Mar 31, 2011

The Bike That Got Away...2001 BMW F650GS

My first BMW:   2001 BMW G650GS
Ever wonder what happened to that bike that got away?  I once had a 1964 Sears Allstate (Vespa) scooter that haunts me still.  And, I have a particular fondness for my first BMW, a 2001 F650GS in titan blue.  I bought the bike in 2004 from Sparks, NV from a salesman named Lane.  We did everything online and sight unseen I traveled from Salem, OR to Sparks to pick up this beautiful bike with only 1688 miles.  My boyfriend at the time rode it from the dealership as I was too scared to ride it through the mean streets and traffic.  Once out of town I got on the thing and rode like a granny all the way home.  We went around 500 miles in one day...the first time I'd ever ridden anything other than a scooter for more than an hour.  As you can imagine, I wasn't prepared.  It rained like crazy for probably 100 of those miles and I had just my moto jacket, ski pants and tennis shoes keeping me warm.  Every time the wind blew it felt like I was going to tip over and by the time we hit my parent's house in Lowell, OR (about an hour and a half from Salem) my fingers were permanently stuck bent.  I have bragged that since I survived that ride I know I can survive anything.

Eventually there was a parting of ways with the boyfriend and the bike.  I sold the bike with about 6000 miles on it to a man who lived in Corvallis, Art.  (The boyfriend, well I wish I'd have gotten some cash for him.)   About a year later I checked in on my old blue bike and Art said he was looking to sell.  I did the only logical thing and bought the bike back (he'd put around 2000 miles on it!).

Reunited again, I vowed never to part.  We rode and rode until one day a big blue R1200 GS caught my eye.  I know it was wrong but still I did the unthinkable.  I bought it.  Sitting side by side in the garage the 650GS (now with 18,000 miles) and 1200 GS (2 miles) were the most beautiful things you could imagine.  But I knew our time together was short and that I clearly did not need to keep the 650.  So off the bike went again.  This time, to Washington State.  Farther out of my mind and grasp.

Forks...shouldn't they be attached???
The other day I emailed the lucky guy who bought the bike and found out my beautiful blue 650GS was no more.  He experienced a major malfunction of the fork at the axle hub while riding at about 10 miles per hour and went head and shoulder first into the pavement.  An injured shoulder and one totaled bike later the blue GS has passed beyond my reach.

It turns out the guy I sold it to was not be seriously injured in the crash.  And I, well I count myself kind of lucky that I sold it.  I had no idea when I sold the bike to him that there had been reports of issues regarding his problem on the forums.  (see Adventure Rider for more information) And not one dealer had ever mentioned, during service or otherwise, that this could happen.  I guess anything can happen when you ride but one doesn't really expect danger to be lurking on the bike instead of around the bike.   Based on what I've read the 2002(ish) and earlier bikes are only the reported ones with potential issues and BMW has since slightly redesigned and reinforced the area in question.  I can only hope that's the case, especially since I'm now riding the 2010 version of this bike!

Farwell my Titan blue baby...farewell.

Mar 27, 2011

The Perfect Accessory: A fantasy Giant Loop Tail Bag, "The Trout Tail"

"Charlie Brown's" F800GS
"Oh God!  It's starting to rain!"  That's what the man said.  But imagine it coming from Charlie Brown and you'll get the flavor.  It was entertaining but more so, shocking.  This big, tough man living in Oregon concerned about a little rain!  Imagine!

We were standing outside BMW of Western Oregon ( talking about his BMW F800GS, a beautiful bike three years old with luggage that was my current envy.

I've been riding around on my fancy new G650GS and pondering luggage.  My first trip on the bike made me realize I needed something.  That feeling was exemplified on my second trip as I was headed to downtown Portland to go paddling (dragonboat dork, yep).  I had  fancy paddle bag strapped around my body (one end in the air and the other flapping against the bike), a personal flotation device with a rain jacket, Teva's, and a pair of rain pants bungee corded to the back.  Too much stuff and no where to put it, in the pouring rain.

Ocelot 17 liter tail bag
What I really need is something like what Charlie Brown has.  I mean, that bag...he says it was only $80 and it expands.  But, security?  Nil.  I mean someone can just come and take the thing off and walk away.  And it's much too large to be packing in and out of my office downtown from the parking garage.  Maybe I need hardcases.  Jesse Bags are only around $1000 and they offer security...but they won't come off easily.  I think this time around I want something that will be removable so I don't have to pack around that extra weight when I'm not using it.  The Giant Loop bag would be great, but at times it's too big, especially to throw on when it's not in use.  I think I've come to the conclusion that my ideal bag would be able to scrunch up into a smaller bag...maybe fit in a tail bag that has a strap that I could easily remove and carry with me when I go into stores.  But, if I'm putting a bag into a bag why not just use the tail bag?  I have one, a Ocelot 17 liter tail bag that has about four rides on it.  It's in perfect condition except the huge seam rip out that occurred the second time I used it.  I would have returned it but I kept it in the closet for about six months before I made that second trip with it.  Way past return time.  I've been stuck with this great bag of crappy quality for years.  Sides, in Oregon I really want something waterproof.  The Ocelot came with one of those black bags you can slide over it when the rain starts.  What a pain.

Maybe what I need is a Giant Loop ( quality tail bag.  Something for those days when I don't need all the space of the Great Basin but need more than the tank bag or the Coyote can offer.  You know something waterproof with nice zippers (or roll down top, I won't be picky), strong material that comes in awesome colors.  About 17-20 liters with some height, a couple external pockets, and bungees or straps holding it down for quick release and easy access. Is that really too much to ask for?


Maybe Giant Loop could at least consider it if it's not already on their list.  I mean, I am more than happy to offer up a name for it:  The "Deschutes Tail Bag."  The name is in support of the mighty Deschutes River in Bend (where Giant Loop is located).  I was going to go with the "Trout Tail Bag" (in honor of my Chocolate Lab, Trout and of course, the fish that comes out of the Deschutes) but I figured that may be pushing it a little.

I think I'll shimmy over to the truck stop and see if I can pick up some trucker's tarp.  Someone's gotta have an industrial sewing machine, right?

Mar 20, 2011

My new bike: Ooops! I did it AGAIN!

Stopped by BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon ( last week and found the bike I didn't know I was looking for.  Yesterday I rode the thing home and now it sits, happy as a clam in my garage.  I know some of you will be disappointed to hear I slinked back to BMW without even test riding my much coveted Triumph Street Triple.  But, once I saw this bike in person I really couldn't pass it up.  The bike is a 2010 BMW G650GS in what is probably known as some fancy version of red (with some orange thrown in for good measure).  I'm sure simply calling it "red" is an understatement.  The bike had a total of six miles on it as I rode it away.  ABS, center stand and heated grips came standard and I forked over some extra green to get the grip guards (which were in stock thankfully!)  Thanks to BMW of Western Oregon I'll be getting my 600 mile service for FREE (now that's a deal) and I did get 10% off the price of the guards.  The bike itself was priced reasonably as the 2011's are already on the shop floor.

Does this bike make my butt look fat???
I've learned from my previous mistakes and did not spring for any side cases. My plan is to try this bike  the "light and easy" way and get a Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag ( and compliment that with the Giant Loop Fandango Tank Bag.  This bike is lighter and more maneuverable than my previous 1200 GS and I don't want to lose any of that by adding weight with hardcases.  In the short term, I'm stuffing things inside my jacket and riding around like a black and blue Pillsbury Doughboy.

Trout and the new, nameless BMW
This bike is actually my second 650 GS (or third considering I previously bought the same 650GS twice) so I'm familiar with the ride and feel.  However, this time it's going to take some getting used to as I've grown accustomed to the 1200GS and the POWER of it.  Currently it feels like I'm back on a Vespa, putting around the 'hood weaving back and forth down the street with a silly grin on my face.  Of course, the grin probably IS there.  I've only put 50 miles on the bike thus far but I can tell you I miss the power and the fact that every little bump in the road didn't vibrate from the tires to the handgrips to your eyeballs.  And the wind...oh how much more wind there is!   But, I think this is a bike that "fits" me much better.  No more climbing onto the thing, no more pulled muscles throwing a leg up and over a 48" spanned rear end (not mine, the GS plus hardcases!).  And a bonus I hadn't counted on is the insurance is only $233 a year!  

Since this bike is easier for me to maneuver and lighter, I've already taken it places the 1200GS never went.  Trout and I took it into the field on a slow ride to the back '40.   I was sliding around like a kindergartender on a slip n slide but not once did it cross my mind that I couldn't keep it upright.  Frankly at the speed I was going I had a better chance of being abducted by aliens than I did of dropping the bike.  After my attempt at coolness in the field (I hope no one saw me), I spent a good hour hosing off the mud and wiping the thing down so water spots wouldn't show.  Yeah, I know, a little overkill but still, it's my new baby!

Hoping to ride with some friends to Alaska this summer and you can bet I'll be riding where ever the wind takes me.  Thanks BMW of Western Oregon, again, for the awesome new toy.

Now it just needs a name....

Bike Hunting Saga

With the Beast gone I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about motorcycles and going through what can only be described as moto-withdrawl.  I started watching gas prices and freaking out about having to someday drive my gas hog of an Xterra back and forth to town.  I was planning trips to the grocery store based on the least amount of gasoline consumption all the while hearing a voice inside my head screaming, "why did you sell your bike, you idiot?"  

Idiot indeed.  The voices inside my head and the empty spot in the garage gave me extra motivation to investigate bike options.  I thought surely I'd skip the BMW this go round since I was tired of the expense of maintenance and determined to prove I could live without a BMW.  I went to a local bike shop that sells Kawasaki's, Suzuki's, Yamaha's and all those other brands that most the time I just ignore.  I met a great salesman who obviously hasn't spent much time with female riders.  He first suggested if I were going to get a dual sport I'd best be suited for the Kawasaki KLR250 (250???)  as it would be easier for me to ride and probably accommodate all of my needs and wants.   I smiled politely and pretended to have real issues getting onto the thing so he could flex his manly muscles and help me hold up the bike.  While I sat on it (in flip flops no less since I didn't want to intimidate the salesmen) I told him I recently rode a 1200 BMW so I thought maybe I could handle a little more power than a 250.  Maybe.  I mean, if I were really really careful.

Jack (not his real name but since I would like to rename him to Jackass it seems the most fitting) then showed me some other bikes.  I sat on about 15 bikes that he carefully pulled away from the other bikes for me to throw my leg over.  He was even kind enough to stand with his legs on either side of the front tire and hold the bike while I was on it, "Just in case and for my safety".   I asked him once if he thought I was going to drop it and I started using my arms to toss the bike back and forth between my legs.  I thought he was going to crap his pants.  The bike was light and I was touching flat footed on the ground with about two or three inches of gap between me and the seat when I stood so I figured there would be no way for me to drop the thing.   Jack didn't have as much faith.  Poor sap.

Tiring of messing with Jack and getting treated like a chick who doesn't know a motorcycle from a lawn mower, I decided to get into specifics with Jack.  How many miles can I expect to get from a particular bike earned the response of around 44k.  44k?  My BMW would have gotten 144k.   What about service costs?  Around 200-250 for the full work up.  Now that's what I'm talking about!  What would you buy?  Jack moves over to the VStrom and says he actually has one that's bigger but I'd fit perfectly on the 650.  Look at the beautiful pealized paint.  Oooh  awwww.  

Turns out I don't like Jack much. But he has convinced me of one thing.  I'm putting my hard earned money into a bike that will last, has a great reputation, and is known the world over as an awesome dual sport.

I head over to BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon ( where I'm sure I'll find the dual sport of my dreams.  


The Beast goes to Canada

Henry, new owner, loading up the Beast
A few weeks ago my beautiful blue 2008 BMW R1200GS touched my driveway for the last time.  I didn't get my farewell ride as the funds were deposited into the bank earlier than I'd anticipated.  Maybe that's a good thing as I wasn't able to have any last minute doubts about saying farewell to the machine that made me love riding even more than I'd thought possible.  My last memories of the Beast will have to be watching it being latched down into the back of it's new owner's truck.  Henry and his wife drove from Canada to pick up the bike.  As I watched Henry prepping the back of the truck for the bike I realized there was probably no place safer than in Henry's arms for the Beast to be.  Six tie downs, a block drilled behind each tire, carpet laid out on the plywood flooring used to extend the truck bed...the Beast had finally found anal-retentive heaven.  I imagined it was at that moment of passing from my hands to Henry's that the bike would be it's dirtiest.  I'm sure it will be well ridden but I'm confident that every ride "after party" will involves a toothbrush, Q-tips and copious amounts of buffing and waxing.

The Beast got love from me but my rule was to only wash when I was trying to impress.  Luckily I don't abide by that in my everyday personal hygiene.   I think I washed the Beast twice during the two years I owned it.  Once was before a long trip because I thought it only fair that was started on a good note.  I think the second time was three days before Henry picked it up.   And trust me, that wash job was quick and ineffective for the most part.

The Beast is now simply one of those things I can say I used to have.  Like the 1964 Vespa I once owned, the Beast will forever remain one of my favorite things.

I was at BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon, Tigard ( talking to a woman who's husband had just bought a new RT the other day when I mentioned I used to have a 1200GS.  She looked at me and asked why I got rid of it.  I smiled and said the bike was just too darned good for me.  And that it was.      


Food Porn: Astoria, OR: Bowpicker Fish and Chips

Bowpicker Fish & Chips
Location:  16th and Duane, Astoria, OR 
Bmwgsgirl's rating:  10 out of 10 
Price:  $$ 

Looking for the most perfect fish and chips you'll ever find?  Take a two hour ride on your moto from Portland, OR to Astoria.  There, on the north end of town on Duane and 16th you'll find one of the best food "carts" I've ever experienced.  It's actually a landlocked boat sitting rather unexpectedly on the burr of a gravel lot.

The Bowpicker has been on the same site for 11 years since this family business opened.  They serve fish and chips and only fish and chips.   But, they do it superbly.

Half order of heavenly tuna!
There has been a line up the dock and down the stairs every time I've passed.  This week I was lucky enough to drive by just as they opened at 11 (sign says 11ish to 6ish Wednesday through Sunday).  There were already five people waiting in line.   As you wait for your order (which is actually not long at all), you can read about the bowpicker and it's history.   Where else can you an education and great fish?

In a town full of fish and chips and breweries fighting for your attention passing this place up would be easy.  It would also be one of the biggest mistakes you've ever made.  Their fish is fresh tuna that has been beer battered and fried to perfection.  Their fries are big and thick cut.  I'm not a big fan of fish and chips since they always seem to be soaking in grease.  Not these.  The fish was perfect (none of that fishy taste either) and the batter was tasty and not too thick.

Great batter and perfect flaky tuna
Prices are reasonable considering what you get:  for $7.00 you get a half order which includes three pieces of fish and fries.  For $9.00 you get the full order which is five pieces.  And PEPSI products!  Yippeee!

I highly recommend Bowpicker Fish and Chips and so do the "regulars" I was sandwiched between while waiting in line.  One had been coming to Bowpicker since it opened 11 years ago.   It's a place where they know your name, are happy to see you, and serve awesome food that will keep you coming back for more.  I know I'll be back over and over.  

Mar 6, 2011

Bye Bye Beast

Just washed the Beast for the last time ever.  It now sits in the garage awaiting pickup this Thursday by a man who bought it after just looking at some photos and trusting things were as I said.  Obviously he's from Canada because you probably wouldn't find that in the States!  

As I toweled off the Beast I noticed curves that I'd gotten so accustomed to seeing that I didn't even really notice anymore.  I took a quick trip down memory lane while I was wiping the last of the water off.  I fondly looked back to last May with Jerry and Rusty riding through snowy passes in Montana...scared to death I was going to spill it since I'd never ridden in such conditions.  In 2008 just after I bought it I took my friend, Kat for a ride and almost knocked it over at a stop sign when we got lost using the GPS because laughing our heads off since we'd already passed that same spot four times.   I remembered a ride along Hwy 14 in Washington following another rider as he pointed out with his foot a rock in the road...and hitting the rock since I was so distracted by his foot.   Later as we looked at the view he said, "Least you weren't stupid enough to hit that rock!"  I laughed at myself silly and so did he (he didn't have far to go).   I remembered countless miles flying up and down I-5 from Salem to Portland commuting to work...and how at least once a week there was a near miss but the Beast always had enough power to quickly get out of the way.  

I've loved my BMW 1200GS.  I've loved the way it handles, the look, the power, the strength and the reliability.  I've loved that it's never let me down though wind storms, sleet and snow.   I've loved the way the BMW makes you friends before you even remove your helmet.  That strangers share stories with you about their bikes of the past and present.  I love the BMW club and their magazine (  It is because of them that  I can go anywhere in the States and I can find accommodations or assistance from fellow riders.   It will be a shame to see it go.  But, I think we part at a perfect moment in time.  We part when we don't have to simply because it's time for each of us to go our own ways.   I think the Beast will be happy in Canada with someone who will ride it more and probably wash it more often.  Someone who will love it just as much as I have.  

And me, I'm already trying to figure out my next adventure and the bike that will get me there.  I look back fondly to my time with the Beast but I look forward to the future more knowing there are so many options  and different directions to take.

Maybe a Triumph Street Triple, maybe a KLR, maybe a Suzuki or a Yamaha FJR.  Who knows.  That's part of the fun...not knowing.  

I found a house! A sale and a purchase...

Hey Readers!  (Mom and Dad) My Salem house, after MANY repairs and a new porch I haven't written in a spell because my plans took a ride...