This week the odometer on my 2012 BMW G650GS Sertão motorcycle passed through 50,000 miles. We were riding through the city of Cartagena, Spain. A place we’ve been since the Spanish Prime Minister declared a State of Alarm due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am often surprised that my motorcycle only has 50,000 miles because we’ve discovered some incredible places and created memories of a lifetime during those miles. It’s the quality – not the quantity!
My first and only motorcycle
I purchase the motorcycle used in San Diego county. It belonged to a young man who left the motorcycle to attend college in Texas. He asked his father to sell it for him. The price was right, at $4,999, and the mileage was low at 9,968 miles. Quite a bargain, considering a new one would set one back $8,960. The maintenance records showed the motorcycle had all the needed service done at the local BMW dealer. The bike was perfect, except for one problem; the color was white.
Fortunately, our other motorcycle, another BMW G650GS was red. A quick swap of the body panels and I now had a red motorcycle – my favorite color.
What’s in a name?
What to name it? I’ve often felt that motorcycles are the modern version of horses. Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, I have fond memories of our horses and I remember riding them well before I learned how to ride a bicycle. One of the first horses I rode was a palomino pony named Apache. Perfect! Apache it is!!
Why a BMW G650GS?
Honestly, it came down to the best budget bike with fuel injection and ABS braking. I knew I didn’t want to fiddle with a carburetor and I felt the ABS was a crucial safety feature for a brand new rider like myself. BMW was one of the first manufacturers to include ABS on all their motorcycles so it quickly rose to the top of a short list.
Another reason I chose a BMW G650GS was that the engine had a reputation for being very reliable with many folks successfully riding all over the world. Allan Karl wrote a book, titled Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection, about his journey through North America, South America, Africa, and Europe on his F650GS. He still rides his 650GS – Now with over 100,000 miles and 65 countries!
Why do you call it a “Mule”?
I think the G650GS is somewhat of a Frankenstein of a motorcycle. There are parts that look like a dirt bike and parts that look like a touring bike. It kinda takes the best of those two and creates a new segment of bike called a “dual sport” or “adventure” motorcycle. The GS name is Gelände/Straße in German which means (off-road/road) so they are designed for both.
The meager 47 horsepower from the 650cc engine isn’t exactly thoroughbred fast but can propel it up to 100 MPH given enough roadway. It can run all day at 70 MPH and it sips through low-octane gas at about 55-65 MPG.
The frame of the 650GS is strong and designed to pack A LOT of weight – 415 lbs. Kinda like a mule.
So there you have it – It’s not fast, a bit ugly, and it packs a lot of weight – a mule!
What motivates you to travel the world on a motorcycle?
This is good question that can be summed up with the quote “I travel, not to run away from life, but so that life does not run away from me.” I’ve been traveling ever since I turned 18 and enlisted in the United States Navy. During my military service I got to visit countless countries and experience many different cultures. With each new discovery, my wanderlust continued to get stronger and I wanted to experience more. Fortunately, I have a wonderful wife who has the same desire to see and experience the world.
Why is Alex Chaćon’s name on your mule?
An American named Alex Chacón was one of the first motorcycle travel videos I remember watching on YouTube. He left medical school to ride a motorcycle from Texas to the southern tip of South America. It ended up changing the direction of his life and he’s been sharing his adventures for a while now. During a Horizon Unlimited event, Alex signed my bike. His signature has since faded, but I created a vinyl sticker that reminds me to live my dreams every time I see it.
What’s the attraction?
So how does a mechanic tool, made of metal, plastic, and rubber, become something that I’ve become so attached to? Perhaps it’s the memories of all the places we’ve discovered together. Perhaps it’s the feeling of freedom that I experience nearly every time I sit behind the handlebars. Perhaps it’s the simplistic beauty of an engine attached to a rear wheel via a chain? It’s difficult to explain but there is an attraction. Not a human attraction, but an affinity. A natural fondness for a mechanic tool that creates fond memories.
Here is a list of some of the wonderful places we’ve traveled together:
- Arizona’s Backcountry Discovery Route, USA.
- Baja, Mexico.
- From San Diego, across the USA and southeastern Canada, to Maine where he was shipped to Iceland.
- Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
- Much of Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and northern France.
- Most of the UK and Ireland.
- The Balkan countries from Greece to Croatia.
- Many of the alpine passes throughout the Alps in Austria, Italy, and Switzerland.
- Most recently, eastern France, and eastern and southeastern Spain.
Not bad for 40,000 miles!
The journey is far from over! Despite the current pandemic we’ve still got plans to see and experience as much of the world as we can on two wheels. We’ve been dreaming of this adventure for years and we’re not about to give up on it anytime soon.
Apache, here’s to another 50,000 miles of wonderful adventures and discoveries. Cheers!