First, I have to say that I'm a very open minded individual about just about everything. I always give the benefit of the doubt and I generally don't let pre-conceived notions make rulings before I see or experience it with my own eyes. This is the story of a KLR rider’s adventure with a BMW bunch.
Me, and 4 friends (3 KLRs and 1 XRL) went on a nice dual sport ride with a group of guys on BMWs. The ride was coordinated by a BMW dealer owner. When we all met up at the dealer, there were about 12-15 riders waiting there on nice and shiny $20,000 BMWs, some of which were brand spanking new! Looking at the bikes and noticing their pristine-ness, I have to admit I had doubts about some of the riders' ability to actually 'dual sport' their ride.
Introductions were made all around. There were no weird vibes towards us KLR riders and all was grand. I met one dude that had the most beautiful BMW I'd ever seen. It was new enough to not yet have a plate. The color was graphite grey and it was the 800, I think. I joked that it might make me a convert.
We hit the road and I was pleased to find the pace was actually a little quicker than most group rides I've been on. Everyone seemed to be comfortable and skilled. Then we hit our first trail. The golden rule of the group ride was to keep track of the person behind you. If we lost sight, we were to stop to make sure they made it around the turn or else they might not see where the rider in front of them turned. Made perfect sense! So, that's what I did. The trail was gravelly and dusty but everyone had control of their bike, and seem to negotiate the turns without slowing too much..... Well, except for the person in front of me! We hit our first turn and all I see is my bike quickly approaching his brightly lit $200 brake light lense. "WTF", I asked my self. He sped up and I figured he may have just made a mistake. We speed up again and at the next turn, brake light approaching once again. It was now clear that I was behind someone that wasn't a match for the skills of the group. No problem.... Kudos to him for being there and having fun anyway. Turns out, the guy was the one with the new 800. Then I notice the guy in front of the guy in front of me is gone. So much for the golden rule!
We all re-grouped once more. When we commence, I notice in the distance a large shiny puddle. Then I notice all the riders swerving to miss the puddle. Being the first KLR in the bunch, I set my sights right smack dab in the middle of it. Splash! I go through it and look back to make sure my KLR brethren didn't wuss out. It was too dusty to see but I was told they all went through it. Good for them.
We stop for a break. When we re-organize, the 800 dude is somewhere else and no longer in front of me. “Cool!”, I thought. I can speed up a little. Nope! Turns out the guy in back of me was even slower, but only because the guy in back of him was slower, and so on and so on. I observed the golden rule and kept and eye out for the guy and adjusted my pace accordingly. I lost sight of the person in front of me. So much for the golden rule! It got to the point where by the time we met up with the guys ahead of us, they were already dismounted, helmets off, snack in hand and nap time over. No problem, I can deal with it. After all, I was in the mountain trails, dual sporting with beautiful weather and great friends.
Finally, we take off and head towards the more technical stuff. The 800 dude is in front of me again. He makes the first turn, and blammo! Down he went. He flew off the bike and I remember being saddened thinking about the expected carnage on his brand new bike. Some of us stopped to help. It took 3 of us to lift the bike back up. Not a scratch on the bike except for the hand guard. The dude was understandably mad and said that he hit neutral by mistake. It was a sharp right hand turn on a steep incline, not a good place to hit neutral. He admitted to us that he was in over his head and decided to head back home. Kudos to him once for being honest and letting his instinct drive him instead of his bravado. He said not being used to the bike was giving him trouble.
We hit the trail once again. Our 'group' was really behind at this point. We met up once again at the top of the hill and dismounted for a break. This time, we had enough time to talk and learn about bikes. This was my first observation, or observed difference, if you will, between the KLR group and the BMW group. A majority of the Beamer riders had no idea how to work on their bikes. Understandably so! Shaft drive, fuel injection…. You get the idea! But I sensed it wasn’t just the technology that rendered them maintenance challenged. It was their proclivity (or lack thereof) to wrench on their bikes. This wasn’t a judgment, just an observation…
Then, the prolific prattle-ist of the group made the statement in front of everyone; “I didn’t spend $20,000 on my bike, just to have it scratched!” Hmmmm… Okay! I can appreciate trying to keep things nice but this guy was in the wrong place if he wanted to keep his bike clean and scratch free. But, whatever!
We continue on. Once again I am slowed by the person (or persons) behind me. Next thing I know a guy on a Beamer flies right by me. So much for the golden rule! We arrive at our next (and last) meeting/break place. Word has it that another rider went down. It turned out to be the guy that flew by me. I didn’t even see him down but apparently he was being helped by another rider.
Of the 4 or 5 stops through-out the day, there was one BMW rider that was KLR curious. He said they were "nice" in a dismissive tone. All the rest didn’t seem to really care about us as riders, or our rides. They didn't necessarily show disregard, either. They simply congregated in their BMW circles. I thought it might be that they all knew each other already but during our introduction, it was clear that we were all basically strangers to one another. We, on the other hand, were curious and went to mingle and learn about their bikes. Ultimately we were thankful for the basic nature of our bikes. We basked in the pleasantries of knowing that if one of the KLRs had crashed (none of which did), our deductible would not be our first thought. I could see the dollar signs in the eyes of the 2nd guy that crashed. I think his ‘instant insurance agent com-link button’ was automatically pushed when he went down. (lol) In some cases I suffer from champagne taste on a beer budget. This is not the case with the KLR. Aside from the ride organizer, whose bike and person were covered in filth, the Beamer riders left the ride dusty and a little dirty. I’m happy to say the KLR riders left filthy and muddy! You can draw your own conclusions from that...
Anyways, I’m not sure what these observations mean in the grand scheme of things. I appreciate BMWs for what they are. But I do know that all in all it was a very pleasant ride. And though I would go again with that group, I prefer the rugged, crash ready, mostly poor, tool lugging, maintenance fortified crowd of the KLR riders. Pics of the ride to follow.