|Sunday, 08 February 2009 20:51|
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1975 BMW R60/6
In early summer of 2007, after the idea of going around the world had begun to develop, I started looking for a motorcycle that would be suitable for the trip. I had been considering taking the 400 cc Honda CM400 that I had at the time as it met many of the criteria I had established for the trip. One, it had to be easy to fix. The Honda was dead simple and parts would be available worldwide. The second criterion was that I had to be able to pick it up after dumping it. Well... lots of successful practice there. The third criterion was that it had to be able to carry at least a reasonable amount of gear. Hadn't really loaded it up, but if nothing else, it would force me to be frugal. But the fourth criterion was that it had to be suitable for many hours at even secondary road speeds of 60 mph or so. And on this point the Honda failed.
While it is true that people have gone around the world on everything from 50 cc scooters and Mopeds to large Harley cruisers, the Honda I had was mind-numbing at highway speeds. At 60 mph, the vibration was so intense that it truly caused a dissociation between mind and body. While the little Honda had been a great bike to learn to ride on, was superb for in-town and was a damn decent bike on- and off-trail even, it was not a road machine. On a local trip along the Trans Canada out of Kamloops, after about 30 minutes I came to the point that literally, I would not have done anything should a truck have pulled out in front of me, such was the degree of mind-body separation. I felt more like an observer watching myself ride. Weird.
So I started looking for something else. Didn't take long. I had always wanted a vintage BMW. My grandfather had one when I was small and I have numerous memories of either riding in the sidecar with my older brother or of sitting on the tank while my grandpa or my oldest brother drove me round and round the bush that occupied the center of my grandparents backyard. After almost 50 years, I still remember how pissed my grandmother would get as such shenanigans tamped down the grass. But those times were truly times that have come be core memories of my early childhood. So I needed to get an older BMW.
An older BMW, as opposed to any of the newer models met all four criteria in that it was 1) road repairable with mostly standard tools, 2) I was able to pick it up without help, 3) it was able to carry a decent amount of gear and 4) it was relatively vibration-free. I hadn't experienced the fourth criterion personally in many, many years, but knew that it has always been one of the basic tenants of BMW design. So I Googled "BMW R60 for sale" and found and R60/6 in Vancouver... a 1975 model with extremely low mileage... 12,000. A quick email and in a couple of days I was in Vancouver cash in hand. A quick tour on the back to make sure that every ran well and by the next day, I was on the road back to Kamloops with my round-the-world machine. A truly fortunate find!
While the mileage on the bike was low, the number of leaks was high. Seals tend to dry out over the years, and so I spent the following winter pulling the engine, drive shaft unit and final drive in order to replace those seals and all the seals in the front forks as well. In addition, I made three major modifications: 1) I installed a larger fuel tank, an option back in 1975, that I bought off of Ebay and reconditioned. 2) I installed an updated and much stronger Toaster Tan top brace for the off-and rough roads to be experienced in Siberia and Mongolia, and 3) I pulled the cylinders and sent them off to Ted Porter in California for dual plugging (for low-octane fuels to be encountered) and for conversion to valves for unleaded gas. The electronic ignition, installed by the previous owner, was removed and replaced with the original points-ignition... much more reliable in the long run and much more road-repairable. Other mods, which either I have already done or will do in the next little while include replacement of the original alternator with and an Enduralast unit, installation of heated grips and upgrades to the front and rear suspension. These should be the final mods and thankfully, keep the overall stock appearance. Oh... and I did replace the little beep-beep horn with dual Fiamm Hi-Way horns... just to get a little respect on the road. This is its current layout, loaded.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 07 November 2009 23:33|