Wow, I’m back in New Zealand. When I left in 2003 I said to my publisher (of Kiwi Rider magazine) not to worry, I’d be back in a year, max two. So as he collected me a few days ago from Auckland Airport I apologised to him – 17 years has passed…
I’m here for the 2020 BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy, working with BMW as their press writer, again. You see, this is my sixth GS Trophy, but this one will be different – I’ll be reporting on this one from a car. Point being I crocked my knee just before leaving, while testing the 2020 Yamaha WR250F. Quite badly in fact, with meniscus and ligament damage (and just got confirmation it’s an operation to fix). So there’s no riding for me on this trip – and I was so looking forward to getting initiated with the F 850 GS.
Arriving in NZ a little ahead of the GS Trophy I’ve taken the time to visit old friends and colleagues. It’s been great to catch up and it simply doesn’t feel like the years it has since we were last together, real friends are clearly forever. Of course no visit is complete without a dig through the guys’ garages, and it’s been fun seeing what they’re riding right now.
Top image is Pete’s BMW R100GS. I rode this bike from time to time back in the day (even drowned it on the beach at Muriwai one day). It’s now with Ben (an English buddy who emigrated and took over my editor job at Kiwi Rider). Ben’s giving it plenty of TLC, while retaining its battle worn look. I like the KTM USD forks. Front brake is Ducati! We love this bike, but one thing’s for sure it could do with a taller final ratio – it gets buzzy over 100km/h.
The Ural outfit also belongs to Pete. This is his true pride and joy. That’s an R80 motor he’d dropped into it, which mates quite easily with the Ural gearbox, so keeping the reverse gear and two-wheel-drive that comes with that. The seat is American custom, comes with an adjustable air bladder for extreme comfort. He’s just wheeling it out of Dold Industries in Hamilton where they’d fashioned new racks for even more luggage carrying. The rig is extensively ridden in adventure events all over NZ.
The classic 70s Japanese trail bikes are Chris’s passion. There’s a DT1 in there, plus TS Suzukis of every capacity. All in showroom condition. I need to come back again and ride these!
The solitary Brit iron is John’s Triumph T100S-based special. It’s in the style of an ISDT bike, and the components come from everywhere. That’s an XL250 front end, with the hub painted to look British. Modern footpegs are positioned rearwards and similarly those are forward mounted handlebars, so while it looks authentic the ride position is very modern.
In the next few days I’ll be onsite with BMW prepping for the start of the Int.GS Trophy, hobbling from here to there, keeping up with the arrival of the 23 international teams. It’s a big gig. But I’ll report on that later.