A few pics are worth at least a couple of runon sentences:
Joe and I play a little game most every day, called Hi-Lo. At the end of the day, he simply asks: “High? Low?” Then it is your turn to think about the day you’ve just had and answer with the best moment, the ‘high’ and the worst moment, the ‘low’. Then you ask the question in return.
After 1K, I think it’s time for some Hi-Lo with a twist. I’m going to ask it of the S1000RR. The High: It’s wicked quick and pulls like the ‘Busa. The Low: It ain’t the ‘Busa. Let’s break this down a little. It’s got some quirks, as do all bikes, no matter what you park your ass on, there’ll be problems of one sort or another to varying degrees of nuisance. How does the saying go? “If it has wheels or testicles, it’s going to give you problems.”
Me and the Gear Shift Assist do NOT get along. I can’t pin the throttle and snick it in. No-can-do. Especially under hard acceleration. Especially going from first to second. I’ve figured what part of the problem is, the lever is not at the right angle for my foot. We shall have to fix that, since I can’t get enough leverage to nicely preload the thing. As the ‘Busa did, this one, too, likes its lever preloaded for a nice, smooth little clutchless upshift. And it has to be a decisive little snick, too. Shift like an old lady and the brain of the operation just tells you to shove off and ignores your foot completely. So, I’m still doing it old school, with the little blip (for the most part). I think I’d be better off just plopping down the 100some Euros and getting the conversion kit and just reverse the whole mess. I wanted to do that on the ‘Busa anyway, since the Gilles setup just screamed for it. That way I’ll also have an extra excuse not to let anyone ride my baby without feeling too badly about it. “You know how to GP shift? No? Oh, I’m sorry, this one’s setup like weird and stuff…” Note to self: Adjust the angle of the dangle. No, really.
I have a feeling this bike’s going to just take over when IT decides that YOU are being a jackass and can’t handle your business anymore. I don’t know how to feel about all that tech. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some tech. I’m a geek, after all. But I also love me some control. I still ride it like I used to (caveat inserted here for Joe’s benefit: Noooo, I don’t do THAT stuff anymore, just as I promised.) I’m neither more careful nor more aggressive. It’s more a matter of adapting to the new bike’s handling characteristics. I’m not being stupid but I’m also not wearing my granny panties when I’m rollin’ it. I haven’t made neither the Race ABS nor the Dynamic Traction Control intervene on my behalf. I’m riding in ‘Sport’ mode, as that is the setting optimized for street rac… riding. Street RIDING. Guess the S1000RR has so far not deemed me a jackass unworthy of the controls. *snorts* I don’t know how I’m to feel about this. I’m halfway tempted to turn the crap off and ride by the seat of my pants. However, I have promised Joe I would not turn it off, unless warranted (like riding through gravel, where the DTC would really be a kick in the rear… literally); but on the other hand I’m afraid that it might screw up my skill development. After getting used to having a bike that folds space and time in fourth gear, then takes over when you’re about to wrap yourself around the next available stationary object because you done early apexed another one, freaked the hell out, went wide, got on the damn brakes way too hard, way too late, kept staring where you shouldn’t and the famous words that should’ve been the last are you verbalizing a convinced ‘holy shit’ into your helmet. It takes over at that precise moment because the bike has deemed you a jackass, works its magic with its sensors and gyros, valves and pumps, does a little digital finger counting and saves your bacon yet again and then also wipes your ass for you as you make your panicked way out of that train wreck of a turn (“hope nobody saw that”). How are you going to manage when you’re used to that for a few thousand miles, a few seasons, or whatnot and then decide to ride a friend’s bike without all the bells and whistles you’ve become so accustomed to that you’ve taken them for granted and have forgotten that you’re still riding like a n00b on a bike that just makes you LOOK like you know what you’re doing. It’s a conundrum. I want to turn it off. I have to leave it on. Best to just ride it as always. When the stuff comes on, I know I screwed something up.
Those skinny hand grips have got to go. But, as with any ergo mods, I’m going to see if I can’t retrain my muscles to cope with the stockers first. The Hayabusa’s grips were fatties compared to these tooth picks; they’re only one step above wrapping grip tape around the bars and calling it good. And, boy, do they buzz. The Beemer does NOT like to go slow… hell no! Seems like the most vibrating is experienced scooting around town. It doesn’t seem happy unless it’s over 5K. Proper gear selection also helps, although the bike doesn’t lug, it lets you know it doesn’t like being in too high a gear.
The ride-by-wire throttle system is awesome. BMW calls it E-Gas. I call it freaking SWEET! No more on/off light switch action in first or second gear, like it was on the ‘Busa. That was annoying and a complete nuisance on roads with a speed limit of either 35 or 25. What a jerky mess that usually ended up being and who wants to ride the clutch for freakin’ three miles. meh. You twist the throttle on the S1000RR, you get power delivered proportionally to your twist, ramped. Just flowing on. Not: BAM! There you are, now deal with it. LOL
Here’s something I’ve noticed that made me giggle: It has no horn. Not that I ever used the wimpy things that come on motorcycles anyway. I’m going to just have to continue using hand signals, just like on the ‘Busa or the Harley. ;P
EDIT: About five weeks later I found it: The switch for the horn is right where it should be, below the turn signal switch on the left clip-on. But it’s recessed and way down there. I can’t see it when sitting on the bike. Neither could I ever feel it with my thumb. How did I find it? I was checking something out on the front end, don’t recall what, and I looked up and there it was, right in front of my eyes, the horn. Go imagine that. Now the owner’s manual also refers to a power outlet… I wonder where that is, because I’m still looking. Found the IR lap timer transmitter plug in the wiring harness though.
On a mere two hours of sleep, I toss my gear into the backseat and hubby, who is well rested takes me 112 miles in a northerly direction towards Greenville, SC; to our closest BMW/Ducati dealership. I try to sleep, as I had planned, in the truck but I can’t. Between being so excited that I can’t shut up talking, and hubby’s homebrew songs and stupid jokes, I can’t get a snooze in. I’m also a little nervous again; nothing compared to what I went through when I picked up my Hayabusa 11 months ago, but I was definitely feeling anxiety creep in.
Would I be able to keep the front end down? Am I going to over-steer and lean it right into the ground? Am I going to do something stupid in front of a bunch of people? Shit, am I even good enough of a rider yet to be on an S1000RR? Flighty thoughts, the sheer excitement of getting to ride again after almost two weeks since my crash mostly quiets my silly doubts.
I take my pinky splint off and before we get out of the truck, I sternly point a finger at my husband and tell him: “I don’t wanna hear you in there going on about how your wife trashed her Hayabusa like you did at Street & Trail.” That’ll be one hilarious scenario right there: “I wrecked my bike in a corner and now, please kind Sir, could I ride one of yours, because I’m in the market.” Yeah. NO!
So we go in, and they don’t jump all over us. Good. +1. I have plenty of time to drool over both S1000RRs that are sitting on their showroom floor, one in ‘Thunder Grey Metallic’ (read: black) and one in the ‘Motorsports’ color scheme. Hubby cracks a joke about how my riding skills only rate the pink Vespa he saw sitting outside and I reply that he’s just jealous because he still has those little rubber bristles sticking out the edges of his rear tire after over 5000 miles. He just grins and makes a slow chopping motion with his right hand: “Mine’s still upright.” Touché.
After several more minutes of reverence and quiet adoration, I finally park my butt on the object of my desire. It’s almost a religious experience. At first I’m not too impressed, sits kind of like the CBR1000RR to me. My ass is used to the comforts of the ‘Busa. Plush. Substantial. Wide. I wiggle around a little and rock the bike side to side between my legs to get a feel for it. Ah, that’s better. Nice. Feels lighter… no, not lighter, more at balance than any of the liter bikes I’ve sat on; the center point feels lower, too; however, it doesn’t feel insubstantial to me, even though it should, by logic alone. It feels compact, but rightfully so. It doesn’t make me feel like I’m sitting on a bicycle, like all the other bikes have felt to me in comparison to the ‘Busa.
Ryan, the sales manager, eventually saunters over to see if he can help. I introduce myself and tell him that we had been emailing back and forth about the S1000RR and taking it for a test ride. We chat for a while about service schedules, maintenance requirements, BMW’s way of doing things and then finally get ready to go out and ride. As I sign the waiver that requires me to pay for the thing if I trash it, Ryan asks me to please not wreck this one, since he’s planning on buying it once it has fulfilled its obligations as demo bike. I see Mr. Slow has been running his mouth again…We go outside and I circle the Double-R that I’ll be testing shortly. It looks a heck of a lot better in person than it does in the stock images on the Internet. I am starting to really like it. But it’s white. I’ve had a white bike… every little imperfection due to hastily applied unprofessional touch-up jobs stands out like a sore thumb. After concluding my adoration, I throw my leg over the S1000RR, put her in neutral and crank her up. She purrs to life. More menacing than the Hayabusa, at least at idle speed. I pull the clutch in and put the transmission in gear, to say hello to the gear box. CLUNK!
Ryan comes running around the corner like a shot, sporting that all-telling ‘holy shit!’ expression on his face. My hubby had also turned around and several other people are also paying closer attention.
Ooops. I smile sweetly, then sit there innocently, still in first gear with the clutch lever pulled in. I see Ryan visibly relaxing after he realizes that I’m not going to peel out of their parking lot and scream on down the road on their brand-spanking-new S1000RR. Hahahaa…
He goes over all the functions with me. He explains the controls and readouts and when I indicate that I’m ready to get the show on the road, Ryan picks a blue F800ST for himself and I follow him out of the parking lot with the bike’s DTC set to ‘Sport’ mode.As I roll over the curb and into the four-lane highway, I immediately notice how the S1000RR almost wants to fall into the turn. Whoa! Not used to that. I kind of scare myself a little, but relax as I notice how easily the bike is controlled. The throttle action is smooth, all the way through. No on-off switch-like jerkiness. The power just feeds in relative to the throttle movement. Smooth, without hiccups and predictable. The clutch lever’s friction zone doesn’t seem much different from what I’m used to riding the Hayabusa.
Once we get out of the heavy traffic I play around a little with acceleration in the lower RPM range and through several gears. Hot damn! This bike means business. The Hayabusa is no slouch in that department, but since the S1000RR is a lithe ballerina compared to The Fat Lady’s opera singer persona, it feels just as powerful and, if I dare say, quicker. 3 HP less on the rear, but 118 pounds lighter will probably explain that.
The Hayabusa is a somewhat cranky shifter and so is the S1000RR. Different quirks, but both bikes want to be shifted a certain way and once you figure that out, they are pretty much happy and won’t give you any problems.
I’m having way too much fun to really get technical about my test ride. I forget all about checking out the different traction control modes or check out the RaceABS with some purposeful over-braking. After two weeks caging it to work and having PMS (Parked Motorcycle Syndrome [and boy, did I park that one, huh?]) I’m just way too busy getting my throttle therapy in during the few miles I get to have with this awesome piece of Teutonic engineering.The bike is a precision missile. I just have to think about turning and it does. It corners like it’s on rails. It holds its line and reacts to steering inputs with confidence-inspiring accuracy. It is predictable, well-mannered, balanced and it sounds awesome.
The roar of the exhaust and the deep vibe the engine emits when I crack the throttle open makes my spine tingle all over with excitement. I gotta have this thing! If The Fat Lady is deemed repairable I’m going to have to figure something out, because I want one of these babies. Ooooooo yeah! Come to momma! I almost feel like I’m cheating on the ‘Busa with her slimmer, younger sister. Dirrrrrty gurl!!! Ohhhh riiiiight giggity diggity giggity!!!
I do not sit on this bike, I sit in it. It is almost like the bike tells me to sit a certain way and that’s where my bum seems to always end up. Like it wraps itself around me. I know this is a very subjective observation, since I am only 165cm tall, weigh around 115-120 pounds and have long legs compared to my torso. The BMW’s riding position gives me the impression of being more in control. The bike is definitely confidence inspiring. I feel one with the machine. Heck, I feel faster already. …and am probably a better rider than I was twenty minutes ago.
The only gripe I have about the S1000RR are that the grips are way too skinny. They are not much better than wrapping grip tape around a set of clip-on ends and calling it good. I loved my fatty Hayabusa grips. They were comfortable. These horrid things on the Beemer have got to go! I’ve only been riding for what? 15-20 minutes and my fingers and palms already feel cramped and are aching. Ryan later assures me that this can be easily fixed with a set of OEM grips from one of the sport-touring K-bikes, but I cannot remember which model.
Of course the stock levers have got to go. But that is a problem with all the bikes I’ve ever owned or ridden. My hands are simply too small and my fingers too short for stock levers. That’s why Pazzo Racing rakes in a killing from my wallet. =D I also would need a set of grippy tank pads, to ensure proper grip when hanging off. This also would be a requirement for any bike of mine.
We arrive back at the dealership way too soon. I park the Double-R, hop off, practically tear my helmet off my head and loudly exclaim with a huge mischievous idiotic grin on my face these two simple words:
And it is thus that the girl with the rising sun Hayabusa kanji tattoo is on her way to become rebranded. She is a ‘Busa girl at heart, always will be, but her riding style is not compatible. How many Hayabusas must die before somebody steps in? Please forgive me. You will be missed. Mr. Slow, bring your wallet, this is going to cost you.