Holy cowhead! What a cool day - up shortly after dawn on a Sunday, rolling up the highway with my son Ethan towards the motorcycle I've been dreaming about for months - BMW's new F800GS dual-sport bike.
Etho and I had to wait for 20 minutes or so to get into the convention center, but then it was a beeline towards the BMW stand. And there it was... in charcoal and black, looking bad-ass. Only a couple of folks hovered around that early, so we had basically unfettered viewing, analyzing, dream-comparing, sitting, weighting/unweighting, drooling... ;-)
First impressions: much more dirt capable with the 21" front, chain drive and tall stance. Thin. Efficient. Controls all where they should be. Can't wait to see it with bags. I should probably just quit dreaming and slap $500 on it down at SD BMW with Gary Orr. The smile on my face (see Etho's pic) says it all!
Close at hand was a very nice blue 2008 R1200GS which of course I had to sit on and dream on too, but my thoughts were elsewhere (about 8-10 feet away). Every manner of current BMW was there - literally something for everyone: The HP2 Supermoto was pretty danged cool, as were the phalanx of wicked K-1200s and the street-focused R-1200 models.
Etho and I dutifully trucked around to all the booths in both show halls (the 2nd one being devoted exclusively to custom bikes and vintage bikes). Some highlights:
- Ducati had a nice booth, but not the quality of "umbrella/booth gal" that I expected from our Italian friends. Lots of people with accents though
- Touratech was near the BMW booth, and had some really great, gutsy bikes on display like refugees from their latest catalog. My best buddy Rod will love the fully loaded KTM 950 Adventure on display. Talked briefly with a woman who has been riding the globe with her husband for 5 years on BMW bikes. Unbelievable their stories. Read more at www.2ridetheworld.com. And, if you appreciate the accomplishment, donate to their fuel and tires fund via Paypal.
- There were lots of touring and rental companies, but the "wheelie-training" school took the cake. Might have to try that (on their bikes!).
- The vintage exhibit was awesome - bikes from 1903 onward, including a very nice Vincent and 1923 BMW R bike.
- The "Condor" bike stand booth - very cool "parking" aid for your bike: drive in and no side or center stand required!!
- The "head shop" booth - which greatly interested Etho in his current Skull & Crossbones fascination - was not appreciated. I had to renew myself by talking to the folks at the Christian Riders Association.
- Ran into Larry Stonestreet, an acquaintance from waaaay back in my SD BMW Club days. Larry had pretty good things to say about (what he'd read and heard about) the F800GS. I asked him to say "hi" to B. Jan Hoffman of the Airheads for me.
- The Ural booth had some very interesting and rough-and-tumble sidecar rigs going, based on the airhead motors. Cool videos too of a Ural w/ sidecar climbing some tough skree fields. Fun!
- Stunt riders galore out back in the parking lot. Front-wheel stands with 180 degree turns are the shizzle. OMG!
- The 3-wheeled "Can Am Spyder" cycle looks amazing.