I did it! I have finally found the right motorcycle restoration candidate, the BMW R 75/5. I have been looking for a long time now to find the right project, but my expectations have kept me from buying the first several I had found.
The R 75/5 has significant historical value, but I won’t go into a long history lesson here, as that information is readily available through a few key strokes on your computer. Rather I will just highlight a couple features that make it important to me.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, motorcycles from the British markets were fast, fun, well handling machines (for their time). Norton and Triumph were alive and well. However, they were not alone. The Japanese were now putting out larger capacity machines that were also fast and fun, but also very reliable and much more affordable.
BMW motorcycles were still using the old frames and technology from their early bikes and were in need of a facelift if they were going to be a competitor in this new, evolving market. Facing all these handicaps while under constant pressure from the BMW Corporations automotive side (A division which was quite successful by this time and dwarfing motorcycle production).
The answer was the /5 series of motorcycles. The R 75 being the largest capacity of the series. The newly designed frame closely resembled the great handling Norton featherbed frame, but had its own technologies, such as conical shaped tubing of varying sizes to handle the different stress points of the bike. Additional features were improved telescopic forks, push button electric start (as well as kick start) and a new 12 volt battery system with an alternator.
Additional features such as a relocating the camshaft to below the crankshaft, allowed for the push rod tubes to be mounted below the cylinders. This new configuration actually gave more ground clearance when turning and a cooler method for oil to make its way back to the sump. A forged, one-piece crankshaft with automotive style plain bearings and light weight aluminum castings made for a great overall package.
Again, there are numerous writings that go into great depths, both in terms of historical and technical evolutions. If you’re seriously interested in such readings, then I highly recommend the wonderful, historically correct writings of Ian Fallon. His writing style is clear, concise, and very technical.
The R 75/5 on a personal note means something special to me. It takes me back to a time when motorcycling was simple and unabated by technology. When knowing the basic workings of a motorcycle was a necessity rather then a luxury. If you were to take a road trip, it was a good idea to have a set of tools and know how to use them. Setting points was just part of owning a bike and meant the difference between keeping your road trip going or cutting it short. A time when BMW provided a comprehensive tool kit under your seat that would allow you to turn just about every nut and bolt on your bike, all while on the side of the road or in a parking lot. A simpler time before fuel injection, traction control, anti-lock brakes, etc…A time when you felt as though you were part of the machine, not just riding on it. A time when I was a much younger man and enjoyed the wind in my face and could physically go hundreds of miles at a time, only limited by fuel tank capacity. Back when responsibility was a relative term and I only had to answer for myself and not an entire family. A time before mortgages, property taxes and other constraints.
The R 75/5 fits the bill. It’s a classic bike with great manners and legendary reliability. All this while still preserving a simpler time that might otherwise be forgotten if not for these fine machines from our past.
Wow, where to begin! This is going to be my first blog. OCD Machine has been doing very well and I have been inundated with numerous tech questions, referrals, etc…. I have wanted to start a blog regarding tech, features, etc, but somehow have fallen short of actually doing so…until now.
So with my first attempt, we’re going to start it off with my experience at the legendary 2014 Sema / Aapex Show. Almost all gear heads have heard of Sema, but few have attended. It is a special automotive show featuring the latest trends, builds, builders and products to hit the automotive market. It literally has the same mystic of Hollywood. All the top names and personalities in the business gathered for just a few days to show off their work and pimp their products.
To enter the show, requires you to be in the business, so to speak. And yes, they actually check. I had to send in my business license, Tax Id Permit, business cards, etc…After the background was complete, I received my badges in the mail and shortly after my wife and I were bound for Las Vegas!
So now that I have hopefully perked your interest, let’s switch gears to what I was really there for, the Aapex show. Aapex is the automotive after market parts expo. This show is HUGE! It runs concurrent with the Sema show, and last’s 3 days. Manufacturers from all over the world attend and have booths with there products and many perform demonstrations. It is an outstanding opportunity to meet perspective vendors, customers and future business partners face to face. You have the opportunity to handle and tryout various products for yourself and get a feel for the market and its trends.
Aapex 2014 was held at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas which is a site to see in and of it self. It literally is 2.25 million square feet with multiple levels. The show had over 2,300 vendors and thousands of products. Attendance for this event has been estimated at over 130,000 business professionals. With so many booths to visit, it was impossible to see even 10% of what was there.
Finding particular booths was difficult, at best. Before we left, we had downloaded the Aapex apps to our phones in an effort to navigate our way through the show. I had numerous vendors from over seas that I had spoken with multiple times over the phone, but hadn’t had the privilege to meet in person until now.
My wife Lyn (who incidentally runs our website and handles the books) attended seminars related to our business while I shopped for new products. The biggest issues with being a small business came in the way of what’s known as MOQ, or, Minimum Order Quantity. Each manufacturer has their own MOQ and they can very greatly from say 100 items to a 40 foot shipping container or more! Buyers from all the major parts chains were busy buying millions of dollars of inventory at a time, while I was only able to buy small quantities.
As I explained to so many manufacturers, I am in a niche market. With me wanting to purchase such small quantities (by the automotive trade standards), most manufactures would rather you go through a distributor. This however raises the prices dramatically as the items pass through several hands, each getting his slice of the pie. By the time items reach the customers, it literally has inflated to extortionate levels. This is simply NOT okay.
After having met with several wonderful manufacturers who are willing to work with us, you are going to see some new products coming over the next few months. Products directly from the manufactures to save you money. What products you ask? Well, stay tuned, it’s a surprise!