The Lady who keeps everything together.
You know how awkward it can be to write about yourself, right? So I decided to take this burden off her shoulders and write about my mom.
In the early 80’s, Birgit got bitten by the bike bug quite badly and only considered taking the car license because it was cheaper to do together with the motorcycle license. Why would she need a car when she was living in a big city like Karlsruhe/Germany and could either take her bicycle or her motorcycle anywhere she wanted to go? She’d tell me stories about riding to the lake for a swim during lunch break and wearing basically a short skirt, tank top and sandals – and then saying “but you gotta wear proper protective clothing on a motorcycle!”. Right on, mom!
She eventually did get a car – but only for winter usage – a rusty, yellow VW Beetle. Whenever it rained, she had to put newspaper on the floor, so she wouldn’t get wet shoes. Birgit rode several Norton and Triumph models, even a Moto Guzzi Falcone and a 250cc BMW before settling for a 1968 BMW R 50. It was an ex-police bike from France which had a /5 front fork. She hated the huge seat and changed it for a saddle, mounted stainless fenders and a Hoske exhausts – it was a custom bike of its time. Many years later, when I was on my way, my dad took the BMW apart to “check on that weird sound from the gearbox” and give it a make over.
It wasn’t very surprising though that my mom would start riding, considering her parents were already riding a 250cc BMW. My grandparents were pretty rad if you ask me!
My parents then made a deal to give up riding until I turned 10, so “she remembers what her parents look like”. I was cool with that because once I was old enough, they bought an Ural with sidecar for me and the dog to sit in. Mom got herself a BMW 650 GS and off we went! Once my dad was infected with the Buell virus and had bought his RSS 1200, she switched to a Harley-Davidson Sportster. Did you know that if you’re a girl of 11 years, you’re light enough to sit on the rear fender of the Sportster with one of those fancy cushions with suction cups under? So, off we went again! But of course, dad wanted to go sportier… So mom bought him his first proper Buell – a M2 Cyclone in Molten Orange and Volcano Gray. She just had to try it, though. And of course, her little Sportster did not compare in any way! So off she went again and exchanged her Sportster for a X1 White Lightning with blue headers – by far my favourite to tag along. It was comfy and nice for me – but mom wanted more. So off she went AGAIN and exchanged the X1 for her darling, an orange 1996 S1. This is the Tubeframer that stuck with her through the years and she would probably still ride it today, if dad hadn’t “borrowed” its engine for the race bike, Thor’s Hammer, just “for this one race”. Oh well…
One of my favourite bike-related stories concerned this very S1. I was about 12 and my school class was having a picnic. So every family had to bring something and we had to bring pasta salad. So far, so good. Mom had prepared a yummy salad and we sat in the car. But the car wouldn’t start. Dead. Nothing. So, mom did what every German mother would do, said “Put on you gear!” and filled the pasta salad into a Tupperware dish. The salad went into her old Elefantenboy tank bag that happened to fit perfectly and I went on the back of mom’s S1. Needless to say, the other German parents were first speechless and then tried to ignore the bike roaring down the road best they could! Oh the faces…! I had a blast and the other kids were pretty impressed!
Birgit always favoured the XB Lightning over the Firebolt, especially the 1170cc Grey Fellow which she rode probably more miles on normal roads than our professional riders on track. She never really liked the 1125, but once the EBR 1190 came along, she fell in love with a white SX. But the gravel roads where we live here in Sweden aren’t really fun on an EBR, so Birgit mostly rides her Suzuki DR 350 SE to be honest. In recent years, mom and I bought a blue XB9R that we share – that’s also the one that was turned into the Revenge of the Wastelands a couple of years ago.
My mother is a very artistic person. She is great with design and especially colours. No wonder she was in charge of the Buell XBRR JPS where JPS stands for the legendary “John Player Special” colour theme of Colin Chapman’s Lotus 97T. It took her literal days of research to only find the right shade of gold. You’d think this an easy task, but there are so many JPS tributes out there that have the wrong colour! Either too yellow or too brown-greenish. Next problem was finding the right layout, especially the stripes. Finding a foil in the right gold was out of the question, so it would have to be paint. They ended up painting all fairings golden (not a great look for those humongous XBRR fairings), then masking any lines and logos with custom-made vinyls, painting all fairings black and then removing the masking vinyls and clear coating everything. But in the end it was all worth it!
Birgit has been into photography for about as long as into bikes. She has taken millions of pictures of not only our bikes, both custom and racing, but also nature and people – preferably in black and white. She’s always been active with both Tanne and now Smilla doing outdoorsy stuff like hiking, sledding, canoeing etc.
She’s pretty much the coolest mom I could’ve ever wished for!