Project Description

BMW GSA1200 2008

Markie Says: “28 years riding Lambrettas then I bought a GSA1200 and I didn’t look back”


I’ve always been a Lambretta man, from the late 70’s. I had borrowed a moped off my ex step dad who left it behind, apart from that until I got my KTM 200 EXC 20 years later, I had always driven a Lambretta – oh and the odd Vespa but don’t tell anyone.

I had been away on my Lambretta on a Euro rally on the Austrian/Slovenia border. Coming home on the motorways it didn’t matter what speed I was doing, head down or not and someone would pass me like I wasn’t moving in the outside lane sat bolt upright with square panniers and top boxes. It was only a year or so since the ‘Long way round’ was aired so knew they were BMW’s.

That was it, I always loved riding 2 wheels, Scooters are great but I just wanted to – get up and go riding – all over the place. So as soon as I could, I was at BMW in Rotherham making friends with everyone there. It was cross over time, a new bike was due out and was to be showed in a few weeks. I wanted a low spec but they only had one which was full spec and was the shops to display. I few choice words and it was mine, but even after paying for it I wasn’t allowed to see it until launch day!

This was the end of January, we planned a touring trip to the South of Spain in March for Alices birthday to say hello to my mother! The bike was run in and serviced within a week or so and we were off! Oh silly me, March is still the middle of winter! What was I thinking! This was the start of our adventures – I hated the GS for over a thousand miles – it was heavy and horrible to ride fully loaded up in full winter gear. We hit freezing cold weather, blistering heat and 10ft of snow going over Andorra! Oh how the locals laughed on the French side when I crashed in the snow!

By the time I was home I loved the bike, you can’t ride a GS like a Scooter you just have to adapt. The bike is my middle leg. As soon as Alice sits on it and we’ve settled in, I tap her leg and she says ‘I’ve missed it’ with a smile on her face and she doesn’t do that very often.

Since then I’ve done 90’000 miles on it from new and mostly 2 up and passed through 33 countries at least once but some many times! We’ve been all over the place. Two trips at 5000 miles in 3 weeks, one to the top of Europe, one to Turkey and everywhere in between!

We’ve been to Islands touring and got to the furthest points north, south, east and west – for just something to do. We’ve taken some tumbles, mainly driving slow in a car park or when you put your foot down and theres a marble just when you relax.

We’ve been through snow and ice, rain, rain and rain but mainly sun, sun, sun! Oh and the wind, don’t forget the wind, thats a hard bike to drive fully loaded in a hurricane! We’ve got lost a few times – it’s part of a tour. We’ve had arguments and laughs. We’ve ended up loosing a road and off roading for miles. We’ve found race tracks and even raced it 2 up. And once we hit 130mph fully loaded in Germany. And the amount of times we’ve nearly run out of petrol! We’ve bumped into people who know me. And we’ve met people who have become life long friends.

The things we’ve seen and the beauty of the places we’ve visited and the history! It’s the joys of touring, we hardly ever use a motorway – mainly A and B roads, you see more that way. A 350 mile day on those roads is hard work. We used to just turn up at a place and knock on doors. Once after a very long day we pulled over to a hotel, Alice came out putting her helmet on, I asked ‘why’ and the reply was ‘they wanted £800 a night’ – ping I was suddenly wide awake and found one for £80. So now we spend weeks planning our trips. I look for interesting places to see and visit, Alice finds strange interesting hotels, villas, caves or houses you wouldn’t know was there. As long a we can eat and drink were happy and if it’s got a bath even better. Or sometimes we just take a tent and rough it.

We hate cities, okay some you have to do, but the drive in and out is usually a nightmare. We prefer little villages or towns or just a castle in the middle of no where. We’re usually there late after a long sight seeing tour, we change, we explore and grab a few beers, food and usually end up in the sleazy late night bar talking to some very nice strange people. The next day – up and out to do it all again for weeks at a time.

Since I’ve owned it, I’ve tailored it to suit. People stop and go ‘wow’ and want to know where we’re going or have been. When it’s in for a service even the new BMW guys go ‘wow’ and even the managers show it off to prospecting buyers – it’s a bike thats ridden not polished. I’ve even made parts for it and redesigned parts of it and worked with BMW. I’ve swapped things around and burnt out a few sat navs and bought lots of maps. The European map is full of lines where we’ve driven.

I’ve been pulled for speeding and I’ve broken down and the amount of flat tyres I’ve had is unreal, but it helps when Continental sponsors you tyres! And it’s even been featured in a magazine and I’ve written many stories about our travels!

The bike really is top heavy fully loaded it’s hard work when your only doing a few miles per hour, get it moving and its great. It’s hard work in traffic jams and you never know if your going to bounce off a wing mirror or two and you have to concentrate so much your eyes feel like they will pop out. In Europe they see you coming in the rear view mirrors and it’s like parting of the waves! In the Uk they don’t see you or close up. We’ve nearly given up on driving in the UK, the roads are pathetic with pot holes and ruts, speed cameras, average speed cameras and reduced speed limits. Get into Europe and its not long that your on a clear A road and your off at 80mph sweeping around the corners. Of course it will sit at 70mph all day long, I prefer to drive faster but youve got to watch the fuel gauge. The tank holds 35 litres! Enough to stop every day and a half, drive at 50-55mph and your will get much further!

To start with we averaged 15’000 miles a year. Now we live on a farm with a 2 acre garden and have 4 grand kids it’s harder to get away – when it gets to 100’000 I’ll put it on display in the shop.

This thing has put more smiles on my face than anything.