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Gone but not forgotten

Friday, October 6, 2017   (19 Comments)
Posted by: Terence Hamill #14629

After 38 years of acquiring motorcycles and compiling what some refer to as a fleet, I finally parted with one of my motorcycles. My 2004 R 1100 S is a younger man’s motorcycle and I’m no longer a younger man.

As I contemplated selling this motorcycle, I found myself thinking back over the nearly 10 years of ownership and remembering the times we spent together. I purchased the used silver S soon after turning 50. I wanted this model for a long time and finally found one locally. I was so excited after my down payment that I remember having trouble sleeping nights until the day I picked it up. I jokingly started a thread on the MOA Forum entitled Help With Sleepless Nights looking for advice with my affliction.

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

I still remember the November day I picked up "Silver" and starting the ride home with "Hi-yo, Silver!" rattling around in my brain. As I started the ride home, my heart rate increased and my breathing became shallow. I was a bit intimidated by the power of the S initially, but was thrilled to finally own what is arguably one of the best-looking BMWs. I loved the lines of the bike, the single-sided swing arm and the under-seat exhaust. I stopped partway home to let my heart rate and breathing rate return to normal and to admire it parked beside the road.

On a twisty road in Arkansas.

Those first few days and weeks were spent getting to know the S, my first "modern" bike. Compared to the 1971 R 75/5, 1983 R 100 RS and 1987 K 100 RS I owned, the R 1100 S was a rocket ship that handled well and stopped quickly. I loved the heated grips, the outlet for my heated jacket, the ABS brakes and the 98-horsepower engine. I soon outfitted it with saddlebags and a tank bag in preparation for longer trips. Over the years, we have ridden many miles together and the memories we made are still fresh in my mind.

Silver was equally at home on twisty mountain roads, those where you see your taillight in the corners, or burning up miles on the interstate. From my home in southeast Pennsylvania, Silver and I toured Pennsylvania twice, rode the Catskills and the Adirondacks, attended BMW rallies in Asheville, Birmingham and St. Paul. We were ferried across Lake Champlain and rode the north shore of Lake Superior, the southern Appalachians, the Gulf States, most of New England, the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Midwest. Within our reach were the plains of South Dakota, the cornfields of Iowa and the outstanding roads of the Ozarks. We rode the Back of the Dragon, the Pigtail, the Cherohala Skyway, the Natchez Trace Parkway, the Talimena Scenic Drive, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Morning alongside the Ohio River.

We watched tugs pushing coal barges on the Ohio River, experienced sunsets over the Mississippi River, took shelter from storms under highway overpasses and in churches and camped on the shores of lakes and the banks of rivers and streams. We’ve had outstanding views of valleys from mountaintops and mountaintops from valleys. I take responsibility for the speeding tickets we received in upstate New York and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

A hairpin curve in the Ozarks.

Silver took me to many memorable meals in small towns. Especially memorable were the pie and coffee at the Oark Café in Oark, Arkansas, and Cup of Joe in Cedar Falls, Iowa, as well as the homemade turkey sandwich at the Tyson Village Store in Ludlow, Vermont, the chili and half sandwich special at the Main St. Bar & Grill in Larchwood, Iowa, the pancake breakfast at the Bogus Creek Café & Bakery in Stockholm, Wisconsin, and the BBQ dinner at the Pig Out Inn in Natchez, Mississippi. Silver seemed to have a way of sniffing out the good places to eat and knew when I needed a break from camp fare.

Riding the Cherohala Skyway.

Because the stopping power of the ABS brakes instilled confidence in me, Silver was my preferred bike for fall trips, when weather conditions were often less than ideal. Stopping on wet, leaf-covered roads in West Virginia or Vermont was never a problem. His heated grips kept my hands warm and dried my rain-soaked gloves on those days I just had to stir the oil. In all our travels together, Silver always returned me safely to my home.

A rainy day in Vermont.

I was in denial for a long time, but in spite of all the good times we had together, it was becoming apparent to me - as I approached 60 - that Silver was becoming less comfortable to ride, even for short distances. I’m willing to accept a certain level of discomfort when riding a younger man’s motorcycle, but the level of discomfort started to diminish the joy of riding Silver.

A quick photo break in Middle America.

With a fair amount of thought and after buying a nice R 1150 RT with its more upright riding position, I reluctantly realized that it was time to part with my old friend. I took him for one last ride and one final cleaning, then sold him to a local MOA member. As I watched the new owner ride Silver out of my driveway, my heart rate increased and my breathing became shallow one final time.

A Pennsylvania dairy farm.

With the remainder of my fleet still intact, and with many fond memories of Silver, I’m beginning to move on. I will be the old man sitting around the campfire at rallies reminiscing about once being a younger man and having had the privilege of owning an R 1100 S.


David H. Cameron says...
Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2019
So Sad that we too Old to Young. I, am a Decade plus older than you. Went on a 3k ride in October, I, wonder if it will be my last long ride.
Jerry Scott says...
Posted Sunday, October 22, 2017
I just joined this club and am delighted to find so many kindred souls. I bought my first BMW R1200RT (2008) earlier this month at Lejeune Motorsport in Jacksonville NC. They gave me a terrific deal on the used bike and I am out often as the weather is great in October here in eastern NC. The bike had 18,000 miles on it and all the service records so I know what I purchased. It runs smooth as silk and gets around 46 miles to the gallon. I read this article with interest as I am 79 approaching 80 next March so I commiserate with the writer's reluctance to push himself on the previous bike. I have ridden bikes off and on since 1970 when I bought a Gilera 200cc in Argentina and rode it over the Andes to Chile and back. Previously I rode a Suzuki 125cc in Bolivia so I know the hazards of riding in S.A.. I have thought about repeating the trip through South America again but after watching on YOUTUBE the guys on BMWs drive through rough terrain and gravel roads I have given up the idea.
Rick Gorbics says...
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Terence, this is one of the most enjoyable, humbling stories about motorcycling that I have ever read. Your nicely composed photos are evidence that you know where to see the sights. Great job! This summer marks 50 years of continuous motorcycling for myself. I have owned two GS BMW's but presently am riding a 2013 R1200R and love it. (More upright position than the 1100S but similar ride) I can tell that you are making great memories! Keep it going!!
David Shipley says...
Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2017
The R1100S is a great allround bike. Like the author of the article, I too, have enjoyed many road surfaces on my R11S since purchasing it new in 2003. A highlight for me was completing the Four Corners Challenge on this bike. The R11S did not miss a beat on the trip and got me home safe without any mechanical issues. I read a lot of regret in the article and wanting to avoid this, my R11S will remain in my 'fleet' for as long as I am able to. At which time it will be passed on to one of my children to create their own good memories.
Chip Hurley says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
Your story is timely as I just sold my Black ’02 R1150RT (Wednesday) after owning it for more than 12 years and riding some 50,000 miles. I also had a Coral colored ’99 R1100S that I absolutely loved. It was the bike that introduced me to the BMW brand. Riding it was just a pleasure. Just married at the time, I traded it in for the RT. I wish I found a way to keep both as they have been great “companions” on my adventures. My new ride is a ’06 K1200GT. We are just getting acquainted but am optimistic this will be a long term relationship…we are already planning our vacations for next season!
Ed Apelian says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
Nice tribute to a great motorcycle and traveling companion. I had similar trouble selling my 2002 R1150GS as it was my first "NEW" motorcycle and we too created many memories together. But after 10 glorious years in 2012 it was time to find it a new home and for me to move on to a 2012 GSA. That is what is so nice about BMW motorcycles ... you can enjoy them and build memories and then pass them on to the next owed who will do the same. My friends always accused me of "screening" prospective buyers of my motorcycles. I can't deny that I do look for the "right" buyer! Thanks again for a great post!
Ronald Brunner says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
I know what you mean! I have risen my S since 2002, but I cannot part with it. It is one of my all time favorite bikes that combines “comfort”, agility and looks. However, I too have had to adjust to age and added an RT to the stable to be able to keep up with my aging body. Thank you your letter!
Dan Muir says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
Lovely article about a fabulous motorcycle. I bought mine a couple of years ago. A '99 originally purchased in New Zealand, it had less than 6K miles on it. Now with about 22K miles, I've lowered the footpegs, added bar risers and a better saddle, and thoroughly enjoyed all those miles! It competes with an R1150GS, an R75/5, and a Kawasaki W650 for my attention and still gets the miles and smiles. Great machine. For what it's worth, those mods have made the S bike a lot more comfortable for my almost 68 year-old body . . .
Wayne Woodruff says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
In early 2005, I read that BMW was discontinuing the R1100S, so I started looking for a used one. While discussing with my dealer, he mentioned there were a limited number of new 2004’s all built with the same options. I picked a grey one and took delivery in May 2005. I did a ton of customization's in the 8 years I owned it and loved riding it. I traded it because it felt too heavy. It was a lot of fun!!
William Johnston says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
Thanks for sharing your memories. I just hung up my spurs after 50+ years of riding. My last ride was a 2004 R1100S, which turned out to be the top of the crop of the many machines I’ve owned. Beautiful to look at, more beautiful to ride. A most capable motorcycle...
Robert H. Stallard says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
I'm only 64, but find my '04 R11S Boxer Cup still to be the perfect touring bike. Two weeks ago I completed a 900mi serpentine route to and through the Feather River basin, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra passes & foothills from my home in Monterey County, CA. We've traversed the West the "slow" way many times over the last decade and at the end of each ride I always reflect on what a remarkably versatile bike the S is. Although a heavy bike, the heaviest in my fleet, it provides an appreciated measure of stability when forced to do the inevitable slab work, yet it still has enough flickability to make the twisties both interesting and fun. The torque curve of the boxer engine even allows for some lively experiences on dirt/gravel roads. Thanks for taking the time to remind me why I've kept it this long and ride it regularly, regardless of the technological progress provided by newer mounts. Well done!
Stephen F. Bogert says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
I can relate to that desire to look back longingly at the bike, too many bikes today just are not attractive. Now older (65) I am tending toward lighter bikes, especially without large fairings. Standard and ADV bikes are my preference, not extra large or heavy bikes, and when if I sell mt '03 k 1200 rs it will be because of weight, and the clip on equipped Ducatis just don't get operated at all. We are all fortunate to live in this period of moto excellence, frankly I do not envy the coming electric bikes at all.
Mitch Group says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
Very nice story and as usual great pictures Terence..
Ken Petersen says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
I too had a R11S back when I was in my 50's and finally sold it this summer. Reading your piece about getting older and less comfortable ride, hit the nail on the head. My K12GT is now my ride and very comfortable. This was a good read. Ride safe.......Ken #14053
Raymond D. Gaylord says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
I really enjoyed this article Terence, brought back some memories of my own. Thanks for that.
Richard Rutel says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
Terence, I can not begin to tell you how much I enjoyed your piece on "Silver". Reading about the adventures taken and especially the thrill of owning a bike that speaks to you so clearly. After 50 years in the saddle, it's now time to "downsize" From my 1600GTL to a more manageable R1200RT. Thanks again for bringing back such happy memories. Ride safe. Rick Rutel #101781
Glenn Lee says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
Thanks for sharing your story Terence. My years of riding is similar to yours and I also have recently sold off one of my fleet, however my 2005 K1200S has given way to a 2017 RNineT Racer, so I have gone to a less comfortable ride.
Peter Pleban says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
Nice piece Terence, If the shoe fits, wear it as they say. Every bike I've owned has been my best and last. Well, as age creeps up like a bad pair of riding underwear, I too am contemplating another "last" bike" to get me thru my mid 60's. Size, power, comfort, are all factors arising from my swingarm legs, that now take a few little extra grunts to saddle up. Glad your "silver" brought you many good rides and memories. May your next, do the same. I too say, "ride on" !
Cleveland E. Bryant says...
Posted Monday, October 9, 2017
What a lovely reminiscence, enhanced by striking photographs. At 71, I'm still enjoying my Biarritz Blue 2003 R1150RT. Ride on!

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