The Bike That Fits (aka my BMW R60)


alison's bmw r60 

In the back of Alison's shop sits her first bike, a 1975 BMW R60/6. 

I just finished re-reading Peter Egan’s column in the June 2007 issue of Cycle World and chuckling to myself. I like Peter’s stuff. Irreverent, unpretentious and sometimes very savvy. In case you haven’t read this particular column, he waxes on about bikes he has owned – some of them on more than one occasion – and which bikes always draw him back again and again. My first thoughts were somewhat along the lines of “why would he ever buy a bike back once he has sold it,” and “Is this guy nuts or what?”  I can appreciate his list of favourite machines; he has a wealth of riding experience and the smarts to know what he likes and why. But buying back the same bikes? 

Then I paused to think about my own continually-changing-but-static collection and I realized that I have owned three BMW R100RT bikes over the years. How did that happen? I don’t even like fully faired motorcycles… The problem (?) is that they simply cannot be beaten for long distance comfort and weather protection. RT’s are possibly the least friendly of the BMW airhead line when riding off the pavement,  the lowers can cook your legs in hot weather and it can be stuffy behind the fairing. They are more of a nuisance for routine maintenance, and the very devil to tie down in a trailer or truck. BUT, for sheer weather protection and long distance comfort, the BMW fairing is in a class of its own. So I have ridden them long and hard, then moved on to lighter and more nimble machines when the itch to do really long tours has been salved.    

So I ride with small windshields or bikini fairings and have great fun. But then I find myself on a trip when the weather turns sour and I am damp and buffeted and my hands are cold and the gap at my neck is taking on water –  and then... you guessed it! I’m on the hunt for another all-weather touring machine. 

I have been faithful to the BMW marque over the years – and always airheads at that… This is not due to any altruistic standards on my part, it is simply because I can usually keep an airhead running, and not one has ever left me seriously stranded. “ If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” So I ride vintage German and lust after something newer and quicker and with better brakes. 

Ron Angert
12/11/2008 5:07:36 PM

I think it was our friend Peter Egan who called his R100 an "orthopedic bike." Like Peter (and I find most of his columns to be kind of kindred spirit in values and ideas), I too have discovered that to calm my back pain there is nothing better than a tank-full to the west and another tank-full back home. Maybe a BBQue sandwich at the turn-around point. So my R100 fits me like your R80GS fits you, and like yours, mine has sometimes a sidecar attached (a Vetter Terraplane). A sidecar is the world's most reliable sidestand. My back is hurting now but the weather in Virginia is not so good for that ride. Heck, they had snow in Baton Rouge today - enough to shut down I-10 in both directions. I hate Global Warming! Thanks for the great story, Alison...

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