I Started Riding My Own Ride in 1974, When Riding Wasn't Cool!
by Katy Ishee
(Normandy, TN USA)
My first ride was on the back of a Honda which we ended up in a ditch (1969). That was the last time I wore shorts and flipflops riding. LOL
My first solo experience was on a little Vespa scooter in 1970, but that was enough to make me want to get my own ride. After my ex and I got divorced the first thing on my list was to get my own bike.
I packed on the back of a few Harleys, but I felt out of control. I wanted my own bike.
It was May 1974, I bought my first bike, a 1960 R\R50 BMW. First time I saw one, a big heavy guy was riding it and I said. God is that bike ugly or what?
The BMW's handling was great, only it wasn't very fast. I wanted more.
Some one sugared the gas tank and when I went to the BMW shop in Greensboro. NC, I saw a beautiful 1967 R69S BMW. This was the largest bike BMW made back then.
I made him an offer and got the BMW two days later. I did some changes. I didn't like the funky handlebars with the blinkers sticking out, so I changed the handlebars to a buckhorn style, replaced the dual seat to a solo and a small chrome luggage rack on the back fender.
First, an R69S was the Hot Rod of the line up featuring BMW's 590cc boxer twin making 42hp compared to the 30hp of a standard R60/2 which BMW accomplished with a higher compression ration (9.5:1 vs. 7.5:1), dual 26mm Bing cars (vs. 24mm), higher spec pistons, bigger valves and a crank balancer. The R69S was able to do the ton and on paper hit 109mph. On the road, mine hit 120 MPH.
She's been known to whip quite a few HDs drag racing at Five Flag Speedway in Pensacola. That was the last time I went drag racing drunk which is a chapter in my book. LO I couldn't stop and hit a 10 foot chain link fence about 60, pushed it out 3 feet and slung shot me backwards about 35 feet before stopping. I never fell down, but it sure did scare me.
The R69S also featured an additional lower steering damper. This Earles fork bike features the standard 4.5 gallon was changed out to a 6 gallon tank. The telescopic Earles was a variety of leading link fork where the pivot point was aft of the rear of the front wheel - this was the basis of the Earle's patent. Designed by Englishman Ernest Earles, this triangulated fork actually caused the front end of a motorcycle to rise when braking hard - the reverse of the action of a telescopic fork.
My old BMW has one many trophies including Best Daily Ridden Antique. This year I will be taking her with me to my book signings.
My old BMW has been the best friend I ever had and when the time comes she will go to my son who also rides.
I was the only woman riding her own ride when I started in 1974 in my area and learned to ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
From time to time I'd meet another woman rider at the BMW Rally but there was no one to ride with but my brothers in the wind. Those are the people who gave me back the confidence that had been taken from me years before.
After one party, when I was teased about riding a Singer Sewing Machine because it was so quiet, I went home and took a broom handle and knocked the baffles out. Now you can hear me coming down the road. Loud pipes save lives!
I was elected State Director for BMW Riders and put on the High South Spring and Fall Rally up on top of Beech Mountain back in the late 70s.
After putting over 450,000 miles on her, I put her in semi retirement when my husband bought me a 78 Shovelhead in 98.
After meeting so many people at my book signings and them asking, "Do you still have your old BMW?" I knew I had to get her back on the road.
I recently had my BMW gone thru and was happy to know she is good as ever. I hate to say it, because I always loved HDs, but my old BMW will run circles around a Harley. My HD left me stranded more the first year than the BMW left me in 3o + years. It's only been in the shop 5 times.:)
Last year my autobiography Pieces of My Heart was released and was selected Book of the Month at bikernet.com It has been featured in Road Rash and Full Throttle magazines across the South and will soon be in Thunder Roads, Rumblenews, Cyril Huze Blog and Biker Up.
You can read an excerpt and my reviews online.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share about my BMW.