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“I’M TOO PRETTY TO GO TO JAIL…” Or why the new BMW R1300GS is better than anyone thought it was…

And it really is.

Regular readers will know that since moving to Singo five years ago, many things have changed in my life. But riding wondrous motorcycles with like-minded people is not one of them. That whole riding business has, in fact, increased due to my newfound proximity to some incredible riding roads. And the fact I am no longer enslaved to an office job.

 

Because like gravitates to like, I have met some excellent riding fiends in town. And four years ago, after spending a year looking at me to measure my mettle, these fiends invited me to take part in one of their annual fiend-rituals.

Utterly surprising and brilliant. Seriously.

Each year, these fiends get together early in the morning to ritually remember their mate, Coxy, who passed a while back. This remembrance ritual consists of them riding from Singo to Bathurst via Bylong and Sofala, and then back to Singo via Lithgow and the Putty Road.

 

That’s 602km. Google Maps will tell you it will take you seven hours and forty-five minutes to ride that non-stop. Google Maps is, of course, full of shit because it only calculates how long it would take a Nissan X-Trail full of family to do it at the speed limit if it doesn’t stop every twenty minutes for the kids to piss, eat Maccas, or vomit.

 

It’s kinda different on a bike. With fiends.

Just waiting for two mates…

We leave at 7.30am. We stop for petrol at Jerry’s Plains, Rylstone, Bathurst, and Colo Heights. We eat sauso rolls and pies at Rylstone (how can you not?), and inhale lunch in Bathurst at 12, but we are almost always there about 11.30am. We are standing and laughing at 5pm at the end of the Putty Road under the old and now butchered giant fig tree. There is also a mandatory Hate Stop when we finally turn off the damned and wretched Bells Line of Road. None of us can continue until the hate we have acquired riding from Lithgow to Kurrajong has dissipated and our chakras have been re-aligned.

 

The group has a solid core of bright-eyed souls – Duncan (S1000RR), Aaron (FJ1300), Billy (MT10SP), Batesy (R1), Mars (ZX10), and Tom (Fireblade). Sometimes there’s one or two more, but those six are the fundamental fiends.

 

And then there’s me, the blow-in fiend. I didn’t know Coxy, but if his mates do this for him every year, I very much wish I did. This was my fourth Coxy’s Annual Memorial TT – and I have done it on a Rocket 3 (insanely fast), a Pan America (fairly rapid), and a Yamaha R7 (brutal and tiring). This year I did it on the new BMW R1300GS – and it was, quite frankly, next-level.

…and then the FJR and the S1000RR arrived.

Batesy used to do it on his Harley. But it got to the point where he was plugging holes in his primary at Rylstone each year, which made Billy very happy. Billy loves Batesy, they are childhood friends, but hates Harleys and tells this to Batesy every chance he gets. There was more than an hour of this telling last year, which is how long it took for Batesy to give up trying to fix the big hole his enthusiastic cornering had torn in the primary and go home.

 

I’m paraphrasing a bit, but it kinda went like this:

 

“You should just burn it.”

 

“It’s just leaking a bit of Freedom.”

 

“I’ll go buy a lighter.”

 

“Don’t you get one free when you’ve bought four sausage rolls?”

 

When Batesy got home, he understood a basic fact, ie. “I either buy the fucken cases in sets of six, or a I buy something that doesn’t leave bits of itself around every corner,” he reasoned. Hence the early model R1. Which, because Batesy is not far off seven-feet tall, looks like he’s riding a 250. This optical illusion is further assisted by the fact Batesy’s Harley jacket whomps itself full of air, and makes him look truly immense.

Batesy is way too pretty to go to jail. Clearly.

This year’s TT really kicked off when we got to Jerry’s Plains and met Tom. We then told lies to ourselves how we ought not to get too feral, it being Saturday and all, and these are the same lies all motorcycle fiends tell themselves all the time. I think we say it because we hope it might act like some kind of spell and keep us from the clutches of the Highway Patrol. We all know we’re lying.

 

Batesy looked down upon us from his commanding height and shrugged. “I’m too pretty to go to jail,” he declared.

 

Batesy is many things. Pretty is not one of them. But one never knows what kinda pretty the Highway Patrol can be persuaded by. Tom, who is genuinely pretty in a youthful and manly way, clearly felt that if Batesy was too hot for jail, his (Tom’s) time inside would be harrowingly sexy. But he did not go home, did he?

Jerry’s is the traditional meeting point.

So, off we went.

 

Now then, if you’re planning on putting a bike through its paces, this is about as good a run as you can get. The Bylong Valley Way will test it – all of it, from its suspension to its brakes, to how good an accomplice it is when you’re committing crimes against the Motor Traffic Act.

Tom (middle) understands what pretty means.

I can put my hand on my heart and state the new 1300GS is simply jaw-dropping in its ability to bang. How BMW has developed its iconic boxer engine to this degree is nothing less than astonishing. Science, bitches, I guess. But there is much more to the new GS than the astonished looks my fellow riders were wearing when we stopped for petrol in Rylstone.

 

In the real world, where iffy surfaces abound, where rider comfort is crucial, and when you’re in the company of genuine fiends too pretty to go to jail, the new GS has it all.

 

Just to compare the new apple to the old apple – and bear in mind there are maybe a billion GS variants for 2024 – the old 1250 was already a class-leading monster. It had 143Nm of torque, 136 horsies, and it weighed 269kg wet. The new 1300 has 149Nm of torque, 145 horses, and weights 237kg wet.

 

And it feels it and it goes it. The bike has undergone a pretty big redesign. Gearboxes have been moved, radar has been added, it now has a God button to simplify your access to its many delicious ride-assist offerings. It’s also slimmer, leaner, and a good deal handsomer than it once was. And mine had a ride-height device which lowered the bike when I came to a stop and raised it again when I rode off.

We are standing in Bylong, looking at the shop that is always closed.

I could spend the next few hours describing each individual quality, and dig through the many GS variants, while I worked my way through the spec-sheet which you have probably already looked up. The engine, frame, and suspension is the same in all of them – the baseline brilliance is thus constant. All you have to do is decide how you’d like to option up your GS.

 

A fine establishment.

I was riding the full-noise, hot-lust Option 719 – which is the equivalent of ordering your supermodel girlfriend with tattoos, piercings, a forked tongue, a gold medal in acrobatics, and a dad who owns a brewery and wants you to be the taste-master.

 

My GS also had a killer Bavarian Racing Green (Aurelius Green) paint job and gold spoked wheels – and it drew a crowd wherever I stopped, including a few 1250GS riders who would be talking to their finance people to upgrade as I write this.

Duncan (right) and a fellow who only came for the run to Bylong, discussing how, by Christ, the new GS1300 goes. And how fine I look riding it.

Just so you know, the base entry-model GS (and prices vary a tiny bit from state to state) is $28,535 ride-away. My iteration was loaded with almost every conceivable science thing and bling thing (including some of the most gorgeous master cylinders, levers, and pedals I have ever seen on a bike), was $40,056 ride-away. And yes, there’s a five-year unlimited kay warranty and three years Australia-wide roadside assist that goes with that. Of course it does.

 

Issues? Well, the quickshifter felt a touch clunky from first to second. It’s likely a software issue, which is an easy fix down the track a bit, but I don’t care. Seriously. I rarely use any quickshifter on any bike from first to second. They are all a bit different anyway, these quickshifter things. The fact this one is not silky smooth in its shift from first to second is not remotely a deal-breaker for any reasonable human being.

Mars, Batesy, and Tom are under starter’s orders. Billy is already on his bike.

I will go into more detail about all the technical wizardry that now resides on the new GS when I do the full review, and I’m only telling you this mid-TT so you know how enthralled I was to even keep the fast boys in sight, let alone honest.

 

Billy, whom you might remember from previous TT pieces I have done, is the true Mayor of Singleton, a national motorcycling treasure, and a bloke who has never and will never wear a pair of gloves on a bike. He is also the Clerk of the Course for the TT and the Official Timekeeper.

This is my podium pose.

So he’s the one who whips us into getting back on the bikes if we spend too long eating, peeing on trees, or fuelling up. He is stern, but fair. We are all lashed equally. He is immune to abuse and cannot be reasoned with. “We ready to go” is not a question, thus it has no answer. It is a statement of intent. Gag back the half-chewed sauso roll, do up your lid, get your gloves on, and let’s go.

 

The goal, of course, is to not do the Putty Road in the twilight or the dark. Billy is a local, as are the others. As am I. And we all know doing the Putty at those times increases the risk of getting a face-full of unwanted animal. Because, being locals, we don’t do the Putty slow. We actually can’t. It’s in the rules.

The most beautiful master cylinder ever made.

Our run from Rylstone to Bathurst was epic. Not sure I’ve done it faster. The more I pushed the GS, the more amazed I was. There is a section there, just on from the sharp twisties not far out of Sofala, where the road is all super-fast sweepers, great sightlines, and luscious bitumen, where I understood that going to jail for 230 was much the same as going to jail for 160.

 

“Jesus, that thing goes,” was an oft-repeated phrase that day. All I could do was nod. The GS did indeed “go”, and I’m not sure the Son of God had much to do with that.

And the most beautiful gear-lever ever made.

That engine just hammers torque into the road, and there is no finer real-world front-end than the tele-lever. There. I said it. You doubt me? See how you go mid-sweeper at 160-odd and you suddenly have to brake. Or you’ve come into a corner too fast and you’re on the brakes and the front-end is diving, and your arse is eating the seat (cos that’s like an extra brake, right?), and you’re struggling to turn it. Scary shit, huh? The GS doesn’t do scary shit. There’s no dive under brakes.

 

The GS is just so well-mannered, so capable, and so utterly neutral in its behaviour – especially when you’ve lost all sense of proportion and good manners, are too scared to even look at the speedo, and hope against all hope that you too are far too good-looking to go to jail.

 

The fiends were all grinning when we got to Bathurst half-an-hour before the kitchen opened. Billy stood politely in front of the counter while the lady said they weren’t open just yet. Billy remained standing there politely. The woman needed to understand we were on a schedule. Had she somehow forgotten that Billy stands politely in front of her counter every year? Maybe she was new.

I begged them to stop at Sofala for a photo.

I’m thinking we had eaten, made wee-wee, and gagged back a few drinks in less than 45-minutes, because we were fuelling up just before one pm.

 

Now the horror began. The transport stage from Bathurst to Bells Line, then along the Bells Line to the Kurrajong turn-off is just shit. The car-trash is so spooked and stupid, it doesn’t even do the speed limit anymore. It does 70 in an 80 and 90 in a 100. And the cops are always around. It is a target-rich environment for them.

 

The Bells Line of Road was once one of the great motorcycle proving grounds. Groups of men would go there and measure their genitals. Not all of them would come back. That’s how it was and we were all good with it being that way. Those days are gone. Now it’s just a sub-speed-limit grind, as people (who are really shit drivers anyway) look for coffee shops, apple pies, or places they can pick their own fruit like coolie slaves – and hats off to the marketing genius who’s convinced these day-tripping idiots that picking their own fruit is a beaut thing.

Billy was ready to bang…

 

The resultant build-up of hate in our motorcycle hearts is, quite understandable. In my head, I was choreographing the joyous wholesale butchery of an entire family as it crept down Bellbird Hill at 30km/h. But all I did was idle along behind them, screaming.

Tom was also ready…

So, we had the mandatory Hate Stop at the Singleton turn-off at Kurrajong. The hate needed to flow out of us lest it polluted our manly organs.

 

Duncan now let Aaron ride his new S1000RR, and we all understood that after the suffering we had endured, Mother Putty’s savage love awaited us. It was like a reward for our travails.

But Mars’s jacket had failed to zip and he required some high-end assistance from Duncan.

There are many ways to ride The Mother. And one of the best ways is with people who know it intimately at a time when the chances of the cops being on it are very low. It should be while the sun is still visible, because while you may encounter an animal at any time, the chances go up a fair bit as the sun sets.

 

We hit it perfectly. Big style. And I saw things…wondrous things, as the golden late-arvo autumn light made the shadows long. The air was warm, the road was clean and clear. The fiends were all dialled in.

I am always amazed at how well that rubber hangs on.

I tucked in behind Aaron and Mars. I felt 170 was an honest pace in the pre-Grey Gums section. But Batesy didn’t. He hammered past me on that R1, his Harley jacket bloated with air, and Billy was hot on his tail. They passed Aaron and Mars side by side at a very great rate of knots. Billy said later he would stand fucked if he let Batesy past him.

Shade is important when the hate needs to be dissipated.

I dialled it up some, as did Aaron and Marz, but Billy and Batesy were having their own 200-plus thing going on, and it would have been rude to interfere. We watched from a respectable distance.

 

I remember streaking past Grey Gums at 180, and we eventually caught them. But only because they slowed down. Aaron, Mars, and I did not. We applied ourselves, then applied ourselves a little more. I was running, I felt, a very creditable second, sandwiched as I was between Aaron’s S1000RR and Mars’s ZX10. But a well-ridden superbike will still bang just a little bit harder than I could manage that afternoon. The GS was utterly flawless, even at the antisocial speeds we were doing.

Duncan needed a hanky to wipe his hate away.

I have no doubt a better rider could have pushed much harder than me chasing those two, but I felt I was reaching the limit of the Metzeler Tourance Next 2s. I probably wasn’t. But as great as they are, they are not Super Corsas, are they? Well, not in my head, anyway.

And we’re done for this year.

I still podiumed. An honourable third. And under the big fig at the end of the 10-mile, both Aaron and Mars affirmed again that the GS did indeed “go” in Jesus’ name, no less. They were surprised. I was surprised. Like, don’t get me wrong. The GS always been a brilliant scratcher’s bike. But making it slimmer, lighter and more powerful has made it so much more than it’s ever been before.

 

Before, it was just great. Now, it’s simply amazing.

 

But please stay tuned. I do have other tales to tell you about it…

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Boris Mihailovic

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.

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