3 September 2012 § 2 Comments
On August 29th, I became a Swedish MC license holder.
My more-than-six-year quest drew to a close last Wednesday, following a quick tour in Falkenberg’s traffic.
This time, unlike last time, I successfully displayed an adequate safety of margin in right-hand curves; and kept sufficiently to the right side of my lane when performing right-hand turns.
This journey to get my license was been more about a change of attitudes than of learning new rules.
However, and I can say with this with confidence, I am now a better motorcycle rider than I was in America.
Finally, I wish to extend my thanks to everyone who has listened to me bitch and moan for the past six years; I really have appreciated your support.
21 August 2012 § 2 Comments
So, I didn’t pass my driving test on August 9th.
The test administrator felt that I didn’t give myself an adequate safety margin while taking right hand curves on small country roads with limited sight. As I learned later, Swedish accident statistics show that a majority of accidents involving motorcycles occur on such roads. Unfortunately for the motorcycle rider, it is not usually his or her fault, but the oncoming car traveling on the wrong side of the road.
Equally unfortunate, in the eyes of the Swedish transport authority, the burden of reducing these accident statistics rests with motorcyclists, not drivers of cars. Subsequently, all MC test administrator pay extra special attention to how far to the left potential motorcycle license holders keep themselves in these situations.
I naturally argued that in corners with limited visibility, a motorcyclist needs to keep to the left longer in order to see more, especially to determine the apex of the corner. The test administrator adamantly disagreed stating that IF a car were coming (on the wrong side of the road), I would have no chance to avoid a head-on impact. I disagreed; I argued that by staying to the far right I would be forced to take corner too deeply, which could cause me to exit the corner wide and head on a potential oncoming car. Likewise, I argued, if there were a car on my side of the lane, the driver would have more chance to correct his or her lane position, if they have more opportunity to see me.
To be fair, I’m not describing a situation where I was on the wrong side of the road trying to make a blind curve as straight as possible (which, in fact, the administrator said I should do, but I argued is nearly impossible if you don’t know where the apex is), we are talking about centimeters and milliseconds on roads which are not much wider than the average car.
The second “mistake” I made was not keeping to the right when making a right hand turn. By law in Sweden, vehicles are required to keep as far to the left and right of their lane when making left and right hand turns, respectively. This pertains to those lanes which are not dedicated to turns. This law was created to maintain traffic flow.
Here again I argued safety and lane ownership. He argued the law; stating that if a moped, pedestrian or bicyclist were continuing through the intersection, I would be required to give them the right of way, but also allow any vehicles behind me the opportunity to continue through the intersection, unimpeded. Thus, the motorcyclist could find himself or herself sandwiched between cars and foot traffic.
I think this is crazy and exemplifies Sweden’s attitude toward motorcycles as second class citizens of the roads!
Regardless of my irritation, and absolute disdain for this mentality, I know what they’re looking for now during the test. I must maintain my cool and keep myself to the right. I must become the “humble” motorcyclist and take my place at the bottom of the highway food chain.
That is, until I have my license.
10 July 2012 § Leave a Comment
So, I’ve passed my written test for my motorcycle license. On 9 August I will take the driving test. If all goes well, I will finally have my Seedish motorcycle license
2 July 2012 § Leave a Comment
Just learned how to add “pages” or topics to my blog. Yahoo! Noob!
16 June 2012 § Leave a Comment
Okay, I know you’ve all been wondering what the hell this series has to do with water.
Well, I’m coming to that part now… soon, anyway.
Of course, you remember in part 3, I mentioned that some clouds were looking very sad and heavy when I arrived in Gothenburg. Unfortunately, their mood hadn’t improved by the time I rode away on my new F650GS.
I concluded the paperwork quite quickly with Johan. He confessed that I probably knew more about BMWs than he did, so going through the details of the bike wasn’t his plan. Besides, his other customer finally showed up and wanted her bike too.
So, I changed into my motorcycle clothes and hopped on my new ride.
I am still getting used to the feel of this “little” bike, with its little motor. Coming from the R1100RT, the F650GS feels like a bicycle.
The engine and slippery clutch didn’t disappoint me in the power or smoothness department.
I was easily away and in traffic in no time.
This day also corresponded with the grand opening of a BMW motorcycle dealership, so I felt obliged to pay them a visit.
The former Gothenburg BMW dealership was sold to make room for more Minis and BMW cars – a common occurrence in the European market where BMW motorcycles are often sold at BMW care dealerships.
Lucky the new dealership was only on the other side of the motorway, a quick ten minutes drive.
Not only did this give me a chance to see the new establishment, I also could remove the thermal liner from my jacket. Despite the impending weather, the temperature was a balmy 20° C.
The new dealership was a little lean on bikes, but I really wasn’t in the market to trade in the one I just picked.
I decided after only ten minutes, that it would be best to start my journey home.
I was a bit nervous, being it Friday, that I would get caught in rush hour traffic. Thankfully, it was not too bad.
There were actually moments of bump-to-bumper, but in comparison to Southern California, it was like a country road on a Sunday afternoon.
After about thirty minutes, I had cleared Gothenburg.
Then it started to rain.
(Trial by water, part 6 coming soon.)
12 June 2012 § Leave a Comment
Okay, let me put an end to everyone’s confusion…
So, while Johan (the dealer) was getting the details and paperwork for the R1200GS, I decided to try my “new” bike on for size. I swung my leg over the beast (naturally kicking the right saddlebag as everyone does) and righted it.
Oh my god, I thought, these things are heavy!
As I sat atop my dream bike, I started to think about all the things that come with a BMW shaft-drive twin: regular valve adjustments – not just checking, they need to be adjusted, a dry clutch, a “clunky” transmission, transmission and final drive oil changes, leaky rear main seals, and higher weight and initial cost.
My mind was spinning…
I needed to try “my” F650GS that Johan has prepared for delivery, by placing outside.
With the R1200GS still glowing in mind, I looked at this “little” bike – this “false” BMW. How could I like face everyday with this beginners’ motorcycle, I thought.
But all these thoughts dissipated when I sat on the “diminutive” model. It was light, it was well balanced, it was “low” to the ground – it still has a 32″ seat height, which is gigantic in H.D. terms.
But it has a chain! screamed my thoughts.
I started the motor. It definitely didn’t start like a twin: it was easy and quick. It didn’t have the familiar torque motion of a twin, but when I blipped the throttle it made itself clear that it was ready to go. I thought, maybe if I change out the pipe and it might sound like it has more than 71 h.p.
And, what about this chain. So what if needs to be lubed and replaced. The new o-ring chains are much better than older chains, and they last a long time. Besides, the F650GS has a center stand, so maintaining a chain isn’t really an issue. And, I will probably buy an automatic chain-oiler to make things easier.
So what was really getting in the way… my thoughts. I had decided that I wanted a change. I was tired of all the extra hassles that BMW twins have, and I didn’t want to go back to a K.
Buying another brand was another option, but I’m hooked on BMW’s heated grips and, actually, their quality is pretty good. I have owned a couple of Hondas and a coupe of Ducatis, and I can safely say that none of them had the fit and finish of my BMWs.
Therefore, after all this mental debating, when Johan returned with the paperwork on the R1200GS, I told him I didn’t even need to look – I will take the F650GS.
This was my first trial and I passed.
I made a decision and, although I wavered tremendously, I stuck with it.
I bought my first BMW F650GS.
(Trial by water, part 5 coming soon)
9 June 2012 § 2 Comments
So I arrived in Gothenburg around 13:30.
On the train ride up, I studied for the Swedish MC license, which I still need to take. I have an app on my phone that allows me to read theory and take practice tests. As I have mentioned in other posts, passing the Swedish written test is no small matter. First, I am obliged to take it in Swedish; although my command of Swedish is adequate, the language in these tests are akin to legalese. Second, few question are straightforward: most are written so that there might be multiple correct and incorrect solutions. Third, I have a real attitude problem with the whole idea of having to take (and pay) for something that I have been doing for more than twenty years.
Anyway, I arrived in Gothenburg a little ahead of schedule. I knew that the dealer (Johan) had another appointment at 14:00, so there no was no rush to get to the dealership. While waiting for the bus to take me there, I started to notice the weather was changing its attitude. When I left Falkenberg, the sun was not alone in the sky, but the clouds looked happy and fluffy. The clouds moving over Gothenburg now were less happy.
I arrived at the busstop across from the dealership about ten minutes to two. I figured I could look at clothing/accessories while I waited for Johan to conclude is other transaction. But, I had no idea what was waiting for me inside.
Remember how I said (in part 2) that I had resigned myself to the F650GS, and let go of my pursuit to purchase a 2007 R1200GS? Well, would you believe it, Johan had just taken in trade a one-owner, low mileage, gray 2007 R1200GS equipped with a black seat, saddlebags and front fender extension. THE BIKE I had been looking for for over two years!
I immediately called Turi, but she didn’t answer.
Johan was on the phone when I arrived. When he got off, I immediately assailed him, “I want THAT bike!”
Naturally, his response (as any good dealer should respond) was, “Okay, no problem.”
While he went for the details and paperwork for the R1200GS, Turi called me.
“You won’t believe what I’m looking at,” I said. “My dream bike!”
And, being the most excellent wife that she is, she responded “Get it.”
Let the trials begin…
(Trail by water, part 4 – coming soon)