Longterm BMWR1150R

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A LOT of you guys with sports bikes are going to wince or have a quiet chuckle when I say this, but here goes anyway – panniers kick arse.

Yeah, that’s right. They rock. And I’m not talking about the soft kind that you sling over the back of an R1, Blade or GSX-R, but the full-on, hard plastic cases I’ve got hooked onto my R1150R.

To most riders they would be about as welcome as a bunch of angry red ants loose inside their leathers. I’m a convert though.

Okay, the black plastic cases may look a bit dull, they may dilute that macho, devil-may-care biking image we like to cultivate, but when all is said and done, they’re bloody useful.

Suddenly I’ve got my own mobile lock-up, which is an absolute godsend. To start with, when I get to where I’m going I don’t have to worry about where I’m leaving my helmet.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been entirely happy with leaving an expensive lid chained to my bike. And carrying it around is a real pain, even in a rucksack built for the job.

Problem solved. Now I can lock it away. And the cumbersome snake lock which I favour fits nicely inside one of the cases while I’m on my travels.

In fact I’ve got a whole load useful things tucked in the panniers. I suppose it could be the male equivalent of a ladies handbag.

There’s waterproofs, a couple of bungee cords – you never know when you might need them – a spare clear visor in case a quick change from my usual black or tinted one is required. There’s a spare pair of gloves, a lap top, a change of underwear – no, I’m only joking about the last one.

It set me thinking that other riders must keep interesting stuff in their panniers. What’s in yours? You can tell me on www.motorcyclenews.com. I look forward to seeing it.

On a more serious note the panniers were quite a serious investment. The boxes and the pannier rail cost £396. But it’s pukka BMW kit and seems to do the job very well.

The rails look alright, even without the boxes in place.They also provide a useful pillion grip which the wife appreciates and there’s a neat back rack space which you can either bungee stuff onto or fit a top box. Now, I know I said panniers rocked, but top boxes, hmmm, I’m not so sure.

The boxes simply hook over the rails and lock in place when you push the carrying handles down into a recessed slot. The panniers haven’t had any affect on the bike’s handling, although my Remus pipe does sound a little more muted when they are in place, but that’s probably not a bad thing.

I’ve also splashed out on a fly screen for the R and it has made a difference, apart from just looking good. I reckon can cruise 5-10mph faster on the motorway before the wind blast becomes uncomfortable. Again it’s an official BMW accessory and costs £115

I don’t know whether the screen has made a big difference to the aerodynamics of the bike, or the engine is getting fully run in – I’ve just 5,000 miles – but the fuel consumption is improving.

A 200-mile motorway trip saw me hit nearly hit 50mpg to the gallon and I wasn’t hanging around. In general day to day use the bike is now returning 44mpg and the engine is feeling stronger and more responsive all the time.

I’ve been using the BM in all conditions and there are no signs of any wear and tear yet, not that I’d expect to see any on a bike with such a high reputation for build quality.

So what’s next on the agenda. Well I intend to take the R1150R on a least one trip into Europe before the year is out and try and find a last bit of sunshine somewhere.

With the panniers fitted I’m ready for the trip now. I shouldn’t keep going on about them though, otherwise you’ll all be wanting some. And just think what it will do to your image…

MCN Staff

By MCN Staff