Backroad Ramblings May 2008

May 29, 2008
Jason Giacchino
Jason Giacchino
Contributing Editor| Articles|RSS

A freelancer and published novelist Jason is currently the editor in chief of Mountain Bike Tales digital magazine and holds a State University of New York degree in applied science with a minor in journalism. When not hunched over a computer monitor, he can be found playing outside in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York.

When the call rang out  the Rambling Man shot over to his buddies house hoping to get a first-hand look at the BMW F800GS  above .
When the call rang out, the Rambling Man shot over to his buddies house hoping to get a first-hand look at the BMW F800GS (above).

Close Encounters of the Best Kind

I don’t know about you but in my odd world there are a few messages on the answering machine that warrant immediate pick up of the receiver so as not to jeopardize the urgency of the information contained within. “This is the doctor calling with your test results,” for example. Or when you hear your boss’s voice says: “regarding that promotion you put in for…”

For me, there is another entry to the exclusive list that involves any one of my dozen or so riding buddies. The message begins with: “So I just got back from the dealership with…”

Sure, a patient friend might wait until the sentence is at least finished so as to avoid the trouble of having to pretend to be interested in their friend’s kid’s PW50. But, alas, I am, if nothing else, an optimist. Not to mention pretty impatient. So you could imagine my reaction when my buddy Drew called to report the good news that his stable had just increased by one member in the form of a new BMW F800GS (and a big fat payment book that he wasn’t quite as eager to boast about on the phone). I was on my way over for the requisite gawking session before he could hang up.

In case you aren’t already aware, the 800GS aims to split the difference between the behemoth twin-cylinder R1200GS and the F650GS single-cylinder models. Powered by a 798cc Rotax-designed Parallel Twin (liquid-cooled and DOHC of course), the 800 claims to lay some 85 horses to the ground via a supermoto-inspired rear tire (mounted on a 17-inch wheel). Despite a deep routed respect for the larger 1200 (and of Ewan McGregor’s attempt at showing the world it could pass as a giant dirt bike), I have been hoping that the folks at Beemer would consider producing a slightly smaller GS for those of us who have long ago accepted the reality that:

The Rambling Man s friend Drew wasn t sold on the charms of the 650 s single cylinder engine and couldn t justify the weight or price of the 1200  but found the 798cc Parallel Twin of the 800 to be just right.
The Rambling Man’s friend Drew wasn’t sold on the charms of the 650’s single cylinder engine and couldn’t justify the weight or price of the 1200, but found the 798cc Parallel Twin of the 800 to be just right.

1) We are in fact mere mortals.

2) Picking up a 1200 Boxer after inevitable slip ups just plain sucks.

I arrived to find the garage door suspiciously closed and the bed of Drew’s trailer quite bike-less. Knowing Drew and his love for theatrics, I figured the bike was probably in the garage surrounded by a mural of trees on the walls with paper mache boulders strewn around for effect.

We met with a handshake and the deliberate yet subliminal tug I hoped would prompt him to slide open the garage door.

“I need another bike like I need a hole in the head,” he began. Indeed if ever there was a slogan worthy of a t-shirt that I should wear every time I peruse the classifieds, this would be the one. “But I actually went in hoping to score a sweet deal on a leftover 650. Once I saw this thing, my mind had been made up.”

True to form, Drew was never quite convinced of the charms of the 650’s single cylinder, but couldn’t quite justify the weight (or price tag) of the bigger 12.

“A few things you might be surprised to hear about the 800,” he said, “would have to include the fact that the gas tank is positioned where one would expect to find hard luggage and the air box sits where one normally finds the gas tank. At 408 pounds without the fluids, it’s a full 100 less than the 1200.”

“All very interesting,” I said pretending to get a chill right then from talking in the driveway, “but where is it?”

“In Germany, I imagine,” he fired back. “You didn’t let me finish on the phone. I put down a deposit but they don’t expect the bikes to arrive here in the States until October. Depending on the type of weather we have come fall, it could be a full year before I get to spend any time in the saddle.”

I like to think my disappointment wasn’t overly evident, but the fact that he insisted I check out a picture of the bike in one of his magazines before I left hints toward the contrary. Being a motojournalist myself, I can certainly appreciate the value of a nice glossy image but, as any biker already knows, pictures are a far cry from hopping up into the saddle, rocking the bike back and forth, and making engine sounds with one’s mouth. I’ll be sure to keep a day free for such activities come October.

In the mean time it looks like Drew’s going to have another five and a half months with which to redecorate his garage for the arrival of his mustard gold Beemer. Next time he calls, I think I’ll let the answering machine get it just in case he’s planning to ask me to help make boulders out of paper mache.

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