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Old 04-11-2010, 05:05 PM   #1
machinebuilder OP
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BMW Offraod Riding School 4/10/10

After little planning and MUCH anticipation I left Friday to go to the BMW Off Road riding school in Greer, SC

When I started Riding 2 years ago, all I knew is I wanted a dualsport to ride the local back roads and foreset service roads. Before I took the plunge and bought my 2008 KLR, I took the MSF basic rider class. It did a good job teaching me how to ride a motorcycle, but there seemed to be a lot of "DON"T DROP THE BIKE", I quickly learned that not dropping it was not an option, I put the first scratches in pretty quickly.

After a 2008 trip to Colorado where I got in WAY over my head, (note: look carefully at maps to see the extreme 4x4 section in the middle) and a 2200 mi meander to Buffalo, NY and back I've road about 10,000 mi for fun. In the meantime Iv'e made some good friends and learned alot from them and from reading ADVrider.

Some of the things I learned are
1... a stock KLR is not a trail bike, especially in my beginner hands
2... the suspension needs upgrading to haul me plus a load of gear
3... 35 hp is not enough to haul me and a load of gear up an 11% grade
4... any upgrades are not cheap

I also learned that I can watch videos and try to practice but more instruction was needed
after reading various reports and hearing about the BMW school it sounded like a good idea, I also started to look at bikes and the F800GS looks really tempting. several phone calls and Emails later I was signed up for a one day course April 10, 2010.

Having heard stories about some advanced riders that left early on the first day of a 2 day class I thought it would be best for me to take Friday and take a lesurely drive from Maryville, TN to Greer, SC, the problem was too many routes over the mountain are closed due to Rock slides.

I decided to take the more southerly route through Tellico Plains to Murphy, NC and take rt 64 east. this was a pretty good Idea until Franklin, NC the detour traffic wasn't too bad and I found a nice place for lunch, after that rt 64 is a great motorcycle road, except for the tourists, I stopped several time to take pictures of waterfalls, (still uploading pics) made it to Brevard, NC and took rt 276 South, Finally got to Greer in time to meet my nephew and his wife for dinner.

I tried to get a good nights rest but was pretty exited and woke several times that night, and got to the BMW Performance Center about 8:00AM

I learned there were only 3 students for this class..cool
the other 2 guys showed up Cecil from NC and Dan from Middlebury, VT. Both of them are fairly new R1200GS owners and don't ride dirt roads,
the instructor (oops I forgot his name) had us sign some waivers and we had about a 20 min talk in the class room introducing ourselves, were told the day would be spent on low speed manouvers etc.

We then went out to the Bikes, they were on R1200GS's and I had a F800GS, all with TKC's

We had a lesson on Bike Balance and had to walk around the bike, OFF the stands keeping it balanced, this was interesting as I had never really thought about it. Balance would come up repeatedly all day...usually after I lost it.

After a couple adjustments we geared up and went off to the north east corner of the property and a large packed gravel area, there we started a LONG day of exersizes each one building off the others. I may miss some things or leave some out

1. slow straight riding, this was to learn throttle and clutch control, He also threw in a more advanced technique of TRIALS STOPS, when you start to lose your balance start to move again

2. slow speed turning, weighting the inside peg to start turning then twisting the hips and transfering weight to the outside peg, there was a wide slalom and a narrow one to practice on

3. then a short follow the leader ride around through sme trees, rocks etc to loosen up and practice a bit

4. after a short break it was on to wshboards and ruts, they had some logs mostly buried to simulate the was board and others spaced about 8" apart to simulate ruts, the object wasa to learn not too slow and not too fast, keep your head up, bend your knees slightly, don't work the handlebars and let the bike move beneath you. (I think that covers it)

5 and then another follow the leader to LUNCH ( some of it on the paved track), they put on a great lunch spread that I did not eat much of, I did try to drink mass quantitys, we were all sweating profusely.

6. Follow the Leader back to the Gravel spot, I wiped out in a rut and pretzeled the shift lever, a repairmen came out and replaced it

7. BRAKING. first a demo of why not to use ABS OFF ROAD. it took the instructor 20 more feet to stop with the back brake only, then with ABS off and both brakes it was 50ft shorter, the exersize was 3 steps
A. LOCK the REAR Brake and come to a complete stop
B. Start to Lock the FRONT Brake while still under power
C. Lock the REAR brake then threshold brake with the front

I got A pretty good after a couple try's (its hard to not use both brakes)
B, I grabbed the clutch when I braked the first time and struggled a couple more, wiped out and pretzled the shifter again AND knocked the springs off the side stand, the repairman was called again
C. After a couple attempts I started to get the hang of it

8 THE GRAVEL PIT, they have a 50ft x 20ft pit filled with loose 1" gravel, just like the forest service roads last summer, but deeper. I did pretty good at this having learned the hard way, but the deeper gravel REALLY SLOWS YOU DOWN. I had been cramping up in my forearms and was flinging a lot of rocks do to poor throttle control, but I got through 4 times with out wiping out.

9 the last was another follow the leader through varied terrain back to the building.

there was a M Series Car class going on most of the day and it was a little distracting to hear squalling tires all day.

Over ALL this gets a BIG thumbs up and I would reccomend it to anyone interested, it is a course they modify to fit the riders skills and there was much we didn't touch (a big sand pit, hills etc)

As part of this me being on the bike I am going to buy.....soon, I learned alot about the bike. The F800GS feels FANTASTIC, the things I have to get used to (the grabby throttle etc) are well known and gnawed pretty heavily online.
I was exhuasted and glad I drove the car, the drive home was mosstly interstate to make it home to finish recovering and planning the bike purchase.




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Old 04-11-2010, 06:32 PM   #2
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Thanks for the detailed report about your riding experience there.. I'm hoping to get down there some day and do it too.

Any action shots? carnage?
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Old 04-11-2010, 07:37 PM   #3
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Great report. I did it last year and you're right, they adapt to the skill of the group. There were a few more at our session and they divided us into two groups. I was in the (slightly) more advanced group and learned tons on their 12gs, including how to drop it repeatedly. I'm going to go again.
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Old 04-12-2010, 05:28 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Boy
Thanks for the detailed report about your riding experience there.. I'm hoping to get down there some day and do it too.

Any action shots? carnage?
Too busy to take the action shots and most of the carnage was me

When I get the bike 2 really important first farkles are engine guards (they use SW Motech) and a shift lever. after I pretzled the lever twice they don't seem to be up to me crashing.

It is not cheap but the instruction is great. I Highly recomend it. I'll go again, maybe take the road course too.
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:03 AM   #5
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Thanks for the report. I've been on their road course with a 1200GS and it was great to be able to practice without thinking of dropping the bike.
I highly recommend it.
However as you probably figured it out none of the big BMW's 800 or 1200 are trail bikes also like your KLR.
They are bikes that you can take of road and survive if there is a need to be.
Do not let it fool you how capable they are under the instructors, I saw that first hand, too. But these guys are on the bikes 24/7 and practicing every day with no concern of dropping or crashing the bike.
I would never take my 1200 to single track mess. I'll stick to fire roads and hard packed dirt roads. But taking the course is definitely an asset.
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:18 AM   #6
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Great report, mb!

I did the two day course the week before and had a blast - I rode the exact same bike as in your picture. I also rode the orange F800 with the upgraded suspension.

I walked in there thinking that the F800 was THE next bike for me but I was pleasantly surprised how nimble the 1200 was! Now I'm not so sure about the F800. We got to throw those bikes around a bit more during the two day course. I, too, was taken aback by the F800 snatchy throttle and struggled with stalling all day.

However, my skill level is improved and I've noticed how much more confident I am on my KLR now.

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Old 04-12-2010, 04:33 PM   #7
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As both Doubleplay and Frazman said neither of the big BMW's are Trail Bikes,

I realize this and I still think the 800 is a better choice for the riding I do....mostly local back roads and forest service roads, it will be better than my ability's for a very long time and if I really want to go trail riding I'll take the ATV (blasphemy I know)

I will probably get the G2 throttle tube as one of the earlier farkles. but think with some time on the bike the stock would be gotten used to, I might drop the front sprocket 1 tooth, I don't need the top end as much as I like an easier low speed.

Maybe I'll go back next year and learn even more, but the trails training nearby sounds interesting
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Old 04-12-2010, 04:46 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machinebuilder


It appears that this first orange bike has the Ohlins...
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:41 AM   #9
frazman
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Originally Posted by Lion BR
It appears that this first orange bike has the Ohlins...
10-4 on that. I'm sure Ray H could say more about it, but I had a bit of time on the saddle of this one as well as a stocker. The Ohlin equipped F800 definitely had a noticeable difference in suspension. I'm no expert, but definitely more progressive as the stroke increased. For the front, anyways.
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