Classic Bike Guide

Bikes of a lifetime

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Greetings from Saint-Jeansur-Richelieu, near Montreal, Canada. Today I was given a copy of your March 2021 edition of Classic Bike Guide, which featured the BMW R26.

I thought you might be interested in a photo of me on my BMW R26 back in the 1980s, when I ran one-week road safety teacher training courses under the Schools Traffic Education Scheme all over the UK, and was also an instructor with the National Motorcycle Training Scheme.

The bike looked lovely but vibrated dreadfully and a BMW restorer friend of mine told me it was a ‘bitsa’ – a bit of this and a bit of that.

The other photos are of a trip I did in 1964 to North

Cape, in the north of Norway, with a friend, as two newly commission­ed RAF Pilot Officers, on my Ariel NH350 Red Hunter. We broke down on the German autobahn on the second day with a holed piston caused by an RAF Cadet at the RAF Technical College, Henlow, over-revving the bike. We discovered that we could obtain a new piston in Germany and were on our way again three days later.

And my favourite BMW, an R65, which I owned for a short while before leaving England in 2008 to live in Turkey and to spend 14 years wandering around the world, riding motorcycle­s in many different countries.

Among my many other bikes was a BMW R60/5 I bought when stationed in Germany, and a BMW R69S. While working for STEP, I hunted unsuccessf­ully all over the UK for a decent example of the latter.

Leaving my home near Derby one day, the phone rang. A guy who lived just down the road wanted my Moto Guzzi V1000 (don’t ask me why I bought that one) to make a trike. Would I swap it for his R69S? I did not need to be asked twice!

I return to England next month and would love to own a motorcycle again – if I am not too old. Seventy-nine in August isn’t too old, I’m sure.

Best wishes,

Archie Bowman

Dear Archie,

Many thanks for sending in your stories and photograph­s. A worldwide life of bikes!

If you have a similar story, please let us know – Matt

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