Blog Home All Blogs
Airheads. Many of us still ride them, even though the last one rolled off the assembly line in 1994. They hold special places in our hearts and garages. This blog is dedicated to them and those who ride, wrench and love them.


Search all posts for:   


Top tags: Airheads  ABC  Maryland  Racing  Sidecar  SuperTech  tech 

If you build it, they will come: R 100 RS 40th anniversary celebration

Posted By Phil Sikora #9135, Monday, November 20, 2017

R 100 RS 40th anniversary celebration, Harleysville, PA, 14-17 September 2017

Just as he did for the commemorative R 90 S rally in 2014, Todd Trumbore dug deep and put together an amazing 40th celebration rally honoring the R 100 RS. Todd flew in Hans A. Muth from Germany at his own expense. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Mr. Muth had many recollections on designing this groundbreaking motorcycle. My favorite one was when a Japanese designer asked him for heuristics on design. How do you do it? Muth's answer was you have to feel it. He likened rider and machine to a centaur: rider and bike become one.

Back in the day, when I purchased my RS, I read that the flat finish on the fairing paint was due to supplying wind resistance to keep the front of the bike grounded, similar to the side pieces of the fairing. Mr. Muth said that the flat finish was chose to hide some of the surface bubbling imperfections from the molding process that was unacceptable to BMW.

Some of the other presentations included tech talks and recollections from Udo Gietl, Tom Cutter and Karl Myers. On the riding side of things, Ed Bach gave a presentation on his five year trip around the world, when he dropped off the grid in 2012, visiting 110 countries.

There were many more items on the agenda, such as a private museum tour of vintage motorbikes and motorcars in nearby Skippack Village each night.

This was a very poignant time for me. After a trip from New Jersey to Colorado to do some work for the National Park Service in the summer of ’76, I tired of my Honda 750's drive chain splitting and being thrown into the case. The repair required epoxying to keep the engine oil in. I decided to purchase an R 100 RS that October. I sold my Honda (with requisite Windjammer), sold my car, cleaned out my meager bank account and took out a loan. I never looked back. While I love my ’94 R 1100 RS to death, nothing will replace the feeling of pining over and acquiring that R 100 RS.

I have many anecdotes about owning that bike, including getting pulled over just so the officer could admire the machine. The funniest story was going around the green in Morristown, New Jersey, with my club just as church was getting out. A young boy pulled his mother to the curb, pointing at my bike, and exclaimed, "Look, Mommy! A space ship!" That bike did rocket me through some of the best times of my life.

As with any good rally, the time spent with new and old friends is immeasurable. Here’s a nod to friends Lou Stellar, Steve Bauer, Naomi and Bob Lonergan (of MOA National vintage display fame), the William Dudleys and Jim Danhakl.

Possible next rally: a combined R 65 and R 80 G/S commemoration. Maybe even a smaller one, peeking into Todd’s garage?

When all is said and done, the thing I think about still is Todd’s commitment to hosting these rallies. I can’t begin to appreciate the financial commitment. His expenses were not nearly covered by the paltry rally fee. He flew Mr. Muth over; Muth invited the Siebenrocks to come, and Todd covered that. He built the pavilion just for the rally; even more staggering was the time and mental and physical effort put in for our benefit. Wild. Then there was the support staff. Even the universe ponied up and kept the passing showers away from the grounds.

Ed Bach's blog is the most-followed thread in the history of and has over five million hits. It's split into two parts: the First Two Years and the Last Three Years.

Tags:  Airheads 

PermalinkComments (1)

Rich Nagy hosts Airhead tech day

Posted By Bruce McKelvy #127096, Regional Coordinator, Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mac Pac and Airheads member Rich Nagy hosted a tech day for Airheads at his home this past Sunday (5 Nov 17). The event was well attended with about 25 people. There would have been even more had the rain date for the Del Val BMW clubs Fall Foliage run not conflicted with it. I and a number of others would have liked to attend both, but the timing would not allow it. The tech day consisted of a presentation of how to properly adjust Airhead valves and carburetors. Lots of wrenching followed and "everyone's bikes went home running a little sweeter," as per Rich’s Facebook post.

For clubs struggling to host meaningful events, these tech days are at the top of the list for getting people involved and showing that being a member of a club is important to maintaining our bikes and enjoying our hobby. Riders can save a lot of money by learning to work on their own bikes from the vast body of knowledge available in most clubs.

Rich said, "It was a pleasure to have a hands on tech session for all to take advantage of the expertise of the caliber that Bob Sipp and Dave Cushing provided. It is also great to note that the attendees all were extremely interested how to work on their bikes in an area that is mysterious to many, the carburetors. Once they were tuned they all ran smooth and I’m sure that their bikes felt like new rides on the way home."

Rich is known for offering up his garage for tech days as often as he can in order to promote the proper care and feeding of Airheads.

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

3V Racing's maiden voyage

Posted By Dave Kaechele #4562, Thursday, October 12, 2017

About a year ago, I responded to an advertisement for a Slash 5 front end for sale at Dutch Trash Choppers in Portland, Oregon. The owner, Noll Van Zweiten, builds choppers and sidecars. Thinking I would not be long, my wife, Deborah, decided to wait in the car. When I went in the shop, I looked to the side and there was a BMW sidecar chassis in the shop.

I walked out of the shop and called my friend, Jason Vaden, and told him about the sidecar chassis, asking if he was interested in going together to buy it. He paused about a few seconds and said yes. That was the start of 3V Racing, named after Jason and his sons Vincent and Hans.

My wife said, “You go into the shop to buy a front end and come out buying a sidecar, too. I thought we were done with racing. I should have known better.” I raced a R 75/5 BMW vintage twin road race bike for 20 seasons, then sold it in 2012 because my lap times had increased. I missed the friendship and fun on the track, so I thought a sidecar would be fun to race.

The chassis was built, but not finished, by Bob Bakker for Larry Coleman near Sacramento, California. Jason and I analyzed what we needed and started developing the bike. One of the things we needed were 3"x16" wheels and sidecar road racing tires. After two months searching in the U.S., we ended up sending two Slash 6 hubs to Central Wheel Components in Birmingham, England, for spokes, rims, tires and tubes. That put the bike at the correct height. The 10” wheel needed a spindle and height block welded at the correct height and angle for sidecar's toe-in. Jason and Noll worked on the chassis and body development while I built the motor and transmission.

AHRMA rules require a 1972 appearance and 750 cc engine. I obtained a 1981 engine, with a flywheel carrier for lightness, and a 1979 five-speed transmission. The narrowed Slash 5 swing arm was on the car. I worked with Dan Baisley of Baisley High Performance to install and degree the sport cam, dual-plug the heads and raise the compression. As neither Jason nor I had driven a sidecar rig, we wanted a reliable rig for the first year as we learned what we were doing. Ozzie Auer from Chico, California, gave us some tips on the chassis and car setup, which we as novices, really needed.

Our first race was on July 13-14 at The Ridge in Shelton, Washington. The engine and chassis were ready, but we did not have the full fairing installed for the first race. In practice and the first race, we had a fuel delivery problem. We eventually replaced the fuel pump and the rig ran well on Sunday.

Sunday morning practice was fun with no problems, but it provided a good story for Jason. He works as a contractor and, at 41, had high cholesterol problem. About a year ago, he had a heart attack, which resulted in a defibrillator being installed. On Sunday, Jason’s defibrillator recorded a high heartbeat at 10:30 a.m., 10:33 a.m., 10:36 a.m. and 10:38 a.m. When Jason got home on Sunday around 10:00 p.m., the modem for the defibrillator downloaded to the hospital the recordings. At 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Jason got a call from his doctor’s office and the nurse was quite concerned about him. Jason explained about the racing, claiming it was better to apologize afterwards than ask the doctor permission and be denied. The nurse laughed and told him to come in on Wednesday for a defibrillator adjustment.

The race on Sunday was smooth with no new defibrillator events for Jason. We were the one vintage outfit in the race, so we got a 30-second head start over the four modern F2 outfits. Two outfits passed us and the other two stayed a few seconds behind us. We had lap times of 3:00, 2:58, 2:57 and 2:54. It felt good to finish third out of five the first time out.

We have several things to improve on the outfit: the handholds for Jason and shift linkage for my left foot. We had fun and were successful for the first time out. We were drifting and occasionally lifting the car on right corners, which made the spectators happy. The modern outfits made us feel welcome and were glad to have another outfit out on the track. Even though our knees ached and Jason’s arms were pumped up, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Our next race was the AHRMA 8th Bonneville Vintage GP road race held at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah over Labor Day weekend. Jason, Noll, Vincent and Hans drove Jason’s motor home and trailer 12 hours east for the event. Ten to twelve sidecar outfits were at the SRA points event. The sidecar went through tech and was approved to run on the track for Friday practice. We got more practice time on the track at Miller than ever before.

Jason and I were getting more comfortable as a team and working together in synchronization. When we came in after each practice session, other sidecar passengers advised Jason on how to move out to the right and back to the left as we cornered. I started picking up speed as we cornered more aggressively. We were drifting and using more body English to move smoothly through corners, so our lap times dropped with each practice.

During Saturday morning practice the motor began to slow, so I pulled off the track and rode back to the pits. We pulled the right valve cover and saw a broken exhaust valve spring. We had 90 minutes until the race so we had to find a fix quickly. We knew that there were no shops that would have our parts; we asked around the pits and found out that Larry Coleman had a core engine for his new outfit in a bucket. I asked him if we could use the parts we needed and he lent us the right head, which we quickly installed. The borrowed head was not dual-plugged, so I secured the extra spark plug to the block. We made the starting grid by two minutes and had a good race. We were running second and slowly lowering our lap times each lap.

Vincent (left) and Hans Vaden.

We went through tech inspection again for the Sundays race, but we had ignition problems. I thought the problem was fixed, but on the warmup lap, the rig went on one cylinder again and we had to pull off the track.

We had a good race weekend and really appreciated the help from other fellow outfits to keep us going. Larry Campbell and his son, Larry, lent us tools and advice, Larry Coleman loaned us the spare head and Bob Baker provided setup tips.

From a raw chrome alloy chassis to a running competition outfit, it took a full team of people. We will remove the bugs for next season and will be back for more fun on the track!

At Miller.

Tags:  Airheads  Racing  Sidecar 

PermalinkComments (0)

Wanted: Next Gen Airheads

Posted By John Phillips, Saturday, June 18, 2016

Attending Airhead events is certainly satisfying, but a little troubling in one respect. There is undeniable comfort in associating with like-minded folks who not only share a passion for air-cooled BMW motorcycles, but also generational memories.  Many moons have passed and we are all taking on a certain patina, shall we say. The lurking question surfacing more and more is how we will keep the sport/hobby we love vital and growing when we don't see that many younger faces in the crowd. This is not unique to Airheads. The same question comes up at gatherings of Norton owners and perhaps other vintage bike groups as well.

There are, of course, newcomers that fly to the flame regardless, each with a unique story of how their drive to march to the beat of a different drummer intersected with an opportunity to acquire a vintage Beemer and eventually to connect with the Airhead community. Jonathan and Chris are two. Both are in their 30s, both married, Chris with a young daughter. Jonathan is an Ivy Leaguer who helps implement policy for Princeton University. He and his wife enjoy leisurely weekend rides on a '60s R 60 and more recently a '70s R 75. Chris is a skilled machinist who sculpts complex molds from blocks of aluminum. He enjoys tinkering and tweaking his '70s R 60, and as we speak is prepping his modern adventure bike for an extended tour through the Maritimes.

It has been a delight to get to know both, and though they come from different backgrounds and work experiences, there are a few things they share in common worth noting. First, both acknowledge that they came into Airhead ownership and eventually to the Airhead community by circumstance and serendipity, not by some grand plan or design. Second, they are hooked on the Airhead experience and now can't imagine leisure time now without it - i.e., it is not a passing fancy. Their appreciation for the sophisticated simplicity of 40- and 50-year-old Airhead BMWs enhances their riding enjoyment and also drives the enjoyment of learning to do their own maintenance in an era when it is almost impossible to do anything on a modern bike except to maybe change the oil. With a nod to Emerson, both have discovered that owning an Airhead is a journey, not a destination. As a result, both fully intend to enjoy their Airheads, and especially the Airhead community, as long as life circumstances allow.

Most of all, it is encouraging to know that there are more Chrises and Jonathans out there. The challenge is to find them and to not leave to chance that they will eventually find us. Airheads own and promote an important part of BMW history and heritage that will sustain if we focus on connecting with those we will eventually pass the gavel to.

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

AMA Vintage Days are on the way

Posted By John Phillips, Wednesday, May 25, 2016

AMA Vintage Days are fast approaching and Gary and I are feeling the pressure to complete rebuild projects begun last Fall, my '74 850 Norton Commando and his '54 Vincent Series D Rapide. The unanticipated surprises that arise in such frame-up restorations are stressing the schedule and unfortunately mean that riding my '84 R 100 (S) and Gary's '81 R 100 RS are a second priority for both of us until after AMA.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to contrast the similarities and differences in design approaches of 40- and 60-year-old vertical twin, V-twin and boxer twin airhead technologies. The Mk II Commando was the next to last model built by Norton Villiers before production ceased in '76. By then, Norton had addressed all of the major weaknesses from expanding a 1947 30 h.p. 500cc vertical twin to a 56 h.p. 828cc in 1973. The final Commandos were decent performing, fundamentally reliable motorcycles by 1973 standards, but had maxed out their design limits. Without further innovation and capital infusion, Norton's fate, and the fate of the British motorcycle industry generally, was sealed by a flood of rapidly advancing, better performing and less fiddly Japanese imports.

A close look at the Vincent reveals notable innovations and a high attention to quality in the era before computer aided engineering and manufacturing. Vincent kept refining its 1,000 cc V-twin motor from the 1930s until limited market demand and rising costs ended production in 1955. The Vincent motor was all aluminum alloy, a feature not adopted by Harley big twins until the Evo engine of 1981. Vincent introduced the motor as a stressed member of the frame, an innovation adopted by the Yamaha Virago of the '80s and of course, by Ducati. The Series D Rapide pioneered the use of a monoshock rear suspension, adopted by Harley for its Softtail, and today by virtually all modern sport bikes, including BMW.

An all-alloy engine that is a stressed member of the frame, mono-shock rear suspension and monoshock girder front end that is adjustable for side car use were hallmark innovations of the last Vincent series, the D Rapide of 1954. Due to gas quality in England at that time, the low compression 1,000 cc motor was rated at about 45 h.p.

The clock is ticking. Both bikes are going to Mid Ohio come Hell or high water. Gary and I will swap rides when they're done. I'm getting the better end of the deal. Can't wait to buckle on the Go-Pro to record for family posterity my first and maybe my one and only ride on a Vincent motorcycle.

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

Bike Night at the Chatterbox

Posted By John Phillips, Friday, May 13, 2016

Now that the 2016 riding season is in full swing, motorcyclists are flocking to their weekly "go-to" places to kick tires for a few hours and share their common passion over breakfast or maybe burgers and hotdogs. We're hard wired for the social interaction they provide, regardless of the motorcycling we enjoy.

In north suburban Chicago where I started riding in the '80s, the go-to place was the Highland House diner off old highway 41 in Highland Park, a hangout going back to the early '70s when members of the Chicago BMW club first began showing up there for Sunday breakfast. When I transferred to NJ it was the Marcus Dairy in Danbury, CT at the junction of Rte. 7 and I-84. For over 30 years the faithful gathered there Sunday mornings, with periodic Super Sundays drawing thousands of bikes from across the tri-state area in epic, over-commercialized and at times out-of-control spectacles. After decades of service to their respective communities, both destinations fell to the wrecking ball in the name of progress. Their loss was noted in the The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Photo posts of the bereaved standing in front of rubble piles crying "Where will we go?" hit the forums. Not to worry. Within weeks of the Highland House closing, the Full Moon diner up the road in Lake Bluff hung out a welcome sign. Riders heading north on CT Rte. 7 pass the Marcus Dairy silo kept as an historic landmark at the Danbury Mall on their way to the Toymakers Cafe in Falls Village, CT.

Here in the Skylands of Sussex County, NJ, enthusiasts started rolling into the Chatterbox Drive-In in late afternoon this week for "Bike Night" Thursday, now that warm weather has finally arrived. As word of Bike Night spread over the past few years, what started as small groups of locals now attracts riders from neighboring NY and PA, filling the parking lot that encircles the octagonal shaped restaurant with a couple of hundred bikes on peak Summer nights. Most importantly, the full array of riding interests is represented, from custom cruisers to Italian and Japanese sport bikes, to trikes and an assortment of vintage rides.

I hope the Chatterbox has a long run, but accept that change can come at any time. When it does, the community will observe a moment of silence and then pack up the moveable feast with all its magical music and move on, confident that the closing of one chapter simply marks the opening of the next. As one rider put it, "Park two bikes in front of a diner and watch nature take its course." It is the circle of life.

Airhead Chris Sutton and his '76 R 90/6 periodically make the hour run to Bike Night at the Chatterbox from his home in Martins Creek, PA. He and a buddy, also on an airhead, grabbed a burger and started outlining a planned trip to Nova Scotia, Labrador and Newfoundland next year.

The first really warm Thursday of Spring this week brought over a hundred bikes of all descriptions and riders of ll ages to Bike Night at the Chatterbox. There seem to be more and more women riding in every season.

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

Sunshine in Southern England

Posted By John Phillips, Sunday, May 8, 2016

It's yet another blustery day in 100-acre wood - going on two weeks now of unseasonably cold, rainy weather that has settled over the Northeast. The R 100 sits in the garage on the umbilical battery tender while I focus on getting the ol' Norton Commando prepped for reassembly and helping Airhead friend Gary to do the same for his '54 Vincent Rapide. We're on deadline to get both bikes to Mid-Ohio in July, and the clock is ticking. Thank goodness the BMW is ready to go with just basic seasonal maintenance.

In the meantime, Ian Clarke has sent an update from Southern England showing the riding season there in full swing in -gasp!- sunshine. Ian, a well-known expert in pre-1970 BMWs in vintage BMW circles in the UK/EU, was the guest speaker at the February MD Airhead SuperTech. He grew up on British bikes, a rite of passage for a lot of us in the 1960s, but by the mid-60s he was traveling Europe on a BMW, and hasn't looked back since.

Spring outing by the Dorset chapter of the U.K. Vintage Motorcycle Club.

On another UK ride, bikes 25 years old or older ranged from a 1920s Sunbeam to a 1980s Honda, with numerous BMW airheads in between. The 1963 R 60/2 in the foreground just clocked 400,000 miles since being acquired by its owner in 1968!

Ian has already logged more than 1,500 miles since April on his bikes ranging from a 1929 Excelsior to a 1963 R 69 S. I'm a slacker having logged maybe 200. He admits some of his riding was in "appalling" weather, a description most Brits would not use lightly. I would also term riding in a hail storm "appalling." So, Kudos to Ian. He's old school hard core, setting the example. Fortunately for him, vintage motorcycle organizations in the UK crowd the riding season with events during the week as well as on weekends, so his odometer is off to a good start. Still, I'm waiting for the mercury to push over 60 degrees F to get fully into the season here, and the Norton is giving me a constructive excuse.

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

The season begins!

Posted By John Phillips, Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Finally, the first ride of 2016! Most of March was spent in NC as our family begins to transition out of northeast NJ. I missed the very first warm days up north and many was the day I longed for the R100 to be south with me. Am already looking to connect with airheads in the Charlotte area, and feeling the first twinge of sadness at the prospect of leaving riding friends and the awesome backroads of the NJ/NY/PA region.

Back in NJ, there is finally more than just the occasional warm day, tree buds are greening into leaves and the dogwood and azalea are blooming. Thanks to extensive maintenance last year, the R100 is ready to go for the season with just an engine oil change and a check of valve adjustment for any sign of recession that plagued early '80s airheads. Last spring's punchlist included fresh gearbox/final drive oil, fresh brake fluid, repacked steering head bearings, wheel bearings, swing arm bearings and lubed clutch splines and final drive splines. It took a few weekends part time before warm weather hit, and was very satisfying to accomplish. New rubber and rear shocks finished the 015 "to do" list. Both combined to transform the R100 into a delightful backroad machine.

This Spring's first ride was about an hour north up Rte 94 into New York to help a fellow Airhead with a ground-up restoration of his '54 Vincent Rapide. What a trip back in time. Handling the internals of this machine reveals astonishing complexity and sophistication of both design and manufacturing. The Vincent is clearly a product of Phil Vincent's passion to build a superior motorbike....sadly a passion that exceeded the market demand of a poor post-war economy in the UK. '54 was the last year for Vincent. With fresh black paint, stainless steel hardware throughout and polished stainless steel spokes laced to polished stainless steel Dunlop replica rims, the Vincent will be a beauty to behold as well as to ride. Can't wait!

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

Looking back to look ahead

Posted By John Phillips, Saturday, April 2, 2016

By default, the first motorcycle ride is one of the most memorable. So it was for me, a nervous teen perched on the back of a ’64 BMW R 60/2, black with white pinstripes. Back in the day - before Japan, Inc., before BMW cars - the roundel represented smooth, refined two-wheeled Teutonic precision and sophistication in the era of raucous, vibrating British vertical twins that ruled American boulevards then.

The memory stuck for nigh on three decades until the day a cherry ‘84 R 100/7 parked on the side of a country road with a ‘For Sale’ sign taped to its sport fairing came home with me. I was bound to honor the spousal pact to ‘buy one, sell one’. The Harley went. I liked the Harley, a lot, but I didn’t like the weight and I hated the constant expectation from other Harley riders to make riding about image. It is liberating that the understated BMW draws little attention, except from like-minded enthusiasts. I never tire of admiring its timeless aesthetic. Its blend of performance, comfort, reliability and maintainability meets my every riding need and want. But at the root of it, the BMW combines three levels of motorcycling enjoyment that few other bikes of any era can, and no other bike I’ve ever owned has:

  1. The technology leap from 1984 to 2016 is startling, as one would expect. But with proper maintenance, updated front and rear suspension and new rubber, the old technology still works pretty damn well. The R100 surges with sure-footed ease through the off-camber corners, blind bends and fast sweepers that comprise the winding rural roads of PA, NY and northwestern NJ where I mostly ride. For longer distance work, the seat is comfortable, the set of Krausers are spacious and look right and there is enough horsepower to accelerate smartly down the on-ramp and cruise the interstate smoothly all day long at 80+ mph.
  2. The joy of wrenching. Wrenching on a proper motorbike from the mechanical age can be (should be, IMHO) as enjoyable as riding it. It’s that ‘Zen and the Art..’ thing that opens a portal to learning something about ourselves as it teaches us about our machines. The R100 was made when it was most practical, preferable and often essential for owners to perform their own routine and at times even major maintenance. The bike was designed for it. The technology allows it. Wrenching on the R 100 more than doubles the fun and satisfaction of owning and riding it. For newer riders particularly, this portal is rapidly closing rapidly in the era of digitized, computerized systems. More’s the pity.
  3. With airhead ownership comes an entire community of fellow enthusiasts and support resources (a nod to BMW) that is unsurpassed by any motorcycle organization. “Airheads” are down to earth, fun to be around and ever eager to share and help with their extraordinary depth of knowledge and experience. As one Airhead put it, he might have to give up his riding his airhead one day, but he will never give up the community.

Putting it all in perspective, the high quotient of smiles per mile delivered over the years by one motorcycle, an airhead BMW, has been a constant of enjoyment and of expectations met and exceeded in an inconstant world too full of disappointments and too dependent on throwaway gratification. It has helped keep this enthusiast young at heart, energized and looking ahead with a sharper focus on what matters most in this pastime. I’m a lucky fellow indeed.

Not John's R 100
This isn't John's R 100, but a general photo borrowed from

This post has not been tagged.

PermalinkComments (0)

Pilgrimage to the 2016 Airhead SuperTech

Posted By John Phillips, Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I got my entrance fee check in early when the Maryland chapter of The Airhead Beemers Club (ABC) announced they would be running the much anticipated annual ABC SuperTech weekend February 19-21, 2016 at the Tuckahoe Steam and Gas Association museum of vintage steam engines in Easton, MD.  In 2014, when it was announced that SuperTech must find a new venue, MD Airheads grabbed the torch and have done an outstanding job for the second year.  The event drew attendance  from around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, but also from as far away as Washington state.  As quick introduction for those who might not know, the ABC is an international network of owners of air-cooled BMWs (discontinued in 1995) founded in 1991 to help fellow Airheads keep their classic bikes on the road   There are ABC chapters in every state, in four Canadian provinces, the UK, Japan and Australia.  The activities of each are orchestrated by an elected Airmarshall. 

Through local riding events and tech workshops, the monthly newsletter Airmail and the on-line Airlist forum, members connect to help each other answer wrenching questions, troubleshoot problems and keep abreast of upgrades and a growing network of commercial resources for airhead parts and services.   Sometimes the help can be one on one, like when NJ Airmarshall Dave Cushing called with an offer I couldn't refuse: "Hey, if you haven't learned how to lube your clutch splines yet, bring the bike down and I'll show you."  For five hours, Dave patiently instructed while I turned the wrenches.  It was a gift of time and knowledge I hope I have the chance to pass along to a new Airhead one day. 

For the 70 or so Airheads fortunate to attend this year, the payoff was once again the collegial pleasure of catching up with old friends and making new ones, kicking tires about our favorite bikes, sharing knowledge and comparing experiences, taking copious notes at the tech seminars and refueling at day's end with the culinary delights arranged for by MD Airhead organizer, master of ceremonies and head chef Mark Lipschitz.  His booming voice and frequent use of a Bengal taxi horn kept the program running on schedule. 

A special BMW airhead retrospective was presented this year by Ian Clarke from the UK.  A rather interesting fellow, Ian.  He has toured extensively through  Europe and the UK on airhead BMWs since 1967.  His personal collection of motorcycles numbers more than 40. Though not all of his bikes are BMWs, he is best known in the shire as a restorer of, and acknowledged expert in, pre 1970 BMW airheads.  He haunts the auto jumbles (flea markets) of the UK and Europe to buy/sell/swap rare BMW bits and contributes regular articles to the UK BMW Riding Club Journal and the e-zine, The Airhead.  With Ian's arrival earlier in the week,  Mark wangled invitations to tour the private BMW motorcycle and memorabilia collections of Jim Hopkins and Bob's BMW dealership in Jessup, MD (see links) both terrific time capsules of BMW artifacts dating to the 1920s.    A variety of "how to" technical sessions, from upgrading fork dampers, to replacing the rear main seal to proper gearbox shimming was supplemented by a much appreciated club update given by NY Airmarshall and ABC Board Director Mike Friedle.  Membership and finances are growing, a good thing.  SuperTech 2016 closed with a recognition award to Bob Sipp  for his many years of contributions to ABC education.  Bob's traveling display of expertly machined airhead component cutaways is a hugely helpful teaching  aid at every SuperTech.  

I've been an MOA member for almost 20 years, but an ABC member for only five.  I can honestly say  say I've  not met any  group more closely knit, more passionate and knowledgeable, more engaged or more eager to share than those who ride and maintain BMW's classic air-cooled twins.  Because of their dedication, beautiful 30/40/50+ year old airhead BMWs are ridden to almost any motorcycle gathering.  Once again, SuperTech proved that  providing "continuing airhead education" not only helps bring the airhead community together, but also strengthens the ties that bind it together.  Thanks again to all Airhead volunteers who made the 2016 SuperTech a success.  While at it, another round of thanks is in order to the Air Marshals and ABC volunteers everywhere who arrange for all the ongoing local airhead events.  Their efforts inspire the rest of us to help out whenever and however we can, and that after all, is the whole point.  

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  ABC  Airheads  Maryland  SuperTech  tech 

PermalinkComments (0)
Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal