I like BMWs. Or rather, I’ve always tried to like BMWs — they plough their own furrow (sometimes literally) and are distinctive and different in appearance, ride and attitude, offering an intriguing alternative to the ubiquity of across-the-frame four-cylinder machines. My earliest vicarious experience with the marque was in the mid-seventies, with Bike magazine’s breathless review of the rip-snorting R90S
, which heavily implied that only those stout of both heart and sinew could be expected to master the mighty beast — quite a heady concept to an impressionable student who was just then coming to terms with the unbridled power of a newly-restored Royal Enfield 250. The fact that the R90S actually put out something like 60bhp on a good day was neither here nor there — it was the shock and awe that counted.
In the early eighties, I occasionally knocked around on an R90/6 and on one of the first K100s to hit these shores (“What shores?” — “Mine’s a gin & tonic, thank you…”) — compared to my Pantah, it was like riding a fast-spin washing machine that was attached to the world by rubber bands. Slack rubber bands. Thankfully chassis and suspension have improved over the years and BMW, after a short-lived attempt to abandon the Boxer twin layout, still offer a range composed predominantly of the twins plus four-cylinder heavyweights. I’ve ridden several of the current generation of both and am generally of the opinion that there are some truly excellent chassis here, all however desperately in search of decent engines.