Owning and Collecting Classic BMW Motorcycles — Classic German Motorcycles…

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Keeping any machine on the road is a combination of who you and what you know, and this is true in the classic BMW motorcycle Shops specializing in classic BMW few and far between, so networking can be critical. To more about these and the hobby, we turned to four with a great deal of and experience in this field: Nettesheim, Mac Kirkpatrick, Kevin and Darryl Richman.

What are the collectible BMW models?

Our experts all that the earliest models pre-World War II) are the most collectible. because so few early Beemers are especially in the U.S. they are expensive. “Ask a veteran BMW about the most collectible BMWs,” Nettesheim says, he might answer the 1960-1969 BMW models. This is probably most collectors have no with the bikes from the 1920s, and don’t even them.”

As for the highest values for classic Beemers, Nettesheim that examples of the 1923-1926 BMW R32 recently sold for $80,000 to and a 1926 BMW R39 has sold for more $50,000. He also says other models from the such as the R42, R47, R52 and can bring $40,000 and up.

“For the 1950-1954 plunger he adds, “prices range about $8,000 to $18,000. And Earles fork models been bringing $4,000-$20,000, upon model and condition.”

Why classic BMW motorcycles? “It’s Nettesheim says, “but one reason surfaces regularly, and is the attraction to quality machinery. A BMW is perceived as a machine of the highest It is the most significant reason by far I collect BMW motorcycles.”

Mac Kirkpatrick is an avid collector. He lives in and, like Nettesheim, has a BMW museum. “I think the BMW R90S is the collectible, hands down. I am there are other BMW models are rarer, and therefore more but practically speaking they be more collectible as there are so Kirkpatrick says.

“The BMW is remembered by many riders their youth. They not afford it then, but now that can, they seek to own one as remember it fondly. Enough made and parts are available, so the bike makes sense,” he

It was the first BMW with disc it had that smoked color, a engine, Del’Orto carburetors, a bodywork and a seat cowling. And it won the Superbike race at Daytona. It was a in many ways.” Kirkpatrick’s choice is the BMW R100RS. “Again, it is to keep on the road from a availability standpoint.

“I also the R68, but that is a very bike. Many will say the is the next most desirable and maybe they are correct. I saw a beautifully restored R50 and another went at auction in Las Vegas for like $18,000.

And I know of one R90S that recently on eBay for $19,000. That to the desirability of BMWs generally, 15 years ago was not the case.”

But why collect BMWs rather other brands? “I used to some British stuff but the reliability and. I don’t the ‘toughness’ and the practicality that present appeals to me. I like the ‘get-r-done’ engine, enclosed and the longevity, but the colors are a sure Kirkpatrick says.

Kevin who restores BMWs, says, I prefer the R69S. My wife and I log to 15,000 miles annually; she on her White 1965 R69S, I am riding either my black R69S with Steib sidecar or my Turf Green R69S. And we are not alone in our affection and for these fine old machines; consider the 1950s and 1960s BMW to be the most rideable classic of all time.

Got a little trip like to take, say 10-12 and 2,500 to 3,000 miles? No

Other considerations

Darryl lives in California and restores old “There are different eras of and you have to put yourself in touch the right vendors and service according to era,” Richman “While Craig ‘Vech’ has significant experience working on bikes, and both he and Mark have parts for them, you probably have to turn to vendors when you really get such a project. One of the difficulties in to a European vendor is that of them only speak native tongue — you’ll to learn some German.

problem is money. In Germany, expensive and somewhat difficult to get a account to accept credit On the other hand, interbank transfers within Germany are and nearly so within the EU. The Germans are to sending out parts, and then for the money (or the parts) to come

Add to that the expense of sending a from the U.S. (my bank me $50), currency conversion and the that most bank don’t know how to send a and the whole experience can be mighty

“I have friends in Germany who Paypal accounts. I send to them through Paypal, they withdraw the money Paypal, deposit it into own accounts and transfer it for me to the vendor. extremely cumbersome.”

Richman recommends obtaining copies of the and owner’s manuals (the books make ordering a lot easier), and a shop manual. a Clymer manual for 1955-69 BMW which is quite helpful. In terms, however, there are books, all now sadly out of print, show up on eBay and at used stores, that can be really in choosing a bike and determining and correctness.”

The books Richman to include Bahnstormer, The Story of BMW by L.J.K. Setright, How to Restore BMW Motorcycle — Twins by Roland Slabon (be careful searching for this book: has issued a new edition by a different which appears to be a step and the Illustrated BMW Motorcycle Buyer’s 2nd Edition, by Roland Slabon and Knittel.

More recent include Ian Falloon’s The BMW Story , an reference available through Classics . and Kevin Ash’s BMW The Evolution of Excellence.

I remember the I was first struck by the BMW brand. It was 1969, and I was a college student in One day, riding my Gilera four-… single past a about five miles home, I spied a beautiful BMW R69US resting on the lawn. It had a fairing and those rounded and because it carried a “For sign, I stopped.

Immediately, visions of crossing the on this huge machine through my brain — I wanted bike so badly I would sold my mother for it. Unfortunately, a new sold for $1,648 back and when the farmer told me he wanted for his late-model bike optional touring equipment, it was not to be at that time. and my mother have agreed to it, anyway. But the persisted.


Making the dream

Brooks is the guy who makes those of dreams come true. out of his one-man shop, Brooks Works. in Olympia, Wash. rebuilds and restores classic including the two R69Ss shown in the gallery.

These are no trailer In October 2006, Brooks and his Barbara, rode the bikes Olympia to the Vintage BMW California Campout and BBQ near Paso back!

Brooks does including tune-ups, restorations and and specializes in restoring /2s, /3s and a few bikes. “I’m doing a and a 1937 R5 right now, and did a R51 a few years ago,” he says. been working on them the 1970s, and about eight ago started doing it as a business.” business has been going well. “I’m flabbergasted by the in these bikes. I get calls for every week, and the two major BMW in Washington send all their /6 to me.”

What’s the difference a rebuild and a restoration? “For a I take the bike apart, it, correct any faults, re-ring it, but there is some latitude regard to things like the original nuts and bolts. For a everything must be perfect. I put the in a tumbler with a walnut and clean them up.

The originals are cadmium plated, and for an concourse level they be correct. That’s one of the details determine a good restoration as to a rebuild. When you’re on the bike, you have to tape the so they don’t mar the bolts.”

The of a restoration depends on how original the is, and how many updates you want. For it’s $200 for a set of spokes and for a pair of rims. These of details tend to add up quickly, and a can be $15,000 or $16,000.

Because he his bikes to be ridden, Brooks improvements from stock. “I with detail improvements so the goes better, stops is more reliable and easier to he says. “What I strive to in the rebuilding and modernization of these is absolute reliability coupled an incremental improvement in engine handling and braking. The trick is it without changing the classic, look. But fortunately, I am not alone.

are independent sources for everything CDI ignition systems to lightened improved braking materials and halogen lights. By selecting we can update to the very latest in the critical areas of ignition brakes and handling.

“The output among the various ranges from a low of 24hp in the 500s to an adequate 42hp in the Personally, I prefer to make to ‘save’ the power the engine rather than to try and ‘hop-up’ the We do this by lightening the flywheel and of the clutch components, which has the advantage of improving the shifting.

The train can also be lightened All of this adds up to an engine revs a little more and is much smoother and more fun to

I got a chance to ride Kevin’s R69S briefly at a rally, and was with how well it worked. It over easily and starts and despite having covered 950 miles the previous few days the was clean and oil-tight.

In comparison bikes of today, the R69S small; it’s short, and compact. With its sprung and reworked suspension (by Works it offers a very smooth — nothing like what I from a 1960s motorcycle. The transmission shifts with but it shifts well.

Acceleration is by today’s standards, but the 600cc offers good torque and is smooth.

It all brings back to me the BMW I’d sitting in that farmer’s some 40 years ago. guys like Kevin and the network of parts and information sprung up, I could still my dream.

For a complete listing of reading material, vendor and contacts, and more on collecting BMWs, be sure to check out our BMW Motorcycle Resource .

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