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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Bike - aka Chloé


Chloé taking a trip through Moab, UT
Well, even though my first bike and passion for motorbikes began on a dirt bike, as you know by now I love racing!  I'm a road racer at heart and it is one of my greatest passions in life.  The vast majority of my learning, riding, experience, and of course crashing has been aboard competitive sport bikes on paved road race circuits. In fact, the only experience I have off-road is a bit of time on the first dirt bike I acquired at age 12, some supermoto cross-training in 2012 (to get better at road racing and comfortable with the rear stepping out and sliding around), a stint at Danny Walker's American Supercamp (amazing experience), and several shakedown trips that I've taken recenly to prepare for the upcoming journey, and to test out gear and equipment.  That being said, this whole ADV thing is relatively new to me.  I feel I've taken to it quickly though and am very much enjoying the experience.  I've definitely had my fair share of mishaps along the way, as you can see in some of the pics below.  

Who is Chloé you ask?  Well, I'll tell you...  Chloé is my 2012 BMW F800GS Triple Black.  In 2012 I had just won a motorcycle roadracing class championship, which was one of my goals in life.  There was talk about growing up, having kids, and all that jazz (which obviously didn't come to fruition if you read the 'why' page of the blog).  So, I decided to hang up the leathers and sell off the race kit.  I offloaded race bikes, stands, gear, warmers, extras, tires, and a boat load of additional stuff.  With the cash that I received from the fire sale, I decided that I would finally purchase a dual-purpose adventure bike to someday do some epic trips on.  *side note - I ended up getting a full-ride sponsorship for 2013, so ended up buying another full race effort, which I was able to perform very well on.  Picked up several wins and podium finishes and have since offloaded that as well.

I had looked at several different bikes.  I liked the Yamaha Super Tenere, but didn't like the weight and bulk of the bike, and also didn't like that you couldn't shut off ABS from the factory without 'tricking it'.  Overall the bike handled well, felt like a capable beast, but simply wasn't for me.  Having ridden and raced on Yamaha for years, I was bummed that I couldn't make it work.  I'm also bummed that Yamaha chooses not to import the Super's little brother the Tenere 660 to the United States as that would have probably been my bike of choice.  I looked at a TON of other bikes and it came down to the Kawasaki KLR 650, Triumph Tiger 800, and BMW F800GS (no clue how some dudes tour on those MASSIVE 1200GS adventure tanks).  I liked the price point and reliability of the KLR, but didn't like the midrange and top end power, and capability on long paved hauls.  Also, I'm a bit of a wanker (I'll admit it) and pay WAAAY too much attention to the looks of a bike.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but the main reason I swayed away from the KLR was that both the Tiger and F800 were much sexier bikes IMO.  I rode and liked both of them, but the decision came down to the renowned reliability of the BMW GS series and availability of parts and accessories.  Plus, I found a killer deal on the BMW slightly used on Craigslist. 

Why the name Chloé???  When I got the bike I realized that I was buying all of these ridiculously overpriced accessories.  Almost like the bike craved them, and I felt obligated to purchase them (i.e. hand guards, header guards, radiator cover, brake reservoir covers, crash bars, GPS, mounts, and bags, bags, bags!).  It dawned on me that I was treating the bike like a girlfriend of sorts.  I was in a new relationship and felt obligated to please her with the purchase of new bags and various other accoutrements.  The bike was also a bit finicky when I first got it and required a bit of maintenance.  A fork seal here, an oil change there, nothing big, but maintenance nonetheless.  Also, the 'legs' on her were aging and a bit discolored.  Apparently, there was an issue with the fork legs on the Triple Black version of the F8, so they were bleaching and turning a splotchy shade of purple.  Again, like a girlfriend, her legs weren't aging gracefully.  So what did I do, I took her to the shop for some 'surgery' and they replaced the legs with younger, newer fork legs under warranty.  All that said, the first German name that came to mind was a mocha-skinned 'dancer' that I met once during my travels in Berlin named Chloé.  She was absolutely beautiful (and I'm sure handled quite well - sorry mom), but also seemed temperamental, expensive, and requiring a ton of bags, accessories, and maintenance to keep her happy.  Seemed fitting!  :)  

Since acquiring the bike, I've added quite a few accessories.  I purchased the majority of the parts and accessories from the guys at ADV Designs.  Their customer service has been great and they send a free bag of M&M's with every shipment!  Several other, harder to find small parts and accessories were purchased from Touratech USA.  They also have fantastic customer service, but I find their prices to be slightly steep, which is absolutely not their fault as Touratech makes amazing product and kit, but it is costly.  Ask for Marshall if you work with them as he is nice, and will walk you through any installation issues you may have (I tend to have a lot since I'm an idiot - I can ride em', but can't seem to work on em').  Very grateful for a company with fantastic customer service where you can call a person direct for product/installation assistance.  

Here is a list of the parts/accessories that I've added to Chloé...  
  • AltRider skid plate
  • Factory BMW hand/brush guards
  • Remus slip-on exhaust can (from my friend Tally at BMW Denver - sounds amazing!)
  • Kaoko throttle lock (cruise control)
  • Touratech side stand large footprint 
  • Touratech clip-on windshield extension
  • Touratech front brake reservoir cover/guard
  • AltRider rear brake reservoir cover/guard
  • AltRider crash bars
  • Saddlemen Adventure Track seat
  • ADV Rider complete tire change kit
  • ADV Rider micro pump kit
  • ADV Rider F800GS Ultimate tool kit
  • AltRider lexan bulletproof headlight cover
  • AltRider luggage rack
  • Wolfman pannier rack
  • Wolfman Expedition Dry pannier / side bags
  • Wolfman Explorer Lite tank bag
  • RotoPax mount w/ 2-gallon reserve tank
  • BMW adaptor to multi american cigarette power outlet
  • AltRider header guards
  • AltRider radiator guard
  • Touratech locking GPS mount w/ crossbar install
  • Garmin Zumo 660 GPS 
  • A set of new shoes - Heidenau K60's 
  • Currently working with Dave Rose @ STM Suspension to install custom wound stiffer springs in front and rear for better handling and performance in sketch conditions
    • Note to BMW - your stock F800GS suspension sucks!!!  Soft and mushy as butter
  • Want to work with Woody from Woody's Wheel Works to have new wheels laced as I hear the stock F8 wheels are too soft for RTW travel
    • Will most likely stick with stock config (21" front)
Super soft worthless suspension aside, I've absolutely LOVED the F8!  It performs equally well on and off road.  The only downside I would list is overall weight.  At 465lbs wet weight, it is quite a beast to handle in rough off-road conditions.  However, that doesn't mean I haven't been giving it a good thrashing during shakedown rides.  I've had several people comment during passes and rides, "I can't believe you are taking that beautiful bike up here!".  It's a damn adventure bike!  It's part of the name!  Not sure why people buy these things and don't ride them the way they are intended.  End rant...  

Anyway, that's a bit of an intro to the bike.  I had originally included a ton of technical specs copied and pasted from Total Motorcycle, but you can read that here if interested.  According to a few notes I received from friends, "nobody cares about that junk!"...  


So for now I'll just wrap up this blog post with a nice photo.  Everybody likes photos yeah?

Recent shakedown ride w/ my good friend Sam up Argentine Pass

2 comments:

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    Regards

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