Scooters were but a teaser for the real thing: motorcycling. After a couple of weeks riding round Devon and Dorset on my little Vespa I was well and truly bitten by the road trip bug. Time to move up to something bigger! I mean, I had the licence already – it seemed rude not to.
First though, I needed to overcome some slight confidence issues. Truth be told, despite passing my direct access course on the first go (which made up for my driving test…), I’d come away feeling a little intimidated by the size and weight of bigger bikes. During the course, I’d managed to drop the 500cc Honda I was learning on; the unstoppable mass of it toppling over had left me a little wary. And with the whole course lasting just three days, I hadn’t quite got over it before I was back on a scooter.
Ah well. The only way to get over these things is to get back on top of them, and a certain kind of bike was tempting me to do just that. Thanks in part to Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman’s Long Way Round, I was transfixed by BMW’s GS range.
As an aside, I’ve no shame in admitting the show played a role in converting me from scooters to motorbikes. I’ve since seen Ewan and Charlie knocked by Internet moaners for ‘not doing it properly’, but in my view anyone that rides around the globe and inspires hundreds of new adventures deserves a massive high-five.
Anyway, the GS. I was drawn (and still am) to the ethos of them: machines made to explore. They have a look that’s half utilitarian, half luxury, like a Transformer off on a camping trip. And the new F650 ticked all my boxes: GS looks, dual-sport versatility, an 800cc engine in a relatively beginner-friendly setup. Oh, and a fair bit lighter and cheaper than the 1200, to ease my poor nerves.
Slap some panniers on, get exploring: sign me up! I ended up splurging on a (nearly) new F650GS twin:
And that’s how I came to be a biker. I’ve since gone nearly 20,000 miles on the GS and almost every one has been a real pleasure. Hopefully there’s plenty more two-wheeled exploration to come.