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Old 03-30-2013, 05:23 PM   #1
rgb2cmyk OP
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A Question for you 'Old-timers'

I'm 31 now, bought my first BMW at 27.

I always run into guys when riding my GSA who stop and talk to me about how it reminds them of when they had a Rxx/x back when they were young, my age or younger. Most guys are in their early 60s I'd say. I love hearing the stories, but it got me thinking.

What made you get a BMW back then? Where there less choices? Was a touring style bike the thing to have back then? Were they just more exotic? Were there less options? What brought you to BMW bikes?

And why does it seem like BMW missed a couple generations. Was it that BMW traditionally built touring bikes, and when sport-bikes became the thing for young people BMW failed to capture a young audience and their cliental naturally aged?

It often seems like BMW managed to hook a good number of baby boomers in the 1960s and 1970s, and has ridden them all into their 60s+, and sort of forgot about Gen-X and millennials until semi recently. And are now actively trying to lure a new young generation with the S1000RR and the 800 line.

A lot of people talk about how today BMW's are cost prohibitive for young people, and I would agree. Was that still the case back then? Was it more feasible for a someone in their late 20s to buy a BMW back in the 60s and 70s assuming they had a decent job?

I'm just trying to understand how it seems BMW managed to miss a large crop of young customers.

I realize there is some gross generalization in my questions, but I'm curious people's takes.
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:26 PM   #2
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Some history here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_BMW_motorcycles

http://www.bmbikes.co.uk/bmwmodels.htm
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Old 03-30-2013, 06:48 PM   #3
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Old 03-30-2013, 07:35 PM   #4
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I bought a BMW in 1981 when I was 27 because it had a blown gearbox and I wanted a bike better suited to commuting than the Norton I was using. By the time I got it running I had changed jobs and was walking to work - the BMW was boring so I got rid of it.

I bought a BMW in 2008 because I wanted a bike I could bend to more variety of uses...I was 55 by then, and the BMW is old, but no longer boring.
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Old 03-30-2013, 07:47 PM   #5
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In the early 80's I was about the OP's age and bought a new 550 GPz Kawi which was a hot bike at the time. I don't recall what else I considered but a BMW would not have hit the radar. The Kawi was quick and sexy.

For reference at this point in my life I'd had a CZ, a Husky, a Penton, an Ossa, ( all high perforamce off road bikes ) and a Norton Commando so in hind sight the GPz was a logical extension. I do remember being surprised to see a really big German guy riding an airhead in the ISDT in the 70's but other than that I don't recall BMWs being around much.
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Old 03-30-2013, 08:54 PM   #6
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Bought my first BMW, a 1980 R65, when I was 18 just after graduating from high school, with money saved up from summer jobs. Guess what sparked my interest was a little high school riding group we had going.... one guy had an R75 and was the best rider of all of us, and he absolutely loved that thing - it was part of him and you'd never see him without the bike. Then I came across the R100RS and thought that was most beautiful thing I've ever seen - that was my dream bike along with the Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans for many, many years.

Here're a couple of photos me and that BMW from back then. Only riding pictures I've ever taken really - a friend of mine was just getting into photography and wanted to do a shoot. Fond memories, that bike was a sweetie....





Never did get that R100RS, but got pretty close...

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Old 03-30-2013, 10:05 PM   #7
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I was born in 1961 and I'm only 52. ;)

I never bought a BMW because they were (or had the reputation) for being so slowand very heavy. They didn't have a "real" sport bike back then. My first road bike was a Suzuki T500 and first new bike was a 1982 Katana (wish I still had that thing). A friend of mine had a R65 and that thing was really slow. Nice handling but really, really slow. Now that BMW is making proper sport bikes I'm looking at BMW again.
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Old 03-31-2013, 12:03 AM   #8
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In my heyday (I'm 57) the R100's (especially the R100 RS drool) were the benchmark, but so much was going on.

Late 70's early 80's was the dawning of a new era, so why lay out your hard earned cash on a Bimmer when all sorts of high tech designs were entering the market. GS 1000/ 1100/ 1150. Kawasaki GPZ's, Turbo Yamahas and Suzukis. Katanas ! Ooooh! and they WERE being hyped to us young'ns.

We were young then, so go for the biggest bang for the buck. I bought my first brand new bike - a 1980 GS 750 and that was an awesome bike. 16 valve twin cam. Nothing big today, but to rev the shit out of those was eye watering. best handling too. Still regret selling her. Buddy got the GS 1100, and that was a machine that was treated with respect. (He had a union job. $$)

Things are somewhat the same nowadays I suspect. When your blood cools a little and you have more green in your pocket, you go for the modern R100.

Thus we are discussing this on ADV.

YMMV.

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Old 03-31-2013, 12:06 AM   #9
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Oh, and the UJM's were a LOT cheaper.....
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Old 03-31-2013, 06:48 AM   #10
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BMWs have been my second most common brand for ownership (No 1 being Honda on which I commenced as One of The Nicest People).

Now, the very first one (1967) had been a Supercub Honda C65, and the 4th was a Honda CB100.The full chaincase of the first two had impressed me over the exposed chain of the next two so I had been haunting the local BMW dealership for a period . . . . becoming familiar with the shaft drive which no other brand, at that time, seemed to have.

When the /5 models appeared I became even more interested and acquired this booklet:


which was an introduction to the new models. (This example of the booklet went to a winning ebay bid of US$123)

1970 BMW MOTORCYCLE PREMIER DEALER ONLY BOOK BROCHURE CATALOG R50/5 R60/5 R75/5

So, I stepped-up to a S/H black R50/5 model at the age of 21 (like the left-most example pictured on cover, but with Craven Panniers). In 1971 these motorcycles drew a lot of interest from bystanders and BMW was known as the 1st choice for long-distance trouble-free touring. Oddly, I never rode the 500cc for any really long distance . . . . . that happened with acquisitions number nine and ten (Moto Guzzi 850T and R75/6). A customized R25 was briefly motorcycle number seven.

In 1978 I bought my last chain-driven motorcycle; a S/H Honda XL350, which I converted into a chopper. In these last years of the seventies I had my largest stable of bikes which consisted of the Guzzi, R75/6, and the Honda chopper.

Currently own a Suzuki Burgman Exec and a R100RS-powered outfit. All of my BMWs have been second-hand, as have been all of my automobiles.
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:16 AM   #11
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I hadn't ridden in over 20 years since college and figured I should get back in the saddle. Toes in the water was a Rebel 250. A few weeks, yes weeks, later I knew I had swallowed the lure so I stepped up to a Kawa Vulcan 750. Then I moved from the US west coast to the east coast where the possibilities of riding were much better. Jettisoned the Kawa and bought an R100RT with only 5k on it. The owner had bought it in Cal, ridden it to see his daughter in Seattle, then he rode to Virginia, and then got divorced so the bike was a nice deal for me. A year later I was posted in Paris and the bike went along. Didn't cover much territory for the simple reason that just getting out of Paris and on the way somewhere was/is a real PITA. Then I retired 14 years ago and after a few years of pushing the RT around Europe I realized that I needed more of everything. Now I have an R1200RT. A year after getting the bike I bought a BMW Z4. Between the two I have everything I need.

Was the bike expensive? Compared to other makes in the category, yes, but not excessively so. The RT is one of the best sellers in Europe and it really holds its value. The only problem I've had was the ABS that almost initiated a recall but the dealer said he'd change the whole system anyway for the 70 euro computer analysis that led up. Can't beat the service and the bike has been a gem. I was born a week after WW2 ended in Europe.
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:34 AM   #12
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BMW R100 - decent bike

I had an R100 (1986? 1979? I forget.) for a couple of years and am now 53 years old. Do I qualify for this thread?

The R100 was a fine, reliable bike that was very easy to handle. It was very lightweight for its displacement, but 1000cc's of air-cooled two cylinder was not powerful by modern standards. I think it was 450 lbs or something like that. My new KLR650 is almost the same weight with similar power though has a completely different chassis. Whenever I buy anything I buy it with an eye for selling it someday and an R100 keeps its value very well. I may have paid $3000, rode it 2 years, then sold it for $3000. That's cheap transportation! That is exactly why I owned one 10 years ago. My purchased-yesterday 2008 KLR650 will be sold whenever I get tired of it which could be sooner rather than later! It sure is a tall bike. I will put lowering links on it, lower the fork a bit, maybe a shorter seat, then see if I can get on it without fear of tumbling over in front of coworkers.
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Old 03-31-2013, 07:48 AM   #13
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Bought a 1966 R50/2 back in1971 when I was 23 for $500 used, rode it for 2 years and sold it to my cousin for $500.
The I bought a 1971 R50/5 in 1973 for $1500 used. Both were very stoutly built and very easy to maintain. The /2 was a bit heavy on the steering and about as fast as my current Suzuki TU250X. The /5 was about the best bike I've ever owned ,so comfortable and so smooth and I found out It is as fast as a Ferrari Dino V6, don't ask how I know.

If someone made a bike like the /5 I would buy It in a heart beat ! Hint to BMW or any Japanese mfr.
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Old 03-31-2013, 09:19 AM   #14
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The Germans fell asleep for a couple decades,remember, they also had the 1st minivan,and totally missed out on that goldmine.
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Old 03-31-2013, 09:42 AM   #15
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I'm turning 65 in a few months and have had at least one bike in the garage since I was 20. Most were from Europe with a Honda and a Suzuki mixed in. When I went looking for a bike that would take me across three states and then do a decent job on a dirt or bad road the gs was the only real choice. Now there are a lot more choices but the gs still seems to be the best "all arounder" out there.
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