Tales from the Lift #5: What do you want, and what would you do for it?

Tales from the Lift #5: What do you want, and what would you do for it?
This is the fifth in a series of moto tales by one of the pillars of our local community-  Mr. Armen Amirian. Well known rider, wrench and raconteur who has previously been found in the pits as a wrench, contributing to moto publications worldwide, teaching moto- mechanics here in NYC (for 34 years! these days hosted by Ryders Alley ) and now enriching our site with his work at the keyboard capturing the passion for it all. His unique writing style embodies the mojo of living and breathing old bikes here in the city. Our next installment.... 

 What do you want,
And what would you do for it?


What if a million years ago you were a head mechanic in a BMW shop and lived and breathed the bikes? Still had all the factory tools, manuals, service bulletins and so on from 35 years ago?
Worked a bit with the best BMW race team in the US in the Battle of the Twins, and still have the sleep deprivation twitches to show for it?
Did it just for the rush of it all? Wrote articles, taught tech seminars, and basically worshiped the beasts?
Saw only too clearly what it would take to really make a nice one. The factory moved pretty slowly in those days, and the machines had become ‘kit bikes’-too many areas needed work. And it wasn’t till you were buried in the adulthood stuff like house, kid, multiple jobs, and overwhelming debt, that the Fatherland decided to make the bike of your dreams?
And that bike was a ’91 BMW R100 Classic, a one year production model?

Walked into a BMW dealer back then and saw it. Took an ad brochure knowing that was as close as it’d get to owning one. Didn’t even bother looking at the price. Couldn’t even afford insurance back then.
It was the high water mark of the old airhead boxers, and they only imported 186 of them.
And there are fewer decent examples as the years go on, and they’ll never make a bike like that again.
And it’s black, like a BMW should be (albeit, with a dorky chrome headlight bucket that will go on the shelf and be replaced with a proper black one). It has a decent front end, real brakes, monolever rear, etc-in short, all the nice improvements the bike cried out for in the old days.
With  all the changes, it still looks like a proper classic BMW. To one of the great unwashed, it might as well be an late ’70’s model, with those timeless flowing lines the bikes had before the Germans hired a bunch of angry blind hydrocephalic midgets to design the last of the airheads.
But it has electronic ignition, Nikasil lined cylinders, real suspension, tubeless tires, and so on. Easy to ride and to live with.
A bike I’d open the garage door and look at each morning just because it is beautiful.

What do you want, and what would you do for it?

Truly a shot in the dark, I punched ‘R100 Classic’ into Google 20 years after they were new, and there was one of the very few-for sale in Maine:
26K miles, upgraded alternator, decent shape, factory bags.
Could get on this bike and ride to the grocery store, or to somewhere far away.
This week or in 15 years.
I had to do it.
Couldn’t help myself.
Don’t have the room.
REALLY don’t have the money.
Will have to sell a perfectly sorted out SV650 that handles like an 18 year old porn star and accelerates like her father.
And is dead reliable.
And needs almost no maintenance.
And I’m already thinking about the work I’ll do on the BMW once I get it-with the money I don’t have, and the time that doesn’t exist.
And it’ll make my ’79 R65 jealous : )
Almost started to be rational…

What do you want, and what would you do for it?

But it’d be like when the girl that got away a million years ago who called and asked if you’d like to reconsider.
And all it would have taken was to drop everything and  move 800 miles away.
Was in the casting call for that show and skipped the try-outs. Too rational to gamble. Too settled to move. Someone else got the lead and the run of show contract…

What do you want, and what would you do for it?

Figured life only throws you so many second chances.
Gotta grab this one.
I’m kicking myself enough for all the other missed chances.
A boys gotta do what a boys gotta do : )
Check goes in the mail on Monday.

I wrote that after making the deal with the seller.
That was supposed to be the end of the story. Except that after the deal was made, and I had made all the arrangements for time, money, and transport, the dirtbag sold the bike out from under me.

Tried to convince myself that everything happens for a reason.

I lit a candle and prayed he’d get gang raped by a pack of AIDS infected crack head lepers, and moved on.
I went back to the SV and tarted it up a bit. Did a few really fun track days as well as a nice trip to New Hampshire. Guess the SV was pretty special, because a bud of mine constantly pesters me to sell it to him.
I politely tell him to piss off.
In my life, machines were most often my closest friends. And by now the SV is pretty close.

A couple of years later a co-worker comes in one Monday and announces that he has bought a new bike and has to sell one of his old ones.
‘Whatchagot?’ I ask.
“Oh, a ’91 R100.” he says.
“R100 Classic?” I ask.
“Dunno, it just says R100.”
“So, tell me about the bike.”
“Well, it’s got about 27K miles, factory bags, upgraded alternator. Nice shape. Owned it for a little while, but never rode it much.”
“Uh, what do you know about it’s history?”
“Well, I bought it a year ago from some guy in Mass who didn’t ride it much either. He bought it the year before from some guy in Maine.”
Jesus :-0

What do you want, and what would you do for it?

Reach into my pocket, give him what cash I have on me and tell him it’s a deposit without asking how much he wants. Call the guy who had been razzing me about selling him my SV. Not easy to say, but I tell him it’s for sale now. Ask for enough to cover the cost of the R100, tax, title, reg, etc.
He just says ‘cash or check?’.
In no time, the SV is gone and the R100 moves into the garage.
Sometimes things work out in ways you’d never imagine  : )

So here is it, 4 years and 10,000+ miles with the bike. As predicted, thousands of dollars and many tens of hours have gone into the bike. Did a 10 day 2K+ mile trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway 2 years ago. Today we’re halfway through a 10 day/2K+ mile trip to Nova Scotia.

I knew what I wanted, and I did what I had to…


3 Responses

  1. Markus
    | Reply


    Took the R90/6 around the Cape Breton Trail 2 years ago with the (now) wife. same as you, 10 days 2K plus miles. It only missed 1 beat going up Mt Washington. We were 2 up with camping gear. Other than that bike was great.


  2. Armen
    | Reply

    Hey Markus,
    Funny, people ask me all the time if the bike can make a long trip. I’ve been averaging one 2-3K mile trip each year for a while now. No issues at all. Of course I work on it a bit : )
    In fact, the bikes I’ve had to stop and bail out were all newer.
    Glad you are using yours too.
    take care,

    • Markus
      | Reply

      BTW there is a 91 r100 classic for sale at Bob’s BMW. $9K

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