The Relationship

You may recall from the Catalyst: The first bike blog post that, with the exception of our first bike, the vintage motorcycles I’ve acquired over the years didn’t come from Craigslist or any other online listing.

This is especially true of the 1984 BMW R80G/S Paris-Dakar that I am so lucky to have in my collection.

This bike belonged to Kurt Schreiber, the father of the gentleman I purchased the BMW R90 from the previous year. Kurt was a very traditional German immigrant with a thick accent. The Schreiber family patriarch emigrated from Germany to the US in 1966, and opened a VW dealership in Southern California. Eventually he made his way to Alaska and opened K&M Imports in Wasilla, Alaska.

Kurt and I developed a somewhat badgering, sarcastic relationship over the years. Me, the young guy wanting to absorb everything about BMW motorcycles and Kurt, the motorcycle patriarch willing to provide guidance and recommendations that were often weaved into stories over coffee.

It was that relationship that eventually led him to agree to sell me the R80G/S Paris-Dakar, despite the fact I completely changed the first BMW I purchased from his son into a café racer.

The first time I saw the R80G/S, I told Kurt, "Man, that's a fantastic motorcycle. I love the thing. I want it."

And when I heard the history of this particular bike, I knew I had to have it in my collection.

In 1983, the then-president of BMW Motorrad, Dr. Gunter Kramer, and his son planned a one-way motorcycle trip from Southern California to Alaska. Once in Alaska, they would leave the motorcycles with the Anchorage BMW dealership and fly back to Germany.

The plan was to depart from a SoCal BMW dealership and experience Alaska, the Alcan Highway, Canada, and everything in between. The R80G/S was highly desirable for its on and off road capability, and was the predecessor to the enduro bikes you see today zipping around with traveling luggage. The motorcycles the California dealer built were loaded with the most modern features including a Paris-Dakar touring tank.

This motorcycle has one of few numbered tanks signed by Gaston Rahier, the Belgian rider who won the Paris-Dakar race two years in a row while racing for BMW in the '80s.

Well, one thing led to another and schedules changed, so Dr. Kramer wasn't able to make the trip. The BMW dealership in California said, "Oh hey, no big deal. We'll just sell the bikes."

But Don Rosene, owner of the BMW motorcycle dealership in Anchorage protested when he heard the news. Don had the motorcycles pre-sold and felt it was bad press for the bikes not to be in Alaska to complete the sale. He fought hard and the California dealer finally relented, shipping the motorcycles to Alaska. As it turned out, Don and one of his friends were the new owners of these custom-built R80G/S bikes.

The motorcycles arrived in Alaska with very little mileage on them. One of them went to Don Rosene, and the other went to my friend, Kurt Schreiber.

Kurt rode the bike for several years. To him, a motorcycle was a tool. He had a very utilitarian heritage, so if something broke, he simply fixed it. He was definitely not interested in restoring the motorcycle. Kurt logged 56,000 miles on the bike, and then parked it in a metal conex, which is where I discovered it on one of my many visits.

After I purchased the bike, we changed fluids and filters and detailed the entire motorcycle. To honor and preserve the history of this bike, we didn’t do anything to it, restoration-wise. We have preserved Gaston Rahier’s signature on the tank, but overall, we just made it a very nice, all original R80G/S Paris-Dakar edition motorcycle.

Our plan for the R80G/S Paris-Daker is to give an early retirement. Ride it around town, maybe take it to some shows, and let other people enjoy its rich history. It’s just too valuable to put too many miles on it, and we don’t want to put the unique tank and signature at risk by taking it out on big long trips across Alaska. This bike is a collectible and Kurt knew that when he trusted me to take ownership.

Kurt passed away in September this year. I’ll miss our badgering, sarcastic relationship and all that I still had to learn from him about BMW motorcycles. But I’m forever grateful that this motorcycle patriarch trusted me to preserve a piece of BMW history.

Press Links

OTL Magazine - January/February 2015