BMW R100 RT - Old Al's Bike

Alan Fred Kitson "Old Al" was a member of Dean Valley MCC who had come to rallying late in life. He didn't start until he was in his mid sixties. I suppose he was what we now term as a "Born again Biker" as he had lots of interesting bikes in his youth, Douglas, Scott etc. but gave up due to pressures of work / marriage / children and so on.

When he discovered bike rallies he really went for it, he never missed a weekend, and even set off on Thursday evening, if it was a long distance event, travelling through the night and quite often arriving at the venue before the organisers! His wife Mavis supported his rallying, and told me she really enjoyed the weekends ... at home, Alan free!

Old Al did most of his riding on a Yamaha XV535 Virago clocking up an impressive number of miles. He had admired my R100RS and decided to get himself a BMW. He managed to pick up a low mileage R100RT from someone at a Pele Tower rally.

I had done some servicing and tyre changes for him on the Virago but this was more like it, and after we sorted one or two small issues with his BMW he set about taking it to a few rallies and putting some miles on it.

Unfortunately after a year or so he started to find the bike a bit too big and heavy, particularly on muddy field entrances and such (he was in his seventies by then). It ended up in the back of his garage. I continued with an annual service and MOT for a couple of years but eventually it just got forgotten.

Al continued with his Rallies on the Virago again and kept going until the onset of arthritis in his hands made it impossible to operate the clutch or brake levers on the bike. He was still in touch with us and I used to take him to a couple of bike clubs, and for a few years up to the Ides of March rally on Friday night in my car. On the Saturday I could go on my bike for the rest of the weekend.

In 2011 Al passed away, not long after Mavis, as so often happens. About three months later I was contacted by his daughter. She told me that they had sold the house and that they were clearing it out and could I come and move my bike? She said that Al had always said that it was mine so now it would have to be moved.

I never really fancied the R100RT the big fairing is not actually as protective as the smaller RS one, I was happy with my RS, but here we go again, another free BMW.

Ten years in the garage had not done it any favours although I had managed to prepare the engine for storage all those years before, so the carbs had been drained and I had put a good dose of oil down the plug holes. For some unknown reason a previous owner had painted the engine silver, and the salt had got under it in places. I have removed the paint on all the easy to get to bits and will eventually remove the rest as and when I can.

Al had managed to put 9k on it in the year he rode it so I had a 30 year old bike with just 34k on the clock. Once I recommissioned it it made me realise how worn out the engine on my RS was!

It took me a long time to get used to the more sat-up riding position of the RT but now I think I may have more of a problem adapting back to the RS when or if I start using that again.

Al's bike has been used by me for the last 10 years as winter rally transport along with our various other bikes and so has only added another 30k or so.

I have not restored it as such but gradually improved it so it looks ok but I could do with having a look at one or two oil leaks. It stops the centre stand from seizing up at least. That's my excuse anyway. Now that it has achieved 'Historical Vehicle' status it is on the road all year, with free road tax and I no longer have to have it MOT'd.

It's part of our fleet now and is a good partner to Heather's R100/7. It is quite capable of two up touring and can do anything that my Pan European can do, but not as quickly or as economically. I still think of it as a modern bike but when I ride Heather's 1200 R9t I realise that it isn't!

- Ted Trett