I shall begin with a stone-cold truth, forged in miles, greased in adversity, and annealed by speed – the more you ride the R1250R, the harder you ride the R1250R, the more questions you ask of the R1250R, the more you realise what an accomplished motorcycle it really is.
So how’s this for a putting a bike through its paces? Let us put aside the multiple Mother Putty loops. All that does is dampen my panties. It’s a given.
A man must extend himself and the R1250R in order to understand its completeness.
How about Singleton – Bylong – Ilford – Sofala – Bathurst – Blayney – Cowra – Young – Cootamundra – Wagga (Please can we stop for pity’s sake!) – Ladysmith – Book Book – Little Billabong – Yarara – Lankeys Creek – Jingellic – Tumbarumba – Burra – Paddys River – Tooma – Tintaldra – Pine Mountain – Jingellic – Munderoo – Mannus – Tumarumba – Gundagai – Stupid Freeway – Singleton.
A solid and meaningful three days, don’t you think?
I certainly did. The occasion was the annual BikeMe! Tumby TT, and since The Plague had prevented its running for the past two years, I was very keen to have at it. And astride the BMW R1250R, I was most assuredly going to “have at it”.
So if you don’t know, BikeMe! is a website of mine where I have been doing bike and product reviews for the last 13-odd years. I’m not beholden to any advertisers, so I write the truth – hell, I pretty much write whatever I want – and people seem to enjoy my work. Thus I am fulfilled. I make no money, but I am fulfilled.
Anyway, the idea of the TT is that like-minded people gather in Tumbarumba for two days – arrive Friday, go home Sunday – and spend a whole day riding the splendid roads in that area. And those roads are indeed splendid, and you must ride them.
This year I set off from Singo in the company of my mate, Cam (Aprilia RSVR), and Mick (Harley), who had ridden all the way down from Townsville, and Colin (MT-10SP), whom we rendezvoused with in Rylstone.
The R1250R is rather a universal motorcycle. In that it can do lots of things very well. It handles, stops, and goes with all the aplomb and zest determined German engineering can voodoo into a Boxer engine.
And put aside all the things you think you know about BMW’s venerable Boxer twins if you’ve only ridden the older versions. The Shiftcam technology has turned these once staid engines with indifferent top-ends, into proper hooligan aids. They are deceptively fast. It’s that whole “Oh…um, poo…I probably shouldn’t be doing 220 here…how did that even happen?”
Yes, you’re right. They do not burn the universe the same way an S1000RR burns it. And you know why that is, and if that’s what you want, BMW can certainly look after you there.
The R1250R is a far more rounded motorcycle. It’s meant to be that way. It’s…may my tongue turn black…sensible, I guess. But it can be ridden, and it rewards you when you do so, in a most non-sensible way.
This year, you get a heated seat. You’ve always had heated handlebar grips, and you’ve always had a rack – both of which, to my mind, are two of the things that set BMWs a little higher on the pecking order than the others. Why wouldn’t you put a bloody rack and heated grips on a damn bike as standard?
I’ll tell you later how utterly wonderful that heated seat is. But right now I want to tell you how utterly pointless it was trying to catch and pass Colin. He was two-up and I was trying. And on the run from Sofala to Bathurst I was really trying. But a man has to know his limitations. Not only am I contending with a rider several orders of skill-magnitude above me, the R1250R does give a bit of oomph away to the MT-10.
For the most part I could keep Colin in sight. But there was no catching him or passing him. I lashed the R1250R like a rented mule, and we did some excellent work, but some things are not meant to be.
We fueled up in Bathurst. It was around 10am, and I felt that maybe Cowra might be a decent lunch stop. So what possessed me to stop in bloody Blayney is beyond me. Maybe it was the fact we had slowed down a whole lot expecting police around every bend. Maybe because it was cold. Maybe because small country town needs people to stop and eat in them too.
Didn’t much matter. We pulled into the pub, asked if lunch was available, and were instantly transported back to the 80s. I was handed a piece of A4 paper with five offerings on it. Hamburger and chips, steakburger and chips, chicken schnitzel and chips, fish and chips, and chips.
This was clearly not one of them modern pubs where you got to choose between baked Atlantic salmon with heirloom tomatoes, or fricasseed howler monkey with turnips and Burmese lentils.
Jolly good, I thought. No point in spoiling my fellow riding bitches with fancy haute cuisine. They’ll get used it and want it all the time. That is no way to harden them up, is it?
We still minded our pace to Cowra, but not long after that Colin went mad and speared off into the distance like it was Qualifying. I dialled it up a touch, but felt that 140 was pushing my luck, Cam was uninterested in giving chase, and Mick’s Harley was not up to cruising at 170.
And the road’s all kinds of mindless between Cowra and Wagga. It’s especially tedious between Junee and Wagga. It’s straight and pounds you with bad bitumen. Not a lot of that worried the R1250R. It was fine with everything but the direst potholes.
Cruise control set to 120, heated everything on, and Colin (Bless his speeding black heart) wood-ducking any cops ahead of us, I spared a thought for the tedious pounding Cam was copping on the RSVR, and another thought for the brutality Mick was staunchly tolerating on his Harley. I was merely bored. Not suffering. And also not really given to sympathy.
Wagga is huge. And it’s become rather cosmopolitan. It hasn’t quite disappeared up its own bum yet, but there’s not much left of one of Australia’s original big country towns. And probably just as well. After being pounded into boredom on the ride in, I needed something a little fancier than a pub room some shearer had wanked off in the night before, and a shared bathroom he’d used to wash those sins away.
The joint we stayed at (Townhouse Hotel) was first class, as was the Oakhouse restaurant attached to it. Girls were drinking cocktails on the verandah, a man with nail-polish was pouring me beers, and I had every intention of necking braised beef cheek with celeriac puree, cavalo nero (Tuscan kale), and pepper-berry jus, after the right amount of beer had made a welcoming platform for it in my belly.
The next morning it was still cold, and rather overcast, but rain was not predicted for another day or so. We met up with Mick, who spent the night with a mate, also known as Mick (and henceforth Mick 2), on the outskirts of town, and made our way to Jingellic for lunch.
Things got fast again. Well, not initially, because only crazy people who want to fight with the Highway Patrol speed coming in and out of Wagga. So we minded ourselves until we turned onto the freeway, then we minded ourselves some more, while I was wondering how we ended up on the freeway all of a sudden.
Cam was in charge of navigation, so I blamed him. I also considered he’d done this on purpose so the two Micks, both riding Harleys, could kiss the winds of Freedom on the freeway, rather than trying to keep us in sight on the back roads.
Turns out this was all part of a plan. We were on the freeway only for a few kays when Cam put on his blinker and looked to be turning directly into the Armco barrier on our left. I’m gonna struggle to explain this to his lovely wife, I thought. “Kayla, look, yeah, one minute we were riding on the freeway, and then Cam turned into the Armco. Here’s a piece of his motorcycle to put on the mantlepiece…”
There was a gap in the Armco and it opened onto a narrow country road. Which we immediately began to speed on. This was not a road on which any police would ever be. Grass was growing through the cracked bitumen and it was barely a car-width wide. Happy days.
Cam, Colin, and I set to it, and a few kilometres later we came to a stop and observed the bitumen ending and dirt beginning. Cam does dirt. I do dirt. Colin also does dirt, albeit quicker than I would dare. My concern was for the two Micks. Would they do dirt?
It looked like good dirt from where we were sitting. But dirt can be a lying sonofabitch. It starts off looking nice, and then becomes a boulder-strewn rut-fest of face-planting and girl-noises.
“You blokes good with this?” I asked the Micks as they rumbled to a halt beside me.
“I’m from fucken Townsville, mate,” Mick said. “We’re lucky to have power let alone bitumen.”
“I was an artilleryman,” Mick 2 said. “I’m mainly deaf and don’t care about anything.”
So off we went. It turned out the dirt wasn’t treacherous at all, and before long, we’d reconnected with the bitumen and made our way to Jingellic to meet the people coming up from Victoria.
Beaut and legendary pub, Jingellic. It’s very picturesque, sitting as it does on Murray. When it’s not hosting a billion boganlords and their caravans in the green space beside it, there’s few better places to have a beer and a feed. On this Friday, it was largely deserted.
As luck would have it, we got our lunch orders in before the small herd of day-tripping pensioners (who’d arrived during my second beer) shuffled into the restaurant, where they stood and stared at the menu in rheumy-eyed consideration. They then set about questioning the staff member about what was in each meal, how big the portions were, and if there were any things not on the menu which they could have instead.
Life hack: You see pensioners arrive, you get inside and order your food before they do.
A few other people arrived after lunch, and we soon sorted ourselves up for the fast dash to Tumbarumba. And it is a fast dash. It’s an even faster dash for Benny, who is proper wicked fast, but looks like he’s 12-years-old and just stolen a BMW S1000RR.
Cool, I thought. Colin can chase him around. But Colin had already headed off, so Benny got to buzz past me at 270, which always gives both of us a wee hard-on.
The R1250R was a joy on those long, fast sweepers, some of which were damp. But tyres are good these days. And while I will make no admissions of criminal activity, I will say I was a touch dry-mouthed when we rolled into Tumby.
More and more people rode in, until we had about 25 cheery souls, prepared to TT the following day.
Now what does that entail? Well, it varies from year to year. Some years we have treasure hunts. Some years we have plotted routes and set tasks. And some years we just attach ourselves to a group and ride as fast as we dare, hither and yon. As long as everyone is back in Tumby by sundown for a lovely steak dinner, it’s all good.
This was one such year. A group set off to ride Granya Gap over and over. Another group set off to see if the roads we were told were closed were actually closed, or just locals lying to us. One lovely couple got lost and rode to Holbrook to see the submarine, and then did another 700-odd kays before trundling back to Tumby after dark, all frozen and wild-eyed.
Mick did not ride anywhere. His Harley had lost all its brake fluid, and there was no Dot 5 to be had for love or money in town. Various offers were made to replace the missing brake fluid with urine, beer, whiskey, and the tears of angels, which is what good men do when a fellow rider is in extremis.
Mick opted to work his way through the pub’s beer supply with Mick2, and the False Boris, a great mate of mine who comes to every Tumby TT, but spends it relaxing at the pub rather than contending for a podium.
I had decided I would do a gentle loop this year, maybe visit Tintaldra, the pub where a long time ago I was molested by a frozen shower curtain, before bedding down in what I thought was the pub’s meat-locker, to spend a sleepless night freezing and cursing Ken Wootton.
It was a Dumb and Dumber ride. One of those lifestyle features Ken created for the magazine he edited. I went on it, and Ken managed to lose my luggage off the back of the bike he was riding (we swapped bikes all the time), and left me hating him with pure Serbian hatred for the next week.
Anyway, about 12 of us headed off to Tintaldra, and I got to chase and be chased by Multistradas, Superdukes, and a K1300. I also got to catch up with my old mate, Mick (they’re everywhere) and his beaut wife, Karin, with whom I’d ridden to Alice Springs a few years back. Mick was there when I hit that kangaroo.
The Tintaldra pub was closed, despite its website stating it would be open. I wandered around the back and frightened the nice Indian lady who now owns the place. She quickly opened up, so we drank some beer and ate some of the finest Korean fried chicken this side of Seoul
And then, like ten thousand bastards whose bellies were full of Korean chicken, we rode back to Jingellic.
The R1250R and I had gelled by this stage. I was one with it, and it was one with me. And it’s such an easy bike to ride. Especially when you wish the pace to be…well, bracing, and your manhood is at stake. And one’s manhood is always at stake when one is hammering around those lovely empty roads. Everyone knows that.
And I am here to advise you all that having a quickshifter greatly assists in this regard.
We chose the River Road to measure our manhood. And here’s the thing. Who knew this road ended in a T-junction? Not me. But hey, this is not the first time I’ve had to slow from 200 to 20 in record time. If the R1250R could talk it would have said, in perfect clipped German: “Mein Herr ist ein grosser Dummkopf, nicht war?” as it completed the difficult task I had set for it.
Tony was behind me on his Multistrada, and it was swearing at him in Italian, and he slightly overshot the turn. It’s possible he wasn’t as scared as me.
That evening, we enjoyed a lovely dinner, as is traditional at the TT. The local mountain bike club feted us in the town’s art gallery, and cooked some killer steaks. It had started to rain so many of us adjourned to the middle pub, where we had been shovelling bags of money over the counter all weekend.
A few of us had taken a break from the pub earlier that day, and sought to settle our frayed manhood at the local gin distillery. It was a strange move on our part. We all hate gin. It is a drink for dilletantes and people who collect cats. All of it tastes of British despair and colonialism. Asking the poor lady who owned the place if she had any gin that tasted like whiskey, was also fruitless. She tried to ply us with some spirit she felt was “moonshine”, but since she was serving an Italian raised on grappa, and Irishman suckled on pocheen, and a Serb nurtured by rakija, it didn’t work.
I did explain to my fellow manhood-seekers they should all sell their rubbish bikes and buy R1250Rs, because it must have got old looking at the tail-light on mine, and if they wished that to change, they needed to arm themselves with R1250Rs.
“There’s a fairinged version, isn’t there?” one of them asked.
“There is,” I replied. “The R1250RS. It has a heated seat too. Same tail-light though. Which would be very familiar to you by now.”
Back at the pub, I was forced to have words with one of the locals who began to curse and swear when the publican, himself a sour old curmudgeon, agreed to put the MotoGP Qualifying and Sprint Race on one of the small TVs in a corner of the bar.
I explained to this fellow that we had arrived at a crossroads in his life. He could cease saying bad words, and simply turn his head to watch his footy on either of the two big screens or the remaining five small screens elsewhere in the pub, or him and I could go outside and have a discussion about how people like me, spending money in his town, were the reason the road was paved.
He chose Option One. Sadly.
Anyway, we all went to bed that evening pleased no-one had died, or been placed in custody.
It rained all night and was raining in the morning as, Ed, Ferghal, Pete, Cam, and myself, poured hot coffee into ourselves and wondered if the temperature would rise above five-degrees.
I didn’t wonder as much as they did. My seat and grips were heated. I was wearing top-end Held gear. I would suffer less than my compatriots.
But we all suffered. It rained constantly and it was cold. By the time we got to Yass, normal people could not buy food in the servo cafeteria because large, wet, cold men were standing in puddles and warming themselves on the bain marie.
The R1250R did not put a tyre wrong. No matter how icy or greasy the roads, no matter how strange some of the lines I took were, it just rolled on. It’s a brilliant bike. Objectively, and subjectively.
When I rolled into my garage six hours later, I was in very good form. I was not aching. The whole neutral riding position on the R1250R is made for long days in the saddle. My gear had kept me mostly dry and warm, aided and abetted by the heated grips and seat. The bike, lashed by Euro 5 emission laws was very economical and 300-plus out of a tank is doable. It spits out 136 horses and 143Nm of torque, and weighs 221kg wet. They are good numbers. And they are delivered with seamless technology, which makes the R1250R an utter pleasure to ride.
Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.