Thursday, October 27, 2011

What's In A Number

24,901.55 - circumfrence of the earth at the equator, measured in miles
5280 - feet in a mile
451 - degrees in Fahrenheit at which paper burns
42 - The answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything

When can something be nicely worn in without being worn out? 

For kicks, Oilburner and I have been talking bikes.  (Like we've never done that before...)  I was wondering where is that magic mileage sweet spot when a bike goes from "nicely broken in" to "too many miles".  Where is that perfect line of a bike still being marketable versus someone having prejudices against the mileage.

My baby went in for her 42,000 mile service yesterday.  I didn't even look at the new DOHC Classic R1200R.  Well...I didn't look much.

I sat with the service manager and chatted and laughed.  I stood in the service bay talking with the tech working on my baby.  I played with the used oil, no metal shavings, no burnt smell.  I inspected the valves, the chains, the springs.

Then Oilburner arrives...

He starts looking around.  He starts talking.  He starts asking me if I am going to take a test ride.

I've never demo'ed a bike before.  I've never had enough confidence to jump on a bike that I don't own and take it for a spin.  I mean, how much am I going to have to pay if anything happens to a motorbike that I don't own.  This is the same reason that I never ride someone else's bike.  I've even been resistant to riding Oilburner's bikes in the past.  I had only ridden any of his previous bikes once each.

Somewhere along the way that changed.  And I can't pinpoint when it occurred.  A couple months ago, when he informed me that I would be riding his new bike home I didn't bat an eye.  Didn't have any queasy butterflies in my tummy.  I hopped on it and took it for a rrriiidddeeeee.  I'm suspecting my trepidation left me for good after Oilburner totaled his bike.  My subconscious thought process might have followed something along the lines that if he totaled a bike in one fell swoop, there wasn't much worse that I could do.

So back to the bike shop...

I decided to take that test ride finally.  Steve, our friendly, neighborhood sales guy, rode the Classic R1200R off the showroom floor.  Yes, I said rode.  It went over to the service bay to get a couple pounds of air.  Then she stood in the parking lot waiting for me to take her out.

We enjoyed a quick little romp, unfortunately rush hour traffic was closing in.  I took her over to a short, twisty little road I know.  Autos prevented full utilization of the best curves.  We also scooted over to the main thoroughfare to enjoy the high speeds against traffic.  She was an enjoyable bike.  There wasn't a "wow" factor.  She was so similar to my bike.  There didn't seem to be enough differences to justify a trade.  She was nice, just not nice enough.

Oilburner and I took a seat at the table, sipping some sodas and talking about the ride.

All the while is a big, beautiful R1200GS sitting in the sun, gleaming in front of me.  Hmmm...  In for a penny, in for a pound.

Steve checks it over and sets the seat on its lowest position.  I swing around to turn her on, only to realize the key has suddenly disappeared.  Explain that one to me...  Yeah.  Steve left the key in the seat lock.  hehe

We only get to spend a short time together.  Rush hour traffic had set in.  Any direction we traveled was going to be hindered and just spent burning a clutch up.  We went to a short little road with a couple of representative curves.  Wow.  WOW!  Four miles was way too short a time to get a feel for anything.  All I know is that I wouldn't mind spending a couple hundred more miles getting to know it.

So what would you guess that mileage line is on my precious bike?  I was thinking 50,000 miles might be getting there.  Boy was I wrong. It seems that my baby's time has passed.  Those who didn't know her don't want her.  She can be her 2007 model self, but would need to have 30 or so thousand miles on her, instead of the 42 that she has.  Finicky damn men.  Apparently no or old model doesn't matter.  But they can't have been well ridden. ;)

Darn.  I guess I will just have to keep her in the stable.


  1. Lori,
    If it's a salesman telling you what mileage is important, anything over 001 miles and he'll say you're expecting way too much!! If it's a private purchase and you've got service receipts or stamps in your service book, then it will be on whether the buyer thinks it's been looked after and distance is less important. With a Beemer's rep for reliability, I would have thought that high miles wouldn't be an issue.

    However, I think we all have to accept that when resale time comes along, we're never going to get the price we think - saves disappointment, haha!

    Incidentally, when I sold my CBR 1100XX, it had just 70000 km on the clock but lots of them have done over 250,000 km with minimal maintenance. Most of the major modern big capacity bikes are virtually bulletproof.

  2. Lori............personally i take great delight in seeing bikes with 70000,80000,100000 kms on the means it is loved and used. I loathe seeing late models (one make in particulr) that are 3 or 4 years old with only 1400kms on the clock. A bike is to be ridden, yes you can admire it, but for god sake ride the bloody thing. Who gives shit what the sales mn said....I am sure you have enjoyed every mile you have done on your bike and that my lovely lady is all the counts!!

  3. Roger - well said mate! That's all that needs saying

  4. Lori

    I think that you should buy the GS and keep the R in the stable so when we come to visit we could borrow the GS and you use the R again?

    Best wishes from crocs(tm) wearer N

  5. Steel Cupcake:

    Nikos is a smart cookie, but I wouldn't be so cruel, I would take the "R".

    Also remember that some bikes are worth more if owned by famous people. What if it belonged to Steve McQueen, or James Dean, or Marlon Brando from the Wild One ? Alas . . . it was only owned by you, perhaps if you came with the purchase it would add some value (LOL)

    Up here if you peruse Craigslist you will find bikes with much higher mileage, so yours would be considered a cream puff, one owner, lady driven only on Sundays to Church. Ride it up here and I'm sure we could dispose of it for you, even if I have to buy it myself (hint)

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. It sounds like you have a buyer for your R1200R in Canada (It's a relatively short trip)...

    Dealers need to undervalue your trade-in since they do need to make something on it and I suspect that Bob's right about getting more by selling it on Craigslist. I don't know what that magic mileage is but 40k miles still sounds pretty low for a BMW.


  7. I think the definition of high mileage varies with the buyer.

    If someone is looking to buy a bike and they typically put 1500 miles on a year 40,000 will seem like a lot. Same goes the other way, if someone usually puts 15,000 or more on their bike a year, 40,000 is just broken in.

    Of course I agree with what the others have said too, in regards to dealers and their views of mileage.

  8. Wow, is this coincidence or what? I just listed my Kawasaki Concours on Craigslist with exactly 42K miles :-)
    It's barely broken in, these bikes usually do over 100K.
    I say get a new one though, there's nothing like the smell of a new bike, oh, is that only for cars? ha ha
    However you justify, get it, life is short, you have enjoyed it, time to pass it to a new owner and you start over ;-)
    Here's my listing:

  9. Dear Lori:

    A BMW "R" bike at 42,000 miles would be regarded as "new" by the guys of the Mac-Pac. They routinely ride theirs well into 140,000 - 180,000 miles, and then they get motor jobs, if necessary.

    But it should be noted that a lot of these guys have two and three bikes. This could just be the first pony in the stable.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  10. I haven't gotten to the stage of wanting to ride other motorcycles, pretty much for all the reasons you mentioned...what's it going to cost if I drop it...or worse! :)

    My poor Sam has high miles and is a lowly Kawasaki. Good thing I love her, cuz I'll never get much for her!

    As Roger said, I love to see miles (or kilometers) on a bike. Best loved bikes get a lot of road time! I'm glad you had a chance to try the bikes, despite the traffic snarls.