In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M Pirsig writes: “In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realise that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
“On a motorcycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.”
Pirsig’s words will ring true to many a biker who equates riding with freedom, and the sentiments take on even more meaning in these times of restricted liberties. As we emerge from winter and a pandemic-enforced hibernation, it’s time to hit the open roads on a two-wheeler. The breakfast runs beckon.
With the eased lockdown regulations and warmer weather luring more people outside, BMW and Triumph have timeously launched new bikes in SA to feed the wanderlust.
TRIUMPH TIGER 900
This is the successor to the popular Tiger 800, a middleweight adventure bike that made its debut in 2010. The versatile tourer and gravel motorcycle gets a power boost and the latest technology.
A 100CC (cubic capacity) increase to the three-cylinder engine, along with the bike being 5kg lighter, has made a punchier performer out of the British machine. It also gets more vocal charm — a change in the engine’s firing order gives it a gruffer voice.
Two versions of the Tiger 900 are on sale in South Africa: the off-road-focused Rally Pro at R229,000 and the more tar-based GT Pro at R225,000.
The Rally Pro tackles bumpy adventure trails with a higher ground clearance and more rugged wire-spoked wheels, while the road-oriented GT Pro has a lower seat more suited to shorter riders, along with electronically adjustable rear suspension.
Both versions come with a heated seat and hand grips, making the Tiger 900 a more cold-weather-friendly bike.
A raft of high-tech features includes ABS brakes, traction control, and various rider-selectable modes including Rain, Road, Sport, and Off-Road. These modes, and various other features, are displayed on a TFT digital screen. Roads less travelled can be explored with the integrated My Triumph connectivity system which enables phone-call and music operation, turn-by-turn navigation, and GoPro control.
A quickshifter allows gears to be swiftly changed without using the clutch or releasing the throttle, and the generous spec sheet is rounded off by cruise control and an underseat USB charger for cellphones.
BMW S 1000 XR
Outgrown crotch-rocket superbikes and looking for a high-adrenaline buzz with-out the sore wrists? Devour distance with comfort and real gusto on the S 1000 XR, a tourer with a sporting heart.
The potent 1,000CC four-cylinder engine is transplanted straight from BMW’s track-bred superbike, but the XR is an adventure-sports bike with an upright seating position and big windscreen that are made for comfy long-distance touring.
It’s a bike that enjoys corners too, and the 2020 version has shed 10kg to give it improved agility. ABS and traction control manage all the muscle, with four ride modes plus wheelie control.
The S 1000 XR swops its old analogue clocks for a modern digital instrument panel, offering tailor-made displays. The front and rear lights are LEDs, and the headlight comes with an optional cornering function.
The new S 1000 XR also adopts engine drag torque control (MSR) for the first time, an electronically controlled system that prevents the rear wheel from slipping as a result of abrupt throttling or downshifting.
The S 1000 XR retails for R240,000. BMW has also bolstered its local motorcycle range with a more budget-friendly F900 middleweight sport bike in two versions: the naked F900 R “roadster” for R164,700 and the more touring-friendly F900 XR with a windscreen for R169,100.
• From the September issue of Wanted 2020.