William D 1956 BMW R50

To find a one of a kind!

It all started the summer of 2011… searching e-Bay for the “One of a Kind” motorcycle that would be… first off a good learner bike… second be mechanically sound to start a simple and easy restoration. I had never ridden a motorcycle and had never even though of buying one until I moved from Reno, Nevada to Colorado and realized the area I was now living provide almost year round “scooting”. A term now I like to use to let my wife know that there will be no crazy stuff occurring on two wheels and thus safe for her to ride along with me on an always certain adventure. "Scooting" a term is used to describe the easy going, back road, very balanced and smooth, warm sun in your face riding experience only a BMW can provide.

I bought her off of an auction site on July 4th 2011… the auction ended that night and as you already know that half of America is out watching fireworks and the other half wants nothing to do with an old Bimmer …. The auction for the R50 would end in the evening… I waited next to the computer like a little kid until the very end (you can be sure, that on the 4th of July, there would be few people that would be watching a computer screen instead of the fire in the sky celebrating the independence of our great United States of America ).

I was the only bidder!

Here is, in the sellers words, the description presented, shortened for space….

“1956 BMW R50 discovered in a basement in Duluth Mn. in 2005. Bike had a 1960 Mn. plate on it so it sat in this basement for 45 years. Title will be promptly mailed out to the new owner when I get it. Odometer shows 16K miles and I know that this is correct. Bike was sold at a dealership in Minneapolis, Mn. and was on the road from 1956 to 1960, when it was put in storage. “

He went on to describe the dent in the gas tank that could be fixed (which I would never have fixed, as I like the character) the few items that were “extra” and the two things he did to get the bike started with a coil and a battery (the original magneto was bad, and since been replaced at a very steep cost) and how the "Left muffler chrome is lifting, otherwise the bike is solid, straight, and not oxidized" seeing the photos on the auction site solidified my love affair with this great motorcycle.

The nickname I have fondly given my BMW… ‘Scooter’ which some people think I am telling them that the motorcycle I am describing to them is an actual moped or scooter…. but make no mistake when they finally see this ’56… they always appreciate that it is a great rider with good steady power, classic lines and a “gentlemanly” look to it.

Of course my wife asked what was I going to do with this 56 year old bike, since I had never ridden a motorcycle, never owned a motorcycle and surely had no experience restoring/fixing an old BMW motorcycle…. I told her that this bike will bring many days of joy to the both of us and that this bike was exactly the first bike that I would treasure forever… now she was a bit more concerned that I might be crazy to buy a 56 year old motorcycle, and with no previous riding, why would I want such an adult toy. But I convinced her that this would be a great purchase and for collecting a good bet that this BMW would only go up in price… thus if I ever felt unable or uncomfortable riding it, we could get our investment back with ease.

It wasn't all great at the beginning. I had many repairs, rebuilds, parts to buy, oil gaskets to replace, knuckles to bust, tears to cry and electrons to measure but that is part of the adventure.

The gentleman I bought the BMW from was very nice and worked with me on the delivery as though he knew it was going to received as a prized possession and that it would be well looked after… he brought it down in his van while going on a trip to Arizona.

I was very excited the day the Scooter arrived… my wife and I planned to be at our home the entire day, as not to miss Rick as he delivered the motorcycle to our home. As he pulled in I can remember the nice Colorado July day, a bit hot, sunny day, but nice enough to sit on the front porch of our home. Rick was very nice and talked with me and my neighbor who was there to see my new purchase. As we all looked over the classic lines, the patina on the engine parts and how the motor would be turned over by a side mounted kick starter. I remember feeling like the past was now present and that the next chapter was going to be a dream come true with the adventures my wife and I would have on this R50, a true "one of a kind".

I proudly showed my wife the extra parts and tools that came with the purchase. “Look here !” I said to my wife… “a complete set of original tools in the canvas roll!” What a find… what a treasure to behold… but now what?

What was I going to do with a motorcycle that needed some expertise and caring hands to make this R50 a road warrior again, with safe and correct operation?

I look fondly on the first day of my ownership of the R50. Many weeks after it was delivered I worked to get the R50 running like it was new. I went back to all original parts and a 6 volt battery and electrical system. I left all of the patina and polished the original chrome. As a weekend cruiser the 1956 BMW R50 has a new life, touring the farm lands and riding with my wife. The R50 rides great, but my wife still thinks I am crazy.

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