FAQ

 

BMW Motorcycles USA

 

The FAQ Page
(Frequently Asked Questions)


This page is loosely maintained by our Phantom FAQmeister.  Any comments on taste in general, complaints of poor taste, lack of taste or too salty or other requests , are too bad as he ain't a gonna listen to you.  All of the answers here have been carefully researched and thoughtfully developed.   If there occasionally appear to be disconnects between the question and the answer, the probable source is that we had good answers that just didn't have decent questions so we had to improvise.   Also we did a couple of cut and pastes that were disconnected and we are still debating their proper realignment.

Nonetheless, most of what is here is true at least some of the time.  Some is true darn near always.  And the rest you really don't want to know about.  In fact, you might be better off just clicking the link above and getting out of here early.  WARNING:  WARNING:  There might be a serious question somewhere among the following.

Webmaster note:  The phanfaq, for reasons that will soon become obvious, desires to remain anonymous.  It has to do with an executive board decision that stated "....in the absence of a substantial body of real questions from history, our best strategy would be to brainstorm a bunch of questions and then assign answer-writing [of the FAQ] to the least qualified or other appropriate individual." As reading on will validate for you, the candidate selection was consistent with the board's intent.  His/her identity obviously has to be concealed for the good of all. (No, this is not the webmaster in drag.)


FAQ Table of Contents

  1. Where is Hampton Roads?
  2. Why did the club use Hampton Roads in the name?
  3. Isn't the club mostly just a bunch of geezers who spend all their time drinking  coffee, eating breakfast and talking about Beemers?
  4. Do you have to ride a BMW to be a member?
  5. Is it true that club officers put Harleys down all the time?
  6. Is there a difference between being a motorcycle Owner and being a motorcycle Rider?
  7. Is BMWMCHR affiliated with any other BMW clubs?
  8. Are any BMWMCHR members also members of other clubs?
  9. Are there any requirements for attendance at club events before joining?
  10. Are there any requirements for attendance at club events after joining?
  11. Where do all the profits go?
  12. Where is the annual rally?
  13. What about breakfast?
  14. What are the benefits of membership in BMWMCHR?
  15. What is the club's position on helmet laws?
  16. What are the rules for a group ride?
  17. How fast do groups typically ride?
  18. What kind of BMWs do members ride?
  19. So what is the deal with Sunday mornings?
  20. What kinds of occupations are represented among the members?
  21. Is the club prejudiced against people who prefer motels to tent camping?
  22. How do you decide what is the right kind of jacket or riding suit to wear?
  23. Are leathers really better?
  24. Which is better -- K-bike, Oilhead or Airhead?
  25. Why don't you guys have more than one major event a year?
  26. I am really interested in international travel, adventures by motorcycle...long trips etc. Are there any others in the club that have that interest?
  27. Is the club affiliated with any national organizations (MOA, RA, etc?)

  28. How do you know when to replace a tire?
  29. Are cell phone talkers trying to get you?
  30. How far over the posted speed limit can I “safely” go?
  31. Do radar detectors really work?
  32. Is it OK to use the “motorcycle passing lane”?
  33. How far over the suggested speed (shown on yellow signs) can I go through turns?
  34. What should I be doing about the terrorist threat?
  35. What is there to do at motorcycle rallies?
  36. Why do so many people ride aimlessly around the rally grounds without a helmet?
  37. Which Harley is the best starter bike for me?
  38. What would Jesus ride (WWJR)?


 Where is Hampton Roads.  Hampton Roads is no where as it does not really exist as a place.  Due to political competition, the cities in south east Virginia: Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake etc all wanted top billing.  No one gave in so they created the fictional place called Hampton Roads.


If Hampton Raods is not a place, why is it in your name?  Yeegads man, Virginia is a place, Hampton Roads is a virtual journey, a zen like place that exists and yet it does not.  How better to capture the essence of motorcycle zen than to have it in a name for a people who seek adventure riding the pavement going to a from a place that isn’t .  Here puff on this a minute and you will understand.


Isn't the club mostly just a bunch of geezers who spend all their time drinking coffee, eating breakfast and talking about Beemers?

Yes, except for the women, punks, squids, campers, dual-sport riders, high-mileage tourers, commuters, rally trash, cops, racers, thirty-somethings, collectors, trials riders, wrenches, gen-Xers, canyon carvers and dudes. (Did we leave anybody out?)


 

 Do you have to ride a BMW to be a member?

Yes, but any vehicle with two or three wheels and an engine over 90ccs is considered an honorary BMW for purposes of fulfilling this requirement.


Is it true that club officers put Harleys down all the time?

No, club officers have nothing against Harleys. Some of them have even owned Harleys. Many members in good standing own, or have owned, Harleys. Some have even ridden them.  Some cool folks ride Harleys, but owning a Harley won't make you cool, nor will it necessarily make you a rider.


Is there a difference between being a motorcycle Owner and being a motorcycle Rider?

All the difference in the world.


Is BMWMCHR affiliated with any other BMW clubs?

Yes, we're not picky; if they will admit to sharing the same interest, we're cool with them.  Beyond that we are a chartered Chapter Club of the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America (BMW MOA)  and RA 


Are any BMWMCHR members also members of other clubs?

Yes; in no particular order, Airheads,  RA, MOA, AMA, AARP, Mickey Mouse Club, Price Club, Kiwanis


Are there any requirements for attendance at club events before joining?

No, you must have mistaken us for a Yahmaha riding group.


Are there any requirements for attendance at club events after joining?

The only requirement for attendance at club events is that members should attend events if they hope to have a good time and not otherwise.


Where do all the profits go?

[we'll get back to you on that when we stop laughing]


Do you have an annual rally?

Yes, sorta: We invite all our friends that we know and some we don’t to meet in the Virginia woods one weekend in October.  Highlights are the donuts, crabcakes, door prizes and riding.


What about Breakfast?

OK, I'll have the Hickory Skillet, eggs over easy, coffee. Try to arrive somewhere between 7 and 8 am any Saturday at the monthly breakfast at Golden Corral (see directions on home page).   


What are the benefits of membership in BMWMCHR?

Health Plan, Dental, Vision, 12 paid holidays, three weeks annual vacation, oodles of sick leave, free parking and day care; some restrictions apply. (Restriction #1: none of the above are offered to club members or officers.) Members are entitled to discounts - very cool - at certain local businesses but we don’t know who they are.


What is the club's position on helmet laws?

The club's position is we're a riding club, not an advocacy group; check out AMA  if you are looking for representation in the corridors of power. My position is your choice of helmet is a pretty good indicator of how highly you value your mental acuity; under current Virginia law, every rider has the right to proclaim to the world by deed, "My brain is worth all the protection a yarmulke with a strap can offer." (Technical note: this word processor, unlike me, actually knew how to spell yarmulke.)

What are the rules for group riding?

Rather than "rules" we have a sort of evolved collective wisdom that seems to work well to keep us from losing too many people on rides.  Mostly it's common sense, but there are things you don't always think about that are worth considering.  Take a look at Group Riding with the BMWMCHR that our safety officer makes us put on the web but which no one mentions at meetings.


How fast do groups typically ride?

Posted speed limits are observed at all times (as in, "By golly, there's another speed limit signpost; I'd better be sure not to run into it - some of those suckers are anchored pretty well in the ground"). There is no pressure to ride like anybody else. So it is possible some people might be wicking it up a little more than others, particularly in the twisty parts.  As a group we all respect the rider who knows his/her skill level and rides accordingly.   "Riding your own ride" is mandatory.  


What kind of BMWs do members ride?

We have the whole variety pack: from /5s to K1200RSs, and everything in between: airheads, oilheads, flying bricks, Funduros - tourers, sport tourers, dual-sports, bare-ass boxers, and even (gasp) cruisers. Actually, there might be some /2s hidden away somewhere, but we don't see them often anymore. (If the reader is not sure what all these terms mean, come to breakfast some Sunday, ask some questions and maybe, just maybe, you'll be lucky enough for somebody to bore you to tears with techno-babble. But you'll have to bring it on yourself by asking for it.) We also see members on  KTMs, Hondas, Harleys, BSAs, Triumphs, Buells, Kawasakis, Yamahas and Suzukis  (I just don't remember seeing any of these lately). It is always interesting to see what people show up riding to get to a Sunday breakfast.


So what is the deal with the monthly Sunday morning breakast?

Being God fearing folks, we gather together to give thanks for the blessings that BMW provides to our lives and have no reason to have Sunday any different than any other day…you do ride your BMW before breakfast every day don’t you? 


What kinds of occupations are represented among the members?

Well, when not riding our Beemers, quite a few of us moonlight as business owners, nurses, programmer/developers, bureaucrats, technicians, active-duty military, architects, middle-management scum, doctors, salesmen, peace officers or even lawyers. We proudly count many hard-core unemployed among our members, but some of them masquerade as "retirees" or "consultants." Nobody has admitted to being a politician in my hearing lately, but we'd take 'em if they wanted to ride with us (right, gang?).


Is the club prejudiced against people who prefer motels to tent camping?

No, most of us are old enough or busted up enough to understand the appeal of sleeping in beds. On the other hand, some of us can't resist jerking the chains of those who think sleeping in a state park or KOA is an extreme sport. (Actually, now that I think of it, there are vague recollections of some pretty extreme in-tent sports when I was much younger, a-loaf-of-bread-a-jug-of-wine-and-thou kind of things. We'll just quietly leave it at that.)
 


How do you decide what is the right kind of jacket or riding suit to wear? Are leathers really better?

Better than what? Better for what? Lots of club members own leather riding gear; most of them also have jackets and/or pants made of various trademarks (Cordura, Nylon, GoreTex, Kevlar -- you get the idea). I would bet that 9 out of 10 of our active members, forced to select only one set of riding togs, would select the synthetic outfits over leather. Why? 'Cause most of us are more or less four-season, more or less touring riders. That means we ride when it's cold, when it's hot, when it's wet (or when all of these happen in succession on the same trip). Leather tends to lose on at least two of those fronts. Leather is wonderful stuff; it's perfect for track racing (when comfort doesn't mean anything) and for rides on dry days in the spring and fall, to say nothing of impressing [insert slang term for whatever you want to impress].

So how do you decide what is the right kind of stuff to wear? Your best bet is to talk to riders who do the kind of riding you want to do mostly. Come to the monthly breakfast some time or a club ride and see what people are wearing. If anybody is going to try to sell you on a type of clothing, I guarantee he/she will be pushing something in the synthetic family.


I thought I was ready to buy a BMW and then one guy said I really should get an airhead, then another said I was crazy to buy an antique design and should go for the modern K bike 4 cylinder. Just about when I was ready to plop my money down, another friend piped up that if I didn't go for an R1100 I was missing out. What should I do? How do you decide? I can only afford one bike.

Ride them all; visualize what you are really going to do with the machine; follow your heart; don't be swayed by people who feel some kind of need to make you do what they did, and thus to justify themselves. If you are a good wrench, you might get a lot of satisfaction from doing all your own work on an Airhead. If you like the power, feel and road-handling engineering of an Oilhead (=R1100 etc.), go for that. If you like the K-bike performance and feel over the twins, particularly if you are leaning toward luxo-touring, there you go. If anybody says you are crazy to buy a particular type of machine, he/she is an ass, and your most intelligent course of action is simply to walk away. (There is one exception to this world-class rule of thumb: if somebody says you'd be crazy to buy what he/she has, find out exactly why; the advice might be useful.) In the G/S crowd, I see some guys getting off on R1100 GS's and then there is the R100GS crowd that apparently could well afford an upgrade, but don't seem to do that. Why?

If you like what you have, why jack around? Alternately, you might genuinely prefer the simpler technology of the R100GS. You might feel that the R11 GS is too goddamned heavy to be taken seriously offroad. Maybe half your innumerable accessories wouldn't be compatible with the newer machine. You might be able to afford an upgrade mainly by knowing better than to covet all the latest gadgets. Some people actually believe in using it up before throwing it away (or even before trading it in).


Why don't you guys sponsor more than one Rally a year or have more group events? You have to be the only club in the universe with a single event a year. Are your members "Event-challenged"?

Why don't ***you*** sponsor an Event? It's a lot of work. The mission, charter and purpose of BMWMCHR is to enjoy riding, not to prove organizational skills or flog its members' time and energy. And if we are the only club in the universe with just one event, as you suggest, that is sufficient reason by itself: it would be a pathetic little universe with so little variety as to be limited to cookie-cutter club calendars.


I am really interested in international travel, adventures by motorcycle...long trips etc. Are there any others in the club that have that interest? Any trips planned?

There are folks in the club who've ridden in Mexico, Central America, New Zealand, and Europe; but there is no upcoming gig actively in discussion at the moment. Some members have gobs of experience riding abroad, thanks to military duty.  Occasionally we've had members who have left the country rather abruptly and haven't returned as of yet -- we've never known exactly why.   No trips planned but everyone dreams.


Is the club affiliated with any national organizations (MOA, RA, etc?)

The club is affiliated with the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America and the RA.  Makes us special. 


How do I know when it is time to replace a tire?

OK, kids, it's time for a quiz. Which do you think is the best time to replace a tire?

A-When I get home from this trip
B-When I can afford it
C-When a little voice tells me I am going to die every time I go into a corner
D-When the second or third puncture repair fails
E-When I need to pump up the tire before every ride

The correct answer is:  F. When I am preparing for the inspection at Track Day.

BEEP!  No, really, what are the visible signs a tire has had it?

Oh, you really want to know when you should replace the tire? There is a range of opinion as to the critical signs a tire needs to be replaced. Let's look at some popular trigger events:

A-Little whiskers are getting stumpy - Considering that some wannabe hotshots actually use a nail clipper to remove the little whiskers - hoping to be mistaken for hard riders - it is safe to say the whispers are not an important tire safety feature. Keep riding.

B-Flat center tread - If the middle section of your rear tire is clearly worn flat, you may not need a new tire right away, but you probably need to change the way you ride or the type of roads you ride on. Take a look at the tires on a new bike sometime. Notice, both tires have a rounded profile, more like Captain Piccard's head than Fred Munster's? That's what yours should look like. The way to keep them looking like that is that leaning thing you've read about.

C-Worn down to wear bars - Strangely enough, the wear bars really are intended to inform you when your tire's life is about used up. This is not a greedy plot by the manufacturer to conn you into buying new rubber prematurely.

D-What the hey are wear bars? See C above. Have you ever considered taking the MSF basic safety course?

E-No visible tread pattern over half of the tread profile - Listen, a street tire worn down slick does not magically become a racing tire. And no, just because it isn't raining, you can't assume the tire is just as good as ever.

F-Cords showing - Has anybody ever told you you're one cheap SOB?


Q. Are cell phone talkers trying to get you?   Or, why do so many drivers (and absolutely every female driver under 30) find it necessary to talk on the mobile phone while pulling away from the curb? Why can't they finish the bleeping call before getting in motion?

A.  The three most common and deadly delusions in contemporary life are that  1) I can multi-task without sacrificing performance ; 2) my time is precious because I am so busy; and 3) I need to be in touch with somebody at all times or cease to exist as a social entity.  Put these fundamentally absurd notions together, and you can be sure it would never occur to a lot of people not to use the phone while pulling out into traffic.  Why these bizarre delusions afflict young women more than others is hard to explain.  My guess is that girls are just a little ahead on the  cultural-garbage learning curve, and within a generation or two every driver will be as distracted and ungrounded as the Heathers, Ashleys, and Britneys.  As always: assume that everyone out there "sharing" the road is drunk or deranged, and you'll be right most of the time.


Q. How far over the posted speed limit can I “safely” go?
A. The traditional rule of thumb – two-thirds the posted speed times pi over the square root of 2 -- is no longer recommended (76% of licensed riders – and 98.8% of unlicensed riders – can't solve this anymore even with a calculator). The contemporary rule of thumb, as everybody now knows, is 10. Unfortunately, nobody knows if this means 10 percent, 10 MPH or maybe 10 KPH.  For safety and simplicity, we recommend you use the average of these values, to the nearest three decimals. Here’s an example:

Posted limit: 65. Speedo error: 8% high.  Using the average, you can probably avoid a ticket going 78.877 on the speedo. Simple, right?  Disclaimer: Doing long division problems in your head while riding has been shown to be equivalent to a BAC of about 0.08, so what this means in reality is that you will probably be pulled over on suspicion of DUI, rather than just for speeding.  Using an abacus while riding is also not recommended (wind can introduce calculation errors).

PS: police are not obligated to obey rules of thumb; besides, randomly variable negative reinforcement is a great way to derange target subjects.
 


Q. Do radar detectors really work?
A. Yes, they really work at telling the officer you had intention and forethought of breaking the law and avoiding detection, a sure way to make an impression on him or her. Radar detectors are also somewhat effective against ol’ Barney trolling while dozing, assuming you cut the throttle faster than he wakes up. As a means of protecting yourself against an alert, aware, trained officer using the radar for verification: not a chance.


Q. Is it OK to use the “motorcycle passing lane”?
A. Traffic regulations of approximately zero states recognize the existence of the motorcycle passing lane. For some silly reason, every state and province persists in understanding the double yellow line to mean no-pass for everybody.  Very retro. 

Q. But it’s not fair; on a bike I can easily pass in a lot of double-yellow line zones, and it sucks to follow RVs dragging ass through miles of twisties.
A. Your question being?


Q. How far over the suggested speed (shown on yellow signs) can I go through turns?
A. Assuming 1) there are no obstructions past your line of sight, such as critters, cages driven 10 miles below the limit by guys wearing hats, flaming wrecks, etc.2) there are no road-traction factors like oil slicks, cow flops, gravel, edge traps, etc. in the turn, 3) you have superb, track-tested, high-speed riding skills: you should have no trouble going fast enough into turns to discover that at least one of your assumptions is false.


Q. What should I be doing about the terrorist threat?
A. As concerned citizens, we riders need to take measures to minimize the impact of global terrorism. What lends real reach to terrorists is not their action, but our fear. Our fearful reactions to threat, real or imagined, are far more crippling than any potential deeds of the bad guys. Thus, it is our duty as citizens (as opposed, say, to CIA operatives) not to react at all, to keep on doing what we would have done. Which, in our case as riders, is ride! So quit moping over the stupid, color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System ("Today, we want you to have elevated anxiety, but maybe tomorrow it will be guarded, or high, or severe, for reasons only we know and can't tell you" – talk about random negative reinforcement conditioning.) and get out there and ride. Yes, you. Yes, now. If you are not riding your motorcycle (and if you were, you would not be reading this), you are aiding and abetting Osama Bin Laden and his plan to obliterate Western Civilization. What are you waiting for? Get out on the road and shame the Devil.  Besides, where are they more likely to strike: your cubicle at MegaGlobal Corp. headquarters on the 29th floor of the Acme Building or a Forest Service road 19 miles northwest of Dogpatch Junction?  Spread out, people! 

Q. What is there to do at motorcycle rallies?
A.  The rally is an pretext for motion, my son, not a destination. It is the calm at the center of the whirlwind, or at least it would be if they’d turn down the amplifier blasting Bob Seger at the Beer Tent a little.  The [fill-in-the-blank] County Fairgrounds is not a freakin’ theme park  What did you expect, anyway? Be grateful for a few square meters to pitch your tent and someplace else to return the beer you drank.  BTW, the basic, fair-dinkum answer to the question is: spend money freely and talk rubbish loudly.

Q. Why do so many people ride aimlessly around the rally grounds without a helmet?
A. Other than because there is not all that much else to do (see the previous FAQ), the answer is that they either want to get cool or look cool. They’re doomed in either case.

Q. Which Harley is the best starter bike for me?
A.  This depends on whether you actually intend to ride it, or just park it in your garage and push it out on weekends as driveway art.  If the latter, follow your heart and buy the model that will make you think you look really cool.  If the former, follow some common sense and delay the Harley purchase until you have a few thousand miles of riding behind you, preferably on something a few hundred pounds lighter.

Q. What would Jesus ride?

A. Probably a VeloSolex.  What, you thought I was going to suggest your 800-lb. 'Wing or perhaps a cream-colored Heritage Springer Softtail™? You’re on pretty thin ice there, theologically speaking.  Of course, so is the question. But that doesn't seem to stop anyone anymore, and the PhanPhaq doesn't want to be found deficient in gratuitous blasphemy compared to his fellow mullahs or elected officials.  Gott mit uns, dude.
 

 

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