For me, there is nothing like being on the road at first light. Roads are deserted, the world is quiet, and the slowly emerging light creates a magical glow. It is a new day, and all things are possible. I chose a winding route from Pennsylvania to Delaware, avoiding the major arteries even though they would be perfectly clear at this early hour. There was mist in places and fog in a few low lying areas. I traveled at a moderate pace until I had a pretty good scare with a large deer. It was not really a close encounter, but it was one of those things that makes you hyper-vigilant for a good while. As full daylight emerged, the threat went away and I really got to enjoy some nice roads in central Maryland. Eventually, a Waffle House pulled me in like a magnet, and while I ate, I plotted a course further east toward my intended detour.

It has been a couple of years since I had visited Bob’s BMW in Jessup Maryland. Bob’s is a legendary BMW dealer who runs a shop that is a full service dealer, an Internet vintage BMW parts business, and a museum. As a result, it has become kind of a destination for the faithful. It publishes its location in latitude and longitude. Nuff said. Because it is a destination, the parking lot at Bob’s can be pretty interesting as well. On this day, there were 6 or 7 sidecar rigs that showed up in the course of an hour. No organized group, just some local and some not-so-local visitors. Examples included a Ural, a /2 with a Steib, a R100 rig, and an R1200GS rig !! But that was not all, there was a tricked out K1200R, an R65LS, and a few S1000RRs. Surprisingly, a few Harleys stopped in as well, proving the point that Bob’s is a little more than a regular BMW dealer.

Bob and Allen

Inside it is obvious that Vintage BMWs are a focus. Despite having a full array of new bikes, vintage memorabilia and clothing are prominently featured. The main attraction for me however, is the museum area. It is a relatively small area toward the rear and next to Bob’s office. However, it is jam packed full of good stuff which rotates in and out over time. This means that repeat visits are worth your time. On this occasion, Bob had several new-uncrated-old bikes on display including an R80GS, an R75/5, and a still-in-the-crate R100R ! The R100R is the last air-cooled carburetor bike to come off the production line in Germany, and Bob has a captivating story about acquiring it. Speaking of captivating, on display was a 1925 R32, the first model to wear the Roundel and BMW brand. In this third year that BMW built motorcycles, you can see the lineage that connects directly to a 2010 R bike. It has shaft drive, a horizontally opposed twin mounted transversely, and a non-traditional front suspension ! It is an excellent example, and I wish I had more time to examine it in detail. Also of note was a rare R50S model from 1962, complete with a bikini fairing. As I passed by his office, Bob stopped what he was doing and came out to chat about the bikes and riding. It is pretty rare in my experience that the owner of a business of this size interrupts his work to chat with a guy just passing through.

But wait, there’s more. I happened to stop by on the day when world traveler Allan Karl was visiting for a seminar later that evening. I couldn’t stay for the show, but we got to spend some time talking about his travels with Bob. Allan has been on the road since 2005, and has travelled more than 63,000 miles on his F650GS Dakar. He has done it alone, with no support crew following in a landrover, or helicopter film crew. Allan’s 650 DakarI recommend his site , where you can find blog postings and podcasts. but being able to speak with him in person is even better. And then there is his bike. Yes, the same bike that has traveled the world was parked right outside amongst the rest of the new and old ones covering the parking areas. I’m not sure, but I think the other bikes all turned their wheels in the direction of Allan’s bike in homage….

I was only there for a few hours, but it was one of those densely packed periods of time that leave you wondering whether you dreamed some part of it…

6 Replies to “A Return to Bob’s”

  1. I am amazed by people who travel the world like Allan. Makes my ride across the US look like a quick trip to the store !! 😉

    Carl G.

  2. Dear Peter, That GS rig was nicely done. Even the orange paint somehow looked correct. Not sure how much I would like being a passenger in that offroad though !! Cheers

  3. Dear bmwed,

    I get the same impression about Bob, he is a genuinely nice guy who loves bikes and is a gracious host.

  4. Dear Carl,

    Allan is the kind of ambassador that we need more of. Guys like him do more for foreign relations than an embassy full of diplomats !! Cheers

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