Social Conditioning

I attended a bike show a weekend or two ago and there witnessed our own Stringer ride in with uncharacteristic grace. I attributed that grace mostly to his choice of ride. Stringer attended on his 99 model BMW K1200rs. It’s a bike I’m familiar with due to its historical significance; it is one of the last ‘k series’ bmw produced in the ‘flat 4’ configuration with a longitudinal drivetrain and dry clutch. Ok, ok, whatever, but it was also the first model the marque made with over 100 horsepower, as required under Germany’s previously self-imposed limit. That limit was one reason BMW had been such a prolific user of wind tunnels and fairings, to offset the power disadvantage conceded to the opposition. Stringers K12 has a clean smooth fairing, in a dark graphite grey with silver pinstripes - it presents like a sophisticated gent in a fine suit. Quite becoming.

Which I thought made it a strange choice of bike for a guy like Stringer, far too sensible, far too elegant, and I challenged him to respond to my assertion. He did:

Via this email.

Dr Mondragon,

Ok, so you’re dead wrong about the “flying brick”. Sure, it ‘looks’ sensible. All K series BMW carry the legacy of the "gentlemen’s" machine. But the k12rs? Maybe, maybe if that gentlemen were a touch overweight and clearly unstable in tight social situations, yet somehow, given enough room, had the power to bend space and time. Further, if he were the type of gentlemen that’s not at all well-mannered until you’ve taken him out into the street and flogged the living fuck out of him, relentlessly, for a week. Then, and only then, will he respect you.

Because the k12 Dr Mondragon, is all that. It is not the bike for parading around town and sipping lattes with the pannier polishers. Commit it to that alone and it will make you look like an awkward teen at blue light disco, fumbling about self-consciously, not quite understanding how those street cred threads don’t stop him moving like absolute turkey. It’s not enough just to look smooth Kyril, one has to tame the beast first if you want it to behave at parties.

And an awkwardly heavy bike with 130 horses in the stable isn’t an easy thing to tame. Open the barn door and that mass of metal comes to a frighteningly fast gallop mighty bloody quick. Really, it just “needs some space man”. Because that, is the only time it’s going to let you understand it. And let me tell you it’s thoroughly worth it, let that thing run and you can literally hear it breath relief, a big induction sigh into lungs the size of fucking mars.

The power release feels effortless and near inexhaustible. Only, only, once you have shown it your mastery at its preferred pace does it suddenly become obliging to you trotting around town. Just obliging mind, clearly not at all comfortable, and you don’t want to surprise it with some stupid teen disco move. You need to waltz that thing.

I’ve got some time for that Kyril, and a heap of understanding. There’s a large amount of affection for this machine that I’ve grown from just that there. Seriously, I get it. I’m shit at going slow. In social settings, poking around town, I’m awkward and self-conscious. There are just too many distractions, stuff that shouldn’t matter overwhelms the stuff that should and the whole show just lurches around like a cow on a bad acid trip.

But once things really get moving all that stuff just melts away. The stuff that does matter is coming at you so fast there is no time to be bothered with the stuff that doesn’t. And the K12, like me, has no trouble dealing with the fast-moving stuff. BMW put a lot of R&D into that fantastic suspension and it damn well works.

Maybe it was an overhang of war sanctions that conditioned the Germans to think they needed to self-impose power limits. That’s the problem with people really, we fall into this self-perception of what is right for us even if it clearly feels wrong. That perception is often based on what others tell us we are like or should be like.

So, you are wrong Oscar, the k12 is not at all sensible, it just keeps that insane side under wraps. And so, you see, suits me very well indeed.

Keep your mind on the road.


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