Kevin Ash’s widow still waiting for answers from BMW

Nearly a year after the crash that killed her bike journalist husband, Caroline Ash says she wants to see the findings of BMW's investigation

THE widow of motorcycle journalist Kevin Ash says she wants to know the findings of BMW’s investigation into the crash that killed him.

Caroline Ash says she is still waiting for answers from BMW almost one year after Kevin’s fatal accident while riding the R1200GS at the model launch in South Africa.

Kevin, who was motorcycle correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and probably the UK’s best-known bike journalist, crashed on a gravel road during the launch ride, around 155 miles from Cape Town, on January 22. Dusty conditions prevented other journalists riding in the press group from seeing how the accident happened.

Caroline spoke to Visordown after learning the R1200GS had been updated with a steering damper as standard equipment for 2014.

She said she had received no satisfactory conclusion from BMW and there were questions she wanted the firm to answer. “I would like to know the results of the investigation on Kevin's bike,” she said.

She said it would be “interesting to know if other people have experienced problems with the bike” model.

“I know that more people have had accidents on that bike,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s significant [in relation to Kevin’s accident] but I know there have been other accidents in different countries. That’s been reported by the press.”

A BMW spokesman said: “There have been no new findings and sadly the cause of Kevin’s accident is still unknown. The motorcycle was thoroughly investigated and there was no evidence found of any kind of mechanical problem or failure which caused or contributed to the accident.”

Some reports on the 2013 model described a violent weave in the handlebars, also known as a tankslapper, a phenomenon steering dampers serve to inhibit. 

BMW said the steering damper-equipped R1200GS had been on sale in the UK since October. The model has also been given a new traction control package called Automatic Stability Control.

The firm's spokesman said: 'The steering damper and two-mode Automatic Stability Control are standard equipment for all R1200 models – GS, GS Adventure and RT - from the 2014 model year onwards. The Adventure and RT bikes will have these features from their launches early in the new year and the GS model has benefited from the upgrade since the annual model year change this autumn. It makes economic and logistical sense to harmonise this specification across all R1200 models as they are built on the same production line.'

Earlier this year, Bike Magazine's Martin Fitz-Gibbons described a tankslapper he experienced while riding an R1200GS on a straight road. He said: 'Down one laser-straight, Fenland-flat road late in the afternoon, the bike I was riding snapped into a vicious tankslapper.'

Kevin Duke, editor-in-chief of US website, described an incident on a rippled surface, saying: 'In an instant and with seemingly no provocation, the bike went into a wild tankslapper that threatened to throw me from the bike. It was a very panicked second before the steering regained its composure.'

South African racer Reg Gurnell crashed after the R1200GS he was riding went into a tankslapper during an ‘Econorun’ fuel economy contest. He said: “I was on a brand spanking new road with no potholes in perfect conditions. The front just went into a full-on tankslapper. It caught me totally unawares.”

South African police have concluded their investigation of Kevin’s crash and passed the findings to the public prosecutor, who will decide whether to press any charges. A UK inquest has been adjourned.

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