Recently I rode the BMW R 1250 GS motorbike that featured in Steve Cropley’s column, partly because he was so impressed by it. I’ve read great things about GS models over the years and wondered how good the tech-heavy, archetypal adventure bike had become.
Cropley rides more bikes than me, as do bike reviewers (obviously), and it took about five seconds on the GS for that to show. The lower seat height, on what I had always considered to be a bigger bike than my old Honda Africa Twin, was a pleasant surprise at a standstill. But as I tottered out of our office car park on it, I thought: “I don’t like this.”
My feet felt too low. The bars were too wide. The ergonomics were all over the place, the digital display was complicated, the throttle response was sharp and the speed at which it tipped into corners was unnerving.
Ultimately, though, those things all came down to familiarity. A week later, it felt similarly weird getting back onto my own bike. Why the narrow bars and high seat, pegs and centre of gravity? Why did it feel so heavy? Because exposure to vehicles – lots of vehicles – is the key to getting comfy quickly and being able to make a decent assessment.
Mine isn’t the most skilled job in the world, but one of the assets that writing about cars gives people is the ability to suss out a lot about a car in a short space of time. Then, after a longer drive, while reviewers have slightly different tastes, a consensus about a car is usually easy to find.