During my years in absentia, I've come to understand the inner workings of the R1150RT with a grudging familiarity. While I continue to contend that the BMW motorcycle achieves the pinnacle of what I consider to be a comfortable and capable touring rig, my dedication - if not to the brand but to this particular machine - emerges challenged only by the level of frustration I experienced coping with the few minor setbacks in engine function to which I have been subjected over the last five years. For those acquainted with the German moniker, reports of reliability are legendary - stories swapped in the gloom around campfires of machines peaking above 300K miles. Usually, such tales begin with, "I knew a guy who knew a guy who had a cousin..."
Personally, I haven't come across such legends. Though I don't entirely discount the existence of such rare and unique specimens - several documented accounts report motorcycles with over 200K on the odometer - I doubt the existence of an entire fleet of these machines. My own experience wrestling with the cantankerous systems of my Oilhead leaves me with uncertainties as to the extended future of my beloved RT. To balance the scales, a fair number of the machines I observe at vintage motorcycle shows - in various stages of resurrection - happen to wear the BMW roundel. And many of those are Boxers.
The trials and tribulations I experience in maintaining an aging BMW motorcycle leave me a tad cynical. On more than one occasion, I have been known to declare from the garage following a prolonged evening of wrenching on some failed component of German origin, that this moment shall be the last I will tolerate from this infernal contraption. I curse and gnash my teeth. Shake my fist at the beast and threaten to strip it to the rolling chassis and sell the components to the lowest bidder. My wife watches stoically, shaking her head at the railings of a husband driven mad with frustration and occasionally providing me a fresh cup of steaming coffee to fuel longer hours under the flickering neons of the garage.
Despite all this - after reassembly and a quick test turned to 200 miles on a lazy Saturday afternoon - I roll into the driveway, shut down the engine, and wonder if I can find a job where someone will pay me to leave behind my career to spend my days in the saddle. I will ride in the rain. I'll pitch a tent in lonesome places - or at least, stay in a really low budget hotel. Eat food from gas stations, consume camp rations, and brave the sad country music infested interior of Waffle Houses. I'll explore all these deliriously wondrous discomforts for just a few more moments behind the handle bars of that amazing machine.