Daryl Beattie's extreme GS Adventure!
Former Grand Prix ace Daryl Beattie would surely have become 500cc world champion,
had injury not forced his premature retirement at the age of 27 from the crazy
world of two-stroke GP racing. With his 40th birthday just around the corner,
the MotoGP commentator now owns a BMW R1200GS Adventure and loves riding
with friends. Having heard about a recent GS journey into the Hattah outback,
he asked BMW Motorrad Australia's Marketing Manager Miles Davis to show him
Around 30 years ago, when the iconic GS model series was making its debut,
a young Daryl Beattie was making his first television appearance as a nine-year-old,
having won a Suzuki RM50 in a competition on Australia's Channel 7. A love
of motorcycling was born and after racing dirt bikes for six years, winning
state and national championships, Beattie entered his first road race on his
Three years later he was winning the Australian 250 Grand Prix championship
and finishing 12th at the 250cc world championship race at Phillip Island.
Third overall in his rookie full-time season on a 500cc bike (a debut only
bettered by Valentino Rossi), Beattie was leading the 1995 championship by
around 20 points when he broke his collarbone at Assen. He ended up in second
place that year, behind fellow Aussie Mick Doohan.
After a series of pre-season testing accidents in 1996 – including a serious
crash at Paul Ricard circuit where he broke a wrist, collapsed a lung and fractured
his skull – Beattie was never able to regain his previous form and at the end
of the '97 season, decided it was time to hang up his leathers. Still retaining
his love of racing, he began working as a sports commentator, covering F1 as
well as MotoGP.
As someone who forged his career on fire-breathing 500cc Grand Prix bikes,
the last machine Beattie would consider would be a race-replica for the road,
but like thousands of motorcyclists around the world, he has discovered the
unique benefits of BMW GS ownership.
"I love riding on the road and dirt, and the GS does both better than I would
have ever imagined," says Beattie. "Every motorcycle rider should have one
in their garage. You can take a lady to dinner during the week in comfort with
great safety, and then ride the same trails that enduro riders do on weekends!
It has a great fuel range, is very capable off-road and is still really comfortable
on the highway and on long-distance rides. Plus, there is no other dual-purpose
bike that comes as close to looking as good!"
When Daryl heard about the chance of a GS ride in the Hattah Desert area of
north western Victoria he took the opportunity. In fact, he even brought along
a cameraman to make a video for the OneHD channel. With his motorsport Producer
Michael Heaton, Brett Stephens and BMW Motorrad Australia's Miles Davis, it
turned out to be an epic adventure, which might just become an annual event.
The terrain was challenging and at times consisted of deep, sandy trails with
4WD ruts for as far as the eye can see. Throw in some twists, turns, hills
and boggy sections from all the recent rains and this was going to be a serious
GS challenge. But as expected, all the bikes performed flawlessly in the extreme
conditions. Tyre pressures had been reduced slightly and the traction control
and ABS deactivated. The Electronic Suspension Adjustment was a dream, because
running the bikes in the tallest setting really allowed them to soak up the
big jumps with ease.
After day one Daryl said: "This sort or riding might not be for everyone,
but when you have some experienced riders who are up for a challenge, it's
just perfect". Day two saw a kangaroo jump out at Daryl, hitting the back of
his bike while he was negotiating a deep-rutted section of track. "Luckily
it was low speed and it just threw my balance out." It happened again later
that day when Daryl was chasing Miles down the Scorpion Springs track, when
a ‘roo jumped straight into the path of Miles on his GS Adventure. Luckily
it didn't impact on the front wheel or bars, so the big GS just kept on tracking
straight, while the ‘roo came off second best.
Day three saw the riders encounter some amazing terrain, finishing with a
firm sandy track that weaved through multiple salt lakes. Fortunately, the
kangaroos kept their distance, watching the GS's buzz by in formation, and
as the bikes returned to Hattah all the motorcyclists knew they'd experienced
an incredible ride. After three days of extreme off-road, tackling all kinds
of terrain, the former 500cc world championship runner-up described it as the
hardest, but most fun ride he has ever done.
"It was awesome – such great terrain and scenery. I'm already looking forward
to the next one. And Miles rides this GS like no other… the video tells the
story. Australia is a country the same size as the USA, but with just 24 million
people. Once you ride two hours from any coastline you are riding in beautiful
outback roads meeting great characters. Our deserts are amazing and the coastline
is stunning. If you carry enough water, you could go anywhere in Australia
on a GS Adventure."
You know just how much someone is excited about their bike and riding by the
way they talk. It's obvious that even after travelling the world, racing fire-breathing
500cc Grand Prix bikes Daryl Beattie still gets excited about riding his GS
Adventure! Check out this short video clip from their ride at www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9N27FyXIbA
Daryl Beattie quickfire questions
When you were riding 500s, there were no electronics and rider aids;
do you think that this has taken the edge off the excitement of the latest
No, not really. I believe that the best will always rise to the top in any
situation. I enjoy the electronics and what we are starting to get in production
Why do you think so many top riders come from Australia?
I think it was a country that manufacturers looked at for a while. We had a
great championship and our dirt bike scene was very good. Most of our young
talent that has any potential now looks to the UK or USA. Our local championship
is pretty poor now. I was very lucky at a young age having some of the best
riders in the world to compete against.
Have you been following the development of the S 1000 RR in WSBK?
I personally was very excited to see BMW start racing in the WSBK. I have not
ridden the bike yet but I think it has been priced very well in the marketplace.
BMW has a very strong range of bikes at the moment, while others are sleeping.
Do you think this bike has World Superbike Championship-winning potential?
If Ben Spies was riding this bike in 2011 BMW would win the championship.