As every motorcycle manufacturer on the planet has come to use some form of heritage as a marketing tool to gain sales and customer connection, Dave Manning takes a look at how one Bavarian company has taken this to a high level.
Of all the motorcycle manufacturers around the world, it is probably BMW who have managed to change their image by the greatest margin, and not just once either.
Many of us have found it difficult to move away from the image of Sam Browne belts and sit-up-and-beg riding positions of the ‘airhead’ boxer twins that were the mainstay of BMW during the Seventies and Eighties, despite the amazing success of the recent inline four cylinder superbikes piloted by the likes of Peter Hickman and Michael Dunlop.
Of course, there’s also the incredible popularity of the company’s globe-trotting adventure bikes in the hands of Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor, and so many other travellers (and pretend travellers).
But the transformation from ‘boring and sensible’ R80 and R100 to fastest road bikes on the planet (with the S1000RR holding the lap record at the Isle of Man TT) is actually a mirror-image of BMW’s history.
After all, they were once among the fastest bikes around, prior to the Second World War. Anyone remember the supercharged BMWs being campaigned back then?
So it’s clear that the Bayerische Motoren Werke have got a lot of history to look back on, as well as a very diverse line-up of machinery in their current range, and the annual Motorrad Days festival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen uses both to very good advantage.
Set in the shadow of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, and close to the border with Switzerland, Motorrad Days is a three-day festival celebrating all motorcycles built by BMW since the first bike, the R32, in 1923.
Consequently, aside from the classic marquee that showcases several of the company’s finest products, there is a large turnout of privately owned Beemers of all forms, and a number of other German classic bike brands too – Zündapp, AWO, NSU, Maico and more were all to be seen.
The classics not only have a number of organised ride-outs into the stunning Alpine scenery over the weekend, but are also showcased in the arena on a regular basis.
Of course, the event also has its modern side too, with new bikes and products, including the new 1800cc boxer twin project and an electrical concept machine shown, demo areas, ride-outs, off-road area, technical talks, workshop and tyre change area, stunt riders and a huge custom marquee as well.
Add to that the numerous trade stalls (all focusing on products suitable for BMWs, of course), the massive beer and food marquee (complete with steins of German bier and an oompah band) and all the other bars and food stalls dotted around the expansive site, and you have a very full weekend’s worth of entertainment.
If you’ve ever fancied a motorcycling holiday in the Alps, this would be a great weekend to base it around.
View more images and read more News and Features in the November 2019 issue of Old Bike Mart – on sale now!
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