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From the Owner
The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle

Bob Thacker's AJS Model 20

AJS Model 20

First of all I would like to thank all concerned for continuing to produce such a great magazine. I look forward to picking up my copy of each new issue as it becomes available. There are always interesting bikes featured, but up until the latest issue (September/October), there was always one missing; namely the AJS Model 20 Spring Twin. I grew up in the midlands region of the U.K. during the 1940s and 1950s. During that time a family's main form of transportation, motorized that is, was either a motorbike, or a combination, and there were many marques available back then!

After I started work and had saved up a bit of cash I bought my first bike, about a 1948 350cc Royal Enfield. Once confident with handling it I of course wanted a better bike; therefore it was my pleasure to see and read your article on the Model 20 as that was my next, and last bike, a 1951 model I believe. It was a great bike with an exhaust note to match. I have lived in British Columbia for 40 some years now and the Model 20 that I owned back then is the only one that I have ever seen both in the U.K. and in North America; thanks for bringing one to me if only in pictures. I have attached a picture of me on my Model 20 back in the latter part of the 1950s.
— Bob Thacker/British Columbia, Canada

Lee Buffenmyer's Penton Café Racer

Penton Cafe Racer

  • Rider: Lee Buffenmyer, Lititz, Pennsylvania
  • Age: 67
  • Occupation: Offset pressman (retired)
  • Rides: Lee has four street-legal bikes in his 20-strong collection, including a 1970 Suzuki TC90, a 1976 Suzuki Gopher, a 1975 Penton Enduro 100 and his Penton café racer.

Penton Cafe Racer

Lee's story: The 1985 Hillclimb Amateur National Champion, Lee Buffenmyer raced for 18 years, many of those aboard a Penton, his favorite make. We bumped into Lee at this year's Vintage Motorcycle Days, and asked him to tell us about his café'd Penton, something we'd never seen anyone do.

"This started out as a 1973 Penton 125cc Six-Day enduro. I bought it as a rolling chassis in really sad shape, but it had a title. I wanted something I could ride on the road. My thought was, what if John Penton would have made a café racer, what would it look like? I had these ideas in my head about what I wanted to do, so I made drawings and started collecting parts.

"I tried to use as many original components as I could. The wheels and hubs are stock, and the gas tank was an original Penton accessory. The front suspension is stock. It originally came with a 21-inch front wheel, so to lower it down I got an 18-inch wheel and new spokes from Buchanan's, and I pulled the fork tubes up through the yoke and put clip-ons on the top. The Ceriani front end is stock. The fork brace came from a 1972 Penton, but I incorporated a fender bracket into it. The frame is stock, except I cut the rear loop off and cut some tabs off to clean it up. The speedometer is stock, I got it new out of Germany on eBay, and I made a bracket for the speedometer and bolted it to where the stock handlebars would have been. A friend of mine made up the tail section and I made up the side panels. The top end of the engine came from one of my hill climb bikes. I rebuilt the Sachs engine and polished the cases, they were sandcast and painted originally.

"The downpipe was made by Penton for their motocross bikes and they're rare. I found it on eBay and nobody knew what it was, it was brand-new! I used one on my hill climb bike and it made more power than the stock up pipe. It probably puts out about 25 horsepower. It's street legal, and it rides really well, and I like to think it looks right for a Penton."

Jeff Dean’s 1966 BMW R60/2

classic bmw motorcycles 

Your column on the size of motorcycles struck both classical and modern chords with me. I have ridden big BMWs for many years. My first motorcycle, acquired in 1967, was a 1966 BMW R60/2 (see photo). Years ago I rode 833-pound K1200LTs all over the United States. I still have 2015 and 2017 BMW R1200RTs, which weigh in at about 630 pounds each. I also have three 1967 R60/2s, which tip the scale to 460 pounds. They are much lighter than my big modern BMWs and I love riding them locally. Recently I was impressed with the 2018 BMW G310GS, which weighs only 373 pounds wet, nearly 300 pounds less than my RTs and 460 pounds lighter than LTs. Indeed, it would take both an R60/2 AND a G310GS together to weigh as much as one LT. The G310GS has a little bit more horsepower than my R60/2s. And it has other benefits: electric starter, soft 7-inch suspension, tubeless tires, modern ABS brakes, 12-volt electrics and an MSRP of around $6,000. All good points. I ordered one. It has chain drive and a single-cylinder engine: I can adapt.

Jeff Dean/via email

Adrian Barb’s 1957 Simson Sport

1957 simpson sport

Rider: Adrian Barb, Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Adrian's story: "I am one of your magazine's subscribers and I have to say that I love it.

"A while ago, I stumbled on a rather unique motorcycle, at least for the U.S. It was offered on eBay as an old BMW, but I knew exactly what it was, as I used to have the same one back in Romania when I was in my teens.

"It was a 1957 AWO 425 Sport, also known as a Simson Sport. I was surprised to see it on this side of the Atlantic as it was produced in the DDR and offered only to countries in the Eastern Bloc. It is a BMW replica, I would say, which is why it resembles a BMW R25 single. It was produced for five years in a quantity of 124,000, according to Wikipedia.

"I was very lucky that the seller was based in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, just 15 miles away from where I live. I got the chance to go and see it before I bought it, and I was hooked because it was exactly like the one I had in Romania, including the color scheme.

"The bike was incomplete and with non-matching parts, but I won the bid and brought it home. It took me several years to get it in riding condition, but I was lucky because this bike has a 'cult' status in Germany. I found two companies in Germany who specialized in this motorcycle and with their help I got the bike where it is now.

"A few days ago, I got the chance to ride it for the first time and it felt great. I still need to do some adjustments but I am happy I was able to salvage this part of my youth."

1957 simson sport

Dann Spannraft’s 1966 Triumph TR6R


I just got my first issue from my new subscription. Your publication was suggested to me by a friend after I vented some displeasure about the recent changes to Cycle World. I subscribed to CW for more years than I care to discuss, probably in their first year. Congrats on capturing the essence of a great magazine. I thought you would like to see my 1966 TR6R. Before you ask, yes, that is a 2011 Triumph in back. — Dan Spannraft/via email

Bob Andren’s Green BMW R75/5

green bmw

Your featured metallic green BMW R75/5 followed by Mike Taint's letter and photo of his bike stirred my interest. I finished restoring my own R75/5 in the same color a couple of years ago (see picture) and my buddy in Las Vegas, Dave Kosinski, has restored one also. So they may not be as rare as you might think. Perfect for that St. Patrick's Day ride.

— Bob Andren/via email

More Green BMWs from the Past

green bmws

I don't know where my friend Ken Week's green BMW R75/5 is now, but he rode it until '77 or '78; it was the first BMW I ever rode. That's me on the left 42 years ago before I quit my job and rode from Salem, Oregon, to Key West, Florida, largely at Ken's urging. I bought my bike, an R60, from Reid, the guy in stripes who had to have an R90S, which he put a Windjammer on.

Ken and Reid were known for long day excursions, often 500-plus miles, on these bikes. I hope all the green /5's come out of the woodwork now.

— Ben Beckley/Sisters, Oregon

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