K1200GT SE First crash report
Well, I guess this must be the first combined ride/crash report for the new K1200GT SE. On Saturday morning we picked up our gleaming crystal gray GT from the dealers. The bike looked beautiful with matching large topcase and all the extras. Our plan was to travel to see some friends in South Wales and take the scenic route back to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire on Sunday, thus racking up most of the initial 600 miles for the first service/checkup. The weather was predictable Ė rain, rain and more rain. Still, we are hardened all weather bikers and we had the right bike for the job. So, off we set, mindful that we were on a new bike with new tyres.
Our first stop was to be Bolton, to pick up a friend on his immaculate but 10year old VFR 750. This involved about 20 miles of twisty ďAĒ roads followed by about 20 miles of motorway. The bike was effortless. Even with the new tyres and rain, handling on the twisties was precise and inspired confidence. The standard fitment tyres (some kind of Bridgestones?) were great. Pillion comfort was good, and the heated rear seat was tested to good effect. From my point of view, the riders seat seemed to have several different positions. I could sit back on the flat part of the seat for straight roads, and I felt this would be comfy for motorways and dual carriageways. Then there was a nice position hard up against the tank. With my toes on the pegs, this was more sporty and gave good control in the bends (with the ESA set to sport). There was also an in-betweeny position which was comfortable and a bit sporty. Heat two on the front seat became a bit to warm after a while, but with the seat and the bar grips on one I was snug in the cold and rain.
The power was a bit special. Because I was running in a brand new bike which I intend to keep, I wanted to do it properly, which meant no heavy acceleration and stay below 7000rpm. Ha, like I needed to go above! It didnít seem to matter which gear I was in. Sixth gear was perfectly happy at 30mph and had NO trouble holding or accelerating. Fourth gear in the bends was fine, third or fifth would have been equally fine. As much power as you need for normal riding in any gear.
The motorway bit gave me a chance to play around with the electric screen a bit. Riding at a motorway speeds, the screen position makes a big difference. If I had it high, my ride was silent with no rain or noise. Unfortunately this caused a bit of buffeting for my wife on the back, and I had to look through the screen (which I donít like). Fully down was ok, but most of the wind & rain went onto my visor. The best position for me was about one third up, which cleared the rain from my visor, shifted most of the weather off me and gave Amanda a smooth ride. Top gear was fine and again, the word ďeffortlessĒ comes to mind. Slow down, speed up, whatever.
After we picked up our mate in Bolton, we were to go down through Wales on the A49, which is a good, fast road with some twisty bits and easy safe overtaking. We let our mate go first, confident that we could keep up or catch up if we needed to. Even running in a new bike and tyres we had some good, spirited riding as the rain had stopped and the roads were drying out. Life should always be this good. With a bit more grip on the road and tyres, we started to open up a bit more on the corners, and the bike was impeccable. Two up with gear, and the bike didnít even notice it. Corners were a joy and power was just THERE. You need the gear indicator just to make sure you donít stay in top gear all the time. I never felt the need to stray above 7000rpm, but from the demonstrator bike we rode I know there is another world waiting for us up there. Someone said it sounds like a race car above 7000, and that is exactly how I remember it. Awsome. But I ainít doing that on MY bike until itís properly run in. After a fair stretch on these roads we came in to some built up areas, and thatís where it all went wrong.
Well, what can I say. MUPPET sounds like a good word right now (thanks John). We were travelling through the built up area at about 20 Ė 25mph, approaching two joined mini-roundabouts. I guess I was about 10ft behind my mate (I know, too close). As we approached, I thought he had started to go across the roundabout. I looked to the right to check Ė one car approaching but plenty of time to go across. As I start to simultaneously accelerate and look back to the road in front there he was, STOPPED. I tried to swerve right to avoid him, but I was to close. We hit him, slewed to the right and then crashed down hard on our left side. At this point, my head and left shoulder hit the deck, HARD. This knocked me unconscious for several minutes, and the following five hours are a bit of a blur. Now, 48 hours later, I have put the pieces back together. As we collided with our mate, Amandaís knee hit his seat and rear subframe. The right side of his bike is trashed, subframe bent, footpegs ripped off, fairings smashed, exhaust pointing at the sky. He has a bruised leg but is ok. Our new GT is trashed all down the left side, headlight and sidelights smashed, and when it was started it ran on two cylinders and flames came from the exhaust (they had to pour water down to put it out!). Amanda has serious bruising and trauma to her left leg above the knee, and might have a torn or separated tendon. We will see the specialist tomorrow. I got away with concussion and muscle damage to my left shoulder, upper arm and chest. My helmet was smashed.
Moral of the story.
I have not had a crash since 1980. I drive about 35,000 miles a year in my work car and we ride about 10,000 pleasure miles a year on the bike. Iíve been riding since 1978, and the last 10 years have been 800 cc bikes or above (the last 5 years 1100cc or above). I always thought that regardless of my bike skills, my traffic skills were good, and if I was going to crash it would be going around a corner too fast. Anyway, that wouldnít happen to me because I am INVINCBLE. Well, here we are, a low speed crash, in traffic, caused by my stupid mistake. And look at the damage, to two bikes and three people. Imagine what might have happened if we WERE going too fast on a small road with stone walls etc. I will treat this as a wake up call, telling me to ride more carefully and smoothly, and to be more responsible. Both myself and my wife love riding bikes. Itís what we do whenever we can. But that could so easily change through one silly mistake.
The bikes are only chunks of metal, and this time the flesh will heal ok. Enjoy your riding, as we will do as soon as the bikes are fixed. But remember folks, we are only human, which means we do make mistakes and we do break very easily.
All the best,
Brian & Amanda