Thursday 24 April 2014


It's no secret that I'm not very fond of BMW motorcycles. It's not the bikes so much as the brand really. It always strikes me as a very smug brand and this smugness is often reflected by the riders. I've often got chatting with BMW riders who simultaneously look down their noses at my bike (almost invariably a 20 year-old Honda of one sort or another) while complaining about the unreliability/cost of parts/general uselessness of their own machines. 

I've met a total of five BMW riders in the Sahara desert and every single one of them complained about their bikes while looking dubiously at whatever ratty old Honda I happened to be on... 

So I don't much like them.


However, I've always had a weakness for the original air-cooled GS bikes. Particularly the GS thousand. I actually owned one for a while in the late '90s. It was a low-mileage fire-damaged basket-case and I was preparing it for my first desert trip. However, a cash-flow crises forced me to sell it very quickly to raise money for a print job for which I subsequently didn't get paid...

So in the end, I made that first trip on a ratty old Honda XL600L with a 670cc Dominator motor and a 27 litre tank off an XLM. 

While I was prepping the BMW I discovered this website -

HPN are expert in converting BMWs into proper off-road machines - They built the BMW bikes that won the Dakar in the early '80s. That website is full of tips and tricks for modifying BMWs from people who have been doing it routinely for 30 years, and much of that wisdom has a wider application for adventure bikes generally.

I was surprised tonight to find that the website hasn't changed in the 15 years or so since I first looked at it. It has some newer bikes, but they've been added on - all the original content is still there! On the images reproduced here, there's still a warning that the images are 'huge' and will take a long time to download!

I remember waiting for several minutes as each image downloaded over my late-nineties dial-up internet and I smiled as they appeared almost instantly tonight! Some technology advances are clearly pretty good.

But not all...

If I was in the market for an expedition bike and had to choose between an air-cooled HPN 1000GS or a late model 1200GS, I'd pick the HPN in a heartbeat...




#HPN #Dakar #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

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