BMW Rockster Feedback

Motorcycle.com Staff
by Motorcycle.com Staff

This isn't my riding impression, it is the story of what happened with themean vicious nasty Rockster and poor little me, Sean "Dirty" Alexander, overa period of 36 hours.

By Sean Alexander

In 29 years and 100,000 miles of motorcycling, I have only had three flattires on streetbikes, and I've had to ride in the rain maybe six times, butthe BMW Rockster changed all that in less than 36 hours...

After the press intro, at which it was explained that the Rocksters inattendance had encountered numerous flat tires on their break-in rides, Irode BMW's snappy new boxer twin home for the weekend. Monday morningrolled around and as I started down the freeway to work, the bike quicklybegan to handle poorly. Wallowing to a stop on the shoulder, I discoveredthat the rear Metzler Sportech tire had gone flat. After a littlehitch-hiking I returned with a can of Fix-A-Flat and continued on my merryway.

15 miles later, while in traffic on the 405, I saw a ghost like 25' x 5'sheet of clear plastic drop cloth hovering in the wake turbulence about10' in the air over the car pool lane. Since I was in said lane and beingclosely followed by a commuter van and blocked-in on the right by aSemi-truck, I had little choice but to ride under the sheet. Thinking"This could get hairy." I moved my right fingers inside the brake leverand pushed forward, to prevent the front wheel from locking if the sheetdraped across the lever. You guessed it, that sheet sank the required 5'and I ducked to try and get under it, but it caught the bike and I acrossmy helmet, chest and the right handgrip. The impact wasn't very harsh butthe noise and aerodynamic drag were HUGE! I was able to wrangle it off ofmy body, but it ended up trailing off of the brake lever, like a bannerfrom an airplane and I couldn't use my right hand to move it, because thebrake lever was pushing back with about 30lbs of pressure. Keeping 30Lbsof counter-steering into the right hand grip and pushing 30Lbs forwardwith four fingers inside the brake lever, I used my left hand to wrestlethis thing off the bike and back into the sir, where it could tackle thenext un-suspecting motorist. The trucker next to me was white as a ghostand made a pantomime of wiping his brow WHEW! It was nice seeing youtoday, GOD.

3 minutes after discarding the sheet, I entered a sudden downpour of coldrain, as I climbed the Sepulveda Pass out of the San FernandoValley. After arriving at MO, cold and wet, I put in a call to BMW to seeabout getting the rear-tire replaced. because it was going to take awhile for them to get a replacement tire, I went down to the MO garageand installed a tire plug from the BMW's excellent (complete with C02inflation cartridges) stock tool kit. I decided to take my chances andtake the Rockster home again that night, because it had heated grips andthe forecast was cold and rainy.

Tuesday was indeed cold and rainy, but I had an appointment at Exilecycles to interview owner Russell Mitchell. The ride out to Sun Valleyonly took 25minutes and was dry thanks to a break in the clouds. Theheated grips had me feeling toasty and I started to get optimistic aboutthe day. When I got off the freeway I found the surface streets aroundExile to be covered in mud, gravel and standing water. I didn't thinkthis was a big deal and proceeded to the interview splashing and slidingthe BMW merrily along. I made it to the interview un-scathed andon-time.

When I left Exile for the ride down to MO, my short life nearly came to anend (again). 4 blocks into the ride, I entered a left turn lane and as Islowed for the red arrow, the front tire locked and slid for a foot ortwo. I increased rear brake pressure and threshold braked the front, justgetting stopped about 6 inches past the crosswalk. As I tried to pedalthe bike backwards out of the intersection, my foot slipped on the greasymud and I almost dropped the heavy BMW. As soon as I finished myre-positioning I figured I'd better keep an eye out behind me, lest a carcome sliding into me. I needn't have worried about sliding cars you see,as it was a Penske rental truck that came sliding towards me, trying tostop. Panicking I gassed the Rockster and tried to dart to the right. Ofcourse this caused me to get completely sideways and yet again I nearlydropped the precious bike on its cylinder head. The truck slid rightthrough where I was sitting, no more than a foot from the leaning andsliding bike. Funny enough, he ended up stopped in about 6 inches pastthe crosswalk. Lucky for me, there was nobody coming in the lane to myright, as I was right in the middle of that lane, about 4 feet into theintersection, with the bike sideways, leaned over almost to the ground,and my body straddling it with my right foot trying to slip out from underme. Hey GOD, long time no see.

I decided to skip MO for the day and ride back home so I could change myshorts. 10 minutes later, when the rear tire decided to once again letloose of all its air, I was lucky enough to be near an exit and I nursedthe muddy bike off the freeway and into a parking lot. The BMW and Iwaited there dejectedly for a friend to come with a truck and rescuedus. Those 45 minutes may have seen the hardest rain in the history ofCalifornia.

--Sean

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Motorcycle.com Staff
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