My first BMW, a 1975 R75/6, was purchased for cash 34 years ago in 1975 at BMW of Denver from the then owner, Clem Cykowski.
I’ve ridden this bike 103,000 miles so far and in 2005, I received a BWW 100,000 mile award. Although you can get the award riding multiple bikes, it was my goal from the day I bought the bike to ride it 100,000 miles. In the 34 years since I bought it, I’ve had many adventures and two minor accidents.
I raced it for a season (accident #1 was in my first race, but I still finished 2nd). It has a few engine modifications including titanium push rods [I bent the original push rods in the 1st race. I acquired a lot of “wisdom” that day 🙂 ], a lightened fly wheel and a drilled air cleaner case to let it the engine breath a little easier.
In 1984, I took a month off for mental health reasons (the job was way too stressful) and spent most of that month in my garage doing a “freshen up”. The original paint was cracking and I wanted to upgrade the supsension, exhaust and put a new Windjammer IV faring on it. I loved the R90-S Smoke Silver paint scheme and had it repainted Smoke Silver (or at least a decent approximation). I took off the stock exhaust and mufflers and added a Luftmiester black chrome two into one exhaust with a little “throat” to it (aka, louder). I put on a “snow flake” cast front rim, braided steel brake line, /7 series black valve covers and spot painted the dings in the frame. I also replaced the handle bars which had a tweak from accident #1. The opportunity to just work at my own pace and think things through when I needed to without any time pressures was very relaxing. At the end of the month, both the Silver Ghost and I were refreshed.
Several years later in the late 1980’s, I didn’t stop quick enough in traffic (accident #2) and rear ended the car in front of me. I wasn’t hurt and the car couldn’t have cared less, but I did shorten up the wheel base a tad. The bad news was the steering head was bent and likely the fork tubes as well. The good news was the bike was even more nimble with quicker steering in the corners and until now, I just let it go.
“So, why restore it?”, I’ve been asked. I don’t have a logical answer. It just feels like the right thing to do. It’s a machine that has been in my garage or under my butt a large part of my life. I’ve learned a lot about motorcycles, and some about myself since I’ve owned it. Not to anthropomorphize about this, but “the Silver Ghost” is a good friend of mine and investing in a restoration seems like a logical next step in our relationship.
Recently, I’ve been reading books and blogs about reconnecting the mind with the body and the brain research that demonstrates the intimate link between “hands-on” tinkering. brain plasticity and a sense of well being. Okay, I haven’t done much hands on for quite awhile. It’s time to do some tinkering and see how much plasticity this brain has left.
Clem, is still working on BMW’s and is still part of BMW of Denver. He sold the company several years ago, but is working in the shop on the classic and vintage machines as “Heritage Model Specialist”. I’ve talked to him about the bike and had him look it over. We have a plan of attack.
Step one is to get the frame straightened and the fork tubes checked, and likely replaced. This Sunday, I went to Home Depot and bought an electric space heater so I would be a bit warmer in the garage since winter was making a visit with cold temperatures and snow flurries outside. I spent some time taking off the Windjammer IV fairing, front fender and rear luggage rack. I took some before pictures. This coming Saturday, Holloween, I’ll take it over to Clem to pull the fork tubes to see if they can be straightened, get the steering head and frame straightened, and install new steering head bearings, new fork tube seals and the new fork gaiters I bought.
In the meantime, I’ve been pricing parts, looking at other restorations for ideas, and dithering about trying to paint it myself or, like the last time, pay a professional paint shop to repaint it.
My youngest son, Branden, is interested in helping out and getting his hands dirty. I’m looking forward to the company and the opportunity to share what knowledge I have and learning what I don’t know, which is considerable I’m sure.
Hmmm… maybe you’ll inspire me to start on my Triumph..
John, That would be very cool and likely worth a bit more than a restored R75/6. Good on ya Mate.
Something tells me you won’t become one of those “bored” retirees in the future… there’s plenty to keep your hands busy.
The times are changing. This may well be a project who’s time has come in your life. It is not a project you would have chosen over the past decade. Peace be with you on this journey.
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