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Thread: KTM vs. BMW in The Long Way Round

  1. #1
    Stronger, Faster, Tougher iRene's Avatar
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    KTM vs. BMW in The Long Way Round

    Rather than hijack the existing thread...

    Recall that at the outset Charlie and Ewan approached both KTM and BMW about participating in the trip, and that KTM declined on the grounds that they did not feel that the trip would be a success. Afterward BMW stepped in with the Adventures and the dirt riding school in Wales.

    We all saw that there were mechanical problems, including broken frames, and that for long stretches the riders were basically pushing the bikes through bogs, across rivers, and picking them up out of mud. Ultimately, they had to call upon huge trucks to carry them across particularly washed out stretches of road and over swollen rivers.

    Would you say that KTM's assessment was therefore astute-- that the trip as planned was impossible, and that they were better off not being associated with the effort?

    Or would you say that even with the mechanical issues and having ultimately to be trailered over the last rough areas, that the trip itself was the goal, and that BMW still looks good as a brand that is willing to invest in the value of the journey rather than the particulars of how Charlie and Ewan ultimately arrived at their destination?

    Discuss!
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    Registered User Bob_M's Avatar
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    Good question

    KTm is a smaller company and it is doubtful that they have the resources available to BMW. So it stands to reason that a sponsorship that BMW could afford might be beyond the budget of KTM. Furthermore having won the Paris Dakar for the last few years KTM has demonstrated to the largest audience who might be paying attention that their machines can withstand abuse over the long haul. It has been a long time since BMW has won any motorcycle race of note (Boxer/k12S cup excepted) and the reputation of the signature big twins has morphed into a sort of SUV of motorcycles - one that works very well on pavement and takes a great photo in rough country

    BMW could only gain regardless of the ride outcome. By having their bikes tested to the max (even if the bikes break, or fail) the Marque gains knowledge with which to improve the machine (as is the time proven habit of the company). If the ride went off flawlessly they they get a long feather in their cap.

    KTM could hardly improve on their reputation and in the event of failure, much to loose.

    Good on BMW for taking the chance on trying to acomplish an impossible feat.

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    Slowpoke & Proud of It! BRADFORDBENN's Avatar
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    I think any bike would have had problems

    I think that BMW did a better job of believing in the project and the KTM came off as unsure of their motorcycles. However I believe that given the pace and terrain any motorcycle would have had problems.

    Also I am not sure that they were the most skilled of riders. Not saying that I am, as I would not even attempt that.
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  4. #4
    Rally Rat MarkF's Avatar
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    The trip was impossible - if you consider a success to jump on and ride beginning to end. But, if you consider finishing the untimate goal they did it. Using whatever was at their disposal to do it. The two real problems were overloading the trunk (it was missing in the Canada/USA leg) which might have led to the frame braking and not disconnecting the electronics before welding. One could argue that a non - ABS/Linked/Power braking system could have simplified the effort.

    KTM had nothing to gain. Everyone already considers them the serious Adventure tourer. But, the press of them backing out might have cost them a few sales. If KTM has the resources to support the Dakar rallies they certainly could have supported this effort. I have heard a lot of stories of KTMs having many problems after 20-30,000 miles. I have also heard a lot of stories of BMWs hitting 100,000 miles with no serious problems. I have not heard that about the KTM. If the KTM can handle it the Long Way Round was their chance to prove it.

  5. #5
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    I agree it was a no win for KTM. If they were doing the film editing I think it would have come off a bit different. They had nothing to prove or gain by backing a couple of novices on what would be a heavily publicized trip. If the trip were successful the bikes would not have been the heroes but the riders overcoming the impossible odds. If it failed the bikes would have been the villains and hurt a growing reputation that they have.

    BMW had nothing to loose. If the trip was successful the bikes would have proved that they are the tour de force adventure tourer even for the novice round the world rider. If they failed it would have come off that even with the best of equipment this was a difficult trip for anyone.

    BMWs deep pockets helped them make the decision. They were not trying to prove anything; they were interested in a product placement in a filmed event. I difficulty believing that KTM could not have worked out a support deal to be a sponsor for the trip of some sort, and come up with the funds. Cooler heads did a cost benefit analysis. There was no benefit to offset the cost.

    The rivers that were not crossed were impossible because of the time of year and the tight time table.

    The mechanical failures to the cameramans bike do not suprise me.

    The trip and its completion was the point. As much as I was caught up in the show, and despite the fact I have had my copy on order from Amazon for months; I am struck by the difficulty they had even with support vehicles, translators, guides and more money than I will ever have to throw at a trip. I did not like the book. I would have rather read about them taking a Vespa tour of Europe than the self serving drivel in the book. I can turn down the sound when they cry in their journal pieces in the CD.

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    K Bikes Complex by Choice cjack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iRene
    Rather than hijack the existing thread...

    Recall that at the outset Charlie and Ewan approached both KTM and BMW about participating in the trip, and that KTM declined on the grounds that they did not feel that the trip would be a success. Afterward BMW stepped in with the Adventures and the dirt riding school in Wales.

    We all saw that there were mechanical problems, including broken frames, and that for long stretches the riders were basically pushing the bikes through bogs, across rivers, and picking them up out of mud. Ultimately, they had to call upon huge trucks to carry them across particularly washed out stretches of road and over swollen rivers.

    Would you say that KTM's assessment was therefore astute-- that the trip as planned was impossible, and that they were better off not being associated with the effort?

    Or would you say that even with the mechanical issues and having ultimately to be trailered over the last rough areas, that the trip itself was the goal, and that BMW still looks good as a brand that is willing to invest in the value of the journey rather than the particulars of how Charlie and Ewan ultimately arrived at their destination?

    Discuss!
    What would I say. I would say that BMW proves again why their logo is one of the third most recognized in the world (what are the other two?). They have the arrogance to attempt the impossible (it never seemed impossible though...who would they ask?...not Jim Rogers...but he must have taken the high road). Somehow it's that arrogance that keeps me coming back. Frustrates me too, but I always come back. It's got to be more than just the machines. I've seen broken frames, transmissions locked in 2nd gear, etc. but I come back to see what they'll do next...those arrogant bastards. The BMW bikes are excellent...no...they are exhilarating...with some interesting breakage once in awhile. Kind of like the trip where the worst of it is sometimes the most exciting.
    No I don't think BMW would ever worry about their bike breaking, besides, the rider must have done something wrong. Eh?
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    Registered User gsjay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjack
    What would I say. I would say that BMW proves again why their logo is one of the third most recognized in the world (what are the other two?). They have the arrogance to attempt the impossible (it never seemed impossible though...who would they ask?...not Jim Rogers...but he must have taken the high road). Somehow it's that arrogance that keeps me coming back. Frustrates me too, but I always come back. It's got to be more than just the machines. I've seen broken frames, transmissions locked in 2nd gear, etc. but I come back to see what they'll do next...those arrogant bastards. The BMW bikes are excellent...no...they are exhilarating...with some interesting breakage once in awhile. Kind of like the trip where the worst of it is sometimes the most exciting.
    No I don't think BMW would ever worry about their bike breaking, besides, the rider must have done something wrong. Eh?
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  8. #8
    IRONMAN
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    I heard that Harley was going to match this feat by loading a 2006 Ultra Classic in a trailer and towing it to every rally in the continental United States.

  9. #9
    I don't think that KTM had any doubts at all about their machines, rather I think that they had serious reservations about Ewan and Charley's ability and preparation. A round the world in about six months worth of planning? Daunting I would guess to someone who could ride well and had distance experience, unlike those two guys. The KTM bikes are solid and serious, Charley recognized that and he was probably right to favor the KTM until the trip became a huge sponsorship drive where everything had to be free for them. Definitely BMW will out budget anybody.

    The interview with the KTM guy, revealed that the KTM guy had already done a similar trip on the KTM and I would also guess that he hit each spot at the right times of year (planning) and he did it without throwing gobs of cash at the venture and did not need the big trucks to cross the rivers that were definitely too high when the guys arrived at the Road of Bones. Perhaps Global Rider has some thoughts on this since he has done similar and I have not?

    Seeing Charley and Ewan on the BMW training grounds in Wales really highlighted Ewan's limitations, even on the F650GS he dropped it frequently and hard...Charley did better than he of course. I guess to go from smaller street bikes to much bigger dual sports was daunting, it was for me too, however, I did not go around the world on my GS a few days after receiving it...probably some of the fear after the training ground spills were still fresh in Ewan's mind?

    The point that I cannot get over though is just how much crap they carried with them and I am amazed at just how well the frames stood up to that for so long and so many miles. When they lightened their loads at Tinda the weight of the crap they threw away was visually impressive, I don't think it was a surprise to see the frames not breaking again for the remainder of the trip. It really shows what a beast of burden the GSs' are despite the ignorance of any rider that may straddle it...Awesome does not describe it.

  10. #10
    Registered User jgr451's Avatar
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    Well said Pudgypaintguy.Ewan was not an experienced rider,clearly,but he was a man with a big dream,not unlike many people I know.There was a lot of grit,improvisation,and good cheer on display in the films;and the indestructability claims of the bikes were very sotto voce,given all the circumstances.What vehicle could have met all the challenges of the trip?

    Bravo.
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  11. #11
    Don't forget your towel
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    If you're going to dream you may as well dream big, at least Charley and Ewan managed to actually get going down the road.

    IMO they should have gone on a few shorter shake-down trips to pare down the amount of stuff they packed along. An awful lot of their issues seemed to stem from just plain having too much stuff. I'd be curious to know how far above the gross weight rating they were on take-off.

    Steve

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by sgborgstrom
    If you're going to dream you may as well dream big, at least Charley and Ewan managed to actually get going down the road.

    IMO they should have gone on a few shorter shake-down trips to pare down the amount of stuff they packed along. An awful lot of their issues seemed to stem from just plain having too much stuff. I'd be curious to know how far above the gross weight rating they were on take-off.

    Steve
    True enough Steve, action is worth more than intention, and whether they spent lots of money doing it still doesn't take away from the simple fact that they did it nd they had their butts in the saddle for the distance...well minus the train and truck rides...lol. Very much a feat.

  13. #13
    Stronger, Faster, Tougher iRene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironMan
    I heard that Harley was going to match this feat by loading a 2006 Ultra Classic in a trailer and towing it to every rally in the continental United States.
    Oh, nyuk nyuk nyuk!
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  14. #14
    Loose Cannon flash412's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgr451
    What vehicle could have met all the challenges of the trip?
    After Claudio's R1150GS ABS failed in the totally-dead mode after they welded his frame after it broke when he dropped it, they bought him a Russian 250 something or other. (It has been a while since I saw the show.) IIRC, Claudio said that Charlie and Ewan were both very jealous that he could literally ride circles around them. Yes, the bike broke. But even if the hapless three couldn't fix it, passers by could, all with the stock tool kit.

    So... the answer to the question "What vehicle could have met all the challenges of the trip?" seems to be... a cheap, Russian-made 250.

    Though, personally, I think a carbureted F650 would have been the best chioce.
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  15. #15
    ian408
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    What was said and what's been done elsewhere prove that KTM's could
    make the "adventure" although with a film crew and several other vehicles,
    it's hardly the adventure it was made out to be.

    Perhaps as far as support, KTM had everything to lose?

    Ian

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