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 Hosted by BMW Motorcycles of San Antonio*

*We go a demo-ing.

The BMW MOTORRAD TOUR made a scheduled stop in the Alamo City this past weekend, bringing their current model line-up for 2023. We were there to sample what they brought. Yee-Haa!

Figuring it would be hot, hot, hot, we opted for Saturday, the second day of the two-day event, making our way south from Austin as soon as the sun rose. And we weren’t wrong. 

Rides began at 10am; an hour later it was a toasty 95 degrees and rising quickly to triple digit country.  Still, more riders kept arriving. I guess if you managed to make it through this summer here in Texas, what was one or two more 100+ degree days? Especially if you could go riding.

Ice cold bottles of water were readily available, along with wings and such from the caterer. Plus, coffee and real bathrooms inside the air-conditioned showroom! Double Yee-Haa! 

With a multitude of bikes to choose from at this event, my primary goal was to get some seat time riding the BMW R nineT Urban GS. And then compare it to the F750/850 GS models. In years past, the R nineT in any of its configurations didn’t interest me much because I considered myself primarily a long-distance touring rider, with good reason. 

But given the changing backroad and highway dynamics in Austin, where I live, either I had to change motorcycles or change zip codes if I wanted to continue to ride on a regular basis. 

Twenty years ago – maybe even 10 years ago – I could leave downtown Austin and in less than 13 minutes be on the first of many Hill Country roads on any day of the week. But that has changed, as have I. 

So I wanted to find and ride a model that would be geared more toward a weekend ride than a cross-country adventure.

I’d recently ridden a 2022 F850GS at the same San Antonio dealership back in March. While it was fun, I thought it might be more than I needed. So, I took this opportunity to spend time on the R nineT, a 1200cc horizontally opposed twin. Plus, I’m a fan of boxer motors. My 4-wheel daily driver is a 2011 Subaru Outback with 6-speed manual. 

My riding impression of the R nineT GS was mostly favorable, although it lacked both a tachometer and a gear indicator. While it did have a neutral indicator light, the addition of a tach and a gear indicator most likely would have sealed the deal for me – right then and there – because from a strictly handling standpoint the R nineT Urban GS was a blast to ride, into and out of the corners and down the straightaways. 

But the F850GS has both a tachometer and a gear indicator, as does the F750GS, its “smaller” sibling. (Both the F750 GS and the F850 GS use the same engine, tuned differently). Plus, they allow saddlebags to be easily mounted for that occasional cross-country excursion. And therein lies my dilemma. What to do? What to do?

THE RIDE: There was both a safety briefing and a walk-around model briefing, including a Q&A before we got started. Next came the demo ride, which was well planned, zipping us around San Antonio using a lead rider and a trailing rider.  Unlike many rides I have attended, when I say zipping, I really mean zipping. It was definitely fun.

On Friday, 39 riders signed up and rode. Saturday, I’m not sure how many rode.  But based upon the crowd I saw, I’m guessing quite a few more than Friday. With a menu of to-do’s back in Austin I had to call it an early day, although I wished I had more time to ride. 

THE BMW MOTORRAD TOUR will make several more stops this year in various locales, including at least two more in Texas, as they celebrate BMW Motorrad’s 100th anniversary, with “Make Life A Ride” serving as the centennial’s underlying theme. As you’d guess, a lot has happened in the 100 years since BMW began building motorcycles, and to the company’s credit, the design and manufacturing mantra established in the early 1920’s is still very much in evidence as the company begins its second century.

So git on out there and throw a leg over one if you’re a mind to! Cause there’s no better time than right now, as the weather begins to cool off – we think! – here in Texas.  

You can sign up to participate online or at the participating dealership. But my advice is to sign up ahead of time for the day you want, and then arrive early, as it’s first come – first served once you’re there. Registering for the event only assures you will get to ride on that day, not a specific time. Once there, ride as many bikes as you can.   

For more information and to register, go to:

Alan Pease is our Central Texas correspondent. He covers state and local government, as well as racing events at the Circuit of the Americas. His articles have appeared in Autoweek, and Automotive News. Prior to joining our staff, Alan produced automotive and motorcycle press introductions for BMW, MINI, Aston Martin, Jaguar and GM. Alan lives in Austin; you can reach him at

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