Daryl Beattie's Extreme GS Adventure
Former Grand Prix ace Daryl Beattie would surely have become 500cc world champion, had injury not forced his premature retirement at the age of 27 from the crazy world of two-stroke GP racing. Now, having recently turned 40, the MotoGP commentator owns a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure and loves riding with friends. Having heard about his recent GS journey into the Hattah outback, he asked BMW Motorrad Australia's Marketing Manager Miles Davis to show him these trails.
Thirty years ago, when the iconic GS model series was making its debut, a young Daryl Beattie was making his first television appearance as a nine-year-old, having won a Suzuki RM50 in a competition on Australia's Channel 7. A love of motorcycling was born and after racing dirt bikes for six years, winning state and national championships, Beattie entered his first road race on his 16th birthday.
Three years later he was winning the Australian 250 Grand Prix championship and finishing 12th at the 250cc world championship race at Phillip Island. Third overall in his rookie full-time season on a 500cc bike (a debut only bettered by Valentino Rossi), Beattie was leading the 1995 championship by around 20 points when he broke his collarbone at Assen. He ended up in second place that year, behind fellow Aussie Mick Doohan.
After a series of pre-season testing accidents in 1996 - including a serious crash at Paul Ricard circuit where he broke a wrist, collapsed a lung and fractured his skull - Beattie was never able to regain his previous form and at the end of the '97 season, decided it was time to hang up his leathers. Still retaining his love of racing, he began working as a sports commentator, covering F1 as well as MotoGP.
As someone who forged his career on fire-breathing 500cc Grand Prix bikes, the last machine Beattie would consider would be a race-replica for the road, but like thousands of motorcyclists around the world, he has discovered the unique benefits of BMW GS ownership.
"I love riding on the road and dirt, and the GS does both better than I would have ever imagined," says Beattie. "Every motorcycle rider should have one in their garage. You can take a lady to dinner during the week in comfort with great safety, and then ride the same trails that enduro riders do on weekends! It has a great fuel range, is very capable off-road and is still really comfortable on the highway and on long-distance rides. Plus, there is no other dual-purpose bike that comes as close to looking as good!"
When Daryl heard about the chance of a GS ride in the Hattah Desert area of north western Victoria he took the opportunity. In fact, he even brought along a cameraman to make a video for the OneHD channel. With his motorsport Producer Michael Heaton, Brett Stephens and BMW Motorrad Australia's Miles Davis, it turned out to be an epic adventure, that might just become an annual event.
The terrain was challenging and at times consisted of deep, sandy trails with 4WD ruts for as far as the eye can see. Throw in some twists, turns, hills and boggy sections from all the recent rains and this was going to be a serious GS challenge. But as expected, all the bikes performed flawlessly in the extreme conditions. Tyre pressures had been reduced slightly and the traction and ABS deactivated. The Electronic Suspension Adjustment was a dream, because running the bikes in the tallest setting really allowed them to soak up the big jumps with ease.
After day one Daryl said: "This sort or riding might not be for everyone, but when you have some experienced riders who are up for a challenge, it's just perfect". Day two saw a kangaroo jump out at Daryl, hitting the back of his bike while he was negotiating a deep-rutted section of track. "Luckily it was low speed and it just threw my balance out." It happened again later that day when Daryl was chasing Miles down the Scorpion Springs track, when a "roo jumped straight into the path of Miles on his GS Adventure. Luckily it didn't impact on the front wheel or bars, so the big GS just kept on tracking straight, while the "roo came off second best.
Day three saw the riders encounter some amazing terrain, finishing with a firm sandy track that weaved through multiple salt lakes. Fortunately, the kangaroos kept their distance, watching the GS's buzz by in formation, and as the bikes returned to Hattah all the motorcyclists knew they'd experienced an incredible ride. After three days of extreme off-road, tackling all kinds of terrain, the former 500cc world championship runner-up described it as the hardest, but most fun ride he has ever experienced.
"It was awesome - such great terrain and scenery. I'm already looking forward to the next one. And Miles rides this GS like no other… the video tells the story. Australia is a country the same size as the USA, but with just 24 million people. Once you ride two hours from any coastline you are riding in beautiful outback roads meeting great characters. Our deserts are amazing and the coastline is stunning. If you carry enough water, you could go anywhere in Australia on a GS Adventure."
You know just how much someone is excited about their bike and riding by the way they talk. It's obvious that even after travelling the world racing fire-breathing 500cc Grand Prix bikes Daryl Beattie still gets excited about riding his GS Adventure!
- VOTW - Some video footage from Daryl Beattie's Extreme GS Adventure -
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