Around OZ by BMW, in 1963.

Horst Kopp re­lates the tale of an epic ride more than half a cen­tury ago.

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT’N’ABOUT -

I did the trip with my 1961 R 69 S. I pur­chased it for £1400 in the days be­fore dec­i­mal cur­rency came in and, in five years, I was beaten only once off the traf­fic lights by a Vin­cent Black Shadow. The BMW was a po­lice demon­stra­tor and far more pow­er­ful than my “new” 1966 BMW. On this trip, I trav­elled 9,500 miles (15,200 km) in five weeks and I know of only one other sim­i­lar mo­tor­bike trip be­fore my time. That one used a 1929 In­dian with a side­car and the roads were, then, in far worse con­di­tion than in 1963. I mod­i­fied the ex­hausts, us­ing cut-down Tri­umph pipes with eight in­ter­nal half-inch cop­per pipes in each. They sounded like a very loud, mu­si­cal trum­pet. No pedes­tri­ans or kan­ga­roos were ever seen in front of the bike. I fab­ri­cated by hand a front mud­guard to al­low greater clear­ance. Ad­di­tions in­cluded a crash bar, head­light pro­tec­tor, rev counter, spot­light, klaxon horn, spare tyre, wa­ter con­tainer, lug­gage box and a tent. The bike was so heavy, that if it fell over while parked in the evening, I had to take the gear off to lift it up again. I did 750 miles on the first day (Mel­bourne to Port Au­gusta) and last day (Coon­abarabran to Mel­bourne) with my worst day be­ing 80 miles, only that was on a wa­ter­logged, wet clay Nullar­bor High­way One and all cars and trucks had to stop. My av­er­age cruis­ing speed was 60 – 80 miles per hour (pre-dec­i­mal speed and speedo!). I was clocked at 87 mph by the po­lice, but got no fine. I ig­nored a “High­way Closed” sign in WA near Min­deroo cat­tle and sheep sta­tion in WA, a small sta­tion – only 400,000 acres. When I en­coun­tered my first deep wa­ter cross­ing, I walked it first, then, with a slow-run­ning en­gine, I crossed the fast­flow­ing wa­ter with the air fil­ter only just above the wa­ter. At the other ex­treme, the bull dust on High­way One past Broome in WA was atro­cious. I car­ried up to eleven gal­lons of petrol as it was up to 440 miles be­tween petrol sta­tion re­fills. I was a petrol bomb on two wheels! I had one flat tyre on the bi­tu­men and a mag­neto break­down which saw me be­ing towed from Kather­ine Gorge – 60 miles be­hind a VW – then a tray truck lift to Dar­win and get­ting a re­build in Dar­win.

It still beats me how the elec­tri­cal store had a new ro­tor in stock to fit my bike. Thanks to Hans Allmich of Dar­win Electrics.

The fun­ni­est in­ci­dent of the trip was that the bike then had a great im­prove­ment in per­for­mance for over 100 miles near Mount Isa so that I for­got to change into fourth gear! The sil­li­est thing was that, af­ter one rou­tine tune-up, the bike would only ac­cel­er­ate up to 30 mph. I had the cone-shaped air fil­ter fit­ted up­side down! The big­gest traf­fic prob­lem I had was that it once took me four hours to pass a long semi-trailer on a very dusty main High­way One in WA! Due to the long days of con­stant rain, (Ce­duna to Perth) wet boots and clothes, I slept with all my gear on in the tent. When the sunny days started, I no­ticed that my boots shrank and I had to cut them off. Not happy! The main prob­lems were: In NT the en­gine cut-out wire in­su­la­tion failed and I re­placed it with an ex­ter­nal wire. The mag­neto ro­tor in­su­la­tion failed. In the last week of trav­el­ling the bike had to be push-started. The bike frame fin­ished up with a 50mm down­wards dis­tor­tion. Both speedo and rev-counter stopped work­ing in Queens­land. The nice po­lice­man asked me to fol­low him to show me how slow 60 mph was. Thank you. The last day I was that tired that I trav­elled at less than 40 mph. I sold the bike in 1966 for £400 in “as is” con­di­tion. Many years later, in 2007, I im­ported a 1966 R 69 S from the USA. Lots of pa­per work, but the owner was very help­ful with his doc­u­men­ta­tion. Funny thing, when I went to the po­lice to re­new my bike li­cence, they told me that my 50-plus years ago li­cence was still valid as my cur­rent one was still en­dorsed “R”.

Horst with his new BMW, wear­ing Army sur­plus jet pi­lot hel­met.

The type of rid­ing that builds strong arm mus­cles.

Mud? I’ll show you mud!

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