove the kit and revert to standard.



So, having ridden this bike right across the country, on a mix of dirt roads and trails, back roads and byways, and a huge amount of highway and interstate miles too - what are my conclusions so far?


In no particular order - Things I like (and don't like, where related):

1. Generally speaking, the body/plastic parts all strip down relatively easily, and all seem to be secured using the same size 5mm allen head bolts - meaning you really only need that size tool readily to hand. However, I did notice that rather than use captive nuts welded to the frame, almost everything is secured using the clip/spring-nuts, which is cheap, and doesn't provide as easy/secure location until the bolt is done up (ie. they can slide around a bit on their respective mounting tabs.)

2. The side stand seems suitably strong for hoiking the bike up to get a wheel off the ground. It does seem to hang down rather low and directly under the left hand footrest, but so far has not proved to be a liability.

3. The fuel economy is good. Initially while keeping the bike under 60mph, I got as high as 67mpg, and typically 62mpg was my average according to the dash display. However, it does start to increase once the speed rises - 70mph or thereabouts sees it drop to 57mpg (and as low as 48-50mpg in a head wind), while pushing 75-80mph means I didn't get over 50mpg, and as low as 39mph into that strong headwind and uphill over Tehachapi on Tuesday. note. This is based on the dash readout, not calculations between actual fuel fill-ups.

I'd say that at typical trail riding speeds (ie. sub 60mph on the pavement and around 30-40mph off-road), you will get 60+mpg even on the TKC80 tyres, which is technically close to a 180 mile range. I do like the fact that the dash offers fuel/miles remaining display too. Realistically though, you need to factor that 150 miles is about your limit on the stock tank.

4. The headlight low beam I thought was very good - the high beam conversely, is useless - removing all the foreground light but not giving any appreciable penetration further down the road. edit. it turns out the High-beam is much better once the headlight is adjusted down slightly - see later posts...

5. I've already mentioned the dash display in the main text and some of the functionality above - it has two trips, fuel range, engine temperature, average speed, plus a gear indicator together with the traditional fuel gauge, revs, speedo and clock.

The one button control does take a little getting used to (I did bump the year to 19 at one point, requiring me to press the button over and over another 99 times to get it back to 18) and I do wonder if a date function is strictly necessary (especially as it has that silly month first then day/year order so beloved of Americans ;o) The downside of having such a comprehensive display is that the single button means you also have to step through every function in order, rather than have the ability to skip backwards and forwards between your favourites as desired.

6. The side cheek panels below the seat on either side have actually proved to be really useful - I can stow all of the tools and bodge-it spares I carry on my Honda under here too (including a trio of MotionPro T6 tyre-iron/wheel wrenches), other than my 12v compressor. However, I do wonder why BMW made these panels so bulbous (unless stowage was the intention), as it means my Giant Loop Coyote has already rubbed the paint away on either side.

7. I like the easy access to (and simple number of) fuses under the seat - however, it is a shame there is not a dedicated fused 12v auxiliary socket under there for attaching accessories and or heated gear if you wished. The seat (and latch) itself is very easy to operate and secure on and off as required.

8. I like the fact there is plenty of hose/cable/wiring length as standard. I have fitted the taller RC High bend fat-bars, with risers and 10mm spacers (so approximately 45mm higher than the OEM bars in total) and the cables do not appear to be at their limit yet, although I did have to release one of the cable ties on the headstock that holds the loom, and reattach the wiring to the brake hose with a zip-tie instead so that there was sufficient free-play on full right hand lock.

9. I like the fact that the pillion footrest brackets are bolt-on/easily detachable, although the location of the exhaust mount means you'd need to replace the right hand assembly with something similar to support the silencer.

10. I like it's general on-road refinement - especially when you consider it is a small capacity single cylinder engine. It does seem to be a bit buzzy and vibrate around the 5000-6000rpm mark - something that can affect a number of single cylinder machines on the highway (they all have a rough/sweet spot it seems), but it does smooth out again once you get over 6750rpm, and is more than acceptable at 70-80mph. However, if you touch the tank side panels, you can feel it's heart is busy buzzing away under there.


Things I don't particularly like (most are quantifiable, some more subjective I admit):

1. The stock footpegs. They look great, but are far too small and skinny for standing up on for any period of time. Now I know I'm wearing some pretty soft touring boots on this ride, but really, the pegs are so uncomfortable, and also too short - my boots feel like they are about to slip off the ends the whole time. I really hope John can get a version of the CB500X platform pegs to me as soon as possible, as I'm not really looking forward to riding this bike aggressively off-road with the stock pegs.

2. The rear brake pedal is a little low (as a number of reviewers/owners have already commentated) and is unadjustable. you get used to it, but it's not ideal for off-road riding. Conversely, the gear shift leaver is easily adjustable - I wish they're had the forethought to include a similar threaded adjustment for the brake too.

3. Both the gear lever and the brake pedal are cheap and rather clumsy looking pressed steel parts. However, in general steel is a good material for such extremities, as it can be bent back into shape rather than snap. I'll be interested to see how they fare in the rocky terrain around Moab at the end of this month, but so far they work, and I have to say, the gearbox on this bike is a delight to use with or without the clutch.

4. The stock front brake and clutch levers work well enough, but are way too long (to fit neatly with hand guards) and unadjustable. I find their span and action fine, but would prefer a more tactile and adjustable throw set. Again, this is something Rally Raid intend to offer very soon.

5. Cush-drive rubbers. Mine were seriously worn at well under 4000 miles. I'll be speaking to the dealer about some replacements asap.

6. Air-box access. While the packaging of the reverse cylinder engine dictates the airbox/filter needs to be high up under the front of the tank (a good thing, especially when crossing deep water or in dusty conditions), it seems inordinately tricky to gain access to the filter to check it/clean it/replace it as required. I know the service schedule only suggests replacement every 12,000 miles, but if you were riding in a group in dusty conditions, you want to inspect and potentially change it much more frequently than that. I need to get my spanners out now I'm back home in the workshop, but it appears you have to remove half the body panels just to get at the filter cover.

7. Fuel-filler splash back. I noticed more than a few times that the angle you hold the pump hose can result in quite serious splash-back when filling - resulting in a Long Way Round Ewan-get's-fuel-in-his-eye scenario. You do need to be careful, and I've found that angling the nozzle slightly towards the rear of the tank seems to help minimise any splash-back.

8. Mirrors. I never even rode the bike with them so cannot comment on their effectiveness, but to me the OEM mirrors seemed very small and not much use. I fitted the Double Take ADV mirrors on RAM mounts straight away, and while they do buzz a little at higher speeds, they offer a nice wide field of vision on this bike I've found.

9. Coolant bottle access - again, much as with the air filter - the coolant overflow (and level indicator) is hidden underneath the right hand fairing side, and seems rather tricky to access/top up, never mind actually try and read the reservoir level.

10. Tank covers/side panels. While seated I find the ergonomics pretty much spot on with this bike (keeping in mind the scooped seat doesn't really offer you a lot of room to move around), conversely I've found that when standing up, the side panels on the tank splay your knees out far further than you'd like. This is particularly irksome, as they are essentially cosmetic trim to make the tank assembly appear larger and more macho (in the style of the 1200GS) than it actually needs to be, especially when the internal tank is the same 11 litre size as the R version. I do hope that either BMW themselves or at least the aftermarket offer a larger fuel tank for this bike, that actually utilises that otherwise wasted space - then I wouldn't mind the knee splay quite so much! Certainly my Honda CB500X has a far narrower width between the knees when standing - although admittedly the pegs are located a little further back.

11. On a more subjective, but related note to the above - I generally find the bodywork/styling overly fussy (this is a BMW trait in general of course). Where Honda might incorporate a swage or scallop primarily for ergonomic reasons, BMW seem to add recesses, steps and other '3D' detailing just for the sake of it? An example is those side panels under each side of the seat - not only are they quite bulbous in the first place, but they appear to have four 'lumps' moulded in for no reason, other than to perhaps replicate the pannier slots you get on the 1200GS. If that is the case BMW, then please tell your design team no-one, even in emerging Asia markets is going to be impressed with such superficial flim-flam.

12. I do like the shape and general brightness of the OEM turn signals (for info. conventional bulbs, but orange with clear lenses), but feel the stalks are a little overly long, making them potentially vulnerable in the event of a drop. note. This is a US specific detail. The EU model GS's have much shorter stalks, particularly on the front.

13. Bouncy headlight. Again, this is something previous owners have already commented on. Some might say it helps to draw attention to you when drivers are looking in the their rear-view mirror, but personally I've been a bit embarrassed when following another vehicle hoping they don't think I'm aggressively flashing them for example. That said, even oncoming traffic doesn't seem to be unduly put out by the bounce, so perhaps it's simply more noticeable when you see the reflection on a roadside sign for example?

14. Did I mention the headlight high-beam is utter crap? Oh yes I did. It's crap. I feel a visit to MotoMinded coming on when I'm passing through Colorado Springs later this summer ;o)

So, that's about the size of things so far.

Overall, the bike has continued to impress me - I'd had high hopes for this machine, and in general it has not disappointed so far. I do feel there are better/more appropriate bikes (not least my own Rally Raid CB500X) for embarking on exactly the same trip as I have just done, but the fact that the 310GS can do it too just shows it's potential versatility too of course.

The real proof of the concept of a lighter weight [than even the twin-cylinder CB500X] Adventure bike is going to be once I really get it into the rough stuff - and that starts next week with my revised trip, starting here in California and heading back to Arizona for the Overland Expo - indeed, a journey much the same as that initial proving trip I undertook with the first Rally Raid CB500X in the US back in 2015.

From there, I'll be heading up to Moab UT, and I know Juan is itching to see what this smaller bike can achieve on the more demanding trails - film at eleven as they say.

Then, well, the second chapter is only just beginning... but you can expect a lot more dirt, plus some entertaining stories and associate photographs of course.

In the meantime, if anyone is looking to invest in stocks and shares, I'd suggest Starbucks, Waffle House and Motel 6 as good a place as any. Plus any and all of the petrochemical companies too of course.

It's going to be a long hot summer - I hope you can join me!

Toot toot for now!

Jenny x

Last edited by JMo; 10-23-2018 at 04:50 AM.
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post #25 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Fettling after stage 1...


photo. finally registered, in California...

Because I'd elected to come all the way back to California this past week (and get the bike registered etc. before heading back east again), once the bike was back in Lisa's garage I took the opportunity to pull various panels off and see how easy - or as it turns out, not easy - it is to access and service things like the air-filter, coolant tank, and general wiring (note. there are a pair of auxiliary 12v power tails tucked up next to the headlight behind the dash, but that necessitates pulling the whole thing apart to access them - makes the Honda auxiliary feed by the right front turn-signal a doddle in comparison!)

So first of all, one thing I wanted to do is remove the side-stand cut out switch - not least as on this bike, the side stand hangs down precariously low, and the switch itself would be vulnerable to damage on a rock, or just by the general ingress of mud and water...

Chasing the cable from the stand back up to the loom (it connects behind the right hand side panel - next to the rear brake master cylinder), and a bit of internet deduction - note. this info is not out there until now, although I based my assumption on a YouTube video from a guy who bypasses a similar design switch on a R1200RT - is that you need to join the middle and rear two wires from the switch together, in the case of the G310GS, this is the black/green and blue/yellow wires, leaving the red/green wire free.



I elected to remove the switch and wiring right back to behind the side panel, and neatly joined/soldered and heat-shrinked the wires there (note this is technically reversible should you ever wish to).




The next job was to wire in my GPS properly (to a switched 12v feed, which I prefer) and also a USB socket to the dash - something I'd not had time to do during the initial build at the dealer in Virginia.

This necessitated pulling the whole front-end of the bike off, or more accurately, to pieces - as [typically BMW] everything seems to interlock and is held together with at least six bolts, when I'm sure just two would do!

Still, I now know how long it's going to take should I ever need to access the air-filter:


photo. note the snorkel just unclips with the two spring-clips, and there is a paper K&N style [albeit replaceable, not washable] filter inside.

Behind the dash are two 12v power tails - these have covers on to protect the male terminal, but unfortunately they are not simply the regular female side, but blanking panels, so you need to purchase the correct connecters and corresponding pins to do a proper job. I did.



I attacked the dash with a hole-saw (wood boring bit actually), and finished it with Dr. Dremel.




photo. Waterproof covered USB socket from Rally-Raid Products.


photo. 2 x 2A USB 5v sockets to charge your phone/camera etc. and a natty back-light when active (with the ignition on).

cont.
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post #26 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-20-2018, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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cont.

A few other personal details I've chosen to incorporate on my own build are as follows:


photo. as you may have noticed from the original photos, I elected to remove the chain guard, and also the stock shock cover would not fit straight on with the remote preload adjuster fitted, which I've subsequently trimmed with the Dremel to fit around the knob.


I chose to replace the stock mirrors with a pair of DoubleTake ADV versions (that use RAM arms and fittings) straight away - the left side fits straight into the Clutch perch clamp (traditional right-hand threaded M10 bolt hole):


photo. You'll notice I've also included a second RAM ball on this side - useful for mounting a range of accessories - either my GoPro Session camera, an X-grip for my phone (which doubles as a remote for the camera when it's mounted lower on the engine bars) or even an iPod cradle - these things are important you know ;o)

On the right hand/brake side, the perch clamp actually has a left-hand thread M10 hole - Rally Raid make an adaptor which is the simplest way to mount aftermarket mirrors (almost all of which have right-hand threads on both sides), but ultimately I chose to buy an inexpensive replacement mirror mount clamp, and fitted the right hand mirror RAM ball to that:



Rather than fit an AMPS RAM ball to the Rally-Raid bar clamp to mount my GPS cradle centrally, I elected to use a bolt-through ball mount on one of the sockets so that I could still see my little BMW badge*

*I don't actually care it's a BMW as such, but I really like the fact that John bothered to incorporate the recess to mount the OEM badge in there ;o)




Other cockpit ergonomic improvements you can see above include Renthal RC High bend fat-bars in the Rally-Raid billet bar clamps, and I chose to include 10mm packers/risers to dial-in the hight to my preference... note. the combination above means the bars are about 45mm higher than standard, and there is plenty of cable length for this increase - although it is a good idea to release the left-hand switchgear wiring from the frame clip, and reattach it to the brake hose:



This rise/sweep means my Barkbusters fit perfectly into the cut-out in the stock low screen:



You may also notice I've drilled a second set of M8 holes (20mm centre to centre inboard of the originals) in the Barkbuster spines - this allows everything to fit very neatly around the brake master cylinder/wiring hoses etc. while the Barkbusters remain nice and level/parallel to the ground (when using their universal fat-bar mounts):



Finally, an indulgence was to have my lower fairing panels painted to match the rest of the bodywork:


photo. Keeping it classy San Diego... ;o)

And also the two side panels under the seat - although these have since been rubbed by my Giant Loop Coyote bag:


photo. Note. all my tools are contained within the Kriega Pocket pouch, which fits really neatly under the GS seat. The only other tools I carry are a trio of MotionPro T6 combo tyre levers/wheel nut wrenches, which actually fit inside the right hand side panel too - very neat!

So those are the personal touches I've chosen to incorporate - as I've said all along, I've tried not to add anything to this build which I don't consider absolutely necessary - even to the extent of deleting the OEM rear luggage rack and fitting R grab handles in it's place (note. there are slots in the R handles that the clips from the Coyote just about fit in, although you really need to trim them down slightly so they sit home in there).


photo. Slots in the perfect position, but original hooks slightly too wide...


photo. Dr. Dremel to the rescue again.

I factored-in that with the weight saving from removing the rack, and the lighter weight Scorpion exhaust, I've saved at least 12lbs of OEM weight - which in turn allows me to fit the engine guard, Barkbusters and a few RAM/electrical components, and still remain at or around the same weight as the stock bike, just vastly better prepared and equipped.

Now it's time to really get this baby off-road - starting out again tomorrow and going via Death Valley and Las Vegas/Spring Mountains en route to Overland Expo next weekend!

Toot toot for now!

Jenny x
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post #27 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Chapter 2 - California to Toronto


Day 1: Monday 14th May: San Jose To Ridgecrest CA

408 miles

After a thorough 'getting to know you' session in the garage over the weekend, I was confident I now knew a lot more about how this bike went together, and had fixed a few little niggling details that I'd not had time to sort before my initial journey west.

In regard to the Rally-Raid parts I now felt I'd got the suspension set up the way I wanted: I'd backed off the initial preload a couple of turns, so that the hydraulic adjuster was more in the middle of it's range - allowing me to soften up the rear end for solo 'trialsy' technical riding (better traction and grip), then wind on some preload for carrying my luggage in touring/travel mode.

I also elected to refit the OEM black screen, not that there was anything wrong with the taller Rally-Raid screen - quite the contrary in fact, I liked the way it cut the wind roar from my Icon helmet at higher highway speeds - but more that I'd decided that for this next leg I'd wear my open-face Arai, and noticed it was now more noisy with the taller screen*

*this is why screen choice/height is so difficult to recommend, since there are so many variables - not just rider height and build (and the angle you like to lean into the bars), but also down to which helmet you choose and/or even if it has a peak fitted or not.

I also elected to forfeit my Icon riding pants for regular jeans, plus my Alpinestars roll-up rain pants in the back pocket of my jacket (the same set-up I had for my Canada trip last summer); and since I was expecting good weather now in the Desert Southwest for the next couple of weeks, left my original [thicker/bulky] fleece jacket at home, and bought a down quilted jacket that packs down really small into it's own pocket.

Right, time to hit the road then!


photo. a slippery water crossing on Deer Creek Rd south east of Porterville CA

I seem to ride drive this initial run south from San Jose a lot these days, and having shlepped home from Arizona less than a week ago, this time I elected to stay off the Interstate and took a series of alternative highways and two-lane country roads between the main Central Valley arteries of I5 and 99, before picking up a lovely scenic dirt road [which I've ridden before] to California Hot Springs in the Sequioa National Forest.

Climbing higher into the foothills on the western side of the Sierras, I'd half hoped that Portuguese Pass might be open en route to Kernville, but the seasonal gate was still locked, so I made do with more twisty mountain forest road and the delightful creek canyon Kern River Rd all the way to the north shore of Lake Isabella - again I mention these pointers specifically if you are ever in the region yourself - some truly epic motorcycling roads almost free of traffic the whole way.


photo. Looking back west through the mountains down hwy 178 towards Bakersfield, from the Canebrake dirt road that winds its way over a pass to dovetail with Nine Mile Canyon.


photo. Controlled burn area on the far side of the pass.


photo. The view east down Nine Mile Canyon - one of the epic back-country byways in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains.

By the time I rolled into Ridgecrest at dusk, I'd clocked up over 400 miles again on a mix of scenic paved and unpaved/dirt roads, but most importantly was now set up for some serious off-road riding the following morning...

After all, this is really what I'd built this bike for!

More soon...

Jenny x
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post #28 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Day 2: Tuesday 15th May: Ridgecrest CA to Las Vegas NV

210 miles

If yesterday was about trying to catalogue a definitive minor road route though the southern Sierras, then today would be similarly dedicated to a defining dirt route to Las Vegas, using a number of trails I was already familiar with.

I admit I'm a creature of habit when it comes to this part of the country - those of you who followed my Trans-Am 500 ride in 2015 (on the Rally-Raid CB500X) will be familiar with much of this route though the bottom end of Death Valley, but this time I intended to include a few more dirt/trail sections east of Pahrump through the Spring Mountains which I'd had to forfeit the previous journey due to time constraints.

Motel 6 in Ridgecrest is cheap, but increasingly shabby these days; but at least it's across the road from one of my favourite breakfast diners - and their cinnamon roll French toast was a treat - although I'm not sure if anyone had shown it some egg this morning to be honest, it was more a cinnamon bun covered in frosting and subsequently dripping in syrup courtesy of my own fair hand - a diabetic overload and no mistake, served with a 'side' of scrambled eggs, bacon and two sausages - it was essentially two breakfasts in one to set me up well on this sunny morning!

There was no need to gas up before I reached Trona (the last gas stop before you enter Panamint and Death Valley), and I took a little time to hydrate fully with a bucket of fountain soda (using the cup to fill my Camelbak with ice first) and I filled both my internal and external bladders to the brim - it was going to be hot out there today...


photo. Off highway 178 between Ridgecrest and Trona is this funky shrine to a local firefighter who was killed in a car accident in 2015. It must be quite surreal to drive past and night and see it lit up by the solar-powered spot-lights.

Due to my more modest pace though the mountains and dirt roads yesterday afternoon/evening, I'd actually managed to eek 173 miles from a tank of fuel (with still 22 to go according to the range gauge), which equates to around 65mpg - so clearly the fuel consumption is much better at sub 60mph than what I'd been achieving at higher speeds on the highway in recent days/weeks.


photo. The Escape Trail (Fish Canyon) between Trona airport and the bottom end of Panamint Valley - an excellent warm up for the day ahead.

I've ridden the Escape Trail a few times now, and it always impresses me with the big reveal as you crest the initial climb and start the decent into Panamint Valley. More recently Juan, Harold and I witnessed a pair of jet-fighters (presumably out of the nearby China Lake base, or possibly Edwards AFB to the south of here) playing tag at low-level in the valley; and previously Dave Lin (from ADVaddicts) and I rode this trail together in 2015 when he joined me on his KTM 690, which promptly ran away from him when he forgot to disengage his ABS on what will be forever known as 'Dave's Hill' now ;o)

Mindful of this loose and rocky decent (with little grip, even if you're on the brakes), I elected to switch off the ABS on the GS and pick my way down gingerly - although I have to say it wasn't easy, as the bike seems to have a propensity to cough stall when you try and drag the rear brake - a technique not helped by the low rear brake pedal that forces your foot into an unnatural angle, making it hard to modulate accurately. The stock foot pegs are also absolutely horrible to stand on too. It's conditions like this that really make me appreciate how easy and relaxed the twin cylinder Honda is (even though it's a good 50lbs heavier, it also hides that weight well and low), and how much more lazy you can be on it.


photo. The bottom of Dave's Hill - it looks so innocent here, but it's actually far rougher at the top end, and pretty nerve-wracking the whole way down as there is so little traction and grip.

Conversely, the BMW begins to reward you if you decide to put a little more effort in, ride it a bit harder and faster than you might a physically larger and/or heavier bike, and let the suspension do the work - certainly once I'd left the rocky baby-heads behind and the trail opened up into a fast sandy piste, the bike would rip along at a deceptively decent lick (40mph or more) over the whooped-out trail - although I did have to stop and add three clicks of preload to the rear to stop the shock bottoming out with the weight of my luggage on board once I started riding at that sort of speed on that terrain.


photo. Once the trail levelled-out and opened up, you could really pick up some speed (and carry it) on the nimble GS.

cont.
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post #29 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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cont.

The Escape Trail spits you out a the bottom of Wingate Rd, almost directly opposite the entrance to Golar Wash, which in turn leads to Mengal Pass, Butte Valley and ultimately through the bottom end of Badwater Basin in Death Valley itself.

It really is one of the classic trails in Southern California, a wonderful mix of scenery, some challenging (but not too challenging ) terrain, points of interest (Newman's Mine cabin and the Barker Ranch), and not least Mengal Pass itself which again is not overly technical (you can pick a line through on a bike), but enough to catch out the unwary if you're not paying attention. Certainly I was glad I'd removed my side-stand switch from the low-slung undercarriage position on this bike, as I would have probably smashed it by the time I rolled into Butte Valley:



I also must admit to my first drop with this new bike (if you don't count it rolling forward and falling on the far side when I was trying to drop some oil on the side of the trail in North Carolina)... As I approached the first rocky section in Golar Wash (a series of jagged rock steps that have got more and more aggressive in recent years as the water has washed the smaller debris out of the nooks and crannies), I saw two Jeeps parked right in the middle of the trail.

The occupants were mingling around taking it easy, and they asked about the general condition of the trail ahead, so I helped to set their minds at ease and also made a few suggestions of things to see along the way... I then made a start along side the two vehicles in an effort to get up the rocks ahead as nonchalantly as I could.

Bloody rear tyre hung up on a wet rock slab and spat me sideways didn't it! Still, it's always good to get that first proper drop out of the way now - even if it was in front of an audience! - and at least I was able to appreciate that the bike does indeed feel lighter than the Honda to pick up off the deck, I positively snatched it off the ground in an effort to save face - but d*mn I had to clutch the b*stard up and over those rocks. Time to air down the tyres I think...

I dispatched the next few miles at a fair old lick - again, it appears this bike actually rewards a little more aggressive riding, although I noticed the front end did seem to push/run wide in loose turns - certainly compared to my CB (on the same tyres) which always feels utterly planted... However, get on the throttle a bit more and you can adjust the attitude of the bike well enough, despite it's modest power output.

In that regard, personally I think this bike is rather over-tyred with the 150 width rear (and even that 110/80 front) and I intend to fit the Continental TKC80 in 140/80 x 17 size when I replace the rear in Moab next week. I also think an even lighter and more narrow profile tyre on each end would make this bike feel even more lively off-road; although I have to concede that for it's overall weight and load carrying capability, the specified tyre sizes are appropriate - it's just I feel the 34hp can struggle to turn the heavier all-terrain tyres at times.


photo. I emerged from Warm Spring Canyon onto West Side Road, and headed for the highway over Jubilee Pass to Shoshone for a well earned ice cream!

Even though I'd averaged 70mpg over the last 80 miles primarily off-road, I supported the local fuel station at $4.60 a gallon (still factoring that was some cheap fun I'd just had!), and blatted along the empty highway to Pahrump with only my iPod for company, planning the next stage of attack...


photo. Nice new sign, no bullet holes as yet...

Wheeler Pass is one of my favourite trails (and way to cross the Spring Mountains to the north into the Las Vegas basin) in this area, however, those of you familiar with the classic LA-Barstow-Vegas dual-sport ride may well be familiar with the southern crossing though Red Rock Canyon - an even more technically challenging (in places) climb through a narrow creek/wash and down the far side on a series of tight gravel and rocky switch backs.

There is also a lovely dirt-road/easy trail connection from the highway south of Pahrump and east into the foothills - Lovell Summit/Canyon Rd - this would be my route on the GS of course!



photo. This is the point in Red Rock Canyon where things start to get technical... the main wash is a great playground for four-wheelers, while the bikes can usually find a line through the boulders or along the edge of the main trail.


photo. I haven't been though here in a good few years (and the last time on a bike was actually over 8 years ago now), but parts of this trail were immediately familiar... As is the nature of wash trails, some sections had deteriorated, while others actually smoothed out and/or new lines developed.


photo. This has to be a road, it's in the GPS right?


photo. Once you reach the Pass, the worst is over - the descent is a series of tight switchbacks all the way into Willow Springs in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

This time, I elected to leave the ABS engaged the whole time, and I have to say, I am impressed with how well it copes with off-road and loose terrain conditions - very similar to the excellent system on the CB500X in that regard - and although I have managed to get the GS to skip/let go a couple of times in certain conditions, it has so far never resulted in a total run-away as BMW have been notorious for in the past.

The result on these tight downhill switchbacks was actually a revelation! Instead of the bike cough-stalling out on me if I was a bit heavy on the brakes (typically trailing the rear brake into corners to tighten up the line), I could brake right up to the point of the wheel locking which would typically result in the engine stalling, and yet the engine kept on ticking over while the brakes continued to retard the bike enough to keep control and momentum retained - it was essentially a form of ghetto traction control in reverse... This was fun!


photo. when I first rode this trail back in 2007 on my XR650R, this sign used to say: "Travel at your own risk" (which I soon adopted as my mantra for life ;o)

I cruised out of the park (if you join the one-way highway at this point halfway around, you avoid the fee station at the official entrance) at a sedate pace, confident that the bike had finally just spent the past two days in its element - twisty two-lane highway and backroad byways, fast gravel and sandy trails and some proper rocky technical riding too. This is what I'd ridden all the way across the country for, and it was only going to get better once I got to Arizona and Utah too of course!

However, I'd noticed that my cush-drive was once again starting to show excessive play, despite my inner tube packing, so stopped at the roadside and employed my Google machine. Sure enough, there was a BMW Motorrad dealer in Las Vegas (of course there was, although as it transpired they had moved location recently), so I tapped the address into my GPS with the intention of simply dropping by to ask what the warranty situation might be...

I have to say, I'm really liking the BMW ownership experience so far - well, apart from the fact I needed a warranty claim for cush-rubbers in the first pace of course! - and certainly this particular dealer [EuroCycle Las Vegas] made me feel very special - despite rocking up in dirty dusty jeans on their cheapest model, that I hadn't even bought in that State, never mind from that actual dealership themselves - they ordered me up the three required rubbers to be sent overnight, and booked me into their service department for the following morning. All done, gratis.

So currently I am now sitting here in an air-conditioned home of some good friends on the outskirts of Las Vegas, drinking a beer (my excuse for any spelling mistakes), with a fully functioning BMW again - all ready to head to Overland Expo tomorrow!

So if you're in the Flagstaff area (or are within striking distance at least) over the weekend, then do drop by (day tickets for Expo are available online) and say hello - Harold from Giant Loop and I will also be hosting an informal happy hour chat/presentation on the Friday night too, where you'd be most welcome!

More soon!

Jenny x

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post #30 of 85 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Day 3: Wednesday 16th May: just putzing around in Las Vegas getting my cush-drive sorted.


Day 4: Thursday 17th May: Las Vegas NV to Flagstaff AZ: Overland Expo West 2018

252 miles

So along with new cush-rubbers (which didn't seem to be that much better if I'm honest - see later), I also took the opportunity to nip up the steering-head bearings before heading off to Arizona.

Today was basically a highway road-trip... crossing the Colorado River by the Hoover Dam, and shadowing the old Route 66 that runs alongside I40 for the most part en route for Flagstaff. I've ridden through here a good few times before (not least barely a week before on my way back to California), and while it's fun to take some dirt-road alternatives, today was all about getting to Overland Expo in good time to secure a decent camping spot for the weekend.


photo. The SnowCap cafe in Seligman AZ


photo. the owner is a complete practical joker and pun meister extraordinaire - asking if you want a straw (and hands you a small bundle of hay), mounting the door handles on the wrong side (that I admit caught me out initially, I went around to the other door before I realised that had two handles too!), and a mustard bottle that squirts a yellow coloured string over customer's shirts - much to their initial horror! Oh how we laughed.


photo. and the comedy continues outside. Presumably this Kazi is for sh*t-heads...

I have to say the little Beemer dispatched the day without fuss, at highway speeds drinking at around 58mpg (so pretty much the same as my twin-cylinder CB at similar speeds and on the same size tyres), and quietly comfortable with the stock screen and my open-face helmet.

I finally joined the British (and mainly BMW) contingent in the moto-camping area after queuing up for nearly an hour to get in the public gate. This year traffic was directed around the park in an effort to save it backing up on the main highway (which I understand had been a major headache at last year's event once they had moved the new venue), and not being an exhibitor or presenter this year, I had to slum it with the endless parade of 4x4s and campers in a single line waiting to present their pre-paid tickets at the gate. I was just grateful I'd elected to arrive on the Thursday (set-up day) afternoon, as the following morning the increased popularity of this event meant that it took some day-visitors over two hours to get in. Tedious.



Day 5 & 6: Friday 18th/Saturday 19th May: Overland Expo.

Having scoped out the venue the evening before (and found a most excellent vendor selling wood-fired pizza from a converted trailer), it was actually a surprisingly long walk (over half a mile) from the camping area to the main exhibition village - although I soon realised I could actually ride my bike around the perimeter road to the far-side of the venue where the moto-village was located, park up, and spend the day perusing the various two-wheeled, four-wheeled and in some instances even 6-wheeled overland vehicle displays:


photo. beautifully nut-and-bolt restored Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser (this one started at $100,000!) - they can even install a modern V6 and auto transmission while retaining all the period detailing.


photo. there were a lot of Jeeps as you might imagine, although surprisingly, modern Toyota Tacoma/Tundra and 4Runners seemed to be the most popular camping/overland conversions at this event.


photo. These guys were busy all day and all night - great tucker!


photo. 2WD, electrically powered, and now fully street legal (including California) - shame they didn't have any demos available!

I have to say, the Moto-village was actually a little disappointing this year (compared to two years ago at Mormon Lake when Harold, Juan and I attended as part of the CBXpo ride) - very few stands of any real substance or innovation (other than the two electric bike retailers), although at least KTM showed up with their demo fleet, and Alpinestars had a huge tent and some good discounts (minimum 20%) on various riding gear.

I did the rounds then wondered off to eat some more pizza, and ultimately met up with Rob and Shaun from ADVpulse magazine to discuss the plan for our photo-shoot and (off) road test scheduled for the following day...

cont.

Last edited by JMo; 10-23-2018 at 05:03 AM.
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