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Thursday, May 19, 2011


Fricka is a 1986 BMW R80RT.

My bikes have a habit of being naming themselves after characters in Richard Wagner's Der Ring Des Niberlung.  In order they are: Flosshilde ('00 GSX-R 600), Sigmund ('05 GSX-R 750), Brünnhilde ('01 BMW F650GS), Fafner ('01 KTM 640), Grimgerde ('00 DR-Z 400 E), and Fricka ('86 BMW R80RT).  

They have all been wonderful to me, we have had fantastic adventures, and I love each one equally in their uniqueness.  Most importantly they have kept me out of those 4 wheeled cages.

As for how I met Fricka.  I have always been intrigued by older bikes. Over time I have become particularly fond of BMW airheads, partially for the look and partially because I love working on my bikes and they seem to have a simplicity and quirkiness that lends to this attitude. As I have ridden different types of motorcycles over my life I have come to better understand the type of riding I really enjoy.  When I first test drove an airhead, a1984 R80RT I was looking at buying, I fell in love with the feel of the bike.  The engine is so beautifully balanced and the shaft drive delivers power in such a smooth manner.

The 1984 bike was in excellent condition for being 26 years old and having over 140,000 miles. That seems like a ridiculous amount of miles for a bike to have to consider buying it but the BMWs (airheads especially) are notorious for their longevity, especially if they are maintained properly.  The issue end up being the price.  

Now that I had a sample of the bike I had to track one down.  I had to part with Grimgerde to cover the costs.  We had some great times:

I posted a want ad on ADVrider and quickly got a response from someone in Illinois, just outside of Chicago.  This bike was a 1986 so it had many improvemnts of the 1984 including but not limited to: better suspension (front and rear, not to mention he had added an ohilns rear shock), brakes, tubeless tires, swingarm engineering, etc.  On top of that it only had 45,000 miles on it.  I was hooked and set up a fly and drive.  

I flew into O'hare and Jon (the bike owner) picked me up.  Jon is a great guy and we chatted while riding home in his very responsive Volkswagon GTI.  You could tell he enjoyed driving as he had the 6-speed manual model, already a good sign.  When we got to his house I took the bike out for a test drive and it was everything I was looking for and more.  I decided to leave that afternoon, Saturday around 5pm.  Before I left Jon performed an oil change (w/oil filter), changed the oil in the final drive and gearbox, and gave me a mechanical overview and introduction so I could feel comfortable with working on the bike.  As I said, great guy.

Roughly, 1800 miles and two days later I was home Monday and the odometer looked like this:

During the trip Fricka disclosed her name to me.  The trip went incredibly smoothly with no mechanical issues.  The only problem was that the top box opened up on the I-40 though Oklahoma right before the Texas border and I lost my jacket liner.  This was the worst thing that happened the whole trip so I cannot complain.

That is the story of the birth our relationship and the title of this blog.

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