BMW Airheads

Referring to the nature of the cooling system on BMW cylinder heads, Old Bike Mart’s very own airhead, Dave Manning, pays a visit to Lincoln to see if the Bavarian Motor Works’ air-cooled engines are still popular.

Held at Riseholme College just north of Lincoln, the BMW Airhead Fellowship event was a weekend of vintage and classic air-cooled BMWs of all kinds, incorporating singles and twins from the early days of Beemers right through to the point at which the boxer powerplants started with
oil-cooling – meaning it covered the years from 1923 to ‘96.

So, the water-cooled triples and fours weren’t involved, nor were the Rotax singles, or the across-the-frame four-cylinder sports bikes, but the bikes that were in attendance showed that the history of the German marque is both diverse and innovative.

A few outfits were on display, including a right-hand Stieb sidecar on John O’Toole’s R25 from the early Fifties, which must be a brave move in using a chair on a bike that squeezes out no more than 12bhp.

While meetings organised by owners’ clubs are invariably rather focused events, they do tend to lean towards the static, stand-around-talking-about-your-bike sort of affairs. Not that there’s anything wrong in that of course.

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But the Airhead event seemed far more inclusive. A Saturday morning ride-out is, again, nothing unusual, and seeing owners fettling their machines in the car park is part and parcel of a gathering of any classic vehicles.

The Fellowship’s Ian Brocklebank demonstrates how to set the ignition timing on a Boxer twin.

However, as a place of learning, Riseholme College has classrooms and lecture theatres, and they were being used as a facility for talks and technical briefings revolving around the riding, maintenance and modifications of BMW motorcycles.

Meanwhile, the college car park was home not only to a varied selection of classic Beemers, but also a gazebo under which various maintenance, servicing and running repairs were being conducted in the manner of seminars, which were not only useful to those whose bikes were playing up, but interesting too for those without issues.

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Read more and view more images in the September 2018 issue of OBM – on sale now!

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