BMW R1150GSMotorcycle Trip to Baja California,Mexico
December 2006
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On the road again.

We departed late, about 8:30 in the morning and that was just because we are finishing the last details on this new for us bike. The GS 1150 was looking good and ready to go.
The I-215 and then I-15 to San Ysidro (south of San Diego) was under some rain right from the start and we could fell the difference from the LT right away. On the GS we got rain. For the past 7 years I didn’t know what was that in a motorcycle. The rain it self it’s not bad, but that fine mist+dirt that the trucks send in front are nasty.

In San Ysidro we fill up with gas, using the good stuff, and changed some dollars to pesos at the rate 10.85:1 plus U$3 fee. In San Ysidro you will find money exchange everywhere, so don’t worry to locate it before hand. Just go there and look around and you will find then.


The new BMW GS departing from home - Click to Open
Leaving home on our new BMW GS

Mexican beaches between Tijuana and Ensenada - Click to Open

Mexican beaches between Tijuana and Ensenada- Click to Open

Right after I put the first gas, and got scare by the such a bad mileage of 30.14mpg, I start looking what could be wrong and found it: I forgot to return the shock (name??) back after I had started the bike that morning. I rode about 130 miles with the shock on. That explain why it was too rich… Hei! My first time….

To cross to board was even easer. Nobody ask us for nothing. We just cross and free we go. So at 11:30 we were in Mexico.
The rain stop for a little when riding Mex-1 from Tijuana up to Rosarito, then it hit us again almost until Ensenada, 70 miles south, and that was the last sight of rain we had during the rest of our trip.

The Mex-1 is a fine highway, with 3 tool boots ($26 pesos each) but no clean facilities for rest area. There are rest areas, but don’t expected to find the same as you may be used in US. Also at the entrance you will find a ‘genitor’ asking you for your money in order to use the facility.


Garmin Zumo Motorcycle Mount - Click to Open
Zumo Garmin installation

Mex-1 near Ensenada - Click to Open

Ensenada, Mexico - Click to Open

The Garmin Zumo GPS is not much of use after the border. It gives you some mileage, but beware that the route that it traces for you may not be the best one. From Tijuana to San Quintin, our destination for the first day, the Zumo sent me to San Felipe, which is on the other side of the Baja Peninsula, and 180 miles longer then if you just go straight south on Mex-1. Please check my Zumo Report to see the details on it.

Ensenada, right after that rain, was a mess. Mud and large potholes filled with dirty water. We didn’t stop there so about 12:50 we were out of Ensenada.

I decide to keep the average speed inside the road limits, but soon I realized that those 60Km/h. are just suggestions. Nobody was respecting it. Most of the cars will be at 70miles (not Km)/h and few ones sill pass at speeds over 90miles/h. I was learning how my  GS works, so I manage to stay low.


Mex-1 to San Quintin - Click to Open

San Quintin- Click to Open

Food in Mexico - Click to Open

From Ensenada to San Quintin we rode about 120 miles in a very good road. It’s a single lane but the traffic was fine, no crazy trucks or drivers in our way at all. But we can see that they are there by the skied marks on the pavement and the bend guardrails on the road. We even so a car that was about 100 feet below the road, up side down, and the fresh crash site on the road. The driver must have miss the turn.

The GS has a very narrow comfort zone on the RPM if compared with the LT. Anything bellow 2800 or over 3500 and the vibration is really annoying. It makes difficult to ride comfortable since the 6th. gear is too high to keep the bike in a uphill so I had to downshift most of the time. Also the first gear could be much lower, since if I had to ride at snail pass behind a truck, either I have to use the clutch a lot, or even stop and go again. With the LT I can  slow down to 2 or 3 mph and still have control. Not with the GS. Also, the LT can go long up hills with 5th gear and no need to change. I have to learn it.

On the other hand, the GS is much easier to maneuver on the dirty side of the roads. Many times Eliane just ask for “Stop here for a picture” and I just right turn it straight into the shoulder, never had to looks for a “good place” to stop.

Restaurant Maria Isabel in San Quintin - Click to Open

Motorcycle inside the hotel lobby - Click to Open

Motorcycle inside the hotel lobby - Click to Open

Gas up again in San Quintin and got the average of 43.47mpg. Much better, but also I was ridding at 50-60mph with good gas. On the way back, I did 41.46mph using bad gas, and ridding at 70-80mph, so I’m not sure yet how this bike behavior with speed/consumption.

In San Quintin we arrived around 3:30PM and went to secure an hotel. We choose Maria Celeste, at the south end of the town because they allowed us to put the bike inside the hotel lobby. As my first night with GS in a unknown country, I felt more comfortable that way. The hotel was really good, with nice hot water, clean sheets and only $345 pesos (U$35). It was good until 3:00AM, when a couple next door starts having a fight. They were discussing and cursing (I guess… it was in Spanish) for about one hour and after that other guests start waking up and leaving, so we could not sleep until 5:30AM again, so our depart next day was late again.

We then went to get some food at that evening and for that we choose the restaurant Santa Izabel. I recommend the fish. It was prepared in a very good manner, the price was great (about $70 pesos per person) and the service was awesome.


Full pack car - Click to Open
Take a close look on this picture. can you see the little kid on the back seat?

Mexico beachs - Click to Open

Mexico beachs - Click to Open

Then 8:00PM and we were sleeping. I guess the GS took a tool on us. We are used to ride 700 miles a day on the LT, but today we had just about 300 miles and we were tired.

Next morning we wake up late, as I told you, because the ‘hot’ night we had, so 8:30AM was our departing time. We had breakfast at our room with food we had bought the night before at a near by supermarket and we hit the road again.
Forty miles after we arrived at El Rosario de Arriba and we put gas there, since it would be the last gas station for the next 200 miles. You will be able to buy gas on small town, but besides it is expensive (about $10 pesos per litro, agains $6.50 at the gas stations), I have my concerns about how clean are those containers.
Again the bike performance was poor, only 33.84mph, and I could not get the full set of bars on the gas tank gauge. Only 9 bars instead of 10. I will have to measure it until empty soon, so I can have a better understanding of this bike.

Next to the gas station we found another good hotel, for $300 pesos, that could be our next stop in a future trip.


Baja California Motorcycle winding road - Click to Open

Baja California Motorcycle winding road - Click to Open

Baja California Motorcycle winding road - Click to Open

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The road now was amazing. A very good winding road, in the middle of the desert, but with a lot of hills and canyons so you can enjoy riding a motorcycle there. It got cold. Not sure how cold since I still don’t have a thermometer on this bike, but was cold enough for me to get all my gear on, which normally I don’t, plus the heated handlebars on the HIGH positions all the time (which I never used for more then 5 minutes).
The wind protection on this bike is much less then on the LT.

The wind got us after about 2 hours riding, and it stayed with us the rest of the day. We asked few people on the road about the wind and we were told that it was a ‘3 days wind’ thing. I was ridding sideways most of the day, and again we were beat up when we got to Guerrero Negro, the first town in Baja California Sur.

About 25 miles before Guerrero Negro you will be able to find gas, exactly 200 miles from the El Rosario de Arriba. Most of BMW are able to do it if you keep your speed low, like we did on the way down, (45.86mph, at 50mph) but on the way back I had to stop and buy gas from those guys on the road. We were ridding 70mph and the bike did 41.56mph. I could had made it maybe, but I’m not sure if I’m getting a full tank of gas every time I’m refueling, so I decided to be safe then sorry.


Rocks formation Baja California - Click to Open

Baja California cactus - Click to Open

Local chat in Baja california - Click to Open
Talking with a local. Always interesting.

Again the bike performance was very similar at 50mph and 70mph and I would like to give a point that on the way down we had wind from side and rear. On the way back we had wind from the other side, and front, so the bike should use much more gas. My guessing is that at higher speed, I was shifting less, using more 6th gear and because that I used less gas.

In Guerrero Negro we secured an hotel right at the entrance, Malarrimo, which was very convenient located at the same place that the whale tour departs. The fare was $400 pesos for a good room. Not like the one on the night before, but still good.
We then went for a ride to se the salt plant there; witch is the biggest on the world, with 25tons of salt every day. They load the salt in huge barges and town it to a island near by, when then it will be loaded in ships and go all over Pacific. That was a great view to see that hill of salt.
Back to the hotel we had our dinner and eat fish again, at the hotel restaurant ($100 pesos per person) and went to bed. Next day the whale tour would depart 7:30 our time (8:30 their time) and we are tired from the day.
We met a father and son in two Kawasaki’s that were doing all dirt roads from Tijuana to here, and would be going to Cabo San Lucas. I wished we had the time and the ability to do it.


car load in Baja california - Click to Open
And if something fall from the car?

Guerrero Negro baja California - Click to Open

Baja california sur border - Click to Open

Great night sleeping and we were ready to the tour. I secured all our belongs on the bike, with the tank bag inside the trunk and our helmets I left at the tour office.
The tour cost us U$90 for both of us and we had a clean, new full size van for transport to and from the boat site, a nice 19” open boat with a environment friendly engine (silent and clean 4 stroke) and a tour guide that speaks Spanish and English, and a lunch. (don’t count on that).
The boat departed at 9:00Am and we were back at 1:00PM, so I think it worth the money. We pursuit the only 4 or 5 whales that were in the bay at that day, since it was the very second day of the season. We were aware of that before hand, that only 3 whales were on sight 2 days before, so we were happy that we could see 4 or 5. Two of then were actually playing together at certain moment, which makes the whole trip worth.
Unfortunately we didn’t had any ‘close encounters’ witch the near we could get was about 100 feet and never had a good picture shot of the whole mammal.

We depart Guerrero Negro around 2:00PM and then I was ridding fast to get back to  San Quintin before night. I new it would be impossible because 4:50PM was the sunset, but close we got there, better.


Salt Plan guerrero negro - Click to Open

Salt Plan guerrero negro - Click to Open

bird nest - Click to Open

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Again I got gas in Santo Domingo, 30 miles north of Guerrero Negro, and north we went.
For sure the ‘3 days wind’ was still there and at this time, from our front and side. I had to stop 50 miles before El Rosario de Arriba, when the bike got only one bar, and I new that would be no more towns until there. Got gas at $10 pesos per liter and back on the road again.
It was Christmas eve so the road was quite empty now, and we rode at speeds really high until down, when I reduce a lot due to the poor GS lights and to the fact that there are too many loose animals, of all sizes, on those roads. The road kill there is very high.

El Rosario de Arriba  finally was in sight, when that one gallon  of gas I had bought was out again and the yellow light shine. Must be something wrong, because I only put 4.1 gallons, plus the one I had before, it makes 5.1 gallons for 200  miles at high speed.


birds guerrero negro - Click to Open
birds guerrero negro - Click to Open fishersman warf baja california - Click to Open

We filled up and decide not to stay there (good decision, since next day we had 330 miles to do), and I depart in a hurry. Smells gas… must be the car in front of me. After all, 70% of the cars here would not pass a smog check. I passed the car.  Smells gas… Stop the bike, remove the tank bag, yep. It wasn’t closed. One more lesson learned on the GS. The gas cap is easy to leave open. Won’t happen again.

But that was good because when I was closing it, a car passed us in a good speed. I  used him as a rabbit and we were doing 85mph at night. I just gave him some room so my lights would not bother him (what??? My lights bothering someone? How?) and we went all 40 miles to San Quintin in about 35 minutes, passing thru 3 towns, each one with it’s share of ‘topes’ (speed bumpers), and it means 10 to 15 small ones and one big one per small town.



fishersman warf baja california - Click to Open

malarrimo hotel and tour - Click to Open

malarrimo hotel and tour - Click to Open

We stay at the same hotel, with the bike inside the living room again. Got a good night this time. Nobody was there to make noise on December 24. I checked some e-mails (yes, the hotel has internet on the room) and start preparing this report.
Our Christmas dinner was stand up in a street boot who was selling tacos and topes and the whole meal, plus a portion to our  hotel guy was only $100 pesos.



baja california food - Click to Open

Salt plant - Click to Open whale tour baja california - Click to Open

Next morning we decide that from Ensenada we will get Mex-3 towards Tecale just be in a different route and it was good. The road is good, with some vineries open to the public on any day but December 25. Well, next time.
After Ensenada the wheatear was hot and we start taking layers off. By Tecale we removed most of our winter clothing.


whale tour baja california - Click to Open
whale tour baja california - Click to Open whale tour baja california - Click to Open

I notice that the GS was knocking on the hills, because the low gas I was using, so mental note to make/buy the alternative program connector before next trip.


whale tour baja california - Click to Open

whale tour baja california - Click to Open

birds fly in formation - Click to Open

After 330 miles we arrived at home, again beating up by this bike. I guess we have to plan 250 miles/day trips when we go out with the GS. The Rick Mayer seats are breaking in and I know by experience that one more trip and they will be great. It was our first add-on on this bike, followed by the communication system on the tank bag and the GPS. We could not do this trip on the regular seats for sure.

whale tale - Click to Open

whale playing - Click to Open whale tale - Click to Open


whale playing - Click to Open
birds flying - Click to Open Sea lions - Click to Open


birds baja california - Click to Open

Salt Plan Guerrero negro baja california sur - Click to Open

Salt Plan Guerrero negro baja california sur - Click to Open


baja california sur - Click to Open

death acident - Click to Open
A lot of death sites on the road.

BMW  GS 5000 - Click to Open


gas station baja california - Click to Open
cactus plantation - Click to Open
Cactus plantion, for food.
Tecate border - Click to Open






Who is Elton

I was born in Brazil and moved to USA, California in 1996. Took me some time to learn the language and get into this country, but I think now I'm doing quite well. I became an American citizen in late 2007.
I love to travel and by the time I was writing this page, I had logged more them 140.000 miles on the motorcycles I have/had. My current bikes are one 2002 BMW K1200LTe and one 2003 BMW R1150GS. Also there are many more miles on my car and much more on airplane trips.
Winter I try to do Snowmobile. Summer is time for water sports (PWC) and I motorcycle year around (one of the benefits of living in sunny California)


We decided that we will keep this bike as a second one, provided that some changes need to be done:
Panniers and trunk with a back rest for Eliane
Lower passenger pegs
Lower rider pegs
Reroute the GPS to be direct connect at the battery
Reroute the electrified tank back to be key connected
Make a better setup for the comm  system I installed. The position is not good.
Get a windshield that offers a better protection
Is there any silent helmets then Arrai GTR? On the LT those helmets are very silent, but not on this GS

Maybe a larger gas tank? We will see what I can do about this one.
  • About the vibration, is there any thing that can be done to reduce the vibration over 3500rpm?
  • The bike rides very slush when under 2800rpm. Is it normal? On my Lt I can ride at 1500 RPM and still smooth.
  • Garmin Zumo needs a lot of improvement. I will write to Garmin with those suggestions below
Date Miles Duration Avg Speed Gallons Cost MPG

The duration is for the whole day, not only between gas.
The Avg Speed is with stops.


Click on the map for the full view
baja california map

baja california map