As summer continues here in Sweden, my Versys is stored away in Spain together with five boxes containing our possessions and I’m prepping my “new” Swedish registered bike. It is a 2002 BMW F650GS. The very same model I rode in Australia a few years back for the WIMA rally. But the history of me and BMW goes back further than that. I was actually close to getting a BMW years back when I instead got my second Ducati – I test rode a BMW Scarver and my brother was cheering me on wanting me to buy it. I wasn’t ready then, and I would even own a third Ducati before I again contemplated the purchase of a BMW.
The same year my brother died, 2005, I rode a BMW GS in New Zealand and absolutely hated it. My friend and I had both rented a GS and when hers broke down and she got a replacement Honda Transalp that she couldn’t reach the ground on I was happy to swap bikes. But life changes and so does one’s needs and likes. When I at last prepared to leave the Ducati world, the GS was back on my shortlist, along with the Suzuki V-Strom and the Kawasaki Versys. The vote fell on the Versys, as a secondhand GS was more expensive than a new Versys with cases and the V-Strom felt too bulky.
So finally, I’ve gotten myself the bike that I crossed path with so many times and I must say I love it, it is an absolute delight to ride, so light and easy to handle and the engine is so responsive. The engine runs so much smoother than the Versys and the weight distribution is so much better. I wish my brother could see me now.
My Versys was bought with panniers and top case, the only thing I had to sort out was the tank bag. My GS has a small top case and nothing else, so I’m busy getting stuff sorted. I would be happy travelling with just a pack roll if it wasn’t that I will be picking up Christopher and he’ll be pillion for part of the journey. Therefore, I needed to source out panniers for the bike, and to fit panniers I need pannier racks.
The amount of time that has gone in to searching for “the right” panniers and other equipment is ridiculous. In the end, the challenged proved to be the pannier rack, which not only is ridiculously expensive – 3795sek or roughly 400 euros for just the rack if I would order from Touratech! Besides, they have a 3-month delivery time. Instead, I sourced the pannier rack from SW Moto and ordered from Polo Motorrad – the cost was half the price. However, when, after some days, I called asking after the delivery date as they had not provided any, I was told they had a 3 weeks waiting time before they would get the rack into stock, that would be after I’d started travelling. Following this, I found a Swedish company who would sell the rack and deliver within 10 days, so I bought it from them paying 2750sek. The rack from the Swedish company has not arrived and no new delivery date has been given, in the meantime Polo has shipped my rack and with a little bit of luck it will arrive tomorrow so I can mount it on the bike. Fingers crossed… I was going to arrange for them to be sent along my route but they shipped much earlier than expected. The panniers themselves are yellow waterproof soft bags from Nelson Riggs and I’m really eager to put them on.
The tank bag is another story. I generally don’t want to spend money on a fantastic tank bag as it could easily get stolen, so I’d rather buy a cheap one no-one is interested in. I have purchased a large tank bag from Biltema for very low cost and I re-constructed it to fit the tank which is made of plastic. All I needed to do was to attach straps to the bag and remove the magnets.
Along with the pannier racks, I’m also awaiting the RAM mount for my phone. It seems impossible to ride while reading maps and street signs after being accustomed to following the GPS – for good and for bad, it saves so much time and effort.
Anything else, yeah, right, my tablet died – but I have ordered one to be picked up at an electronic store along the route.