154 months ago

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Tales of Fear and Velocity: A Couple of Days on the BMW K1300S

Toronto, Ontario, Canada



So I go to get my 800 back from BMW Toronto one day and, as usual, there's no one manning the Motorrad counter.

One of the bike sales guys eventually comes downstairs, looking whipped and sweaty. He keeps coming and going and apologizing and leaving again. I'm chatting with a 1200GS owner about his ride in Newfoundland, when bike sales guy comes back, says, 'I'm sorry. Your bike's not done. There was a problem yesterday with the tech. Um, he no longer works here -- he left, sorta mid-repair on your bike. We don't know where he was on it so we're starting it all over again, to be sure it's done right. So, um, would you mind very much keeping the 650 loaner and coming back tomorrow?'

I'm only half-listening, wondering if that was the same tech who forgot to tighten a lock nut when he replaced my recalled chain a couple weeks back.

But then my man gets a much better idea: A loaner upgrade: the psycho-orange K1300S I'd seen upon entering the lot.

'Done,' I say.

He backs it out for me, starts it, asks, 'Can you handle it?'

'Yeah,' I say, otherwise speechless on a flood of five new kinds of adrenaline. He leaves me to it.

I do not at all know if I can handle it.

I sit, kick up the stand, pull in the clutch and put it into first. I am careful and casual as I exit the lot. I don't want them to take it away from me. I haven't sat on anything 1300-like in 16 years, and that was a Kawasaki for half an hour in downtown Singapore. And I've never sat on anything with two wheels and 175 equines. In fact I've not ridden a true crotch rocket larger than an insanely modded RD350. That was twenty years ago... and I overwheelied and crashed it a minute after getting on.

The K feels good. Civilized. Except for the posture I must adopt, which wildlife biologists would call 'presenting', as in offering up one's rear to potential suitors.

Now, I am a cautious man when it comes to transportation, mostly. Every now and then, a long-recessive hooligan brain particle kicks in. I initially resist this, as I am in downtown Toronto and I have a family. A quiet ride around town and I go back home to work, vowing to take it on the highway after workday's end.

At 6pm, wife says, 'Go, honey. I understand.' I am outside again on the orange menace.

I had so far thought both tach and speedo were broken. But no, it's just that neither needle gets past 8 o'clock till you're breaking every speed limit in North America. This is sobering.

I enter the Allen Expy northbound and crank hard. I hit something like 160k/h in seconds -- that's second gear, and about two seconds, respectively. I'm laughing pervertedly. I slow down to 80, remembering speed traps are found on this stretch, and shift up a few gears. But a K1300S doesn't care what gear you're in, for the bike is filth. You could ride all day at 100k/h in first and not hurt it.

I hit the 401 W, which has no traffic jams, and run it up through the gears, semi-aggro. Again, to 160 before I'm nearly getting started. 'Faaaack,' I say to myself, 'maybe act your age.' They have newly hardened laws against behaviour like this.

The 400 N-bound is also clear and I've got three hours of daylight left. I play a bit, getting into the country roads, as the 400 is also a heat score.

I know where most of the cops hide, the deer roam and the dogs chase in the Caledon area, so I scope out a few likely stretches before making my declaration.

Coast clear, I am in second at 5k, and twist it all the way. It doesn't wheelie, thank you, Christ. But oh, lord. My ears rotate to just above my spine, and eyes go where those ears used to reside. I redline, grab another, redline, grab another, and the entire world liquifies. I can't see but green ribbons left and right, a juddering greyness in front. I apply the brakes hastily, too blind, wronged and terrified to continue. I have no idea how fast I go, probably no more than 200, but all in about 2.3 seconds. I feel like I've been raped, violated or something else that is grave and which I cannot understand.

I decide that that's enough. Time to go home. I'm intact, I've just done very bad acts, and I have both lived and gotten away with them, police-wise.

Just to be sure though I wind it out a ways once again, but slow down quickly. And then again. But the road's bumpy. I keep losing too much vision to continue, at least unsucidally. I decide to just stay in second and work it back and forth between 6-11k, get comfy with all that pornography before risking being rendered a smear in some ditch.

Sound thinking. There's no way to really see where all this can lead. The speedometer goes to 300. Nothankyouverymuch.

I conclude there isn't room in Canada for this bike. K1300S needs airport runways connected to Nurburgrings to be understood. My wrists are sore. The riding posture is absurd. Who could own this bike but persons with damaged minds and fused spines? Then I remember the 1000RR, with 20 extra more hp, and Hayabusas too, mythical machines I know little of, and wonder at the state of humanity.

I imagine well-dressed German engineers discussing improving ze hosepowa in these bikes, and others in Japan doing the same, in fullblooded competition, and I realize there are good secrets that are kept that way by the dangerous people who ride the bikes that hold those secrets.

By this I mean, you can't explain the feeling and power of a bike like this. It all becomes metaphor and exaggeration, and still so short of the experience it's pitiful. That's why this writeup is over.


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