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Why BMW?


ive been curious for a while over what seems to be something of a preference for BMW's for tugs and for adventure bikes.  I know nothing about them.  Anyone care to explain?  Is it looks, tradition, reliability?  Kind of looking around for a later model bike or complete rig and was just wondering what appeal these have. Thanks, Mike

Hi Mike:

BMW may be an acquired taste.  I bought my first one in 1973 from a Ford Tractor/BMW dealer ('63 R60).  I never put a sidecar on that one but have had 3 more BMW's with sidecars - R90/Watsonian GP, K1100LTA/Motorvation Formula, and currently ride an R1100/Hannigan.  I put maybe 5000 miles on the R90 rig. We had the Formula installed on the K1100 at Motorvation.  We rode that one 60,000+ miles and literally from border to border and coast to coast attending BMW and Sidecar rallies.  They have been reliable, smooth and made good tugs, especially the K1100.  My only complaint was that the K1100 fed the radiator heat up under the gas tank and the gas would boil.  In the winter in South Dakota that was a good thing but not in the summer.  I guess I have a BMW prejudice because I have owned 4.

I doubt that I really answered  your question but that is my 2 cents worth

Will Short

USCA President 2015-2019

To be able to do this:

BMW Hit With Class Action Lawsuit



I can't speak for others, but, the reason that I ride a BMW is it's the only bike that I can spell. 🙂 In reality, a long time ago, BMW was one of the few bikes that could be reliable enough for coast to coast adventures. Over the decades, other bikes have become far more reliable. In my case, I stick with BMW because I have the tools and some of the know how to maintain them. While traveling I know which dealers to head towards in various regions. Most of my friends are BMW owners, the rallies are great and and the forums are great. Why change.

I understand.  Comfort level is important to everyone.

GS bikes are a particularly good choice (as I have gathered from others and will soon join the ranks) because they have a transmission that is geared low with enough torque and top end to make for a solid tug.  They will go as fast as responsible operation will allow, accelerate smoothly and be reliable enough to keep the operator happy.

It seems, also that the steering geometry will work in many cases without extensive modification, though they can be updated for finesse.

Again, I'm pulling together comments from many others for this so feel free to nitpick my overgeneralizations.

Quote from Thane Lewis on August 8, 2019, 10:41 pm

GS bikes are a particularly good choice ... a transmission that is geared low with enough torque and top end to make for a solid tug.  They will go as fast as responsible operation will allow, accelerate smoothly and be reliable enough to keep the operator happy....

As mentioned above, many of us with BMW tugs are already familiar with the marque, having some experience with dealers and/or repairs, and perhaps support from friends (Airheads/IBMWR/MOA).   K100/K1100's, except for the heat issues Will discussed, can be great tugs.   Thane's comments are applicable to our ±20 year old Oilhead R1100GS tug, but beware, repair parts (and labor) can be inordinately expensive.  Also, the single sided swingarm can be be an issue, and a single-plate dry clutch can be a more difficult to operate smoothly.  Most BMW models require a complete cross-the-bike subframe to count a sidecar.  I suspect there are several options for tugs in the 800-1200cc range that'd work just as well, if not better, particularly if sidecar-appropriate steering modifications are available.  For instance, I speculate I'd enjoy a Triumph Scrambler for a tug.

Lee Summer Grove, LA R1100GS/CSM Sidecar, Burgman/Texas Ranger, Zuma 50F, MB5, TW200, CRF250L

Modern BMW "R" bikes are easy to attach sidecars to (with proper sub frames) easy to modify the steering due to the telelever front end. The 1200's are fairly cheap to convert to a car tire on the rear (1100 and 1150 a bit more expensive) BMW's also hold their resale value with the sidecar better then most bikes.

For me, I just like them. I am currently building for my own use an R1250GSA with one of our Expedition sidecars on it. It will have all three wheels interchangeable, front and rear winches, and in general lots of trick stuff.

Jay G
DMC sidecars


I appreciate all the comments, especially reliability related which is most important to me. If I do replace my now almost 22 year old Valkyrie it will probably be another rice burner although I have considered the Indian Scout.  I always swore I wouldn't be caught dead on a Goldwing (and not just because my wife and I don't have matching outfits ?) but the new models look a bit better, almost like motorcycles.

Hey Mike,

Easiest replacement for you would be a low mileage 2003 Valk . The car would move right over and you would have a spare parts bike.