Friday, December 12, 2008

BMW G 650 GS: One week anniversary

I bought a motorcycle for commuting last week, see previous blog entry.

One week later, I took it for its first non-commute ride to celebrate my first week of motorcycling. Mt Lemmon was the destination.

From Tucson (2595 ft). Ascended the back side of Mt Lemmon (peak: 9157 ft) to the village of Summerhaven (around 8000 ft) using the unpaved and unmaintained Control Road from Oracle. Basically dirt, mud, some snow and rocks. In parts, just one lane wide: hence the name "Control Road". Nothing that would faze an experienced rider, but it kept a beginner like me fully occupied keeping it rubber side down on some muddy/rocky 180° turns. Another first down: a non-tarmac experience.

After a traditional slice of pie at the Mt Lemmon Cafe in Summerhaven just before it closed at 4pm, it was down the well-paved and maintained Catalina Highway back into Tucson. The (standard) heated grips came in handy.

Still learning how to ride, I corned gingerly with not much throttle roll-on. At the low speeds I'm currently employing to avoid overcooking a corner, it feels a little strange.

Having descended the Catalina Hwy many times flat-out on my road bicycle, barely braking even for the 180° hairpins, everything feels much more deliberate and ponderous on the motorcycle. Maybe it's due to the environmental isolation afforded by full motorcycle leathers, gauntlets and full-face helmet compared to polyester/lycra and a helmet with more holes than a kitchen sieve. But it actually seems less fun.

Total: a scenic 100 mile loop.

[D: University of Arizona, C: Summerhaven. B: Oracle.]

A brief stop halfway down at Windy Point on the Catalina Highway to admire the sunset:


  1. It gets more fun as you practice and learn your cornering limits. On pavement with your particular tires, you can really rail the corners. Just remember your counter-steering from the MSF course and shove *hard* on the bar the way you want to go. Practice at slower speeds in a parking lot first, you will find you can slalom quite sharply at speeds above what you'd think. At work our parking lot was pretty much empty on weekends, so when I got my KLR I took it out there and slalom'ed around the tree islands. With all the empty I didn't have to worry about overcooking (easy enough to overshoot, nothing but empty parking lot). Believe me, that practice helps when you're hitting sharp turns like that Mt. Lemmon drive (which sounds a lot like our Mount Hamilton drive locally).

    Do note that your tires (Anakees or Trailwings, can't see good 'nuff on the picture) aren't very good off pavement (especially downhill, as you've found out!). But they're great road tires and merely adequate for groomed gravel. If you intend to ride dirt regularly on your bike, Continental TKC-80 knobbies will work much better. Their big issue is they wear quickly and don't handle as well on pavement, but they still are surprisingly good on pavement for a knobby.

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  3. Thanks for your recommendations on the Conti tires! Will try those when my originals wear out.