The best bikes come with great stories. Two years ago Pat brought us his 1960 BMW R60/2, and it was in pretty rough shape. This motorcycle had sat for more than two decades. Not your typical barn bike, this R60 had not just a history, but a legacy. Today the bike belongs to Pat, but the original owner was someone very close to Pat: his grandfather.
Originally purchased in 1961, this 1960 R60 give Pat’s grandfather many years of faithful service before, in an extraordinary act of spectacular parenting, the bike was given to Pat’s dad at age 16. Despite bumps and trouble along the way, the R60 stayed in the family, although it started seeing less and less regular use. Eventually, as the years went on as they do, the R60 was basically only making an annual trip to the Indy 500. Still, road time is road time. Eventually though, both of the family’s BMW motorcycles — the R60 and an R75/5 — came to rest in the family shed long term.
Years went by, as they do. As Pat’s dad neared retirement age, discussions began around un-mothballing the old bikes so they could ride them together. But as bad luck, fate, or random misfortune would have it, Pat lost his dad to cancer before the BMWs could be brought back to life. So there they sat in the shed, waiting.
Fast forward to 2012, where Pat got the itch to breathe life back into old German metal again. The question was where to take them to get the bikes running? A friend-of-a-friend recommended us here at Motoworks, as we take care of her BMW. Pat pulled the trigger and trailered both BMWs up from Indiana to our shop here on Western Ave. Under two decades of dirt, there were in fact two completely viable BMW motorcycles there.
The R60/2 was first. Grandpa’s bike. Dad’s bike. The bike that started it all. Working with Steve, our head mechanic and resident BMW whisperer, Pat decided to start with the basics. We’d get the R60 running and roadworthy again. Not a full restoration, just refreshing the basics like carbs and tires and giving the whole bike a good cleaning. In a testament to old-school German engineering and Steve’s know-how, the R60/2 started and ran on the first kick. The first kick! Turns out that wasn’t two decades of sitting in the shed, it was two decades of meditation.
Pat spent that next Chicago summer riding and reconnecting with the R60. At just 30hp new, the R60/2 isn’t going to win any drag races these days. At this point, this is a gentleman’s bike fit for turning the world under its tires at more of a trot than a gallop. That’s okay, though, since the R60 was still running its original brake and suspension components. Not a good idea to push the old bike too hard, and Pat couldn’t push it all that hard if he wanted to. Like anything getting on in years, this 50 year-old bike proved a bit ornery. It was going to take more work and further tuning to make the bike run like it should.
So with one new chapter of the R60’s story in the books, it was time for the next chapter: restoration. It was time to make the bike new again. Not for the auction block or the race track, but for the sake of being the family heirloom that it is. After all, the best heirlooms are the ones that turn fire into speed.
That story continues in Part Two.