El Placer de Conducir (The Pleasure of Driving)
Both of our BMW Motorcycles have performed extremely well on our journeys to Panama and have really taken the worry out of riding the long miles.
Before leaving the States, we were concerned that gas quality would be a problem for our bikes. Steve reassured us that the BMW engines are designed to automatically adjust to different octane rated gas, thus we shouldn’t experience any issues. However, we still weren't convinced due to the stories we read on the Internet. Although we have not measured it precisely, I have been getting around 45 miles per gallon with my bike and Omar has been getting a little better than that. We have not had any problems with engine knock, poor performance or stalling. Gas quality must be better than expected, or these bikes can handle about anything you throw in the tank.
The only issue I have had was the wear on my Anakee Wild tires. Actually, it is not a problem of excessive wear so much as it was a problem finding replacement Anakee Wild tires in Central America. I was originally planning to replace just the rear tire even though it still had a couple thousand miles left on it, but there simply were no Anakee Wild tires available in Panama City. However, the dealership said that the more street friendly Anakee III’s were readily available. So, I switched to Anakee III’s.
For those of you who have an interest in tires for these big adventure bikes, Anakee Wild’s which have a knobby-style tread, are a surprisingly good option. They handle well on wet winding roads, in dirt and on dry smooth paved roads. If I had not swapped mine in Panama, I probably would have gotten close to eight thousand miles on them. The Anakee III tires are a solid option too, but they don’t provide quite as much traction in dirt and mud.
Other than switching tires, my 2009 BMW GS Adventure has been flawless.
Omar, too, has had solid reliability with his bike. It has great range on a tank of gas (over 300 miles) and the bike has run like a finely tuned machine. He has had only two minor issues. The aftermarket crash bar came loose at one of the mounting points. This wasn’t a problem that would result in the bar falling off or any sort of dangerous riding condition but was just more of an annoyance. The dealership in Panama reinstalled it while servicing his bike. The other issue Omar had was with the automatic chain lubricator. He could not dial the amount of lubrication down low enough. Thus, it dispensed too much oil and the back of his bike had a lot of oil spots. For the remainder of the trip Omar is planning to lubricate the chain manually and not rely on the automatic system.
On our third day in Panama City we took our bikes to the service shop at the BMW dealership here in Panama City. The staff who greeted us were professional and very customer focused, and exceeded our expectations in every way. They had lots of cars and motorcycles on the showroom floor, and an exceptional customer lounge area. After completing the work, the service manager gave us the report on our bikes: both got a clean bill of health.
Special thanks to James Liao and the team at Bavarian Motors for taking care of us so well.
As you can see from my comments, our BMW’s have taken the worry out of long distance riding. We don’t have to concern ourselves with the possibility of breaking down along some lonesome road, and can instead focus our attention on “El Placer de Conducir”.