‘I did 206mph on the HP4 Race. It was easy – the bike is very special’
Josef Maechler, BMW’S head of four and six-cylinder projects… and hard-riding test rider
Q1 What are you riding? Yesterday I rode a BMW K1600GTL and I own a Beta 200 trials bike. Trials is the best discipline when it comes to balance and co-ordination. Q2 Which living motorcyclist do you most admire? It’s still Rossi for me after all these years. I met him 20 years ago when I was at Dainese – I met him as a little guy. He was charming then, but to do what he is doing at his age is special to us all. Q3 What’s your worst riding habit? I’m sometimes too fast on normal roads. I can’t help myself. Q4 If you could have one superpower, what would it be? It would be to make every corner a piece of art. To be smooth. Q5 gone What’son a bike?the fastest you’ve ever It was during the development of the HP4 Race, which has a proper 215bhp with an almost full superbike-spec engine. I did 206mph on it at Aschheim with taller WSB ratios and longer gearing. It was easy – the bike is very special. Q6 When was the last time you were scared? Last Sunday when I was sliding with both wheels a K1600GTL on a terrible road with no grip. Q7 How many miles have you done in the last year? I ride a lot of bikes in a lot of places – it’s part of my job. I do 28,000 miles. Q8 What’s the highest mileage you’ve done in a day? I’ve done 600 miles – it was from Munich to Switzerland to the Croatian coast. It was on a K1600, which eats up the mileage and makes that sort of thing easy. I averaged 50mph, which is pretty fast when you have to stop for the toilet, fill the bike up and eat… Q9 What irritates you most when you’re out riding? It’s other riders cutting the corners when they can’t see around them. Bikers should look after themselves. Q10 You’ve got two weeks off what would you do? I’d want to ride from Munich to Iran. Travelling through to the Middle East would be so interesting. You’d see real change and you’d take your time. Of course, I’d take a BMW R1200GS! Q11 What wisdom would you pass on? Try to be visible to others when it comes to clothing and road position.
Q12 Ever fallen off in a car park, or somewhere equally embarrassing? Not in a car park, but I did have an embarrassing and scary crash in France. It was on the Route Napoleon, when I hit a VW Golf and went flying through the air and landed between a big stone and a huge tree. I wasn’t able to ride away – I destroyed my lovely 1992 Honda Fireblade!
Q13 Do you have one indispensable item, of kit? It’s a back protector. Back protectors have saved me many times. I’ve got a Forcefield, no, I mean a BMW back protector!
Q14 Which four people would you invite on a Sunday blast? Two of my friends, plus Ewan Mcgregor and Valentino Rossi. The venue would be Rossi’s ranch. I can’t think of anything better than hanging out with some good guys and riding short track. Q15 Do you have a tool that you couldn’t really live without? It’s my Victorinox Swiss army knife. I take it with me everywhere and I’ve used every implement. Q16 Do you adjust your suspension? Yes, it’s part of my job is as a test rider. So once the bike has reached a decent stage, I’ll be the one that will sit on the bike, ride the bike and tweak things until it works for normal riders. Q17 If you could have one of your bikes back, what would it be? It would be my Honda XL125 that I had when I was 12, which I learnt so much on, or my Honda VT1100C. It was a USonly bike – they’re really slow with 75bhp from a big engine, but you can ride them quick. It was fun without big speeds. I loved it! Q18 What kind of bike would you never buy? A Honda CX500 turbo. They’re ugly and riding one is crazy. The frame is so weak and they wobble and weave everywhere because of the suspension. Q19 Which road (or track) would you build on your desert island? I’d build both. The Nürburgring Nordscheife is the best track in the world, but as for the road, it’s the E65, the Croatian coast road. It’s amazing. Q20 If you ruled the world, what new law would you pass? Allow filtering in Germany!
‘I’m sometimes too fast on normal roads – I can’t help myself’
Slow and heavy, but Maechler loved hustling the VT1100C Maechler does big miles, on BMWS mostly Maechler helped make this little beauty