A Question for you 'Old-timers'

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by rgb2cmyk, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. rgb2cmyk

    rgb2cmyk Been here awhile

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    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.
    #1
  2. lnewqban

    lnewqban Ninjetter

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  3. Mister D

    Mister D Long timer

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    :ear
    #3
  4. motu

    motu Loose Pre Unit

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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.
    #4
  5. blues

    blues Been here awhile

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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.
    #5
  6. Snapper

    Snapper Long timer

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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....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. Homey

    Homey Been here awhile

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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.
    #7
  8. oldtrout

    oldtrout Been here awhile

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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.

    :gerg
    #8
  9. oldtrout

    oldtrout Been here awhile

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    Oh, and the UJM's were a LOT cheaper.....
    #9
  10. vortexau

    vortexau Outside the Pod-bay

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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:
    [​IMG]

    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.
    #10
  11. RTLover

    RTLover Long timer

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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.:1drink
    #11
  12. Daddy Dave

    Daddy Dave n00b

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    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.
    #12
  13. MagyarMan

    MagyarMan Been here awhile

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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.
    #13
  14. baloneyskin daddy

    baloneyskin daddy bikaholic

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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.
    #14
  15. DRGNHTR

    DRGNHTR Dragonhunter

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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.
    #15
  16. daveoneshot

    daveoneshot Been here awhile

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    The Germans are still asleep.......Look at the Triumph Bonneville and the success it has now, along with the other companies creating retro bikes. And recently Honda just came out with their new CB 1100 blast from the past. All BMW has to do is build the retro R 90 S if they really want to make some money. But I'm off track here.....I bought an R 60/2 , a 1961, in '65 for 600 bucks and rode the spokes off it. Money was real then, our cash actually bought something.
    #16
  17. PhilB

    PhilB Long timer

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    BMW really made its reputation in the '50's and '60's, before the Japanese entered the market with serious bikes. Compared to the competition of the time, mostly British and Italian, the BMWs were somewhat heavy and slow, but were also a good deal more reliable and durable, more refined and better built, better suited for long travels. They pretty much invented the modern touring bike. Once the Japanese took over motorcycling, pretty much all of the old guard companies fell asleep or died for a couple decades. Even Harley, big and dominant as it was, mostly was moribund in the '70's and '80's, and the poor reputation they built during those years still haunts them some. Those that survived, including BMW, pretty much bumbled along on small scales for niche markets. Only in the last 20 years have any of the non-Japanese bike companies started to wake up and compete again. Now, BMW, Ducati, Triumph, Aprilia, H-D, and some others are resurgent and making good and serious bikes again. There has probably never been a better time for wide availability of a huge variety of top-notch bikes than now.

    PhilB
    #17
  18. baloneyskin daddy

    baloneyskin daddy bikaholic

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    I even think theres a new VW bus.
    #18
  19. tokyoklahoma

    tokyoklahoma 75%has been 25%wanabe

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    This is pretty much how I remember it. In the '60s if you wanted fast, it was British, or a Harley bobber. If you wanted reliable it was BMW. :wink:Then Honda changed everything.:1drink
    #19
  20. bbrz

    bbrz Been here awhile

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    Back in the mid 70's the BMW shops were Mom and Pop stores. Any one remember Underwood's in St. Joseph IL? Wanted an R90S, but at 3-4K it was a little costly at the time. A few years later (early or mid 80's) BMW had a blue and white Mosport Edition at Underwoods. Went there with money in hand to purchase my dream bike. The owner would not even talk a deal. Pointed at a brownish R65 and told me that if I wanted a BMW that I should start with that because I "did not deserve the Mosport". My want for a BMW died that day.
    #20