2001 BMW K1200LT

Owned:  May ’06 – Apr ’09
Miles ridden:  26,981

The “Blue Pig” pig made a wonderful highway bike – it could tour endlessly two-up at whatever speed you wanted. The weather protection of the bike was outstanding, the heated seats and grips made touring in colder weather much more comfortable, and there was plenty of room for luggage.

But there was no getting around it, this was a big bike. With slow speed maneuvers, like turning around, you dare not brake with the front wheel or the bike is going over – too much inertia from the weight to hold it up. That’s where we came up with the name “Blue Pig” — I was reading one of the forums one day and a guy posted “I dropped the pig, now what do I do?” Actually, with proper technique, I could get the bike back up myself. The designers anticipated the problem and built wings on the lower forward fairing, and bumpers on the sidecases in the rear, which kept the bike from falling over completely and protected the painted surfaces.

This was the bike I took to Alaska, and it worked out well by and large. It rained cats and dogs one entire day and the fairing of the LT kept me dry. I hauled my tent and sleeping bag along (but didn’t need it), and everything else I needed.

I made it part way up the Dalton Highway (“Haul Road”), the gravel road built to install and maintain the Alaska pipeline. At the Arctic Circle I decided to turn around rather than go all the way to Prudhoe Bay. Reprts of the road on the north slope of the Brooks Range said it was muddy and rutted, not something I wanted to attempt with the big, low, heavy bike.

My major maintenance project on the LT was checking the valves. I followed a suggestion on one of the forums to insert a dowel into the cylinder to find top dead center, but failed to keep it parallel with the cylinder and as the piston neared the top of the cylinder it broke off a piece of the dowel! The cylinders in the LT engine are horizontal and spark plug hole is fairly deep, so I couldn’t see the piece left in the cylinder. I tried a whole bunch of things to fish it out, with no success. I was tempted to just put everything back together and see what would happen with the piece in there, but the gurus on the forums strongly advised against that and counseled patience – I’ll get it eventually, they said. Finally, on the morning of the second day I decided to lay the bike over as far as I could so the top of the piston would approach horizontal, and then use a length of insulated wire to see if I could find the piece of dowel and move it to the center of the piston. It worked, and I could now see the piece down there. Next I used a clawed pick-up tool and on the second try pulled the piece out. I can’t recall ever having felt such a sense of accomplishment. Given the size of the piece it’s fortunate I didn’t just leave it in there – that would have guaranteed bent valves, and worse.