MCN Fleet: Rain starts play on GS

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This is my first year with an adventure bike and rather than give myself a gentle introduction, I headed to the Highlands. The idea was to face a five-day baptism of fire (or rain as it would turn out) to get to know the bike and help me plan what to do on it this year. 

Stamford to Moffat
Miles: 253
MPG: 51.55
I’d normally dread motorway trudging, but it’s a necessary evil if I’m to spend three solid days exploring. Thankfully the GS is comfortable, even after being sat on it for seven hours. Initially the seat feels a little hard, but I quickly get used to it. The riding position is roomy and gives good views over traffic.

The only thing that disappoints is the screen, which is very short and blasts the airflow directly at my head. BMW sell a taller screen so one of my next steps will be to try one and see if it cures the problem.The GS makes a good first impression, churning up dull roads in comfort. Bring on the twisties.

Moffat to Ballachulish
Miles: 268
MPG: 52.9
The sun is shining and the roads link together to form a perfect ribbon. The GS dismisses any doubts over its potential for fun, sweeping effortlessly from bend to glorious bend.

From Glasgow, the A82 delivers in spades, even though it’s laden with holiday traffic and caravans. The road hugs Loch Lomond before opening up to a mountainous vista with long straights and I watch the needle winding further to the right of the speedo as I approach Glencoe.

The clocks are old-school, with analogue speedometer and tachometer complemented by an LCD trip computer. It’s a bit Stone Age compared to many new bikes but I find it easy to read and familiar to look at.

Ballachulish-Isle of Skye-Ballachulish
Miles: 224
MPG: 52.38
I ride swiftly through ever-increasing rain and the weather makes no difference to my mood. The road ahead is magnificent and the GS takes it all in its stride. It feels as if the BMW were made solely for this road alone. It’s soaking wet and I’m not pushing as hard as I did the previous day.

I arrive late to Skye and can only briefly admire its wilderness before heading back to my overnight stop. After relentless rain I’m sodden, but the GS yet again brings a smile to my face as I head back on the A87.

Ballachulish to Kinlochleven loop
Miles: 20
MPG: n/a
The weather has dried up, but my kit hasn’t, and with temperatures still in single figures riding in a wet suit isn’t an option. I’m able to get a little time on the bike in the early evening, but I stay local and cover a 20-mile loop to Kinlochleven, thankful the roads are not as wet as the day before. With the bike in Sport mode, I push on and discover a lovely road that makes me feel less bitter about losing the rest of the day to sodden kit.

Ballachulish to Stamford
Miles: 410
Economy: 58.3mpg
I know this is going to be a long day but I am determined to still have some fun. I start my journey with the Kinlochleven loop before joining the A82 and dodging caravans again. The F800GS may be smaller in capacity than its R1200GS brother but I never really find it lacking. I don’t need more power, overtaking is a swift affair with ample grunt to see me safely by the plentiful obstacles.

It does lack a little feel on the wet stretches of A82. The Pirelli Scorpion Trail tyres are my first suspect and I will be looking to change them in the coming weeks to compare.

By the time I get home I can reflect on an amazing weekend. The lost day meant I didn’t get to see as much of Scotland as I hoped, but leaving with unfinished business gives me plenty of reason to return. And with an F800GS to take me there, I couldn’t be happier. It takes everything in its stride and performs well. I can’t wait to spend the rest of the year with it.

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James Archibald

By James Archibald

Former MCN Junior Web Producer