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ADV RidesTKO Extreme Enduro on a BMW R1200GSA? Here’s What Happened

TKO Extreme Enduro on a BMW R1200GSA? Here’s What Happened

BMW GSA Rider tests man and machine in the 4th toughest extreme enduro.

Published on 08.18.2017

Extreme Enduro races like the Erzburg Rodeo and Red Bull Romaniacs are some of the most technically challenging forms of off-road motorcycle competition in existence. The best way to describe one is a woods enduro race with trials obstacles mixed in. Lightweight two-stroke dirt bikes with massive ground clearance and tiny 2-gallon fuel tanks rule the field. So what happens when you show up with one of the largest Adventure Touring Bikes ever produced?

With a claimed 580-pound wet weight, the BMW R1200GS Adventure is considered hefty even for the big-bore adventure class. It’s a bike that’s ideal for a ride from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. A race that includes clearing oversized logs, giant boulder fields and mud-covered hill climbs that will make your heart sink is the last place you’d expect to find one. But that’s exactly what happened last weekend when adventure rider Tom Asher took his BMW R1200GSA to the 2017 Tennessee TKO Extreme Enduro — the most prestigious American Extreme Enduro ranked 4th toughest in the world.


Posted by Tracy Henshaw on Saturday, August 12, 2017

Photo Courtesy Brenda Priebe.
So how did it go? Let’s start with how the hell did this happen in the first place…

Origins of a Crazy Idea

Tom Asher rode enduro courses for years on everything from YZs to KLRs, but the idea of doing an Extreme Enduro race on a big bike stuck with him. “I always wanted to do one, but on a larger bike. For showing people its not the bike, all bikes are great. Its the rider. And most of all the challenge..,” says Tom. When he learned about the Kenda AMA Tennessee TKO Extreme Enduro, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. While a few pros had entered similar enduro races on big bikes in the past, no one had done it on anything as large as a BMW R1200GS Adventure. And the fact that Tom would be doing it as a privateer, at 49 years of age, made the challenge even bigger.

Six weeks before the race, Tom decided to take the plunge and sign up for the TKO Extreme Enduro. Unfortunately, he would be disappointed because signups were already filled up. But a few friends lobbied on his behalf and three weeks prior to the start, race organizers offered him a spot. It would mean virtually no time to train or prepare, but it was an opportunity Tom couldn’t pass up.

Training for the TKO Extreme Enduro

Adventure Rider takes on TKO hard enduro on BMW R1200GSA
Photo Courtesy Drew Corl

When Tom secured an entry in the TKO, he hadn’t raced a motorcycle in over 10 years and was in no shape for an Extreme Enduro. But he put his head down and got straight to work running and lifting weights. Yet his physical fitness regimen would be cut short after only one week due to a work obligation that would take him out of the country. He returned home just two days before the race with just enough time to rush his bike over to Hourglass Cycles (a local shop sponsoring him) to get his GSA prepped for the race.

Prepping the BMW R1200GS Adventure

At Hourglass Cycles, the team began prepping the big GSA for the ride of its life. They would install a set of IMS Adventure Pegs and Goldentyre DOT knobbies for improved control. AltRider lower crash bars, AltRider Skidplate and a Skunkwerks final drive protector were also added to armor the bike.

Adventure Rider takes on Tennessee TKO on BMW R1200GSA
The team got the GSA prepped just in time for the race, stripping off unnecessary parts and adding off-road upgrades. (Photo courtesy Jim Bean)

The team removed just about everything that was not needed for a race including the passenger seat and pegs, luggage racks, mud guard, front fender, windshield, air deflectors, turn signals and license plate holder in an effort to drop as much weight as possible. Removal of all the parts saved roughly 40 pounds and filling the big 8.3 gallon tank with just two gallons of fuel would save even more.

Race Day Arrives

Posted by Tracy Henshaw on Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tom arrived at the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie, Tennessee Friday night for the start of the Tennessee TKO Extreme Enduro, just in time to setup for his debut in the morning qualifying run. Jitters aside, Tom would keep his mind focused on his goal: qualify for the main event. His strategy? Not take it like a race. Keep a slow and steady pace and conserve energy for the tough sections.

Lining up on the grid, Tom stood out like a sore thumb with his giant 1,200cc adventure bike. Sporting his REV’IT! adventure gear, a flip-up modular helmet and adventure boots, all he needed to complete his RTW look was a set of aluminum panniers. Before long it was ‘Go Time’ and Tom was off riding into a haze of two-stroke smoke, mixing it up with competitors half his age on bikes half the size.

After recent rains, the big GSA struggled for traction on a rocky course covered in slick mud. It was constant work with no time to rest and tricky obstacles constantly coming. Tom had to take extra precaution in the rocky sections with two giant cylinders protruding from the sides. “It’s something that you get used to in really difficult terrain if you ride a bike with a boxer motor. You have to wheelie over things in order to clear them,” explained Tom.

Posted by Drew Corl on Saturday, August 12, 2017

It was a complete frenzy in the tough sections of the course. Many riders would jump off their bikes and push their way out of a bad situation. But for Tom, this wasn’t an option with his heavy bike. He would have to rely solely on technique for every challenge. Navigating through a sea of riders stuck on the trail made it difficult to maintain momentum for the hill climbs. Eventually, the effects of wrestling with a big bike began to set in. “Once you are winded and can not catch a breath, it makes it very difficult to ride to your best ability.” But the crowds where there cheering Tom on with great enthusiasm, giving him the energy to keep pushing through his ever increasing exhaustion.

Tom never threw in the towel but unfortunately he’d never see the finish line. It would be the race cut off time that would end his day. “I pleaded with them to let me continue because I had already completed the tougher sections of the course and the sections ahead were much easier, but they insisted and I complied. Given a chance, I would have finished the course if it killed me,” said Tom.

End of a Race Not the Dream

Adventure Rider takes on TKO hard enduro on BMW R1200GSA
Photo Courtesy Jim Bean

Tom and another 162 other competitors would not complete the qualifying lap on Saturday, but a high attrition rate was to be expected in the 4th toughest Extreme Enduro in the world. He missed out on his goal but could take solace in knowing he’d given it 100%. The huge cheers from the crowd and high fives from other riders were more than enough reward for his efforts.

Racing in the TKO has only increased Tom’s resolve to continue chasing his goal. “It’s never been done, but after this race I know its possible.” In the end, it was not obstacles nor his bike that were the limiting factors, but his conditioning. Tom is already making plans for next year and with more support and a full year to train, you can bet he’ll be back strong. And achieving his goal at 50 will make victory taste all the more sweet!

See more action of Tom and his R1200GSA taking on the Tennessee TKO Extreme Enduro below!

Author: ADV Pulse Staff

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11 thoughts on “TKO Extreme Enduro on a BMW R1200GSA? Here’s What Happened

  1. Why not start having classes like in sport bike racing. 250 to 500, 500 to 1000, and 1000+.
    I would like to see more guys with big bikes try this. That was a Great effort on his part

  2. Incredible! I hope your sponsors are equally proud. I will be following you and hope to see next year’s results. An inspiration, truly.

  3. Not knowing the man, I am thankful to see he did not get hurt. With little physical training and the age factor, the story was reading like he was setting himself up for injury.

    So glad he did not get hurt.

    • Ridiculous to try to ride that bike in the TKO. Give it up for next year and just try to finish on a normal bike and not be a spectacle. Have consideration for the workers who might have to tow your bike out or carry you off on a stretcher.


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