1973 BMW R60/5 Running Again! Thomas Wolfe – You Can Go Home Again; There’s Life After the Kids Have Grown.

One photo above is of me recently picking up my 1973 BMW R60/5 from the Blue Moon Cycle in Atlanta. I was one happy boy! Brief back story: I owned a R60 from 1978 until 1989. I reluctantly, but happily because of the reason, sold it in 1989 as my first child was about to be born. My then wife convinced me that an expectant father shouldn’t be riding a motorcycle and besides, we needed the money for the baby’s nursery.

Also above, is a recent picture of my first child and me!

Years later (2013) and that baby was now 24 and the other kids were grown and independent so it was time for a trip down memory lane. I found a BMW on eBay and bought it.

Here’s the original story from a few years ago. https://2cyclepaths.com/2013/07/31/the-new-addition-to-the-family/

I rode her for about a year until I was having clutch and other problems so I retired her to the garage. This year, 2017, I finally came up with enough extra money to get her fixed. And here’s she is! My 44 year old BMW.

I rode her the sixty miles home from Atlanta and she did great. Thank you Blue Moon for an excellent job!

Thomas Wolfe said: “You can’t go home again.” And maybe he was right in some ways. But you can ride your old motorcycle model again. There’s life after the kids have grown.

Safe riding.

Why Pay Day Takes So Long to Come. Zeno’s Paradox. My 41 Year Old BMW Hits the Road.

There’s a philosophical reason why payday always seems so incredibly far away. To disrespectfully borrow from the Greek philosopher Zeno it would go something like this. Today is Monday and payday is Friday. For me to get to Friday I have to get half way there, say Wednesday. And for me to get to Wednesday I have to get half way there, say Tuesday. Maybe you see where this is going. For me to get to Tuesday, I have to get half way there, which is about 4 pm today. Then there’s half way to that, and half way to that. In other words, there’s an infinite number of half “times” I have to reach before payday. May not be scientifically true but it certainly explains psychologically why payday always feels as if it will never come!
It’s Monday morning and as usual it looks like payday will never come. I’ve got to go to work. I stare mournfully at the back tire on the Road King (AKA Big Red). I have almost 9000 miles on that tire and there’s an angel hair’s width of tread still on her. I’ve needed a new one since El Paso, Texas, almost 2 months ago. Harley whitewalls aren’t cheap. About $300 installed. There’s 4 days until pay day when I can get it replaced. I like to pay cash. And it’s the same 4 days on which I have to make the 100 mile round trip to Dalton, where I work.


R60/5 with the toaster gas tank

I was out in the garage staring at Big Red’s back tire, shaking my head when the Old Knight, the 1973 BMW R60/5, whispered to me to let her out of the cage. She could do the run up to Dalton she promised. I tilted my head and stared at her. I had been riding her around town for the last year and she’s done alright. She’s had a few problems but nothing you couldn’t work through or around when you ride her. The thing is that she’s 41 years old. She has four speeds, a 599cc engine (Big Red has five and most new bikes six) and doesn’t have a windscreen. She has Mikuni carbs on her which work far better than the custom Bing ones. (“Why do they call Bing carburetors Bing? Because that’s the sound they make hitting the trash can.”). Why not give the Old Knight a try?
There’s nowhere to stash the coffee thermos and no saddlebags so I just “bungeed” my laptop bag to the seat and took off. She handled beautifully as she always does. Engine’s quiet and she just thumps along. The acceleration’s not fast but it is consistent. After a while I relaxed and just enjoyed crossing the rivers and watching the mist rising in the hills and mountains.
But then I hit Interstate 75 for my last 20 miles. Cars and trucks whizzed by as the bike slowly gained speed. She was straining, but happy and still had more throttle left when I got her to 80 mph.That’s when the problem with the tachometer needle started. These old BMW’s are notorious for having bad speedometer/tachometer units. For the last month my rpm gauge has acted like a metronome with its needle flipping right and left. Now it started going wild. For a while it ran all the way to the right and stuck in the red zone like I was redlining it. It remained stuck there all day Monday.
On Tuesday the rpm gauge tip finally broke off and the base of the needle began spinning around like a fan or like the newspapers hot off the press in those old movies. Slightly mesmerizing if you stared at it, so I just didn’t. Besides, who needs an rpm gauge? My Harley didn’t have one.
On Wednesday a loud whirling sound, related to the engine speed, started coming out of the headlight unit, where, of course, the speedometer/tachometer is located. On the way home the speedometer needle started bouncing around like it had the hiccups. One moment it showed I was going 40mph and the next moment 80. It finally settled down and stopped, showing me riding at a cool 120 mph.
Thursday morning, one more day to go,and the Old Knight put her brave face on again. Who can resist the pleading grin from that shiny chrome toaster tank? I strapped on my laptop bag, cranked her up and rode her down the driveway and out to the main road. That’s when the clutch started slipping. I managed to turn her around and ride back up to the house but the clutch kept slipping and she couldn’t make it up the driveway. I parked her on the street, grabbed my backpack and sped out on Big Red, fearing I was going to be late for class. I was there 2 minutes early.
When I got home, after parking Big Red, I went down to tinker with the BMW. I got her started, took her for a spin and then managed to ride her back up the driveway to the garage. There she sits, proud but with a slightly burnished ego.
Friday, I drove Big Red down to the Harley dealer and had a new tire put on the rear.

The next repair work will be on the Old Knight, next pay day, of course that’s if it ever comes.

Yes, I am an Airhead and a Fathead and Here’s Why!

In my last blog post I mentioned that I was an Airhead and a Fathead and asked readers to comment. Unfortunately, I can’t repeat most of the comments that I received. But it is time to clear the air. I am both!

Why am I an Airhead?

Beyond the obvious reasons, which were presented abundantly in private posts, I am an Airhead simply because I ride a vintage BMW. For the record an Airhead is a BMW motorcycle which was built from 1923 until 1995. They have two cylinders sticking out of the motorcycle which are cooled by the passing air.

Here’s what they look like, one on each side. bmw engine

So since my BMW bike is a 1973 and sports these beautiful cylinders. I am indeed an Airhead.

And a Fathead?

Harley Davidson legend and lore has enjoyed giving nicknames to the various engines they have created over the years. There was the Flathead (1930-48), the Knucklehead (1936-47), the Panhead (1948-65), Shovelhead (1966-84), the Evolution (1984-88) (I call it the Orwellhead) and finally, the latest, the Fathead (1999-to present).

Over these years the engines went from 1000 cc to engines now that are 1800 cc’s. But why are the recent ones called Fatheads?

It’s because of the introduction of twin cams on the engine. The previous engines were single cams. Two cams equals bigger heads, and in this case culminates in the Harley moniker “Fathead”.

Here’s what a twin cam Harley engine looks like:


The poet Keats was correct when he stated: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” I’m sure he wasn’t thinking of the twin cam engine; but it is beautiful.

So, I am both an Airhead and a Fathead and I don’t think that anyone who knows me would disagree with this assessment.

I rode the Fathead (Big Red) down Friday to visit my buddy Jeff Stafford in Acworth for a New Orleans meal at Henri’s. The Fathead engine cruised along, easily eating up the 100 miles like it was smooth gumbo.

Tonight, I was meeting friends in town to hear some blues music at the Brewhouse. A short ride, a few twists and turns, a hot day, perfect for the Airhead (The Old Knight). And let me reassure you, the fathead had a great time tonight. He sat outside with friends, sipped Yuengling beer, listened to the blues, stared at the sun setting, marveled at the blossoming pink Crepe Mrytles and thanked God he was alive, and for these friends.

Why am I both an Airhead and a Fathead?

I realized the other day, during one of these excruciating moments of self reflection, that I am both an Airhead and a Fathead?

Why did I come to this conclusion? Those that know me might have differing opinions on this and I probably won’t like any of them, so I suggest you post them anonymously! But there is meaning behind this question. This is an opportunity for folks who read this blog to really blast me! I’ll take my chances. Go ahead. Give me your best shot!

But I will let you know my reasoning in a few days!