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BMW R60/2 Motorcycle

by Jeffrey Dean
Tucson, Arizona

Last Updated:

A 1968 BMW R60/2 is shown below framed by saguaro cacti in Tucson, Arizona. Minus the Craven saddlebags and solo saddles (they would have come with a dual saddle), this is how most slash-2 BMWs looked in the 1960s. They were black with white pinstriping and came with a 6½-gallon (17 liter) gasoline tank, though many came with a 4½-gallon (12 liter) tank. They would have had a left-side rear-view mirror screwed into the clutch perch with reverse threads, so the wind would not loosen them. The most common turn signals then used were bar-end signals made by Hella, as seen on the motorcycle below.

The photo of the R60/2 below shows how one would have looked in stock condition when sold new originally by a BMW dealer in the United States. Note the wide dual saddle and the “U.S.” handlebars, with the central cross-piece. Note the 4½-gallon gas tank with a key slot in the knee pad, which opens a tool box. The greenish battery is a modern addition. Otherwise this a pretty stock slash-2.

In 1986 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Jill and I bought from its first owner “Iowa,” a 1967 BMW R60/2, seen below. It was manufactured by BMW in its Munich factory on September 20, 1966, and sold originally in September 1967 by Paul's Motorcycle in Council Bluffs, which is still in business but is no longer a BMW dealer. Since then, I have ridden it some, and stored it for about 15 years in our sun room. After storing it, I rolled her out one day, changed the fuel and oil, and she started on the second kick. The old BMWs never cease to amaze me.

Here, below, is a photo of “Iowa,” taken shortly after I brought her to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1986. Note the optional wide dual saddle, which would have come with the motorcycle originally. The chrome quarter handles on the rear of the saddle denote the wide saddle.

Below: Here is “Iowa,” 20 years later posed in front of Lake Monona, Madison, Wisconsin, with the State Capitol in the background. She has lost the wide dual saddle for solo saddles. She was running well and looked pretty good for a completely original R60/2.

Iowa has Craven Golden Arrow saddlebags mounted on her. Back when I got her I chromed the air cleaner housing, Today I know that to be a “no-no” because it covers original paint. She also had stainless exhaust pipes and mufflers I installed in the '80s — also no-no.

Years ago, I decided I wanted sealed, maintenance-free 6-volt battery for my slash-2 BMWs. I found an inexpensive 6-volt sealed AGM battery, which is sold for a little over $30 through Batteries Plus. I cannot say enough positive about these batteries. I have used some for over 10 years, and every one I have ever bought is still working just fine. If you have a BMW /2 that is still 6 volts, you really should use this battery. It inserts a fuse in a fuseless BMW and uses a common 2-prong electrical connector available from Radio Shack and other sources, allowing easy charging.

Over the years I did routine work on my bike. Left, below, my friend Norm Benedum helped me replace the head bearings with tapered bearings. To the right, “Iowa” is on my lift for some routine maintenance.

After riding her off and on for 23 years, I decided it was time for my faithful R60/2 to get a makeover. Below you see her in my garage in Tucson, waiting for the arrival on March 10, 2009, from San Diego, of master BMW restorationist Tim Stafford, who was picking it up.

Tim had restored other vintage BMWs for me before, so I knew he was the one for the job. It was to be a "rider," not a concours restoration. So we decided on some trade-offs, such as using powder coating on the frame instead of wet paint. We also decided to leave my chromed air cleaner cover as it was in spite of its inauthenticity. Similarly, we decided to leave the stainless exhaust system intact.

Below you see Tim preparing to ride Iowa up on to the bed of his pickup truck. The orange straps are soft ties for the tie down straps he uses.

Below Tim loads the motorcycle in the bed of his pickup truck with the aid of aluminum ramps. He then ties her down at four points, front and rear.

Below left, Tim and Jill hold up a 6-foot-4-inch poster I gave Tim to hang in his San Diego shop. Below right, Tim drives up the intimidatingly steep road out of our valley. Some people are not willing to brave our road.

Tim starts by stripping any BMW on which he is working down to its basic parts. He then paints all the painted parts if it is a concours retoration — which this bike was not. For a concours restoration, Tim insists that every tiny detail be correct, even down to the bolts, nuts, and ties. In the photo below, left, my bike is in the early stages of reassembly.

Below, right, the repainted rear fender and fuel tank await assembly.


By September, “Iowa” is nearing completion. Missing are carburetors, heads, exhaust system, Craven saddle bags, front cover, turn signals, and other details. But she does look beautiful.

Below: I had not intended for Tim to restore the Craven Golden Arrow saddlebags, but he is not stoppable when he gets an idea in his head. He removed all the aluminum strips from the bags and polished them. He then had to re-rivet the strips back on with matching rivets. He got rid of the yellow color on the rubber gaskets. Then he modified the original Craven racks with new lower parts to hold the bottom of the bags. Of course, he polished all the bare hardware.

Below is my completed R60/2 near La Jolla, California, with the Pacific Ocean in the background. All that remained was to replace the Craven roundels on the saddlebag lids. The rubber gaskets on the saddlebags, which were yellow in the second photo from the top, have been cleaned up. A beautiful motorcycle with a beautiful background.

Here, below, is my completed R60/2 parked on Tucson's “A Mountain” with the downtown in the background and the Catalina Mountains in the distance.

Compared to the photo above, the exhaust pipes have yellowed, as stainless pipes do. Tim had cleaned them, but as soon as you run the motorcycle's engine they start yellowing.

My last work on Iowa was to install, with Norm Benedum's help the 12-Volt system from Bench Mark Works and the correct period oval-shaped crash bar (see top photo and the 4th photo from the top).

Below: The Arizona license plates for historic motorcycles (HM) over 25 years old are made out of solid copper. Arizona's mines produce the most copper in the United States.

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