All European manufacturers spent the early post-War years rehashing pre-War designs, but by the mid-1950s new models and advancements in technology were abound. BMW introduced a new and improved 500cc and 600cc variant of their ‘boxer’ twin mounted in an all-new chassis sporting Earles-type leading-link front fork and swinging-arm rear suspension enclosing the driveshaft, developments first seen on the works racers. Capable of sustained high-speed cruising and with exemplary engineering, these luxury-touring machines cost as much as a basic car and would appeal to the well-heeled collector and enthusiast who would appreciate the build quality.
In September 1960, the company introduced the R69S, a development of the R69, with 42bhp and a top speed of well over 100mph, to claim the crown as the world’s finest sport-tourer. As Motor Cycle magazine put it: “Luxury roadster with superb high-speed performance yet docile traffic manners; magnificent steering, roadholding and brakes.”
The magnificent 1967 BMW R69S on offer here is something of a Holy Grail machine. Our vendor’s mother and father were diehard motorcycle fans, with Dad being a fan of the BMW, while Mom was a devotee of Harley-Davidson. She became the third President of the oldest women’s motorcycle club, the Motor Maids in 1966. She held the position for 12 years and exploited it with Harley, by trading her bike in every two years for a nominal trade-in difference, and always for the latest model in red, even when red wasn’t offered by the manufacturer! She was also inducted in to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1993. Meanwhile, Dad rode a 1954 BMW R60. In 1962, our vendor, their son, rode the R60 to Seattle with his parents on a Harley to a Motor Maid convention, covering over 6,000 miles. After an accident on the R60 in 1966, the insurance claim from the driver was enough to buy them a brand new R69S. The couple went to their local dealer in Ohio and bought the traditional black with white pinstripe machine you see here. With a trip planned to tour the bike, they asked for a second full seat and a set of panniers to be included in the sale, but the only ones available were for a Dover White bike. So our impatient buyers took the mismatched luggage home with the bike, toured with them and they remain with the bike today.
Unfortunately, only a few years later, Dad passed away, leaving the bike to his widow and their son, who had returned from military service, crewing a Huey and a Chinook helicopters, but moved in search of better weather to California. He left the bike at his mother’s house until the late 1980s, riding trails on a Yamaha 250 in Colorado, until his mother’s passing in 1988 when he finally took possession of his inheritance. He used the bike for the wonderful roads of the Santa Monica mountains, further enjoying its smooth power and exquisite handling until now, with a genuine 33,500 miles on the odometer, when it is time for it to move on to a new custodian.
One family owned is a rarity these days, but to find a machine with that kind of ownership history in this condition, that has never been restored, repainted, or dismantled, modified, or molested in any way is truly exceptional. The perfectly original paint remains in exquisite condition, though not perfect. Minor blemishes are present, forgivable considering the bikes 50-odd years and mileage. Brightwork remains excellent, while the finish to the engine cases carries that warm, lightly aged color. Lights are bright and fresh, and the speedometer is a delight to look at. The whole bike has a wonderful but limited level of patina. Accompanying the bike is an original owners manual and a pair of spark plugs in the plastic holders, a set of tools and an original BMW towel.
The bike has been regularly and meticulously maintained for many years by specialist Martyn Crisp. The bike starts very easily, idles smoothly, and has power that far defies the quoted 42bhp. Brakes, suspension, and all electrical systems work perfectly. The bike is a true joy to ride, with that feeling of a taut, well-maintained, never-apart machine. It is confidence-inspiring, giving the feeling that it could be ridden anywhere, which as a good BMW, it could.
The bike os accompanied by the original touring seat. Please note, this bike is titled as a 1966.
Location: Ventura, California