Andrew Serbinski's 1975 BMW R90S

The Bike That Changed My Life

"My fetish for motorcycle design began with my admiration for the beautiful BMW R90S. It was 1974. I was a young industrial designer working in Japan when I first saw the bike in a copy of Cycle magazine my parents sent over. It was love at first sight. What an audaciously beautiful and forward-looking piece from such a conservative company! Who would have thought that BMW would do something this radical in one fell swoop: silver smoke paint, bikini fairing, elegant removable side cases, dual front disc brakes, racer-like tail and a clock in the cockpit. All in a tweaked mechanical package that promised to move me very swiftly and comfortably over long distances. I borrowed my friend's bicycle, rode up to the window of a tiny shop in central Tokyo and stared. It just looked right; beautifully proportioned, with strong, simple pinstriped shapes perched atop the rounded, dull, cast-aluminum engine cases. I had to have one.

Soon after returning to New York in '75, I took $3800 of the $4000 I had in the bank and purchased one in Daytona orange. For years it was my magic carpet ride out of the city--a constant source of pleasure and pride. It helped me find the house in the country where I now live and added a measure of excitement to Sunday-afternoon dates with Judy, who is now my motorcycle-loving wife. I did a cosmetic restoration seven years ago and, after 34 years, it still makes me stare. The qualities of a great design are all there: masterful blend of form, proportion, gesture, materials and colors that promise and deliver a certain quality of experience. In motorcycles, those attributes combined with the right measure of "machine-ness", rewarding ride dynamics and unique features make memorable machinery. The R90S is still one of the greats."

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