2011/04/07

TALKING MOTORCYCLES - MICHIELS - BMW CAFE RACER


NEW ON MOTORCYCLE 74




In the past Motorcycle 74 was mainly a photo blog. In the future we gradually will bring more than only pictures. Today we start off with a series of interviews, talking with passionate people about… motorcycles, what else did you expect?
Not the big stars of the MotoGP, there are already enough magazines filled with them. No, we rather want to talk to the guy in the garage next door, because he might have interesting stories to tell after all. Unveiling his secret vintage motorcycle collection, hand made café racer or restoration project of a classic bike. Examining the person underneath the helmet, the bike, mechanical and much more. First (café -) racer on the interview starting grid is Michiel from The Netherlands.


Profile

First name (or nick): Michiel
Country: The Netherlands
Year of birth: 1980
Occupation: Student
Studies: Geosciences
Motorcycles: Bmw R100 cafe racer, Honda CB 750, Virago XV 920 chopper
Website, blog, other: Just the BMW blog: bmwcafe.blogspot.com


- Motorcycles: cheap transport, hobby, passion or life style?

All of the above. I use them for cheap transport, but it is a passion and a lifestyle too.

- What inspired you (the first time when you where young) into the passion of motorcycles (family, friends, neighbours or something else?) In short: what sparkled your love of motorcycles?

I really don't know, I am the only one in the family that rides motorbikes. It just got in my blood somehow and it never left.

- Tell us something about the first motorcycle adventures and bike(-s) you owned, what brand / type was your first moped or motorcycle?

My first adventure was when I rented a Ducati Monster M800 for a day together with a mate of mine (he rented a Fazer) and took it for a very long ride along the major Dutch rivers all the way into Germany. I had only just gotten my license and had never been on a motorbike for more than an hour at a time. I loved every second of it.
The first bike I bought was Yamaha YZF750. I had a car at that time (a Matra Murena), but from the moment I bought the YZF I hardly ever touched it anymore. I had to take it on a ride after just over a month just to keep the battery healthy.

- You didn’t start as a teenager with a moped?

No, I didn't, eventhough I lived 17 km from my highschool. I went to school on my bicycle. My parents thought mopeds were too dangerous (imagine how happy they were when I bought a motorbike) and promised to pay for my car driving license if I didn't smoke or didn't buy a moped. I never did mind going by bicycle, I did a lot of mountainbiking in those days, including races, and it was a good training.

- Travelling or holidays with a motorbike, is that something for you?  

I'd love to, but I would really like to have some more money on the bank before I did that. All my bikes are old and can fail, I do want to be sure that both rider and bike make it back in such an occasion. On top of the list of places to go, on one of my bikes is Norway, followed by England and the Alps.

- You live in the Netherlands, traffic indigestion is a huge problem. Do you think motorcycles can provide a genuine solution to the problem of traffic jams or do we all have to use the public transport?

No, they can not. Motorcycles demand commitment, when large masses of people start buying motorbike just for transport there will be a huge rise in accidents because they are not involved enough. Public transport should be the solution, but unfortunately the company that runs the trains here is arrogant. I hate public transport. I think everybody will just have to live with the overcrowded roads.

- Motorcycles and gasoline in the future? Are we going electric?

We will definitely go electric. I have had the opportunity to ride a 300bhp electric VW Golf and an Electric Lotus Elise. They are great cars. So as soon as they find a way to solve the limited range we will probably go electric. However, for me it will never replace the feeling of a combustion engine.

- On a motorcycle your sitting above and very close to the engine, compared to car driver. What is it that makes a human being “loves” an engine?

Tough one. I don't really know. I think it is the feeling of being in control of such a powerful apparatus?

- It’s only since half a century that private transport has been available to a broader public. Do you think the success will be the end of it?  How do you see the evolution of motorcycles, cars and public transport in the future?

No. The end of transport as we know it is not because of the transport. It will be because of the overpopulation of the whole planet by people to selfish not to overconsume. Everybody wants a house, a car, a vacation twice a year, a computer, a flatscreen, plenty to eat etc... etc... This earth is way, way, way to small to support that for so many people. In the end that will cause everything, not only oil, but also food and other materials needed for modern society, to run out.

- Would you consider an electric vehicle?

For everyday use? Yes. For fun? No.

- The painful question: Any hard confrontation with asphalt? (crashes)

Not on my motorbikes and I'd like to keep it that way :)

- Do you follow any motorsport competitions (motogp, sbk, motocross etc)?

I do follow F1 Grand Prix, but I usually prefer playing sports instead of watching them.

- Is motorsport popular in your country?

Not very, at least not as popular as for example in Spain, Germany or England. I think it has to do with our culture. You're not really supposed to stand out and when you do a very expensive, loud, polluting sport you are standing out very high above the rest.

- Other hobbies, collecting, sport in the leisure time?

Like I have any money left with all those motorcycles ;). I do like sports, but I change sports regularly. The ones I do on a sort of regular base are mainly mountain biking and squash.

- Are you a member of a motorcycle club or do you attend social activities regarding motorcycles?

Nope. I don't like riding in large groups and most clubs are single type/brand clubs and I don't like how 'narrow minded' a lot of those clubs are. For example: If I were to join a Honda CB club they'll probably look down on my BMW and vice versa. I am very active on internet forums however and I do visit events organized by members of those forums. And I go to the café racer meeting in Achterveld, the Netherlands every year of course.

- Is the cafe racer a lively scene in The Netherlands?

Not really, but it sure isn't dead either! It is good to see that there are still new (young) people who start building old beat up CB's, Gs's and the like, but to say that it is very lively, not really. Once a year there is a very big meeting in Achterveld though, very worthwhile to visit, even if you're not Dutch. (Cafe Racer forum / club in The Netherlands: roadrocketclub.nl)


- You’re into café racers, a type of bike with historical British roots.
What attracts you to this type of bike or this scene? Are you a “retrophile” (loving vintage stuff), is it the design of bike, the music, clothing or lifestyle in general?

I like riding. That's the best argument, caferacers are made to ride. I do also build choppers, choppers are more fun to build, you can really go wild because the effect on the driveability doesn't really matter, but as soon as I finish a chopper I always sell it.

- The fun is in the building itself, isn’t it? Do you made plans and drawings before the customisation?

Well, the fun in building choppers is definitely in the build of the bike, for café racers it's more evenly divided between building and riding. I hardly ever make plans, sometimes I do have an image in my head before I buy a bike, but usually a project just grows. I'll just make something and see if it looks right and more often than not a bike turns out way different than I thought it would look like.



- You own a vintage BMW, rebuilt to café racer, not really the brand and engine type (flat twin or boxer) we would associate with the café racer scene? Or not? Why a vintage Beemer?

Easy question :). I didn't want a BMW. I wanted a Guzzi. I went to a shop that had a 850 le mans for sale and took it for a test ride, I liked it a lot, but the shop also had a large collection of BMW's and the salesman insisted I rode a R100. I didn't want one, but why refuse a test ride? I loved it from the first second, it was so much better than my own expectations made me think. It just is the right bike for me

- Plus and minus of your bike?

Plus: I built it. It fits me exactly. It handles like I want a bike to handle, the seat is exactly the right size for me, the handlebars are exactly were I want them to be, it looks like I want it to look. In short: it is 100% my bike.

Minus: Not all that many. The most obvious one: it is not very comfortable, you don't want to be riding this bike for hours on end on a highway. But than again, I never have to ride a bike on the highway for hours on end. And one more: velocity stacks. The engine runs great with them and they look/sound great, but I don't want to be riding in the rain with them.



- Riding a café racer… did you ever consider buying and riding a scooter?

Nope. I did buy a CB750 cause there was a need for a bike that could carry side bags and a passenger in all weather conditions. I did give it a mild cafe treatment of course.

- Except riding bikes, you also rebuilt them. How did you get into this, did you follow a class of mechanics or is it trial and error?

It started when a mate of mine suggested to buy a bike and customize it. We bought a very beat up, cheap Honda CX500, a angle grinder and a very old welder. And then we just started. Trial and error, but the finished product looked great in our eyes and we were both hooked on building bikes. We are now building the XV920 Virago you can find on my site and he just bought a Ducati Cagiva to turn into a cafe. You can follow his build here: desmomeister.blogspot.com

- What motorcycle projects are you working on right now?

 I am working on the nearly finished Virago chopper and the BMW. The BMW needs a new tank, I am also going to redo the exhausts and I'll do some minor engine work. The CB750 also could use a little bit of attention like every old bike ever does I guess.

- Which is your top 3 of ultimate dream motorcycles?  
That is the hardest question of this interview. The one thing I can say for sure is that I can't show photo's, because I will build them and they will look nothing like the factory product. One of the bikes that is very high on the wish list is an old single (like a BSA) to turn into a scrambler to ride the local unpaved roads. Or maybe some very old twin, I've always loved the look of the old J.A.P. engines.

- Thanks for the interview & enjoy the ride !
 Your welcome! I hugely enjoy your site, keep up the good work!!

Michiels blog: bmwcafe.blogspot.com

All Photos copyright: bmwcafe.blogspot.com






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