I have owned one BMW motorcycle or another since 1977, when I bought my first one – a 1977 R100S in Candy Apple Red. It was, I thought, the most beautiful bike in the world.
Since then I have owned many BMW bikes, reallly too many to remember each one. Some I owned for business, when I operated a commercial motorcycle touring company in California. Some I have owned for pleasure; I just fell in love with the look, the feel of them…and the purpose behind them.
Some I just rode for special purposes, like the 1984 BMW R100RT I raced for BMW in the Inaugural Iron Butt Rally in 1984. Another was the BMW K100RS I raced in the second Iron Butt Rally in 1985. The rest, like the BMW K1 ahead of its official debut, I rode to get advertising and marketing photos. Conservatively, I estimate I have ridden somewhere north of half a million miles on motorcycles, and most of those miles were on BMWs. Yet, there are plenty of BMW riders out there with more miles in a BMW saddle than I have.
So it’s fair to say that I like BMW motorcycles, and I might (MIGHT!) be a little prejudiced toward them. I still own a 1981 BMW R80G/S and a 2002 R1150RT, plus a 2007 Vespa 250. But I like big Harleys, Triumphs, Ducatis, Hondas, Yamahas, Suzukis and pretty much everything else I’ve ever ridden in fifty years of riding.
I like to think I had the best friend a BMW rider could ever have in my dealer, Ossi Auer of Ozzie’s BMW Center in Chico, California. I met him in 1978 and we remained friends until he passed away last year at age 80. I still think of him, and miss him every day. His grandson now runs the shop.
Ossi would have loved this book. And he is one of the few people I know who could have added to its content from memory.
Ossi had grown up in Germany. He literally knew BMWs inside out. He was a German-trained electrician by profession. But his passion was motorcycles and racing them. He became a BMW dealer in the late 70’s, when a rep for Butler and Smith, the original importers of BMW motorcycles, heard of him, showed up one day and talked him into taking on a franchise.
You could be asking about now: What has all this to do with a book? Especially a coffee table book. Don’t coffee table books just sit on the coffee table for decoration? Yes, some do. But every once in a while, one comes along that gets your attention. This is one of those books.
I’ve always felt that if you’re really going to read a coffee table book, you should get up early in the morning, grab a cup of coffee and sit down with it. So that’s what I did. And I wasn’t disappointed. If you’re into the history of BMW motorcycles, or if you just want to learn something about every BMW model produced since 1923, this is a great place to begin.
The author, Ian Falloon, goes through the history of BMW motorcycles, model by model, year by year. There is a wealth of photos, some by the author, most courtesy of BMW Group Archives or BMW Group Press. Regardless of the photo source, the pics are excellent throughout.
The text is something like reading your way through a museum. In a good way. If you had the time, you could stop at every display. And that’s what makes this book a great read. You can pick it up and turn to any page and learn something new. And, equally important to the reading experience, learn something interesting. Even if you don’t own a BMW motorcycle, there is – as they say – something for everyone.
The one thing I missed while reading this book was sitting down with Ossi and hearing his stories about the history of BMW motorcycles – and Ossi’s history with them. Ossi would have loved this book, and I would have loved going through the history of BMW with him, page by page. All 288 oversize, beautifully illustrated pages.
THE COMPLETE BOOK OF BMW MOTORCYCLES:
EVERY MODEL SINCE 1923 by Ian Falloon
Published by Motorbooks.