1976 BMW R75/6

Bill Kniegge's R75/6, Old 'N Fast: A BMW with an attitude


| January/February 2010



bmw r75/6 1

Bill Kniegge's 1976 BMW R75/6.

Photo by Neale Bayly

What motorcycle seeds do we plant with our actions? What dreams do we inspire with our deeds? And how long might they lie dormant before growing from an idea into a reality?

Sometimes these actions are obvious, but sometimes they’re not. In the case of Bill Kniegge, it took the chance finding of an old family photo lost decades earlier to realize why he built “Old ’N Fast,” his BMW R75/6.

Never a dull moment

It’s always an adventure with Bill, and as I chase him along the roads that connect our homes, today is no exception. A veteran of the motorcycle industry with stints at Husqvarna, Bell and ATK, he’s also the man behind Blue Strada Tours in North Carolina.

Bill is riding my Triumph Streetfighter, a modified 1997 T595 that looks like it’s breaking the law standing still. I’m in the saddle of his highly modified 1976 BMW R75/6. Twisting the somewhat heavy throttle to keep him in sight, I’m impressed and surprised in equal doses how well the old Beemer handles the twisting road — and the confidence it inspires.

Tipping into the turns with consummate ease, the BMW holds its line with aplomb and is perfectly behaved as I put the power down on the exit. The Boxer twin puts out some serious grunt as I work to keep up with Bill, and I quickly realize there’s a lot more to this old BMW than meets the eye. Sitting down over coffee later in the afternoon, I feel as though I’m part detective, part audience, as Bill tells me one of the most fascinating motorcycle tales I’ve heard in a long while.

Way back when

The year is 1956, and 11-year-old Bill Kniegge is living in Davenport, Iowa, when Uncle Wolfgang Kniegge comes to visit from Bremen, Germany. Having loaded up his early 1950s BMW and shipped it to New York, Uncle Wolfgang is en route to California when he stops by the Kniegge family home. Only planning to stay for a day, a technical problem forces him to extend his visit for a week, and young Kniegge ends up taking his first motorcycle ride. Later, he sits astride the black BMW with the flat bars and small leather panniers, posing for a photograph, but it will be 50 years before he realizes the significance of Uncle Wolfgang’s visit.





bike on highway

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