top of page

Bike of the Month
August 2022
1979 BMW R65
By George Canavan

1979 BMW R65 Silver Bullet


We all have motorcycle stories of varying complexity that we relish to share with Chapter members and the unassuming passerby. There is the first bike story, the excruciating restoration story, the impossible ride/race event, the “we’ll never get out of this alive” story, etc.


None is as compelling to tell or hear than the fabled “found in a barn” saga. This is not one of those stories. But, it does come close.


There is nothing more exciting for some than to dig through a long sealed storage building to excavate a rare treasure. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so that treasure could be an original 1931 Henderson KJ Police Special or a thrashed 1965 Honda Dream 305. Each is equally exciting to the appropriate fan boy brand hunter.


Let us begin with a traditional opening, the call from the brand guru. The story takes shape around a traditional start. A woman called the guru seeking advice about the sale of a motorcycle. Now the twist. It is her motorcycle. She has owned it since new. Less than 34,000 miles. Original paint. Complete service record going back to the PDI*. Heavily accessorized with OEM options. Guru asks me, “You interested?” Reply, “Im on it like white on rice!”


I call the lady owner to do my best Dragnet - Joe Friday impersonation. “The facts M’am. Just the facts.” Forty five minutes later I come to the conclusion that she is pretty passionate about this long term family member and I’m getting grilled about my qualifications for ownership. The call is like I’m the Junior Varsity jock trying to date her daughter. After seventy five minutes I made it through the filter and am qualified for the first date.


The commercial terms are agreed to and the deposit is placed. Next stop, Tucson Arizona.


Queue the flowers for wife at this stage of the deal.


In a Tucson suburb, we meet. The owner is a lithe, 75 year old enthusiast with deep brand roots. She rides, her husband rides, their daughter rides… you get the picture.


This is the part of the story where you get to see the bike for the first time and it falls significantly short of the glorious descriptors. Reminds me of the time I went to see a vintage  car reported to be a one-owner and in “Tip-top shape”.  Tip-top must mean “no floors” in certain circles.


The machine is rolled out and it does not disappoint.


She chose wisely back in 1979 when she selected the R65 opposed twin at Reg Pridmore’s RPM Motors in Ventura, CA. The R65 was a product line extender in the back when. Corporate realized that not every buyer wanted a full-zoot, 1,000 cc touring bike and BMW needed a bike to attract new buyers to the brand. Light weight, wallet friendly (for a BMW at least), zippy and stone cold reliable.


The seller regaled me with tales of her riding the Three Flags Classic** event more than once on the R65. Paperwork completed, bike loaded and the group hug. As I walk to the van I hear, “But wait there’s more!” To my surprise there are two large boxes that accompany the new acquisition. You know how that goes. You usually have to accept a container of cycling detritus to accompany the acquisition. It is tradition. Be polite. Accept the thirty year old tube repair kit, the burnt out bulbs, the sun rotted grips and so forth. You can deal with it later. It is called good will.


Days later and back at the ranch, I unload and take stock of the newbie in the garage. I’m impressed! All it needs is a fresh service with new tires. I never get away that easily. (You know, like peeking under the gas tank and discovering that “new wire harness” is code for two rolls of electrical tape.)


As I’m cleaning the tin and polishing the alloy bits, I recall. I have to do something with those two boxes. I open the first and discover a substantial hoard of new, OEM spare parts with the BMW invoice. Likewise box #2. I have the treasure trove of spares that were purchased to cover almost any roadside malady during the Three Flags rides. I am overcome with glee. Spouse, not so much.


Having ridden the R65 over the last year, it becomes apparent the the R65 was on target for the riders light of frame, the stature challenged and those new to the brand. Acceleration is acceptable in today’s traffic. You will not be riding with The Wild Ones anyway. Starting, stopping, shifting and parking lot obstacle navigation can be executed with aplomb. A rewarding ride awaits the owner.


Many times collectors will pass over the entry level machines or the mid-range bike for the line toppers. The BMW R69S comes to mind here. Keep in mind that these bikes down the product line-card can deliver rewarding miles of riding and at a more modest price point.


Dinner and a movie, happy wife, happy life.


This is where the story ends with the “and they lived happily ever after”.


*PDI - trade term for Pre Delivery Inspection

** Three Flags Classic- Ventura - Mexico - Canada - Ventura A very long distance motorcycle ride.

bottom of page