Well, it has been a few days between updates! A short Day One saw Trev hit the road towards Darwin in almost apocalyptic weather conditions, Day Two things started to get a little brighter for Trev with a run across to Port Augusta, touching the Southern Ocean before heading for a fiery night at Glendambo!
There were fires of a different type to put out at the end of Day Three, when upon arrival in Tennant Creek, after a 1450km day on the K 1600 GT, a local wanted to go to punching stations with Trev before he had even got off the bike!
The fourth and final day of the Darwin adventure saw Trev clock up a quick 1000km to get to Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway, arriving around 1400 before getting straight down to work interviewing riders. The next day Trev covered Friday Practice, and then Saturday Qualifying, before knocking up two comprehensive reports on Sunday’s racing, Part One and Part Two.
In this fourth instalment of the Melbourne to Darwin journey Trev offers a quick wrap from that final 1000km leg of the trip, then details where he is going next…
I got away from Tennant Creek around 7am and put my head down for a quick run through to Darwin as I wanted to get to the racetrack in time to talk to the racers ahead of the weekend’s ASBK event.
It was near zero the morning before at Glendambo, but in Tennant Creek the temperature did not fall below 20-degrees celsius at any time during the night, with a steaming humidity to boot. Thus I removed the thermal linings from the BMW Street Guard Suit, only to be surprised by their relative light weight and lack of density. They certainly worked extremely well in the cold considering their limited girth. It also made them compact and easy to store in the panniers, along with all my othe gear, more than half of which was work gear rather than personal items. The suit itself requires no waterproof liner, the outer shell is constructed of an abrasion resistant laminate consisting of three layers, with added extra strength in impact areas. And the waterproof membrane incorporated into that laminate is itself breathable.
Now it was time to find all the vents to open up for what would be a warm run through to Darwin. Two vents open vertically in the back of the jacket, and another two panels open up in the front. There are also two vents that zip open in the pants, these are situated at a 45-degree angle across the thigh.
The vents managed to keep me cool enough while moving on the bike, and I was not desparate enough to remove the jacket etc. at fuel stops. The Street Guard suit has NP2 protectors in the hips, knees, shoulders, elbows/forearms and a large back protector. The picture below shows the protectors removed from an earlier model BMW Comfort Shell suit when I was washing it. They have been updated to a new design in current suits, along with a much better back protector, but this image still gives you a fair idea of the amount of impact protection built into BMW suits.
While I have, thankfully, not tried out the protectors via impacts I can tell you they are by far the most tough and resilient looking armour I have ever seen or used. It’s sturdy character instils an extra level of confidence in the BMW gear.
These NP2 protectors are all removeable for washing, and in the case of the knees are also adjustable to different heights, catering to different boot lengths and leg lengths. The knee protectors wrap right around the entire knee cap, with the protection extending right around the sides, and it was only these that gave me any mild discomfort when things got really hot and sticky. During long days in the saddle in hot conditions the knees could get a little sweaty, but apart from that I was kept very comfortable, and didn’t even bother removing the bib zipped to the top of the trousers, the braces, or the storm collar. In hindsight I probably should have removed the extra collar, however it never really caused me any grievance thus I left it alone.
As for the heat management of the K 1600 GT, I was in for a big surprise. For such a massive motorcycle with a gargantuan engine, the way the GT managed to keep engine heat away from the rider was amazing. The engine block is a fair way away, with the cylinders slanted forward on a 55-degree angle, and thus the headers are positioned low in the machine. This layout must help in this remarkably efficient level of heat management in relation to the rider.
Sat at traffic lights in Darwin, I must admit I was taken aback by the number of admirers taking in every detail of the GT, a number even commenting through their windows or asking questions, I was bracing myself for impending meltdown. While temperatures were only in the low 30s, it is the 75 per cent humidity up here that really kicks you in the guts and makes most things hard work. I stayed ‘relatively’ comfortable, and the cooling fans for the GT’s radiator only came on a couple of times. I would have been a molten puddle of Trev still sat at a set of Darwin traffic lights if astride a v-twin cruiser in such environs.
Actually, let’s compare the GT to a Bagger. Harley’s Road King is the established class peer in that category of cruisers, and rightly so, it is perhaps the best machine in Harley’s expansive line-up.
For 2017 the Road King received the new Milwaukee-Eight engine, with four-valve heads and a boost in capacity to 1750cc. Harley claim 150Nm of torque at 3250rpm, while BMW claim 175Nm at 5520rpm for their 1649cc GT, 70 per cent of which is available by 1500rpm. Harley don’t mention horsepower figures, however EPA rules in America sees bikes tested and the consensus is that in this 107 guise the H-D makes around 93hp at 5000rpm. BMW claim 160 horsepower at 7750rpm.
A Harley Road King tips the scales at 380kg. The BMW carries almost 50kg less, despite wearing all the niceties such as shaft drive, semi-active electronic suspension and a stereo system.
The Harley does win on price though, at 34k rideaway the Road King undercuts the K 1600 GT by a few grand. On every aspect of performance, including comfort, the BMW is, as you would expect, light years ahead of the American machine. In four wheel terms, it’s a bit like comparing an M5 to a Hummer.
If you want even more luxury then there is a K 1600 GTL that basically has an armchair for your pillion along with a more laid back riding position. A more cruiser style Bagger version of the GT arrives later this year, dubbed the K 1600 B.
After the ASBK weekend in Darwin, I was going to fly home but am finding the K 1600 GT so comfortable that I have decided to keep going and head across to the Queensland coast at Proserpine, ahead of an upcoming model launch being staged there early next week.
Thus there will be yet more instalments from this epic adventure with the GT. Next we will cover the suspension on the bike in detail, along with our thoughts on the latest Navigator system, the limitations of the standard stereo system and other discoveries as we continue our journey towards the Whitsundays.
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