Here it is a week before Christmas and Donna and I would like to wish our readers a Merry Christmas! This year we are continuing a tradition we started a few years ago with a personal motorcycle related Christmas card. Welcome to our 2014 edition. Whichever holiday you celebrate this season we hope that you find yourself surrounded by family and friends while good memories are created. We hope Santa stops by to see you too. For some of us he came a little early this year!
This morning was the annual BMW Motorcycle Club of Georgia and BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta toy run for the Towns County Sheriff’s Office’s Empty Stocking Fund. The dealership acts as a drop off point for toys from customers and people who have heard about the ride through word of mouth. This year there were two large, motorcycle sized boxes full of toys. I wonder where they got those big motorcycle sized boxes? The toys are then usually loaded up in the dealership’s van and taken to the sheriff’s office by a caravan of motorcycles. The ride is open to all motorcycles and all they ask is that you bring one unwrapped toy the day of the ride or drop one off in the toy box before the ride. Of course the largest percentage of motorcycles are BMW but there were Ducatis, Hondas, Kawasakis, Triumph, Can Am Spyder and more. There were 46 motorcycles this year. There was even a family of four on a BMW with a side car! It’s a fun day. The owner’s of the dealership provide coffee and a light breakfast for the riders before the toys get loaded up. The sheriff is there at the justice center waiting for us to arrive. There are offices packed with donated toys at the justice center. The sheriff goes out of his way to thank the riders, often thanking as many as he can individually. The numerous ways the toys get distributed is really interesting too. Families can come pick up the toys and even have them wrapped if they are unable to it themselves. Deputies can meet parents to deliver toys, deputies can and do drop off toys on Christmas Eve, leaving them at a spot designated by the parents so they can retrieve them to be put under the tree and some toys are even delivered on Christmas by the deputies in person. It’s all based on what the family wants to do.
Since it’s December the weather here can be frigid or warm. In the past we’ve been rained on, snowed on, iced on and had freezing fog. This was the first ride I’ve been on where it was sunny! On my way to the dealership this morning it was a crisp 32° (F). When we departed Marietta for Young Harris it had already warmed to 41° but when we got to Jasper the sun suddenly disappeared, it got overcast and the temperature rapidly dropped to 30°! As we got to Ellijay, the sun came out again and it warmed into the low 40’s but when we reached our pit stop in Blue Ridge it was 32° and freezing fog again. By the time we reached the justice center in Young Harris it was sunny again and 46°. Talk about roller coaster weather! But I think the cold weather and the frozen fog in the tree tops helps put you in the Christmas spirit and really does make us feel like two-wheeled Santas. After the toys are delivered we usually break up into smaller groups and head for lunch or to go do some riding in the area.
As Sheriff Clinton told us, “It warms your heart to know that you helped make sure a child had a Christmas present under the tree.”
Well it’s that time of year again. WordPress has turned on the Christmas decorations. So depending on your browser, you’re seeing snow flakes floating across the screen.
Ever since Donna has been riding with me she has had a back rest or a top case to lean against for back support. For those who don’t know what a “top case” is, it’s what BMW calls a trunk. Harley Davidson calls their version a King Tour Pack or a Tour Pack (depending on the model). On our 2006 Suzuki C50T she had a nice big, swiveled back rest that she liked. On the Magic Carpet, our K1200LTE, she had that big top case with a nice, heated back rest. You know I don’t really blame her. I’d want the security of a back rest too. The R1200RT has nothing back there except a small luggage rack. BMW will sell you your choice of a few top cases that mount quite effortlessly on that luggage rack. We opted for the new style 49 liter top case that BMW began using for the 2013 model year. It took the purchasing dealer 4 weeks and a day to get it delivered and they didn’t even key it right to match the motorcycle (even though they were paid to do so). It took a trip to a second and local dealer to get the lock re-keyed in a matter of minutes.
Since the top case got here a week and half ago and a week since its properly being keyed it’s been much colder than normal here, raining here or Donna had to work. Donna really wanted the top case and its back rest to ride back there. She did ride up from Daytona Beach, FL and went on an afternoon ride without the top case but really wasn’t comfortable. Yesterday it was forecast to be about 65° (F) and sunny so we went for a ride to try out the new top case. Well the temperature even got up to 70° which made for an even better day of riding. Donna enjoyed having the back rest on the top case to lean back into. She wasn’t grabbing my belt anymore. I could see in the mirrors that she was back to resting her hands on her thighs as she rode back there. To say she was much more comfortable and at ease is an understatement. But now she says the foot-pegs feel “squishy”. But then again she did have those nice big floorboards on the Magic Carpet. Even the foot-pegs on the Magic Carpet were wide and flat.
Well, in the previous post I vented about the differences in motorcycle dealers and the trouble in not only getting my top case delivered but the key being stuck in the lock.
Earlier today, after I installed the lock cylinder and after BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta’s exemplary customer service I posted a picture on Twitter of the top case along with the text “Finally right! But with NO help from BMW of Daytona Beach but LOTS from BMW of Atlanta!” About 2 hours later I got a call from a representative from BMW Motorcycles USA about my social media posting. He explained that an employee whose job is to search social media sent the post to him. First he asked if there was a problem. Then he asked what happened and what each dealer told me or did. Then he wanted to know what could be done to resolve the situation if it had not already been resolved. It was a very friendly friendly and cordial phone call. I was actually surprised and impressed by the call. He even wanted to know if my R1200RT was a buy back motorcycle or involved in the recall. He admitted to not having yet read all the information about the purchase but wanted to reach out to see what happened and what could be done.
I was thoroughly impressed. BMW Motorcycles USA initiated customer contact about an issue or question they spotted on Twitter. Some would look down on it as “big brother” watching us, but I see it as a company being concerned about a customer. One thing he said really made sense, “We want you to know our customer service does not end with the sale, it’s actually where it begins.”
I just hope they don’t call again about this post!
If you’re a reader here you know that last month while in Florida we purchased our 2014 BMW R1200RT. We purchased it at BMW Motorcycles of Daytona. When we purchased it, the BMW Navigator V GPS was a free incentive for the purchase of the 2014 RT and we also purchased the BMW 49 liter top case (trunk) for the motorcycle and paid the extra to have the top case keyed to the motorcycle. The dealership did not have the top case in stock and had to order it. While still at the dealership someone from the parts department came up and told me that it would ship to them on October 21. They also retained one of the motorcycle’s keys so key the lock to be the same as the motorcycle.
Now here’s some of the differences in dealers. They also didn’t have the GPS but said their shop in Orlando did and they would have it sent over or picked up either the next day or the following day while we were still in town. Well the GPS never showed up at the Daytona dealer. After a few calls to our salesman I found out five days later that the GPS had already “been spoken for” and they’d have to order it and send it to me. The salesman or the dealership didn’t call me to tell me, I had called them nearly a week later. A second call about the GPS and now the top case was made. The GPS had shown up that day and was sent “next day” but the top case was expected “any day now”. The GPS arrived on 10/31/14, (we bought the motorcycle on 10/16/14) the next day. Out of curiosity, I checked the UPS tracking number and found it didn’t ship “next day” on the 30th but had actually shipped UPS ground on the 29th. I know it’s a popular item. Just say it might take about 10 days to get if you don’t have it. Oh and about that top case? “Maybe on Monday.” is the answer I got.
I waited a few more days to call back on the top case. On 11/05/04 my salesman and I spoke and I asked if it had actually been ordered. He said he’d check on that and “get back” with me. Five days later on 11/10/14 I called him again as he had not gotten back with me. He longer worked there. The woman on the phone asked if she could help. She remembered the sale and said either she or someone else would call me back about it. She did explain that it could be that same day (it was late in the afternoon) but would probably be the next day but shouldn’t be any later than the 12th. First thing in the morning the next day she called and said the top case was there but they needed the key. She found them in the former salesman’s desk after I told her he had told me they were there. Then on 11/14/14 the top case arrived! The key was in the lock. The key would lock and unlock the top case. But the key would not come out of the lock! No matter what I did the key would not come out. Was I supposed to ride around with a spare ingnition key in the lock? What if someone could get it out? I called the dealership. The woman who had found the case put me on hold to check what to do. Here’s the message she relayed to me, “They said to get a local dealer to fix it because it would be quicker than sending it back to them. He says it’s probably a bad lock.” That was their solution. I had paid them for the lock and paid them to key the same as the ignition key. It seems I was a valued customer to BMW Motorcycles of Daytona right up until the minute I rode off their lot.
Using a few forums and the internet I was able to get the lock cylinder out. You just have to know how and have the right tools along with access to the top case. What I found was amazing. There are supposed to be 6 tumblers in the lock. My lock had 3 tumblers installed and the other spots were vacant. I needed the proper remaining tumblers to complete the job. BMW does sell a lock set with the cylinder and an assortment of tumblers.
On Tuesday the 18th of November I went to my local dealer, BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta with the intent to buy a whole new lock kit if I had to. I now knew how to set the lock and re-install the cylinder. “We’ll take care of this for you.” is what I was told. “These are the only tumblers you have?” I was told “Yeah, you can do it with three but you’re really not supposed to.” He got the tumbler kit out and then told me, “Here’s why you couldn’t get the key out, this tumbler is the wrong number. It did let you insert, lock and unlock but then wouldn’t release the key.” So in about 15 minutes or less, BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta took care of the lock. Oh and the cost? There wasn’t any. And yes I even told them I had made the purchase at another dealer. They’re a dealer who really understands what customer service is.
Can you tell the difference in the dealers?
Did BMW of Daytona offer to call Atlanta to see if they could take care of it for free or bill them if there was a cost? No they sure didn’t. Have they called to see it the lock issue was somehow resolved? No they sure didn’t. As it stands again would I never go into or patronize BMW of Daytona again? No I sure wouldn’t.
But I’d spend the extra money to buy a part or supply from BMW of Atlanta (instead of online) because of the personal service they supply. They realize you’re a customer long after the sale and want to keep you as a customer. The owners, who are a husband and wife team are actively involved in their business. I took the R1200RT to them for its break-in service. But I’m regretting more and more not purchasing the motorcycle from them.
No matter what motorcycle you purchase, research the dealer as much, if not more than the motorcycle.
As someone on BMWLT.com posted; the problem was fixed by a real dealer.
I had the first nighttime ride tonight on the R1200RT. It’s pretty impressive. I had a friend and former co-worker pass away this past week and tonight was the visitation at the funeral home. We met when we were both Motor Officers. I felt it would be appropriate to ride the motorcycle to the funeral home and it seems so did some other former Motor Officers.
It was just at sundown as I left the house and was heading east with the sun setting behind me. The R1200RT has an instrument panel that automatically dims or brightens dependant on the ambient light. This feature is pretty cool and in a stretch with some street lights I could actually notice it brighten and dim. In the dark the panel was easy to see and read. The GPS seemed to be a bit dark though. On battery power, the “auto dim” feature is disabled but I’ll have to check on that when it’s powered by the motorcycle. However, when I came home and it was good and dark, the GPS screen was easier to read. The headlight really lights up the road! The Magic Carpet, our retired K1200LT had been upgraded to a nice HID headlight before we bought it. The headlight on the R1200RT is an HID according to what the salesman told us but it doesn’t seem to have that crisp, white appearance the one on the Magic Carpet did. But on a road near home I played with the high beam and was amazed at how much it light up the road and how far the light went. It was also then that I noticed the low beam had a “whiter” light compared the slightly yellow of the halogen high beam lights so the low beam could well be an HID. You never really notice the very slight yellow of good halogen lighting until you see it compared to HID.
I still have to get used to the locations of all the switches on the handlebars in the dark though. On the K1200LT the button for the hazard flashers was always illuminated when the ignition was on and because of that it was a good point of reference. I miss that benign little feature.
I took the R1200RT out for a short 126 mile ride this morning. One of the things I wanted to do was familiarize myself with the BMW Navigator V GPS system using a route I already had saved in Garmin’s BaseCamp software. There are some differences in the way the new Navigator V and the older Garmin Zumo 220 load routes and where they keep them. I left the new Navigator V GPS set so that it would give me prompts and directions through the motorcycle’s on-board audio system through the fairing speakers.
We’re still waiting for our top case to be delivered so this was going to be a solo ride. Donna prefers the security of the top case and its backrest behind her plus she had to work today.
I took a short and fun route that we’ve ridden a number of times and written about here. I have the route saved in BaseCamp as “Hillbilly Drive“. I take GA HWY 53 across to Dawsonville where I take a nice local road back out to GA HWY 183 going towards Amicalola Falls State Park. Before getting to the park I take GA HWY 136 over Burnt Mountain and through its curves before getting to Talking Rock, GA and heading for home.
It was a cool but gorgeous day to ride! It started out right at 50º (F) and dropped to 48 going over the mountain before rising again to the mid 50’s. I was comfortable with the liner in my jacket, a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of riding pants. I even wore unlined plain leather gloves but cheated and used the heated grips. I had the SiriusXM radio tuned to the Grateful Dead station and my route in the GPS. Whenever I had an upcoming turn, the audio system automatically muted and played the instructions from the GPS. It was easier to hear the GPS than it was the music. The R1200RT fell right into the curves! I’ll admit that this was always a fun road on the K1200LT but the boxer twin R1200RT increases the fun factor exponentially. I stopped for a short break at the scenic overlook. There’s still just a little bit of color in the trees too. But after last weekend’s winter weather there was already some sand and gravel spread on a few parts of Highway 136. The boxer goes too! There were some parts of the route that I’m used to downshifting from 5th to 4th on the K1200LT to get better power. But with the R1200RT’s boxer twin you just open the throttle and it goes.
I even tried out BMW’s Hill Start Assist today just to see what it’s all about. It’s like using a parking brake that automatically releases when you give the bike some throttle to start moving again. When pulling out onto the main highway up there, GA HWY 515, I finally tried out another option, BMW’s Shift Assistant Pro. Wow what an option! Shift Assistant Pro allows upshifts and downshifts without the use of the clutch. After pulling onto the highway and rolling I shifted into 3rd through 6th gears by revving and shifting and NOT using the clutch. I remember reading somewhere that Shift Assistant Pro is better suited to a more performance oriented ride.
I did miss having Donna back there though. I hope that top case gets here soon.
The dust is settling after trading in the Magic Carpet, our 2002 BMW K1200LTE, and buying the 2014 BMW R1200RT.
I was looking at a few things and then got curious. I know, that can be very dangerous. You see, BMW Motorcycles USA offers a 100,000 mile award to those who can document through a dealer that you have ridden 100,000 miles on BMW Motorcycles. The award is a nice medallion and a certificate. Remember, this is not just motorcycles but BMW Motorcycles. So I got curious about the mileages. We bought our K1200LTE used and we rode 44,631 miles on it since we purchased it. We’ve ridden our R1200RT 858 miles since purchasing it just under 3 weeks ago. That’s a total of 45,489 miles (so far) on BMW Motorcycles. I have only 54,511 miles to go (as of today). I think I can do it.
We, or rather a group had to cancel a motorcycle trip that was scheduled for tomorrow. Every fall my Blue Knights Chapter plans an overnight trip to the Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge & Resort in Stecoah, NC on their last weekend before closing for the season. Well, that weekend was supposed to begin tomorrow but Mother Nature really threw us a curve this year. You see, here in the southeastern U.S. we’re expecting back to back arctic cold fronts to come through. The first one has already passed and dropped temperatures to the mid 50’s (F) for highs here. As I type this it’s 49° F and overcast up at the Iron Horse. Tomorrow’s high temperature is now forecast to be 36° F! We were already prepared for cold weather and that wasn’t scaring us off. But the second front is bringing moisture with it. Tonight at the Iron Horse it’s supposed to begin raining and then after midnight that rain will be changing to snow. It’s now forecast to continue snowing in Stecoah until about 5:00 pm on Saturday afternoon. The National Weather Service isn’t saying it could change to snow but that it will change to snow. The Iron Horse is in a valley so they won’t be hit with as much snow as the slightly higher elevations but they’re still forecasting between 1 and 3 inches of snow in the valleys. That’s not exactly motorcycle friendly weather. There was an idea to ride up in cars but as we get closer to the Iron Horse, the roads are more rural and less traveled. The Iron Horse had also called our trip’s organizer concerned with the weather and guests travelling to them. So it looks like we’ll have to wait until at least the spring of 2015 to head back to the Iron Horse.