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BMW GS Adventure School: Your Around-the-World Adventure Starts Here

By: Matt Bubbers|September 15, 2020
Tagged With: BMW, BMW GS, Motorcycles



Ontario’s cottage country, it turns out, has most types of terrain you’re likely to encounter riding around the world, from wide open gravel roads to tight to twisty single track trails through the forest to deep sand. We try all of them before trading the dirt bikes for BMW Adventure machines.

There’s the whole range to choose from, from the little 310 GS to the mid-size 750 and 850 GS Adventure to the tank-like 1250 GS. Swinging a leg over the 850 just feels right. The parallel-twin motor is extremely compact – unlike the wide boxer-twin in the 1250 – so the bike isn’t too big nor too small. There are all kinds of electronic rider aids, but to ride through the forest we switch them off: no ABS, no traction control. Gulp.

The forest is sublime. Sun shines down through the trees as you pass from light into shadow and back. The bike hums away, its long-travel suspension easily soaking up little obstacles, steamrolling over everything in the way those little plastic dirt bikes simply couldn’t. The throttle is easy to modulate, even at low speeds. There’s a cool, earthy early-autumn breeze in the air. Riding down into a valley, you feel the temperature drop a degree or two. There’s no danger of cars pulling out in front of you here, no lane markings to follow. There are moments of pure bliss, both thrilling and calm all at once.

And then you come around a corner and see a patch of deep sand and, for a moment, sheer panic takes over. By this point in the day though – thanks to Smout’s incredibly patient and expert tutelage – you know what to do: The trick is to keep the front wheel from bogging down. So while your instinct may be to get off the throttle and slow down when you feel the front wheel sliding sideways in the sand, what you actually need to do is the opposite: give the bike a burst of power, lifting the front end and pushing it through the soft stuff.

Every obstacle conquered feels like a victory. While one day of training is, perhaps, not quite enough to keep up Ewan and Charley on their next continent-crossing jaunt, it is enough to get you out of the house and into the unknown. Every journey starts somewhere.

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