I am half way home from a whirlwind 10 days in Europe with BMW Motorrad.
In a previous post I explained the BMW Chopper build that I debuted at the Throttle Roll event in Sydney.
The idea behind the whole build is to take you on the journey of creation by really getting into the finer details of custom motorcycle construction methods.
With the motor mounted on the stand and the overall stance of the bike completed I was on my way to making this idea a reality.
The most exciting part of this project is that BMW Motorrad extended an invitation to any information I may need in the build of this bike. This was huge news for me, it came direct from Germany and direct from the designers and creators of the finest motorcycles ever produced.
Whilst planning a build the inspiration comes from a lot of different areas, my experience of BMW motorcycles has only been from the Australian market but I wanted to change that and my recent correspondence with Germany opened up a few avenues. In the interest of telling a story, gaining inspiration and showing you the complete picture my flights into Munich were booked and I was off to Germany for the first time in my life.
Not only was I going to visit Munich but I had the chance to attend the biggest motorcycle show on the BMW calendar, BMW Motorrad Days Festival.
A big part of this was to see the official BMW R18 Concept bike, this R18 Concept really paves the way for my build and I wanted to experience it and thousands of other custom BMW bikes at the Festival.
BMW Motorrad Australia had reached out to some key figures that made these Heritage bikes come to life by organising a meet and greet at the BMW HQ with a sneak peak into the operation and mindset that makes a motorcycle evolve from an idea into a concept and then onto the production line.
To add to this already amazing schedule we had motorcycles waiting for us to pick up in Munich and a group of riders ready to show us the way to the festival.
So I packed my backpack, charged up my camera, grabbed my new Bell helmet and drove to the airport.
The flight gave me some time to reflect on the workshop fitout and write that post, finalising what was a crazy few weeks for me. Getting off the plane in Munich felt like a fresh start and I could completely concentrate on the build that was ahead of me.
Arriving in Munich we caught a train to the city, found a couple of Lime electric scooters and enjoyed some of the many sights that Munich offers.
The next day was the one we were looking forward to though, my ride for the week was an Option 719 BMW R Nine T Scrambler that looked identical to the bike I ran at Dust Hustle just a month earlier. The only prep it needed was a phone mount that I made for the tank, then we rolled out to Garmisch which was an afternoon ride away through some of the most breathtaking scenery.
The excitement reminded me of my ride through America on my Panhead, figuring out which side of the road to ride on, matching a bike to a country and then seeing, smelling and tasting the sights for the very first time atop of it is a feeling not easily replicated.
Germany turned into Austria and the rolling fields and barns gave way for the snow capped alpine mountain ranges. The air up here is crisp and clean and the roads just beg to be carved up by the many motorcyclists that tour these regions.
A few hours in and we were rounding back into Germany and more specifically Garmisch for the BMW Motorrad Days Festival.
Apon building the R Nine TE last year I was made aware of the love people have for BMW Motorcycles, but this event took things to another level, over 40,000 people from all around the world showing their dedication and passion for a brand that obviously means a lot to them.
Never before had I seen such variety in one brand, from vintage BMW’s to modern day race bikes to everything in between there was something for everyone..
What was great to see was that the manufacturer supported the aftermarket, the modifier and every aspect of motorcycling by bringing together all walks of life into their free to attend event.
You could walk up the hill, jump on a new R 1250 GS and test your hand at the enduro course, or walk down the hill and throw a leg over one of the fastest production motorcycles in the S 100 RR.
In between you could choose from the entire range of motorcycles and accessories, watch live action shows, eat, drink, dance then call it a day just to wake up and do it all over again.
I see why the event lasts for three days, you need it to see everything.
With camping onsite there was plenty to do after the sun set.
The Heritage tent was full of R Nine T’s and the official BMW concept bikes.
2 stages played host to a bunch of artists and the MOTODROM ran late into the night.
After a several litres of beer I called it a day, the kick off party for Motorrad days was a hell of a way to start the weekend.
The next day we decided to hit the mountains for a run into Italy for lunch. When I say mountains I am talking about elevations of 2500m mountain passes that look like racetracks rather than roads.
To my surprise there was a motorcycle museum at the peak of one of the climbs, its called the Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum Crosspoint if you are looking for it.
The next day we returned to the festival, I was still finding things that I hadn’t seen on the first day.
The Sunday morning gave me a chance to get an unobstructed view of the BMW Motorrad DC Roadster Electric concept bike, I am so into this new chapter of motorcycling and this bike in person was a complete standout.
With Motorrad Days Festival coming to an end we started packing for our ride back to Munich.
With an overload of motorcycles I spent the next two days exploring Munich (on my motorcycle) with a few notable museums, this one the Deutsches Museum really expanding my mind.
The next was the Pinakothek Museum, I am not sure why but this place really took my breath away.
The shapes, shadows and lighting combined with the art displayed was a real treat.
The very next day I had the pleasure of meeting with Roland Stocker, we actually had dinner the night before and spoke about all things motorcycles. Roland is a leader in BMW’s Heritage division and a big part of why the R Nine T series of bikes have become so loved. Roland is one of those guys I know I will get along with and after a walk around the heritage division at BMW I got a really good idea of the direction that Roland and his team have taken with the Heritage lineup. We spoke about our common love for motorcycles and how Roland and his team negotiate the difficulties around designing motorcycles that incorporate a level of simplicity in a very measured environment like BMW.
It is extremely important that people like Roland exist in large corporations like BMW, his passion for his work is inspiring, his inclusion of people like myself and other builders from around the world makes BMW a standout amongst it’s competitors.
To have ridden and enjoyed the R Nine T as much as I have I can understand and appreciate the direction that Roland and his team took with that bike, to have built it with modifiers and personalisation in mind is the icing on the cake. A true enthusiast that understands the market it’s aimed directly at.
We had to wrap things up though and head over to the BMW Welt to meet Edgar Heinrich who is the BMW Motorrad head of design. We had an hour to talk with Edgar about his design process, the work he was doing on the current concepts like the R18 and what he thought of my upcoming build.
Like Roland, Edgar oozes passion for his job, it’s evident that motorcycles are a large part of his life as he clutches his custom leather jacket and helmet designed for the iconic Lac Rose Concept bike. Through his description of his job, the styles that have come and gone, the direction that the team are taking with new developments like the amazing DC Roadster project and contrasting R18 Concept, I begin to get an idea of what it would be like to run a team like Edgar does so well.
I spoke about my own plans for my BMW Chopper project and I wasn’t expecting such a charismatic response from Edgar that I had from Roland. As I ran him through the initial concept and roll out of this build he became more and more excited about it. As our time with Edgar ran down the conversation started flowing and near the end he offered any support that I may need throughout the build.
I get the sense that both Edgar and Roland are passionate individuals with their own ideals but work hard to come together as a team to push these concepts into the world and hopefully into production. Walking into the Heritage building and seeing the sketches, the hundreds of inspirational images on the walls and by simply looking at the initial sketches for the R Nine T show that the initial ideas DNA remains through the entire engineering and production phase that can sometimes suck the life out of these initial ideas.
As I climbed back on my R Nine T Scrambler I had both Roland and Edgar’s comments circulating in my thoughts, I also had the experience of seeing where and how they work and I drew a lot of similarities in both of our situations. To meet them was one thing, to be offered factory assistance in my own build was another, for me this is perhaps the biggest support I have ever had, I cant thank Roland and Edgar enough for their extremely valuable time.
With the official business completed it was time to relax with a trip down to Italy for a few days. By relax I mean maximum speed on the Autobahn and then a few days on the pedals exploring the amazing Northern Lakes region of Italy.
It’s the start of summer, the days are 30 degrees and the mountain tops are still capped with snow, the rivers are raging with pure water filling the lakes that have this vibrant turquoise shimmer to them.
I hired this Canondale Jekyll and we rode over 40km and climbed over a km during the day.
Then I found the Liteville test centre and fell in love with the 601 Enduro bike, tough and industrial in its design, stacked with quality components but weighing in at only 13kg I was excited to give it a go. I spoke to some locals and they all told me that the Paganella bike park was the place to be. The only problem was it was over an hour away and no one would take me.
Well I wasn’t going to travel half way across the world to let a 1 hour commute keep me from experiencing my first proper chair lift bike park!
Two straps, a pillow and my shoe laces later the bike was secure and ready to go to Pagnella bike park.
It’s safe to say that the looks I got along the way mean that this isn’t the normal thing to do in Italy. The ride from Lake Garda to Pagnella bike park was absolutely breathtaking, I passed lake Molveno and it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
I spent the afternoon bombing down the Pagnella trails and then chair lifting back up to the top. This area has UNESCO world heritage status and is absolutely pristine and picturesque. The bike was as good as the view and I just spent the afternoon being in heaven before tying my bike back on with my shoe laces and heading back to Lake Garda to (reluctantly) return the bike.
What a trip, 10 days of two wheeled bliss, views that I will never forget, experiences that will stay with me for a lifetime and hopefully connections that will pave the way for bigger and better things.
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