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Ian Dalgliesh | all galleries >> Motorcycles > BMW R65 , 10/1980 - 9/1983,36,000 miles. reg.no. SVW 330W
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BMW R65 , 10/1980 - 9/1983,36,000 miles. reg.no. SVW 330W
Ian Dalgliesh

BMW R65 , 10/1980 - 9/1983,36,000 miles. reg.no. SVW 330W

Potter Street,Harlow,Essex,England

Or in simple English,what a load of c%úp.Without a doubt THE WORST MOTORCYCLE I've ever owned.I traded my beloved Suzuki GS400C for what I thought was the ultimate motorcycle.Mine,brand new,in October 1980.On day 1,as I rode home,the rear indicators fell off.Not an auspicious start,but from then until it's first service at 5,000 miles,nothing else went wrong.Ongar Motorcycles from whom it was purchased,did the 5,000 mile service and knackered the spark plug thread on the left cylinder.To resolve the issue,they installed a helicoil.I said that wasn't good enough,they said--tough!.I complained that where the tank met the seat,all the paint had rubbed away.I was told this was perfectly normal for a BMW.I complained that where my legs met the tank,the pinstriping rubbed away;I was told "you're not supposed to grip the tank with your knees!".I answered that BMW sell rubber grips for just that purpose,to be told they were just for show.And that was just the beginning:I complained to BMW(UK),in writing.I got the curtest of replies.So,I wrote to every bike mag/newspaper I'd ever heard of.A week later,the man who'd sent me a letter,basicallysaying"TOUGH!",met me in person,at Ongar Motorcycles,then in Ongar,to say"I'm sorry,did we say TOUGH!,what we really meant was ,here you take this R65 on loan,whilst we repair/fix your bike to concourse standard,then(sadly) give it back to you.This is what they did:
1.I complained about the rev counter,so,they replaced the speedo.
2.They replaced the bracket holding the indicators and headlight,because the paint was just falling off,inside 1 year.On the replaced part,the paint just fell off,very soon.
3.They replaced two pushrods on the clutch,because they forgot to grease the first one and it snapped.
4.They replaced the shaft drive.
5.They bent the seat lugs,so it didn't reach the tank.
6.They re-sprayed all the paintwork.THEN,AS BEFORE,put the gold pinstriping on AFTER the lacquer.
After this I was instructed by BMW(UK)to have my bike serviced in Alperton,at the other end of London,very inconvenient for me.
Result,from January 1981 - May 1981,the bike was back at the dealer's,with a blown fuse,always the same one,which meant no horn,indicators and stoplight.Eventually,the top mechanic dealt with it.When I collected the bike,he told me he'd fixed the problem,it'd never blow again.I got on the bike and it blew before I'd left the garage.I watched that man cry in front of me as he couldn't think of how to stop it blowing fuses.Eventually,18 months down the line,it was discovered the hard way,that the problem was the coil mounting.It rusted through completely in 18 months from date of purchase.
The rest is not necessarily in order,but all happened inside 3 years of purchase.
The bike,on sidestand;the sidestand snapped and the bike fell over.
The bike on mainstand,in Tesco's carpark,Cheshunt,Herts,the mainstand sank into the tarmac,the bike fell over,snapping off the brake lever.In those days I hadn't heard of AA/RAC recovery,so I rode 25 miles to the dealership,without a front brake;HAIRY.
The bike jammed in 1st.gear.Again I rode a long way in first gear,to the dealership.
In Waltham Abbey(where I lived)the bike stalled.It refused to start.I secured it and walked home.The following morning it started first press of the button.
In Epping on a steep hill,it stalled.I let it run down the hill,then stuck it in gear;rather than start,it left a trail of rubber down the hill.About 1 hour later,it started ,no problem.
In the summer(?) of 1983,we rode to Fordingbridge,on the edge of the New Forest,for a week's holiday.In the most appalling weather,the bike didn't miss a beat.The following day the bike refused to start.Inspection showed that a tiny stone had gotten under the battery and cracked the battery casing.All the battery acid had leaked out;result,recovery and a new battery.
The seat was ,for a passenger,a nightmare,as the design meant that triangle of metal at the rear of the seat,constantly aggrevating one's posterior.Consequently,in order that my wife could ride pillion,we had to carry a large cumfy pillow for her to sit on,that and,following the debacle at Tesco's carpark,we also had to carry a 2 ft.square block of wood to park the bike on,everywhere we went.
On one occasion,we rode back from Scotland,via Penrith.The same fuse blew again,then as darkness fell at Royston,HERTS.there was an audible "phut!" and the headlight failed.I rode the last 40 miles to home,virtually sitting on a car bumper,praying he didn't stop suddenly,just to get home,on a very cold winter's evening.
There's lots more,but I'll leave it for another day....
Very few images exist of my BMW from its first year.This is one from 1981,taken in Potter Street,Harlow.Note,the tank badge is missing already.It was only glued on.Note also,the bent engine protector and the missing indicator stalk on the rhs.I'd been on my way to Camden to buy a new battery,when a stolen car,knocked me off the bike,in N15,the week before this pic was taken.
The young lady,in picture,has at least proved to be more reliable than the R65.She married me on 26/6/82,in the Abbey Church,Waltham Abbey.We celebrate our 27th.year together later this month.(6/2009)

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DaveTthorley 13-Mar-2013 21:17
BMW R65 I had one !! 79 T reg worst bike I ever owned leaked petrol over my boots when ticking over The dealers used to see £20,000 pa tatooed on my forehead if I took it in for repairs even though I was on half of that, It eventually destroyed itself whilst ticking over in the garage Basically siezed on one side and blew up and split the casing from top to bottom It did me a favour. I scrapped it and bought back into Japanese enginnering a CX 500 which just put the BMW to shame ,,,BMW it the emporors new clothes they can't hold a candle to the Japs
jim 30-Jul-2010 10:47
my front coil mount is broken on the '79 R65! I thought it was from all the dirt roads! Bought by my girlfriend in 1980 at BCW in San Francisco, she rode it all over the usa until about 1988 when it started to destruct then I bought it from her(now ex-girlfriend) and rode it up and down the west coast until 2002 fixing things as the years passed by... now Im fixing it up again after all it is formally a Vintage BMW now
exzim20-Jan-2010 19:26
I regard BMW as a triumph of image over reality. The people who I know who've owned BMW cars have long stories of failures and breakdowns - one reason BMW went to its no cost maintenance. If it runs its a great drive - if it runs.
G & J motorcycle recovery 11-Nov-2009 20:18
like your story very funny

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Rob Valdez07-Apr-2009 03:58
I'm so sorry your experience with the R65 was such a bad one.
ALL of the front coil mounts broke on those early models, taking the main ground with it.
You had some really tough luck with this one, for sure!
I bought mine just a few months before you, April 1980. Mine was a left-over '79 model.
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