By the time you get this newsletter (mid Feb.), Airmail should have a fax line in place. The number will be 619 276-0244. Shortly thereafter, we will be on-line. Details later.
Triumph's chief honcho Michael Lock and friends toured San Diego on their new Triumph Thunderbirds recently. Amongst other things, he said that "We ought to be making bikes that at 70 miles per hour feel like they're doing 120 instead of bikes that at 120 feel like they are doing 70."
Lock may have stumbled onto the politically correct attitude for manufacturers of the 90's. When a manufacturer introduces heavier, more powerful plasti-racers with superior high speed handling, what results is more high speeds. That does nothing to improve the image of motorcycling. With today's readily transferable technology, building rockets that cruise at 90 plus MPH is no indication of engineering superiority. Every manufacturer offers them. All it takes is money. The consequences are more spectacular accidents and the threat of more government regulation.
Despite it's anti-social reputation - and the willingness of everyone else to reinforce it - Harley may be the most socially responsible manufacturer in this regard. Harley sales indicate that in the public mind at least, speed doesn't produce happiness. Airheads, most of whom have been around for a while, already know this (they also know that the assumption of a fat bike loan can't possibly improve one's image). And they understand that despite it's lack of a catalytic converter, the airhead is one of the most socially responsible and politically correct bikes available today. BMW may lose that image with the demise of this motorcycle.
Oilhead, a term coined right here in Airmail, seems to be gaining currency. As we all know, the term was picked up by a club dedicated to the aficionados of the latest BMW twin. Presently, I'm also seeing it used more and more in the commercial press as a generic term for all K-Boxers.
All my life, I've suffered from sinus and nasal problems. My normal mode was to wake up at 3 or 4 AM with trenchmouth and sinuses that were seized up like a 1966 two-stroke dirt bike. A few hours later, I'd normally start a sneezing jag that would relieve me of the half ounce of energy remaining after the night before. I was always tired, and always sick. I needed only to look at someone with a cold in order to catch it, and usually had it twice as long as everyone else. Except for two or three months at the end of the summer, I never felt energized. I dropped anti-histamines like they were Tic Tacs, and went to progressively stronger, prescription doses as the winter progressed. It got so bad last year that I felt I just couldn't continue on anymore. After seeing an internist, an eyes, ears nose and throat specialist, and a voodoo witch doctor from Jamaica, I was finally convinced to visit an allergist. He talked me into buying a HEPA air filter for the bedroom.
The first night I used it, I slept all night and woke up with clear sinuses. Ditto for every night since then. I have yet to get a cold this winter. For the price of two months supply of anti-histamines, I feel better than I have since Nixon was evicted from the White House.
There are several different manufacturers making HEPA air filters. Get the cheapest one you can find at Target, K-mart, Wal-mart or wherever (about $125).
Sleep well and ride alert.
PS: I know that this isn't really a motorcycle item, but if other club rags can flog cars and bicycles, I'll assume the prerogative to push something that really improves a bikers life.
The BMW 325i automobile recently failed some routine US government crash tests. Apparently, crash test dummies sustained "over the limit" injuries in head-on collisions. As a result, some 86,000 325's built between 1993-95 are being recalled. In the past, some enthusiasts seemed inclined to promote government regulation anytime it gave new BMW models an advantage in the marketplace (even if it meant regulating out of existence the Boxers that made BMW famous). Now that federal regulations are working against BMW AG, I expect to be apprised of how antiquated or unreasonable American test procedures are compared to Europe. Either that, or we'll get something like "Yes, some 325's may hurt their occupants in certain extreme circumstances, but legendary German engineering has always been somewhat quirky. That's just the price we pay for owning the finest vehicles in the world."
I received a copy of an open letter addressed to the MOA board recently from John Horvatinovic, president-for-life of MOA club #238, "The Awards Ceremony Hostages". You guessed it. He's unhappy with the interminable awards ceremonies at our MOA national rallies. "You must be present to win the bike donated by BMW NA and every rallyist pays for a chance to win it. Since 1991, rally officials have taken it upon themselves to award this bike at the end of the awards ceremony ..... no one should have to forfeit his chance to win the bike just because he can't spend two hours sitting in the grass ... The unfortunate gentleman whose name was drawn at Moodus was not at the ceremony but was on site ... tending to a friend who'd recently suffered a stroke ..... It must become BMW MOA policy that all door prizes be drawn at a time specified in the rally packet if being present to win is required by the vendor/donor."
I'm not sure what the counter argument might be, but if a board member sends me one, I'll print it.
I've never heard of Knopf's Motorradreisen before and can't tell you whether they are legit or not, so you'll have to do the legwork yourself. They are advertising European rental of the R100RS with saddlebags for $400 per week (no mileage limit). Insurance for that period will cost an extra $65. Their address is Buergerstrasse 21, 69124 Heidelberg, Germany.
Jeff Kaplan #804 of Rochester NY has announced his candidacy for the MOA board in the upcoming elections. I've received some second-hand information from the New England states that the editor of Airmail is running as well, though that's the first I've heard of it.
TX Airmarshal Jesse Hay #274 has asked Airheads to join him at the "National Rally of Texas" hosted by the BMW Motorcycle Owners of Dallas/Ft. Worth on May 6 and 7 near Glen Rose Texas. Call him for more details.
Many thanks to Bob Higdon for his emotional, if non-factual, diatribe on the Dec. Genie bulletin board. It has resulted in 7 inquiries and thus far, 4 new Airheads.
Alan Judd #65 (Durham NC) recently wrote an open letter to many of the powers in the BMW community criticizing the foibles of some of the national clubs. The letter was reviewed in another publication, but the reviewer failed to make note of the most important part, so here it is.
"Airmail on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air (excuse the pun). It doesn't represent the company line or the latest fad in liberal thinking. It represents the members who have made BMW motorcycles and the other clubs what they are today. If it wasn't for owners of the old bikes through the years, there would be no new bikes or any clubs .......
Airheads - keep up the good independent work."
It's February already, and winter is almost over. Several Airmarshals have written to me expressing a desire to plan a rendezvous in their state and they are busy planning the details of where and when. You don't have to be an Airmarshal to plan an event, although it's a good idea to contact your local Airmarshal to make sure it doesn't conflict with other events. Here is a suggestion. How about a rendezvous that travels to two or three overnight destinations on consecutive days. This would provide a change of scenery each evening and produce more stories to be told around the campfire.
Airheads are invited to meet at Bulow campground during the Daytona Beach Bike Week March 3-12. Bulow is 20 miles north of Daytona near Flagler Beach. Exit I-95 at State Road 100 and look for the Airheads banner in the campground. FL Airmarshal Gator Balough is the contact for this event.
I spoke with Larry Stonestreet #49 briefly while catching some shade in the Borrego Desert. Larry is coordinating the BMW National Rally in Durango and he is still looking for volunteers.
I attended the Salton Sea Hot Springs Splash last month hosted by Bill and Luann Snyder #111 and #1111 respectively. About nine Boxers left Escondido for the Salton Sea in an attempt to avoid the shortest distance between two points. When we arrived at the Imperial Seaview Spa campground, Baja Airmarshal Wayne Marsula #165 had already set up camp and gotten his toys dirty. Wayne is feeling much better since his knee operation. AZ Airmarshal Ruben Guerra rode over from Chandler to partake in the event. All told, 20 Airheads made this rendezvous a great success. Thank you Bill & Luann.
"I am 47 years old , the father of two sons, husband of Karen for the past 27 years. We live in what we call the Kansas Mountains, along the Kansas River Bluffs between Lawrence and Topeka. Karen and I started riding motorcycles together before we were married and have continued the adventure to this point. We own three bikes, a '73 R75/5, an '84 R100RT and a Honda trails bike I use around our place.
Karen and I are both public school teachers and use the summertime to tour and camp. I became an Airhead the summer of '93 after spending the weekend with Doc #14, and several other Airheads at the Top of the Rockies Rally. Our favorite rallies are Top of the Rockies and Paonia, both in Colorado, and the Oz Rally in Lacyene Kansas. The local club we hang out with is the Heartland Riders. Paul and Voni Glanes are our local BMW heroes. Paul is my technical adviser, and Voni is the toughest, kindest rider in America who inspires me to go further and ride more safely each year.
When I'm not into motorcycle activities, I play guitar and mandolin in a Bluegrass Band called Calhoun Country. I would like to converse with other Airheads that play stringed instruments. I also enjoy black powder shooting, crafting items from buck skin, hunting, fishing, gardening, building and repairing stringed instruments, studying American history, and working at our local historic society, Lane University Museum.
So far, we don't have many Airheads in Kansas, but I intend to change that. I am planning an Airhead rendezvous early this summer. I will announce the time and place when I get those things tightened down. I'm happy to serve as the Kansas Airmarshal and as an outpost to Airhead travelers. We live in the country, far from the Information Super Highway, where camping and conversation are always available. Let us know if you plan to stop by for a visit."
My big plans for getting Northern California Airheads together with the Harley Riders for the Toy Run turned to massive quantities of the aforementioned item. To wit: upon phoning several of the Harley riders and clubs, I got various responses from "Huh?" to "How did you get my phone number?" and "You want to ride What with us Where?" .... this coming from the yuppie scum H.O.G. group. Needless to say, I abandoned those ideas rather quickly. So, here's my new plan .... any of you Northern California Airheads who wish to get together and discuss rides, meetings, barley therapy sessions, life, the universe and everything, let's meet. Please drop me a line, or make a phone call or something to give your input on rides and other activities. (Phone number & address on the Airmarshal list).
On another note, I have heard many people mention that they don't want to attend the 49'r Rally since it moved to Quincy, but personally I feel that this is counter productive. I'd like as many Airheads as can make it to show up, register as an Airhead, and try to grab the awards for largest club, longest club miles, longest distance rider and whatever else we can grab so that everyone else will know that we are here and we're not taking a back seat. I personally think that just to give them a pain in the side we should do this at the RA rally and the MOA rally as well.
This is more than I've said in any one place, at any one time, in a long time."
Crossing into Baja gives validation to the GS. The bike seems to roll up it's sleeves, throw back it's shoulders and dive face first into the Mexican roadways. These roads serve up huge potholes, flooded vados and tracked mud. They lead to thousands of dirt roads beckoning with the promise of adventure and fun. The Punta La Gringa area of Bahia De Los Angeles delivers on that promise. John Barnes #94, Will Creedon and I made the 450 mile trip south leaving the day after Christmas. We chased the tail of a storm to Santa Inez and then on to LA Bay on the second day. We shared great riding, good food, overwhelming scenery, comfortable camping and well-told lies. The trip went so well that we are considering making it an annual event. Watch this column for more info.
Baja Airmarshal Wayne Marsula #165 has trips to this area scheduled for March and April. Contact him if you want to be a part of adventure touring at its best. If you are planning a self led trip to Baja, tap into Wayne's vast knowledge of this fascinating peninsula.
Looking further ahead, NV Airmarshal Dave Rankine #354 has a two day GS ride planned for Labor Day in the area north of Reno. Contact him for details."
From famous motorcycle writer and Sidecarist editor Bob Anderson
"It started off this morning that I was simply going to send you a Christmas card and thank you for being on the receiving list for Airmail this past year, and hope that you had received the Sidecarist, as I am the last person to ever know a thing in USCA.
Anyway, then it dawned on me that since my weekend swap off ride was a 95 R1100R, and I dimly remembered you had some kind of a Sunday morning ride, that I would ride said bike to your meet ..... harass you in person and ask the ultimate question. Is the R1100R an Airhead or an Oilhead; since I have read no definitive opinion in your publication?
Besides, on an R1100R, I could show up just like a "real person" and sort of sneak in unnoticed.
So I did this, but you wuzn't there, and with my R1100R being the only one there, I didn't really manage to sneak in.
Being opinionated, I referred ... when asked as to what I thought ... that the R1100R was sure an ugly bike but given a choice I would opt for the uglier-yet R1100GS. This set aback people the likes of John Hermann, who whined about the GS costing an entire $1300 more than the R, and my counter insult was that with lousy odd-ball sized, short-lived tires like these bikes had ... how the heck fast did he blow $1300 just on rear tire replacements! John soon left to talk with people who had more in their hearts for BMW acceptance than I do.
At 9:40, I noticed that the 9:15 ride hadn't left and was assured that 9:15 was just about the time that people really got serious about talking BMW's over a cup of coffee.
I then had a nice conversation with a gentleman with an older BMW who had a very low opinion about the finish and complexity of the new BMW's, and after he had spilled out his heart and soul telling of his love for an older yet R69S, I told him that if the stock mufflers were replaced with Dunstall Decibel silencers that the old twins nearly sounded as good as a Triumph ... but not quite. He had nothing to say to me after this so I left.
All of this is merely to have something to stick in with this card, and also let you know I made the effort to insult you in person, but lacking your presence, I had to insult various other BMW riders and they have no-one to blame but yourself.
Oh yes, I noted on my latest 'last issue' of your publication that you besmeared a very fine Ruben Guerra by having him in the same photo with Facedown Ferris, whom the last time I ran into, was driving some kind of a 4 wheeler to a motorcycle campout in Arizona.
PS: I didn't use the term 'air-compressor' once, although when several of the Boxers fired up I swear the barometric pressure went up 5 psi." Not only the pressure, but the temperature as well Bob. I was told that the rise in both occurred during the course of your visit.
As it turned out, John Hermann #39 spotted you as you rode in and warned the rest of us by phone. We decided to meet at Denny's just down the road instead. We had to pay John to stay put and play the role of token Airhead. He doubled his fee when he found himself having to lie about your ownership of the oilhead. This was necessary to keep the rest of the crowd from stoning you. Don't take it personally, it was only the guys you talked to who were stirring up the faithful.
Facedown said to say hello. He got rid of the 4 wheeler and found a way to make his three wheeler do the hauling chores by converting his cast iron bathtub to a sidecar. Since then, he's had to bathe in the Steib, and is not very happy about that. He complained that the Steib leaks as badly as the dunk tank in his garage.
On the other hand, the sidecar modifications are turning out to be a vast improvement. Now he can carry his entire watermelon crop to market in under 12 trips. The tub's a little more awkward to handle than the Steib, but like with the K-LT, the difference is barely noticeable once underway. -ed
From Bruce Briseno #794 Moscow ID
"I find it refreshing to be a member of a club that promotes tolerance (canons #3), independence (canon #4), self-reliance (canons #5); and benevolence (canons #1). It's a real pleasure to meet the people that comprise this organization. They've proven that good people are NOT hard to find if you know where to look.
Many thanks to WA Airmarshal Kirk MacDonald for his gracious welcome to a new Airhead and wife (who rides a Harley clone). During the Cascade Rendezvous, he chose to escort us to Rainier and back through sun, rain, and gas runs to places far out of the way. It was a privilege to meet and talk with Wayne Marsula as he motors with his sidecar. We met others like John, Wayne and Bruce R. We were made to feel like one of the family at once.
As a student of the law, I really enjoyed John's information on Washington's helmet law confusion. One should always be aware of the potential of a government bureaucracy to subvert the legislative process by enforcing a law that has been declared unconstitutional. As the price of liberty, we must be ever vigilant.
I enjoy Airmail very much, especially the comments about legal issues that affect us such as public land use policy and restrictive laws. I believe that reasoned opinion promotes constructive dialogue and will result in understanding. Keep it coming!
Here are a few tech tips for winter driving in the snow that is a normal part of the Idaho winter.
1. Get a motocross type rear tire and get it studded, it works fine on ice and snow.
2. To protect the legs, get a pair of kayaking pants made of waterproof nylon with Velcro closures (available here at Northwest River Supplies Ph: 208 882-2383). Works for me!"
From Don McLean #139 Calgary Alberta
"Congratulations. You have demonstrated that hard work, dedication, and organizational skills can produce wonderful results. What a club! What great people!
Due to current heart problems, Airmail has been my only contact for the last few months, but I'm hoping to participate again this summer.
Even though BMW has made us orphans, I know that the ABC will continue to thrive."
From Fred Counts #318 Little Rock AR
"Since Airheads know about Boxer motors, maybe we can help with this ecological Boxer dilemma. I belong to the Boxer Turtle Assn. of America. You all know how slow the Box Turtle is. Well, he has a hard time finding new female turtles with whom to mate. This results in a lot of interbreeding. Oh, it is a sad affair! The little Boxers are born without legs or arms. What a sight!
We can help. If you see a Box Turtle when you are out riding, pick it up and tote it down the road a few miles. There is one thing to remember. Move only male turtles (so we don't undo our work). Pick it up and shake it gently. If you hear anything rattle, it's probably a male.
Thanks to Airheads, baby Boxers everywhere will be born with arms and legs."
Don't ask me. I haven't been able to figure out anything emanating from Arkansas for at least two years. -ed.
From Mike Turner #1104 (Morenci AZ)
"I just received my first newsletter and read it cover to cover. Loved every word. This is what I think a newsletter should be. Keep up the good work.
I am a GS/PD rider who uses the bike the way BMW meant for it to be used. After reading Pat FulIerton's article, I was disappointed to hear that there were no AZ riders in the GS Registry. I have since sent Pat maps and info on riding opportunities in the eastern part of AZ.
Please find enclosed a check for membership for my friend in CO."
From Fred Kumm #117 (Irvine CA)
"Stopped by Brisbane trying to catch up with Aris Kirstons #83 who designed the Airmail logo. I had departed Cairns the morning that Aris left Brisbane to return to Cairns. Spoke with Aris' 'mate', Charlie Brown #84 instead.
Saw a lot of Boxers all over the east coast of Australia. Learned about the Ulysses Club which people thought was most like the Airheads. Their logo proclaims 'Grow Old Disgracefully'. Sounds like it could be an Airhead Canon. To be an associate Ulysses member, you have to be over 40. Only over 50's get full Ulysses membership. This Australian Club has 6500 members, and is the largest motorcycle club down under. Most members ride BMW's but other brands are not excluded. Their quarterly publication Riding On is a class magazine much like the BMW MOA Owners News.
1994 was the last year for the airhead in the Australian market. They are equally sad about no longer being able to get real Boxers."
From MI Airmarshal Nick Woloszyk #81
"Airmail looks better and better all the time. Keep up the great work and stand firm. I have chosen a date and location for the 1995 Midwest Air Affair (AKA Kalamazoo Rendezvous). The blessed event will tentatively take place at Colbrooke Park near Kalamazoo MI June 2-4. I'll give you details later.
My life took a major change of direction recently that has had me rearranging priorities left and right. Though my wife of 7 years has wanted children for quite some time, I balked at the prospect of a dependent. To my mind, a child would only add unwanted complication to my life, like water jackets and fuel injection. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate both children and hi-tech motorcycles, but had no real desire to house either. Yes, maybe I am a self-centered individual when you get right down to it.
But (you knew it was coming) I finally gave in as my wife has conceded so many times before whilst I stared longingly at yet another decrepit old Boxer which I neither needed nor could afford. I saw the child as purely a tit for tat concession and did not expect to really enjoy the experience.
Then it happened. That morning in the delivery room, the doctor handed my son to me. He was so tiny. He was helpless and fragile. My cynical heart melted as I held that little man in my arms. The water cascading down my callous cheeks could have no other origin.
I no longer evaluate my son with a labyrinth motorcycle. Instead, I fondly envision the two of us kneeling down beside one of the old /2's in the garage as I gently teach him about valve lash, ignition timing, and the eternal value of patience, integrity and pride of workmanship."
Better keep that /2 Nick. All you'll be able to teach him on a plasti-racer is a commitment to the acquisition of buckets of money if he's ever to own or maintain one. -ed
From Bernd Forner #1125 (Wuppertal, Germany)
"A few weeks ago, I saw a notice in a German Internet Motorcycle Newsgroup posted by Mike Leonard #400, who sent me the Canons via Internet e-mail. After reading this information, I think that I'm an Airhead and so I'd like to be a member of the club."
Thanks to Mike for his continuing efforts in this regard. I guess we're on the information superhighway! -ed
From NV Airmarshal Dave Rankine #354
"Ever been to your local Harley dealer? Ours has about 5% of his floor space devoted to motorcycles and drip pans, and the other 95% devoted to clothes, underwear, knick-knacks and curios.
Evidently, BMW is attempting to go the same route. I just received an unsolicited BMW accessories catalogue with a 'suggested price' of $3.00 written on it. The catalogue was mailed to me by some hopeless optimist at a retail mail order outfit. I've been getting a lot of junk mail since I entered a contest to win a BMW last fall.
There are three product lines. 'Active line' has stuff for multiple outdoor uses. "Classic line' is for motorcyclists. The 'Modern line' is for Yuppies.
If you make the mistake of ordering a Thermarest from J.C. Wunderluch for $54.95, you would be denying yourself the joy of sleeping on the 'active line' colors and paying 2 1/2 times the cost.
The 'active line' sleeping bag has an inner pocket where one can 'store maps and any other travel papers'. My response is that if you need a map while trysting in the bag, you need more help than Rand McNally can provide.
There is an active line back pack with a special clip on the back for carting your helmet. Just the thing you'll need while hiking out of the bush to get help to pick up your 560 lb. oilhead GS.
The BMW 'classic line' includes a black leather suit sporting a dotted white line. "Gosh officer, I thought he was a speed bump!"
For $575, you can get a fancy nylon jacket from BMW with 'eye catching silver striping' that'll 'turn heads everywhere you go'. Or for $38, you can get a nylon jacket with the Airhead logo that makes the opposite statement.
For $106, you can get high tech thermal underwear with BMW printed on it, or you can get similar stuff from REI for about $50.
For less than I paid for my used car, I could have bought an Ebel watch for $2900 to celebrate the 70th year of Boxer production. Personally, I'd rather have another Boxer. Hell, I could have bought a new Boxer for that in the days before Yuppies were invented!
Long after this trendy stuff crumbles to dust, I'll still be riding my airhead with the Airheads."
Ya, but will you be able to "turn heads everywhere you go"? I have to admit, I'm partial to the BMW Motorcycle stamp collection, which at $482 for the 14 stamp set, has to be a deal that only Harley would dare to rival. -ed
From "unmember" Jim Post #0 (Hampton VA)
"I was disturbed by Steve Regan's letter in the Jan. 95 Airmail.
To me, Steve came across as an elitist who has not bothered to educate himself with the overall picture. I have read a lot of reports on Spartanburg and talked to some who were there. I got no indication that the Spartanburg group was anything like he described. He ought to get the facts before he writes.
Steve should participate in events in which feature a variety of motorcycle brands. He might find that 99% of 'them' are just like 99% of us."
I agree Jim.
A much more serious problem is the fact that 99% of them can't distinguish between the 99% of us who are regular riding folks, and the 1% who behave like "preppy, smart-asses".
While I am editor, Airmail will be vociferous in its opposition to their arrogant posturing. I see nothing humorous about featuring other riders as "the rabble", and would sooner identify with them than with the bigoted BMW cliques who foster this kind of dissention. The influence of these Teutonic elitists has reflected badly on all BMW riders.
For me, being mistaken for a member of the "snooty crowd" is not an asset, it's an insult. If that's what it's going to mean to own a BMW, then it's time for me to ride something else. -ed.
The following tips are suggestions from members who may or may not be BMW experts. Confirm the advisability of these ideas with your BMW dealer before trying them out.
by B. Jan
43% of all motorcycle accidents occur as a result of an oncoming vehicle turning across the path of a rider. The drivers simply fail to recognize the motorcyclist's right of way. Their typical lament is "I just didn't see him/her". You might lament "How the hell is that possible, you were looking right at me, you zoned-out space cadet."
We motorcyclists may feel that drivers are jealous of our agility, our acceleration, or our designer leathers; and have deliberately chosen not to see us. We may suspect that some car drivers must be anally retentive psychopaths who compensate for their fear of flying by driving to kill.
In the urban rain forests of LA or New York, that's probably true. But elsewhere, most drivers really don't see motorcycles. Well yes, their eyes see us, they may be looking right at us, but the image doesn't register in the brain. Why is that?
Some intelligent doctor types have postulated that the brain is an organ which rejects, rather than gathers information. They believe that if all the information collected by the senses were to register in the brain, it would experience sensory overload and blow most of its fuses.
To prevent that, the brain tends to organize the world into systems; those which are important to the activity at hand, and those which aren't. For example, car drivers can't possibly read all the billboards, signs and license plates along the road. It would simply be too much sensory input, so their brains reject that information and keep it from distracting the driver's attention.
In the finest evolutionary tradition, the car driver's brain has learned to exclude the non-essentials, and to focus only on those objects which are a threat to survival. On the road, those objects are predominantly other cars. Because cars are much wider than they are tall, the brain systematizes threats as objects characterized by horizontal lines.
Things characterized by vertical lines are generally stationary and located off to the side of the road. Trees, lamp standards, sign posts, bridge abutments, buildings; none of these objects are liable to jump out in front of the driver to threaten his existence. Along comes a motorcycle. The driver's eyes give it a quick visual scan and the brain determines that this too is a vertical object. No threat. No further focus required. Zone out. Continue replay of last nights debauchery.
The next thing you know, the driver turns left across your lane even though you can see him looking right at you!
An experienced rider hammered at me ceaselessly during my early days of riding with the message that "You are invisible out there!"
Anyone with experience on a bike knows that he was right. Many a novice rider has been relegated to the land of puffy white clouds by riding his bike the way he drives his car; as if he can actually be seen.
My advice is, if you don't want to be horizontal, look horizontal.
Many Japanese bikes have orange running lights up front integrated into the signal light housing. That gives some sense of horizontal perspective to car drivers and helps a lot. Some of the Harleys have a pair of white driving lights alongside of the headlight. That's more effective due to their increased candlepower.
I've often lamented the lack of running lights on unfaired Boxers. A single headlight does not give a sense of perspective, and therefore tends to disappear into the background. The stock signal lights on the front of my Roadster were soon replaced by 4" round signal/running lights. They immediately and dramatically improved the etiquette of the other users of the road. Don't like the aesthetics you say? Well, I find the surprise installation of a Buick bumper less attractive.
I've also converted the rear signal lights to signal/running lights. As with the additional front lights, they made an immediate difference.
I realized the importance of rear running lights when I was following a friend home from Barley Therapy one dark evening. To my surprise, rather than focusing on his single tail light and spacing myself accordingly, I soon found myself gauging my distance from the rear end of the car ahead of him. His pathetic little taillight simply dissolved into the brighter lights of the car, and his bike effectively disappeared.
If this can happen to me, you can be sure it will happen to car drivers who are not attuned to motorcycles.
So, get horizontal. Convert your signal lights into signal/running lights. If you are going to apply reflective tape, make horizontal or diagonal lines rather than vertical ones.
Ride defensively and keep car drivers jealous.
by Fred Kumm #117 (Irvine CA)
"Gary Hanson #125 and I followed each other on the Three Flags Classic from Mexico to Canada. I gained a healthy respect for the Priority Plus light system he had installed on his R80RT. It multiplies the function of his rear signal lights to include duty as running lights and brake lights. Every time he applies his brakes, this little computer causes both rear turn signals to flash brightly for about 1.5 seconds. In spite of the short duration of the flashing effect, it sure got my attention. If the turn signal is engaged during the braking action, the normal turn signal modulation immediately returns.
The first thing I did on my return from the Three Flags Classic was to get my own Priority Plus System. The solid state unit is sealed in a plastic case about 3x4x1/2 inches. I installed it on the lid of the tool box. Connections were made in line with the rear end wiring harness. No separate power source is necessary. Installation was straight forward. The only extras I got were red rear turn signal lenses from Bobs in Maryland to replace the stock amber ones. With greatly enhanced brake light visibility, I feel much more confident."
by TX Airmarshal Jesse Hay #274
"My gas mileage jumped from 40 to 53 MPG on my 79 Boxer once I converted to dual plug heads. I had them drilled and tapped to allow the use of Bosch W6BC spark plugs with 1/2" reach. [readers may want to consider having 12 mm rather than 14 mm holes drilled in an effort to minimize the possibility of head warpage -ed] The Dyna 3 ignition for my 79 Boxer uses the stock points as a switch only, with no load on them to make them wear. Earlier Boxers don't need the points as the Dyna 2 system has them built in. You will also need the Dyna coils with the dual towers, and four new high voltage spark plug wires.
If you assemble everything back to original settings, the bike will run just like stock, so here's what you do. Retard the timing until the full advance mark is at the very bottom of the timing hole. Bullshit you say? The greater flame front needs less lead to get the fuel lit up. The next step might be to narrow the advance window in order to bring the idle timing to its original setting. If you can figure that out you will get more punch off idle. If not, it still works very well. [someone once suggested placing sleeves over the posts on which the advance weights rest at idle, thereby advancing the static timing -ed]
Resetting the jet needles in the carburetors will also help performance and mileage. With the superior efficiency of dual flame fronts, I was able to lean out the needles one notch in order to realize the dramatic increase in fuel economy.
This is a good example of the potential inherent in the marvelous Boxer engine."
by Baja Airmarshal Wayne Marsula #165
"I can just see the /5 design engineers as they sit in their favorite Hofbrau with a stein in hand. 'What maintenance item can we make really difficult to access. I know, the oil filter. Let's put it somewhere almost impossible to reach. And while we're at it, we'll make it a custom size that is available only from the dealers at twice its worth. Great Fritz, this is fun.'
When I got my first non /2 Boxer, I couldn't believe this set-up, so I decided to come up with something better.
There is a series of filters commonly used on race cars known by the name Oberg. This company was recently bought out by Racor, who markets these filters under the name 'Tattletale'.
In checking the specifications, I found that their smallest unit had sufficient flow rate for the Boxer. Physical dimensions are roughly 4x4x2. It can be mounted anywhere from the crash bar to the rear of the bike, but it must be mounted horizontally, and you must leave access to the four bolts on top so that the filter screen can be cleaned occasionally.
The easiest Boxers to mount it on will be the models with an oil cooler. Simply cut the line from the block to the oil cooler, and plumb the new filter in line. The inlet and outlet is marked on the cooler. Use hose clamps to fasten the proper size rubber hose onto both of the newly cut ends, and the proper size hose barb adapters that will screw into the new filter. Filtration should be done before cooling.
Carefully remove all the paper from the original BMW oil filter, and reinstall the paperless filter using new gaskets and O-rings. It may be the last time you'll ever go in there.
Boxers without an oil cooler will need the oil cooler fittings.
[Caution: This modification will work properly only on fittings without the built in thermostatic switch. If you are not sure, check with your dealer -ed]
I fitted an oil pressure and an oil temperature gauge to my bike to monitor the before and after effects of the filter, and there were no perceptible differences. Hence, my personal feeling is that there are no negative aspects to using this filter.
On the other hand, this filter is easy access, cheap to clean, and filters far better than a paper element.
If you have any problems or questions, feel free to contact me" [see the Airmarshal list].
Story & illustrations by Danno Emerson #496 (W. Melbourne FL)
"Some tips on timing chain replacement on 1979 and later single-row chain Boxers. When I pulled the cover on my Boxer, I found that the chain was stretched and the crankshaft sprocket was worn. I used a 2 arm gear puller with a nut in between the pointy end of the puller and the end of the crankshaft to prevent damage to the crankshaft (fig. 1). The woodruff key in the crankshaft was not damaged so I left it in place. After heating up the new sprocket, I used a drift made of the old sprocket with a 36 mm socket taped to it (fig. 2) to tap the new one in place. This hybrid tool is also ideal for installation of the timing cover oil seal. Before installing the new chain, I first put the tensioner plunger & spring in place (without the tensioner blade) and held them in place with a welding clamp. After making sure the timing marks on the chain and sprockets lined up, I inserted the old master link in from the front half-way. This held the chain in place so the new master link could be installed from behind. Parts needed were: crankshaft sprocket, chain, tensioner, blade & spring, timing cover gasket and 2 six packs Schaeferbeer (fig. 3). Total cost was $79. Hope this helps someone."
"Wanted to let you know that an Airhead has been designated as the Rally Chair for the BMW MOA National in Durango CO., ME! I'll be looking for support from all my fellow Airheads in volunteering on committees wherever their talents and ambitions may be most useful."
Larry Stonestreet #49 (39628 Ave. M Deste, Murrieta CA 92563).
Stoner has taken on a challenge few of us would tackle. The most difficult part for him will be to find sufficient volunteers to handle the hundreds of little jobs that the National entails. Let's support Stoner's commitment, and our umbrella organization. Let's demonstrate the Airhead spirit to the BMW community at large by flooding the National with volunteers wearing Airhead T-shirts and shit-eatin grins.
Write Stoner and tell him how much time you can donate and on what day. He'll let you know what kind of jobs are available. -ed.
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