My First Motorcycle

by Jeff Dean
Tucson, Arizona, and Madison, Wisconsin

Last Updated:

In the late 1950s, when I was an student at Lawence College, in Appleton, Wisconsin, I saw an upperclassman riding around campus on a black motorcycle with white pinstripes on the tank and fenders. I had no idea what it was, but I was very impressed by its elegant appearance and its quietness. The memory of that bike stayed with me for a long time. In 1962 I graduated from Lawrence and went off to graduate school at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut. There I saw many examples of the black motorcycle. Some were horizontal twins and some were vertical singles.

My curiosity was aroused when I saw some of the black motorcycles ride up an alley across Chapel Street from the Yale Art Gallery. So, one day, I walked up that alley and came upon a motorcycle dealership called Libby's Sales and Service (now located elewhere and no longer a BMW dealer). A garage door was open, so I walked into what was a service area. There I saw a mechanic working on one of the black motorcycles and stopped to talk with him. What was it, I asked him. He said, with a German accent, it was a “BMW,” and it was made in Germany. I went into the sales office and asked about prices (see price list at the bottom of the page). Alas, I could not afford even the cheapest model, an R27 single. But I did purchase every owner's manual for the twins and single, and still have them today.

It was years later, 1967 in fact, when I was living in Madison, Wisconsin, before I could afford a BMW and sought out an Avus black (086) R60/2, my desired model. I located a 1966 model in Oakfield. I have no recollection of what the price was, but whatever it was I paid it and rode the motorcycle home, followed by Jill in our car. Over those cylinders sticking out sideways into the air stream, I felt like I was flying home.

The BMW R60/2's engine offered 30 HP and a kick starter for its 594cc capacity, and its torque is 36 lb-ft. It weighed 429 pounds with its stock 4.5 gallon gas tank full. An optional 6.5 gallon tank was offered that, when full, brought that weight up to about 450 pounds. The top speed was listed as 90 MPH, but you had to work at it to get it there. A tummy down on the tank, tail wind, and downward slope were great helps. Of course, the R60/2 had distinctive Earles front forks.

Here I am, below, riding my first BMW in a photo taken in 1967 by my wife, Jill Weber Dean. Obiously, I had much to learn about ATGATT riding gear.

Here I am, below, in 1967, the proud owner of a one-year-old BMW R60/2 with my forgiving and patient wife, Jill, perched on the pasenger seat.

 

My second BMW purchase was a 1951 R67, right below. My original R60/2 is left, below, now adorned with a Wixom handlebar fairing.

I have my original Wisconsin license plate posted today in my garage. It was called the “butter plate” for obvious reasons. I liked it. I wish the butter plate was still used!

Here was my first attempt at a “glamour” photo of my new motorcycle. I got a lot better with other BMWs later. The turn signals were a failed experiment. Later I learned to use Hella bar-end signals.

Below is the 1965 price list when I was a graduate student in New Haven. I could not then afford an R27 much less an R60. Roy Jones, his signature to the left, was the salesman at Libby's at the time. I remember with envy watching Roy ride his R60.

Since 1967, I have continued to admire and own the “black motorcycle” I discovered in New Haven so long ago. I own three 1967 R60/2s today in Avus black (086), Dover white (059), and Granada red (023).

Click on the photo below to go to my “BMW Motorcycle R60/2” page.

Below I am posing in 2006 with my Granada red 1967 R60/2.

Click here to see a Cycle World road test of the 1967 R60/2

Click here to see a Cycle road test of the 1965 R60/2

Click here to read English R60/2 specifications from BMW A.G., Munich, Germany.

Click here for the complete 50-page 1966 slash-2 motorcycle owner's manual

Click here to see pages from the 1965 BMW motorcycle brochure

Click here to see original 1968 photos of 1968 BMWs