Nothing gets the heart rate going faster than a spin on a vintage motorcycle, and that includes the instantly identifiable BMW Airhead.
It has been almost twenty years since I’ve last owned or ridden a motorcycle, and I’d assumed that my yen for biking was past. Then, for some inexplicable reason, I started thinking about the pleasure of riding on two wheels. Perhaps it is a latent substitute for being in the cockpit, as it seems my current interest in flying has been on the wane.
Well, after some searches and research, I came to the conclusion that a vintage-style BMW bike would be perfect for me. These bikes are kinda the best of all worlds… not incredibly powerful rice-rockets that can rip you out of the seat, yet with ample power to hold their own on the open road. Not so huge that a crane would be needed if it ever fell over, yet substantial enough to feel solid on the highway.
It seemed that the BMW R90 or R100 model would be the perfect choice for me. Amazingly, MY BMW showed up on Craigslist and just a few miles away in San Marcos. My bike is a R100/7 model, built between 1976 and 1980. It is of the traditional BMW 2 cylinder horizontal design. With its 60 horsepower, the bike is capable of 0-60 mph in 5 seconds, and to 100 mph in just 13 seconds.. plenty fast for me.
My bike was equipped with a number of after-market enhancements, including electronic ignition, dual spark plug heads (supposedly smoother performance), front fairing/windshield, and quick removable side pannier bags.
Riding this bike is a joy. On initial startup (electric starter, of course), with those two big pistons fighting each other boxer style, there is a good bit of vibration, but nothing like that of a Harley. Give it throttle, and start moving down the road, and all that vibration goes away.. the bike just smooths out and feels like it could run forever and ever.
This is not a high-revving bike like most of the Japanese models, nor is it by any means the fastest. What it does have, though, is loads of torque throughout the operating range. Want to go faster? No need to change gears, just open the throttle, and the bike pulls away with authority. With a 5-speed transmission the bike is just loafing at 70 mph, and wants to do more and more (careful Phil).
Under heavy acceleration, those boxer-style pistons conspire to make the bike want to lean a bit toward the right, but nothing to cause alarm. In fact, it reminds me of my flying days where a bit of right rudder is required to keep an accelerating aircraft heading straight.
This promises to be loads of fun!