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This is a writeup I did for my local IAM rag but I thought it might be of interest to some here.

There was more that a nip in the air when we all assembled in Ystalyfera, South Wales at the BMW Offroad Skills headquarters to be greeted by husband and wife team Simon and Linley Pavey along with their team of off road instructors. The bikes were all assembled outside the unit and an impressive sight they made. Present were about a dozen or so of each of four of the current BMW adventure bike range namely the G650GS, the more extreme G650GS Sertao, The F800GS and the all new 2013 watercooled R1200GS. The lineup was completed with a handful of R1200GS adventures which would be ridden by the instructors.



After the formalities of paper work and driving licence checks we all assembled, started our engines, and made our way towards Walter’s Arena which would be our playground for the next two days.

Following a quick, but for Simon rather expensive, fuel stop we got on our way again and soon found ourselves shivering in the near freezing temperatures as off road riding gear we were wearing was more about protection and keeping cool than keeping warm on unseasonably cold road rides.

Once at Walter’s Arena we were streamed into number of groups ranging from those with little or no off road experience to those with either some current or past experience. Carina wisely chose the former and I ended up in the latter. It was only once I was in the group that I realised I was the only one in the “experienced” group daft enough to have chosen the R1200GS, all the others having chosen the more manageable 650 and 800 machines. Never mind. In for a penny in for a pound I say.

The first part of the day was based around general machine control and slow maneuvering and it was here on road and off road techniques vary considerably. Where the IAM and other road based training institutions teach you to drag the rear brake to some extent, in off road circles it’s all about balance and on / off clutch control. No slipping the clutch here, it’s either in or out as the last thing you need in the middle of nowhere is a failed clutch. Tight slaloms and full lock circles were the target and most of the group managed with some practice. Next was braking which ranged from the simple locking up the back wheel and skidding to a halt to driving power on with the front wheel locked and seeing how long you could push a stationary wheel without having to release the front brake. It was surprising with practice how far you could push things and still recover. It goes without saying there were many drops and falls and this was one of the real benefits of the course as you could safely take things too far and not have to worry about expensive repair bills when the inevitable tumbles happened.

Once everyone had brushed up on the basics it was off for a trail ride round the extensive arena. As well as forest fire roads and tracks there were many impromptu trails and obstacles such as large piles of gravel and muddy tracks to navigate. This most of us managed without incident but there was generally a faller or two each session and we all mucked in to help our fallen comrades.



Engine braking was our next lesson and it was the first of many leaps of faith we made. This particular leap involved letting the bike roll down a rather steep rocky trail and simply letting the engine provide the braking force. What tended to happen was you accelerated and then the compression braking cut in and it arrested this acceleration. As I say it was a leap of faith but everyone managed without incident.



Following a rather nice lunch of pasta our next activity was hill turning. Or in other words recovering from a failed attempt to climb a hill by turning the bike round mid climb and descending again. Here I came my only cropper of the weekend which resulted in much hilarity and a badly gouged crash helmet. Thankfully the helmet, along with the full body armour I was wearing saved the day and impressive as my tumble back down the hill looked, I came of completely unscathed. Unfortunately the bike wasn’t so lucky and a cracked valve cover needed some emergency repairs for the next day.



Another hour or so of trail riding and we were done for day one and all that was left was another cold ride back to base which gave an opportunity to play with the new R1200GS on the road and pretty impressive it is too. The new engine really is suited to road use and it spins up like a sports bike and with the bike in dynamic mode it will lift the front wheel in first or second with just a twist of the wrist. The things I have to do just to test bikes :)

That evening we had a lovely meal with Simon and his team as the Abercrave Inn, which as luck would have it was the very place we were staying so so problems with getting home for us.

Day two started as day one with a mass run back to the arena and after a warm up trail ride it was off to practice hill climbing on the monster hill which at about 45 degrees claimed one victim but the rest of us made it up first time. Subsequent times were done with more gusto with a couple of us getting both wheels airborne at the plateau midway up the hill. In fact it seemed we were now going much faster everywhere that we had the day before.


The hill known as “Momentum” followed which was a test of anticipating how much momentum was needed to climb a short 20 foot high but rather steep hill. We had to accelerate on the level and then at the foot of the hill close the throttle and aim to freewheel up the hill and just come to a stop at the top. This was useful training for when you weren’t sure what was over the crest and had to carry just enough momentum to reach the summit and no more. This again caused much hilarity as people either overshot of failed to reach the summit. Once we had the knack of it we had to crest the hill then immediately perform a full lock U turn and go back down. Another U turn then up again. Excellent fun and as tricky as it sounded.

After a lunch of chicken curry there was an opportunity for us to try the other bikes and I have to say the G650GS Sertao is an absolute hoot. You could ride it like a motocrosser and slide it all over the place with total confidence. I now understood why the rest of my team had chosen them. Back to our “own” bikes and it was time for more more trail riding which was getting progressively more technical and this now included riding along six inch wide ridges and performing mini wheelies to clear drainage ditches. Get it right and it was really satisfying. For those unfortunate enough to get it wrong the results were spectacular.

Last up in the day was mud and water and by now the team was jelling so much that when one of our team fell in the mud exiting a pool of water the others took delight in driving past and soaking them even more. It was a hoot and by the end we were all pretty wet and muddy.

More trail riding and the last exercise of the day was the loose earth hill climb and this was pretty much impossible for us mortals and after umpteen attempts and recoveries only three of our team of ten managed it. It was just too much for me and the 1200.



And that was it... Back to base for goody bags and diplomas. The bikes were great and the instructors more so.

All in all a great weekend.
 

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Bloody furriner
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Sounds like a lot of fun, especially on someone elses bike. :mrgreen:

I really should do a course like that some time.

I don't like the look of that rutted bit very much, that's where I went wrong last year at the National. But then I shouldn't really have been doing loose sand offroady bits on a front tyre with 14k miles on it... ;-)
 

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OVALTEENY !!!
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Nice write up Gordon

What tyres were most of the bikes wearing?
 

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Wing Commander
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Excellent write up. I want to go.
 

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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Sounds like a lot of fun, especially on someone elses bike. :mrgreen:

I really should do a course like that some time.

I don't like the look of that rutted bit very much, that's where I went wrong last year at the National. But then I shouldn't really have been doing loose sand offroady bits on a front tyre with 14k miles on it... ;-)
It was a great deal of fun.. Not cheap but well worth the chance to try risky things on big expensive bikes without having to pick up the repair bill.



This needed a new rocker cover and I only dropped it twice and neither time at speed.


Nice write up Gordon

What tyres were most of the bikes wearing?
Of the 1200s I checked they were either shod with oe Karoos (which the instructor I spoke confirmed were still not great) or TKC-80s.

Mine was on TKC-80s but I forgot to check what size were fitted as the rear rim on the new GS is set up for a 180 tyre

 

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Discussion Starter #9
I wouldn't mind giving that a bash sometime. But I'd definitely be in the "novice" class - and probably be the class dunce as well. :D
They really were very good. They split us by ability into four or five groups and even although my chum found parts of the course a bit much she was never made to feel embarrassed or belittled. While she was encouraged to complete all the lessons she was under no pressure to do so and a couple of points she took an hour out and sat in the van and blethered with Linley (Simon's wife). It really is for all abilities and as difficult as you want to make it.
 

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OVALTEENY !!!
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Thanks Gordon

I just got myself some E10s (yellow stripe) for the Pyrenees trip

Did 165 miles on them so far and even the paint is hard as it has not worn off
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks Gordon

I just got myself some E10s (yellow stripe) for the Pyrenees trip

Did 165 miles on them so far and even the paint is hard as it has not worn off

On the road and trails I found the E-10s I used on the GSA were indistinguishable from the TKC-80s They even looked almost the same with the blocks being only slightly different. They even lasted about the same.



E10 on the left TKC-80 on right
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Sounds like a great weekend,

Was Gary Taylor one of the instructors that weekend?

Sent from my GT-N8010 using Tapatalk HD
There was a Gary there but I'm not sure of his second name. If he was a gentleman with a round face and a baldy head then I think the answer is yes.
 

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hi enjoyed rading your report:thumbup::thumbup:
i would rearly like to go.
whats the cost for the 2 days, and being a big lad at 6.4 ft and 2!! stones do they have gear to fit me..
simons a great rider one day he might win the dakar:thumbup:
 

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OVALTEENY !!!
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On the road and trails I found the E-10s I used on the GSA were indistinguishable from the TKC-80s They even looked almost the same with the blocks being only slightly different. They even lasted about the same.



E10 on the left TKC-80 on right
They are like the E10s I have on the Marathon though I did find them harder that the TKCs - they have redone the compound due to wear rate complaints

The Marathon E10s after 2000kms including the trip to the National in Norfolk in very hot weather - see the chicken strips are all still there - maybe I'm riding like a wuss !!

P1050260.jpg P1050259.jpg

These are the grade I have for the Pyrenees

E10s 001.jpg E10s 003.jpg
 

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one of the best reports I've read on the BMW off road training :thumbup:
I've never been quite sure as it costs so much & the bikes are fairly big for me @5ft 2
Sounds like they get stuck into some of the more difficult techniques fairly quickly :eek:

Can you persuade your friend to write-up about the novice group?
 

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OVALTEENY !!!
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one of the best reports I've read on the BMW off road training :thumbup:
I've never been quite sure as it costs so much & the bikes are fairly big for me @5ft 2
Sounds like they get stuck into some of the more difficult techniques fairly quickly :eek:

Can you persuade your friend to write-up about the novice group?
You'll be allright in your high heels Elle
 

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Discussion Starter #19
They are like the E10s I have on the Marathon though I did find them harder that the TKCs - they have redone the compound due to wear rate complaints
Yes mine did wear fast. Just like the TKCs 2000 miles and they were 3/4 done but (again like the TKCs) that last quarter just seemed to last for ever and I ended up with over 4K before changing

The Marathon E10s after 2000kms including the trip to the National in Norfolk in very hot weather - see the chicken strips are all still there - maybe I'm riding like a wuss !!

View attachment 23029
They are lasting well. They must really have firmed the compound up a lot. I can't see it making much difference off road but how are they on road.
 

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Fab report & fab pics there Boris, & particulary liked the tyre report too very interesting to read.
Thanks for sharing.
 
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