Alps or Bust Ride Report

+2 :thumb.

FWIW when the fuel display reads 1 mile left there is actually 3 litres left in the tank ( it's the reserve). The tank holds 21 litres & I can only ever get 18 litres in when the gauge is showing under 10 miles, I queried this at the last service and that's what they told me. So you would have got home with fuel to spare. On a recent trip to Scotland I tested this out (unintentionally mind) and it's correct.

Mine also doesn't register a small amount of fuel put in the tank if the level is really low, as you say it's strange & a bit disconcerting.

Thanks for sharing :clap

...and thank you for your explanation re the fuel range odditiy! Whilst I shan't be making a habit of running her so low it's a reassuring thought to cling to in future. :thumb2
Alps 2012 Equipment Used​

A motorcycling tour with camping is only as good as the equipment you carry. That doesn't mean that having little equipment means a bad experience but with a few essential and perhaps the odd luxury item will certainly help to improve the experience.

Much of my equipment was very low cost but not necessarily poor quality. Here is my summary of various items I used from the small camping burner to the tent , from panniers to the BMW R1200GS itself.

Centre Push Light - Verdict 2/10


One of the cheapskate items bought for my man cave from one of the cheapskate stores! The principle of these lights, whilst good and with an easy to operate central push on the inner circle, the build quality is of the 'thrown together' type. Four 'AAA' batteries illuminate the LCD lights and have a sticky pad back which should permit inverted mounting, but doesn't. The sticky pads are quickly overcome by gravity and fall to the floor which then means the back falls off and all the batteries fall out! In the dark you will need a back up light source to search for those batteries.

Small Yellowstone Head Torch - Verdict 7/10

A marvellous little tool ideal for map reading/writing etc in the tent at night or for after dark walkabouts.
It has an elasticated and adjustable head band that will adjust from finger size to a large waist size. The torch head has a clip that allows fastening to many surfaces as well as having a swivelling ratchet adjustment for the torch head up to approx 80 degrees and operated by turning the lens.
The only drawback I found was that it needed to be worn very low on the forehead to get the light focussed on the subject , i.e for reading and writing.

Soft Disposable Ear Plugs - Verdict 7/10

I never ride without them!
Nice soft plugs that are reusable until they lose their elastic properties and no longer lend themselves to ear insertion. I find these plugs very comfortable , cheap but very effective.

Decibel killers in my experience.

USB2 12V Cigar Plug-In Connector - Verdict 10/10

Neat , pocket sized and a fabulous piece of kit for accessory charging whilst on the move. A pull out ring aids easy removal from the 12V supply socket and has a green glow warning light to state that current is running through.
I found this little gizmo to be one of the best accessories to carry when touring as it would charge my iPhone whilst I was riding, and anything else that would need charging that had a USB2 connector.

Convenient size and provided you have a cigar socket then it is portable between both cars and motorcycles.

Crivit Kidney Belt - Verdict 7/10

Never having worn a kidney belt before I found this item hard to judge without any comparable. This years tour was more comfortable than last years and that is all I can measure it by. This item was bought during the Lidl Motorcycle Season Accessories stock items and cost around £10.00 if I remember correctly!
What can I say , it offers support where it is designed to and you know it works because you feel your midrift sag after a long day of riding when it gets removed! There are three sizes and the item is fastened by way of the commonly used hook and loop method.

FM Radio Ear Defenders - Verdict 7/10

These could be viewed as a novelty item but they have a priority function - they cut out external noise! The defenders can save multiple favourite radio stations whilst incorporating a 'speaker' function button. When the button is pressed external sound over rides the radio so as to hear speech during conversation, perhaps. The radio signal reception is directional, unfortunately, though the sound reproduction is quite good quality.
An ideal addition when riding alone and using at campsite accommodation , or in my instance, wild camping. Completely lacking in any vertical adjustment but an ideal gadget when working in the garage/garden/camping etc, if you like to have music in your ears. For £11.00 you can't go wrong!

'Multimat' Foam Roll - Verdict 6/10

Nothing beats a good bed, but beds can't be carried on tour! I considered buying a fold out bed but as my tour was operating at a cheapskate budget I decided to utilise what I already had. This item had been bought from a charity shop several years back and still does what is asked of it.

Lightweight and rolls to a convenient size for strapping to the bike. The mattress is relatively thin , perhaps 12mm, but makes for a much more comfortable sleep beneath the sleeping bag than to sleep without it.

Wilkinsons Mini Burner - Verdict 9/10
Mobile Phone - Verdict 10/10

A double whammy here!
The burner was a last minute purchase and what a fabulous buy it turned out to be. So simple to use and so conveniently sized it could fit in a jacket pocket. It boiled water for a hot drink in minutes despite not having a wind guard, though that could be quite easily rectified in the field if necessary. Top gadget for less than £9.00.

Mobile phone - an essential means of communication in emergency situations. This has to be the single most important accessory item on the list, and to my mind worth its weight in gold.

I have always thought of a phone being a phone and a camera being a camera but there are times when a phone incorporating a camera is a quite handy thing to have, even if not essential. It would be hard to dispute the significance of the mobile phone when you consider they are sold in their millions around the globe. Don't leave home without it!

Immortal Video Glasses - Verdict 6/10

Go Go Gadget video! Big on novelty , not so big on quality! The biggest disappointment for me was that these cannot be worn beneath a motorcycle helmet , certainly not a full face helmet. A very handy accessory for those who like to have footage of their activities or simply filming the girls on the beach in complete discretion!

Sound quality on playback suffers greatly when facing the wind , unlike other video cameras on the market. Far too expensive for what it is when launched though prices have since dropped. The Immortal glasses can work well under the right circumstances but have nowhere near the versatility of my GoPro HD.

Highlander Pac-Tec 3 Season Sleeping Bag (Mummy) - Verdict 7/10

This was the first time I had used this bag as it belongs to Jo! Very comfy and rolls up very tight and compact for easy packing into its carry bag. I didn't use the hood though I'm sure it would serve its purpose well in colder weather when camping. Good functional zip that fastened every time without a hint of snagging on its own material.
Would I pay £36.00 for one if it were my money? Probably not, but only because I couldn't justify the cost for such an item. I may be a cheapskate but I'd want it to make tea for that money!

Easy Read AA Map Book - Verdict, Essential!
Guide Book - Verdict , Very Handy Bringalong.

Sat-Navs are a fantastic aid when used without total dependency. An up to date map will get you exactly where you want be, even if a little more time consuming. Combine both and you will rarely go wrong. I value maps as an essential source of information. The 'Easy Read' maps are very good for those with deteriorated vision!

Guide books are exactly that , a guide. You choose where you want to go and use the book by choice. Without the guide though that special POI will most likely be much harder to root out. Most maps, especially the Michelin 'fold up' kind take up very little storage space so there is no excuse for not having them on board.

Kriega US20 Backpack - Verdict 10/10

The Kriega roll top backpack is nothing short of superb! The roll top opening allows for waterproof storage of items that don't like water! This item holds a surprising amount of goods and has generous fastening methods incorporated as standard.
A handy net effect front pocket allows for easy identification of items that may be in use regularly, like ear plugs, small notepad etc. Can either be worn over the shoulders or strapped to the bike by its own strapping system.
I would also include the Kriega US8 waist bag in the 10/10 verdict for its good size, waterproof properties and general all round good quality product. The Kriega US8 is the item that broke free from my waist, and I sorely miss it! I don't know how it fell from my whilst riding but I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to Kriega and blame human error for fastening it incorrectly, but accidently! Top brand.

W2 Adventure Boots - Verdict 10/10

I bought these in 2011 and have done some 4,000 miles in them. Initially the replaceable buckle fastenings were quite stiff to operate but have since bedded in nicely. I have walked in 50mm deep water and had no water ingress whatsoever. Supremely comfortable and very supportive in all areas. I feel these boots will go the distance and have very little signs of use to date. Wear rate appears to be extremely good and the build quality second to none! They look like what they are - very rugged.

I contemplated giving these a 9/10 for lack of ventilation, but if they had that then my feet would have been wet when walking on water - sorry , IN water!
The best £130.00 I've ever spent!

BMW GS Tank Bag (small)- Verdict 5/10

Bought at the very last minute for my tour and considered to be the worst £80.00 I've ever spent. I have had better experiences from 2 sessions visiting a masseuse in my younger days than I have with this overpriced and infuriating rubbish! I really should have bought one of the Bag Connect items.
Yes, it's a smaller version of the large one but storage capacity wouldn't hold a packet of biscuits without reducing them to a pile of crumbs!

The map pocket is a total annoyance with its continual condensation welcoming design and is more than restrictive for inserting a map.
In hot weather the map pocket sticks to anything and everything making insertion of items not only very difficult but also extremely frustrating and annoying.
I have an old Oxford expandable magnetic tank bag at home and if the GS tank were made of steel I'd have chosen to use that instead, not just for its size but its design too. The front pocket was next to useless when the main storage area was full and the mobile phone recess in the map pocket would hold the phone in place for a maximum of about 30 seconds before it would work its way elsewhere in the map pocket.

Duratool D00468 Waterproof Toolbox - Verdict 8/10

All three cases are Duratool, the top box being the smallest and all three cost me less than £70.00. All I had to do was adapt them to fit the SW-Motech rails. Once fitted they proved to be very sturdy and rugged and carried everything I needed to carry. These were my biggest price buster items for the tour offering superb value for money. The only down side was the very small holes provided for small padlocks. The holes couldn't really be opened out as there wasn't sufficient material around the hole to permit this. This aside they were outstanding despite their side access drawback. They are not designed to be motorcycle panniers but as a get out of jail cheap they were just the ticket. Even with a low speed drop with the weight of the GS on one of the cases there was no damage done.

Khyam Nevis 300 - Verdict 8/10

The Khyam tent was purchased online and arrived just days before I set off, so no time for a trial pitch up.
This tent is of the umbrella design , meaning it is fully assembled and all you have to do is unfold it then draw it upwards until it locks into place. Pitching and packing up couldn't have been any easier really, though there is a knack to getting it back in its bag after collapsing it down.
It has an internal fly and ground sheet , internal zip door, zip fly door and then a zipped outer door. It's a 3 person tent that is just perfect for the solo traveller with plent of space for his or her belongings to be stored inside too. There is no porch extension but at less than £60.00 I didn't feel it needed to have such a luxury! The perfect tent when it is raining before you can pitch up because it goes up so so quickly. Excellent!

Unbranded Sat-Nav - Verdict 8/10

Waterproof and not let me down for routing in 2 Alpine Tours for 2 consecutive years. Cheap, cheerful and does what I need it to do. Comes with two mounts, one for the bike and one for the car. It is powered by the 12v accessory socket in the car but is hard wired on the bike.

Has plenty of functions and as said, does what it says on the tin! For £130 odd it's a no brainer!

Airhawk Seat Pad - Verdict 10/10

Total comfort for over 2,000 miles! I borrowed this from the owner of a business next door to where I work and it has convinced me it deserves to be on my purchase list.

100% impressed

Vacuum Bags (For Clothing)- Verdict 10/10

Another essential were the two vacuum bags I used for clothing. Incredible really how compact clothes are when all the air is removed from the bags.

BMW R1200GS - Verdict 9/10

The GS had 1,071 miles under its wheels before I set off and so this would be a fantastic opportunity to give her a thorough test. First things first , if it hadn't been for the Airhawk seat pad I borrowed then there would have been criticisms regarding comfort levels. In fairness though I have no idea how far I would have travelled without the Airhawk before NBS set in!
That aside, how did the big GS perform?

The 1200GS is a remarkably easy bike to ride despite it's intimidating size for those who are short in the leg!
As a bike to tour on it is utterly fantastic and sure-footed. It shouldn't be allowed to handle the way it does but it just does. I really like the complete lack of front end dive under braking, irrespective of how progressive or hard you brake. It inspires confidence in a manner that is totally different to all other bikes I've owned over the last 36yrs, and that is a lot of bikes!

Having owned two previous BMW bikes I now find the , irritating to some, left side right side indicator switch gear second nature. It just makes sense.

As much as I'd like it to be more frugal on fuel it may be fair to say that my riding style is responsible for disappointment in this area. The thing with the 1200GS is that it winds on the throttle with such ease in top gear that you are travelling at legal limits in next to no time at all. It's no rocket ship , it doesn't pretend to be but it gathers momentum extremely well and just feels right in the 70 to 80 mph area , to me at least. On open roads I find it very difficult to ride at a sustained 50mph and so as I say, perhaps the fuel range is down to my own style of riding. That said, it's a small blot on an otherwise extremely capable and pleasurable ride.
The ABS is not something that pleases all riders but at least there is the option to turn the system off , especially useful when off road.

I concluded on my travel that perhaps many 1200GS riders leave their luggage systems on permanently due to the delicious audible feedback they provide from the standard exhaust system! The same exhaust system that can barely be heard when the panniers are removed. That's not going to hep fuel economy but it sure does sound good with them left on.

The GS will eat up the distances taking every mile in its stride, effortlessly , with luggage and a pillion too! One particular part of the styling that I find to be so useful is the ability to remove the rear single seat section to utilise the space for carrying luggage.

Despite being a heavy machine it is very user friendly when pulling the bike onto its centre stand. The geometry between the centre stand pivot point and the overall mass of the GS is as good as its going to get, I feel, and requires little effort in lifting the bike onto the stand. Lifting the bike from its side , after a fall, is a totally different matter, and when laden with luggage is quite a hefty lump!

My tour mileage averaged out at 234 miles travelled per day over 9 days and never once did I feel uncomfortable riding the GS, in the main due to the Airhawk but the whole layout of the GS felt right. Heaving the bike around when walking it on anything other than level ground is where you have to respect its overall weight. It won't be shifted about quickly, or easily, partly due to the lack of dive in the front end, where applying the front brake to create dive on a conventional suspension set up would allow you to bounce the bike before pulling backwards. It just won't happen on the GS.

Being an oil cooled bike , arguably one step in advancement beyond aircooled, it becomes very clunky, tractor like, through the gears when hot and at town traffic speeds. Once the roads clear again she will snick into the next ratio with ease, whether going up or down the box.

One trait I don't particularly like with this bike, and only accentuates the agricultural feel around town is the excessive slack in the drive train at the rear wheel. No Guzzi I ever owned had anywhere close to the amount of backlash in the final drive as this 1200GS, and I find that shame , the only real blot on the whole package.

However, my parting shot to anyone thinking of test riding an R1200GS with a view to purchase, or perhaps any of the Boxer engines in the BMW range would be to say be careful , you may not want to give it back!
Very enjoyable and entertaining RR - thanks for that and well done. Interesting to read about the Khyam tent as the first time I myself came across one was on a campsite in France a few weeks ago. Up rolled four Dutch bikers and immediately set about erecting their respective tents......each had his own. I was fascinated to watch one young lad grab something that I was pretty soon to discover was a tent, give it a good shake and hey presto as though by magic, this ready build tent appeared. In the time it took for his 3 mates to even unwrap their own tents this guy had already stowed all his gear, unfolded his collapsible three-legged chair and was enjoying a well earned tinny. Curiosity then got the better of me and I had to wonder over and see what make it was and ask the usual silly questions e.g. is it waterproof etc. I've been discussing with the wife the possibility of buying this tent and your RR finally convinced us. Cheers. :beerjug:
Thanks Alan and glad my Khyam report has helped you make a decision! In fairness I think when you consider its cost and ease of use it's actually worth a little more than 8/10.

The only drawback from my pov is that it only comes in blue , not ideal for when wanting to be inconspicuous when wild camping.

As with all clever things there is a knack but it doesn't take long to grasp and really is pretty straight forward and so glad I bought it. :thumb2
What! No rating of the most important piece of equipment?? Alps/mini-P1010059.jpg

Personally I put your hardship and adversity down to this choice, my strong suggestion is that choosing Roasted Almond would have seen you through thick and thin without a care in the world.
Next time.
Great words.

Are you seriously suggesting that Apple flavour was responsible all along for my Kriega US8 falling from my waist with ALL my valuables in, and was responsible for my reactolites going exceptionally dark at Parpaillon Tunnel, and for my front tyre losing traction in Dora? :blast

Damn those apple flavoured bites.... I'll take your suggestion on board for a future venture! :thumb

Cheers. :beerjug:
Thanks for the link!

Read this over a couple of hours after you posted the link on my thread - great story, made so by the mishaps of course! As Ted Simon has said, "The interruptions ARE the journey"...

Your foot has my sympathy - I was riding round northern Spain about 10 years back, when I rolled the bike off the centre stand (following a puncture repair) with the sidestand extended. My foot was under the sidestand and took the full weight of the bike. foot was blue/yellow and 3 toenails turned black - excruciating for weeks! :eek:

Did you see this report?

Check out the Land Rover on page 2, you may recognise the location! With pure road tyres on my 1150, I'm not sure that I'm up to it, but I'm planning to have a go...
Just read this again, very good indeed, have a bump so that others can have a second look. Thank you.

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