My motorcycle life really had a great start when my older brother took me on the back of his new Arial Arrow Super Sport. I was hooked. I thought it beats pedalling any day.
My first bike was a Puch Cheater, 60cc. Half scooter, half bike, the engine was between your legs and the leg shields gave a little protection. Having started an apprenticeship, I went everywhere on my Puch, exploring everywhere, just for the fun of riding. I went from two wheels to four, a 31 year old Morris 8. When it went wrong, I had return to two wheels just to save for something better. That’s when I bought a BMW R25/3 which, despite my antics, ran faultlessly. It was the reliability that impressed, as my friends had old Brit bikes that needed constant attention. Regrettably, I sold the R25 to purchase an ex-army Austin Champ which gave me and my friends a lot of fun. As time went on, I got married and bought an AJS 350 for cheap transport and commuting. A year later, I found myself without any transport and a good friend lent me his BMW R51/3. This was a proper bike and purred along so smoothly that I became hooked on the boxer engine.
After eight years, Carol and I decided on a year’s working holiday in Australia. On my return, I took a job with a car provided. It was a while before I got myself another BMW. This time it was a R90/6 with a large heavy aftermarket fairing. The clutch was so heavy despite changing the cable and removing the gearbox to lube the spline. I joined the BMW Club and shortly after bought a Honda XL500 at what I thought was a bargain price. Six weeks later another member, Dave Williamson, was selling his K100RS. A quick tally up, if I sold both bikes I would be able to buy it, so I did. It was great and with other club members we had several years of touring all over Europe and saw many wonderful sights. The K100 was a great bike and the only trouble I had was an indicator relay in many thousands of miles.
I wanted to try some off road riding, so bought an old Honda XL250 and joined the TRF, with another member Tony Haig. We were made welcome and taken and shown where to go, The Ridgeway being our longest route that we covered. It was while riding some green lanes in the Dorking area that Rod Myers and I agreed to swop bikes, I got an R80G/S and he got my K100RS. Rod had made some good mods to the bike, fitting Marzocchi Magnum front forks etc but it made it a bit tall for my little legs. I completed more European trips on the R80 G/S and fell in love with the handling and riding position of this model.
Bob Denman and his bikes
Southern Section diary
Southern Section diary
1954 BMW R51/3
1991 ex-Gendarmerie off-road training R65GS
I managed to convince the others that we should go on GSs and Terry found a services surplus dealer in Holland selling ex-French Gendarmerie off-road training bikes. These were all 1991 R65GS machines. Terry and I were going to Belgium for a long weekend and decided to travel up to see the bikes. We bought them on the spot with Terry arranging their transport to the UK. It took a year to get ourselves and the bikes ready and having bought the bikes cheap, needed to spend a lot in preparation. We were eventually ready and departed on the 7th. May 2011. We kept a blog of our exploits and the story is there to read. To date, there has been over 69,000 hits on the blog.
I came back from our adventure but had to get a job pretty quickly as I had spent all of my money. Now, two years later, I’m retiring so will be able to put some of my GS bikes together. But I still want to ride everywhere and could easily do it all again given the funds.
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My old pal Colin Young tricked me in to booking an Indian tour with Blazing Trails. He told he had booked it so I went home and booked. I phoned Colin the next day and told him, then he confessed he had not booked the tour but now would, he just wanted someone to go with, what a con. Well it was great, so much so that we did two more tours with Blazing Trails.
The big trip was going to be Colin and me touring South America for six months. Well, Colin never made it, but others showed an interest and suddenly there was a crowd. Dave walker just said ‘yes’ to whatever I was planning, and Terry Hartshorn said, ‘wait for me’ as he had to do another year before taking early retirement. This was good for as I needed to do a lot of saving. Nigel Page said ‘yes’ but subsequently dropped out due to his business. During our planning, a few club member friends emigrated to Canada and we decided to start there and include North America, which now meant it taking longer than six months - a year was more likely.
This was the start of a collection of GS bikes. I wanted a Kalahari but they are rare in the UK as they were only sold in South Africa. I placed a wanted ad in the journal and nothing came of it, but there was a R65GS which sounded good so I bought that. 3 days later I got a phone call from Annette Taylor who was selling a GS Basic with the PD Tank and was only 4 miles away. Annette and partner John had travelled the world for 3 years and on their return where selling her bike. This was a difficult decision but I bought it and still have it today. Despite having another K, a 75S this time I was planning a big trip and it would have to be a GS for that.