Bob Hobaugh bought his 1966 BMW R60/2 motorcycle in 2013 from Richard A. Reinhold, a master automobile restorer and former member of the Ontelaunee Club. Richard’s late wife, Gladys, originally owned the BMW and rode it regularly. She belonged to the Motor Maids and the Garden Spot Motorcycle Club. Known for riding with her husband, sons and daughter, Gladys took one memorable trip without the family according to Richard. She accompanied many Harley-Davidson riders on this BMW from Reinholds, Lancaster County, to California and back. The BMW completed the run with one incident, that being a flat tire (which Gladys fixed). None of the Harley-Davidsons made it to California and only one made it as far as Arizona.
The California trip highlights BMW’s reputation for durability and smoothness. Manufactured with air-cooled, horizontally-opposed cylinders and a driveshaft, this motorcycle followed that engineering design used in the first BMW made in 1923, known as the R32, and in most BMWs manufactured between the R32 and the R60/2. The BMW is designed to have a sidecar: it has three threaded shafts for attachment and an adjustment on the triangular front forks to decrease wheelbase for turning with a sidecar. Those Earles Forks, named for their English designer, Ernest Earles, worked well with sidecars because they do not have heavy dive from use of the front brake. This design was well- suited to post-war Germany where automobiles were prohibitively expensive.
BMW manufactured the R60 from 1956 through 1960 and the more powerful R60/2 from 1960 to 1969, a period when American, and especially British and Japanese motorcycles, were lighter and accelerated better. This BMW lost market share to these more powerful motorcycles. In 1966, a new BMW R60/2 cost $1,288. That was expensive for a mere 594 cubic centimeter displacement engine with 30 horsepower. The faster 1966 Honda CB 450 Black Bomber with 43 horsepower cost only $1,000 and a 1966 Triumph Bonneville 650 with 46 horsepower cost $1,309. A 1966 Harley-Davidson FLH Electra Glide with a 74 cubic inch, 60 horsepower “shovelhead” engine cost only $1,610. Resulting sales for the BMW R60 and R60/2 series during 14 years of production reached only 20,133 units.
Bob learned from BMW Group Archiv in Munich that the BMW arrived at its United Sates importer in November 1966 with a bench seat. The Reinhold family had installed correct after-market parts: a Wixom faring and saddlebags, a single Denfeld driver’s seat and a single Denfeld passenger seat. Bob had all non-authorized accessories removed, braking and electrical systems restored and the power components tuned. The motorcycle has been judged in the “original” class and received its Junior First Award in 2016 and Senior Award in 2018 from the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. Bob rides this BMW to shows, principally Das Awkscht Fescht , Duryea Day, Oley and Kutztown Kruizz. Each such ride in 2017 and 2018 was through the rain which is why Bob always brings a change of socks and jeans.
More about the R60 can be found in Danny Liska’s Two Wheels to Adventure(Alaska to Argentina by Motorcycle – Bigfoot1), and in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Accompanying this article are pictures of the BMW as Gladys Reinhold owned it and in its present condition. With this machine, Bob also purchased from Richard Reinhold his own 1967 BMW R60/2, bearing a serial number approximately 800 units following the 1966 model. That story will come later.