Why I bought a BMW R1150 GS Adventure

WORKING as a motoring journalist – a car one at that – has ever so slightly dulled my passion for cars. Not a lot, but just enough for them to feel like work.

That’s what got me into bikes. I’ve never really written about them in a work capacity (I did review a few scooters at Auto Express, but that’s not the same), so reading bike mags, buying them and riding them ridiculously quickly has taken over as my hobby.

So why a Beemer? Well, I’ve always been a sportsbike nut. My first was a ropey Suzuki GSX-R600 S-RAD with the big fat ducktail and flame-spitting aftermarket exhaust. It was fun, but despite being able to hit 70mph in first gear, was never fast enough.

That’s the problem with sports bikes, like a McDonalds you always want more. The 600 soon made way for a GSX-R750 which I loved, but after thrashing it around Wales following a mate on his Aprilia RSV I knew an Italian twin had to be mine.

There was obviously only one to go for – a Ducati 996. Another dodgy eBay purchase, this one was bought from a man in a caravan (yes, a caravan).

A heart-rules-head purchase, the shiny yellow paintwork drew my attention away from the dented frame and numberplate that didn’t match the V5 (it had two letters transposed, for speed cameras I suspect).

A year of ownership resulted in bills that totaled £3,500 – more than 50 per cent of the purchase price.

A new clutch, gearbox, tyres and chain and sprocket severely punished the credit card and made up my mind it was time to buy something sensible and reliable.

At the time Ewan and Charlie’s Lond Way Round had just finished on tele and I admit I was an absolute sucker for the marketing. BMW GS sales rocketed that year – and it was all because of the failed actor and Jedi’s adventure.

I was won over by it too. I remember thinking if those bikes can withstand been dropped every episode and being ridden through lakes, a 10-mile commute isn’t going to faze it.

My first visit to a dealer – SPC in Alton (now Bahnstormer BMW) – saw me do the deal on the first one I rode.

HX04 EAC was a company bike, owned by the sales manager who was as tall as me (6’4”).

He’d spent a few bob on aftermarket bits that had raised the bars, lowered the pegs and generally made it look smarter. He’d spent a bit too much on carbonfibre for my liking, but I loved the black and yellow and the fact it felt like a Fisher Price toy, all chunky and unbreakable.

When I bought her she had 6,000 miles on the clock, now she’s rapidly approaching 40k. It’s been to Scotland three times, filtered past millions of cars on countless commutes and cost me a fortune in servicing.

The last two years bills from Bahnstomer BMW have been upwards of £750. Don’t think servicing a Beemer will be cheap – it won’t be.

And next year I’ve been warned things could get worse. The brakes need doing – something that’ll cost me £1,000 before the service has even begun. I’ve been contemplating selling it, but now I work a mile away from home she spends more time as a clothes horse at the back of the garage than she does on the road.

My thinking is the brakes aren’t going to get much worse if I don’t use it so I might as well keep it and hope I don’t get stung too badly next year.

I plan on using it a bit this year. I’ve been talking with a mate about another bike trip to Scotland (that picture above was taken at John O’Groats on one such trip) – only problem is HX04 EAC will need new tyres before that happens…


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