Tis the Rally and show season, and it seems like every weekend presents multiple opportunities to ride, drive, and ogle cool vintage stuff. This year the planets finally aligned and I was able to make it to the First and Last R90S Rally in Glenmoore, PA. It is only a couple of hours away, but it has always conflicted with something unavoidable. Not this year, but it was close. The rally lasts 3 days, but I only had a window of time on Saturday morning, so I did some logistical gymnastics and headed down early.
The rally is hosted by Mac Kirkpatrick, whom I met for the first time, but who is well known among the R90S faithful. He allows people to show up from all over, camp on his property, tour his impressive “basement” (more on that later) or just drop in for a long visit. I’m not sure of the count of bikes for the weekend, but there were at least 25 R90S bikes there on Saturday morning, and I understand that more were around on Friday night. I saw bikes came from as far away as Iowa, Michigan, and North Carolina, but the largest contingent was of course Pennsylvania and the New Jersey contingent. All ridden to the event. With the newest of the bikes made in 1976, this was quite an impressive gathering.
An attendee at the event who had owned multiple BMWs and other marques asked a simple question. “What is it about the R90S ? Wasn’t the R100S a better performer with better color schemes? Isn’t it just a slash six with Dellortos?” This is the point in the movie where the saloon becomes suddenly silent, the piano player stops, the can-can girls run back to the dressing room, and little Pete runs out to call the Sherriff. A group of the faithful turned slowly toward the offender, with their verbal bandoliers at the ready. They eyed the offender and moved their hands closer to their holsters…After a tense moment, they realized that the offender was just unenlightened, and proceeded to educate him firehose style. The piano player resumed, and the girls came back out. Close call.
While some remained to school anyone who looked doubtful by citing Reg Pridmore’s inaugural superbike win, the renowned Smith&Butler, and by extolling the virtues of smoke gray vs Daytona orange, the rest of us went on a tour of Mac’s amazing basement. The BMW mats on the floor, and the posters and memorabilia surrounding the R90S, and R100 variants alone would be impressive. However, those are just the backdrop for some truly spectacular bikes. All of the bikes are museum quality, and all of them are low mileage or ultra-low mileage. But wait, there’s more…All of them have current registration and inspection. Yes, Virginia, he rides em! How about a smoke grey R90S with 207 miles on the odometer !! There are still whiskers on the tires. Or a Daytona orange with 3700 miles on the clock. Most of us stumbled back out into the sunlight still dazed….
After recovery, there were mere mortal bikes outside to view. All three years are well represented, and a few 74s with the kickstart option like mine. I did see a later bike with a kickstart, and I am thinking that must be a pretty rare combination. Most bikes were in very good shape, and many sported the year-correct luggage. Todd Trumbore (see Record Wreckers) showed up not on his own very nice R90S, but on Karl Duffner’s famous 300K+ mile R90S. Talk about mileage extremes. There was a tech session on a neat way of balancing your carbs, and much bench racing. I, unfortunately, missed the group ride, and Karl’s appearance as I had to jet. A concentrated few hours of R90S immersion to be sure.
It always amazes me that you still meet people in the 2-wheeled and 4-wheeled world willing to share their passion and possessions, and go out of their way (and out of their pocket) to create a good time for others. Many thanks, Mac.