BMW 100 YEAR CELEBRATIONS | MOTORRAD DAYS
By GARETH CHARLTON - 14 Jul 23
100 years deserves a party. And it turns out BMW Motorrad know how to throw a hell of a party...
I got to tag along for the ride with a small squad of UK journalists, and as we bid one another farewell after touching down on our return journey to Heathrow, it was abundantly clear that our weekend in Berlin would be long remembered...Rewind 48 hours and the first port of call was a behind the scenes tour of BMW's Berlin factory. The geek in me delights in seeing how things are made and on arrival we were advised this would be an extra special tour. The normally non-stop manufacture at the plant had ceased for the weekend. For the party. Yep, BMW shut down everything, at all their factories, worldwide so that everybody could go to the party. Nice.That meant unprecedented access to the production line. It was as fascinating, Germanically methodical and fastidious as you would expect, with the one curve-ball being the random sequence of bike model construction. If I was to assume my 2 minute station in the production line, I would not receive a constant flow of the same model but a different machine on each moving carousel. From a GS, to a M1000RR, RnineT, F900XR, R18... Apparently it is a trick taken from the car world and a method used only by BMW in motorcycle production. I bet it is certainly a hell of a lot more fun for the technicians.Speaking of fun, our next destination was the Pure&Crafted Festival, a celebration of Music, Motorcycles and Art. Pure&Crafted has been on my radar since its 2015 inception, as to put it predictably, it is right up my straße (sorry). Arriving at the warehouse complex on the banks of the Spree River that hosted the festival, the grind and slap of tricking skateboards could be heard faintly beneath live music, as the waft of BBQ's food filled our nostrils. Past the gates our sense picture was complete as our eyes were greeted with a mass of vibrant humanity, all out for the good times.Before we could wade into the festival we were ushered into a dark, moody corner for the unveiling of the latest addition to BMW's electric line-up. Tasked with enticing the next generation of riders to the game, the CE 02 is built for fun in the urban sprawl. But despite that eye on the future it also signals a welcome return to some of BMW's bold and quirky design cues of the past. In short, it looks like a lot of fun. No doubt my new journalist mates will have remembered a good deal more of the tech spec than I, and perhaps garnered some comprehension of the co-launched "MetaRide" digital world designed to accompany the machine. So if you want some meat on these CE 02 bones, you know where to head.After putting away a sensational deep fried jerk burrito I headed for the custom bike hall. Some familiar favourites from Gas & Retro and Hookie Co. were a splendid start alongside some machinery I hadn't previously encountered from Loose Screw, Omega Kraftrad and Motoism. But it was perhaps Vagabund's spectacularly "toy-boxed" RnineT that stole the show.As the music ramped up and the beverages flowed my companions and I set about hardening our party tolerance for the following days centenary bash before a brief foray into the Berlin night.Wakened by the sound of the stirring inhabitants of Berlin Zoo beneath my hotel window, myself and the other primates then headed to the final location of the trip, BMW's Motorrad Days festival at the staggeringly impressive Messe building. Built in the 30's the stunning Art deco entrance hall was arranged with seven stunning customs whilst the side halls were packed with BMW's extensive stock line-up along with a host of retailers and exhibitors.Out back, beyond the opulent ball room, the grounds bore host to a series of stunt shows, a wall of death, further exhibitors and more sausage based dining options than you could possibly imagine. It is an incredible setup and clearly a pilgrimage for BMW fans worldwide. On our inbound flight we made the acquaintance of a couple from New York who had made the trip especially. I'm sure they weren't disappointed.In the afternoon an opportunity to hit the streets of Berlin and beyond aboard the latest metal to depart the factory could not be passed up. Having amassed a good deal of miles on their Heritage fleet last year I opted for something a little different - the 2023 R1250R. Bloody hell what a motor. The current zenith of the Boxer engine the "Shiftcam" unit delivers over 130 rip-snorting horses in a roadster / super-naked package that had me instantly wishing we had allowed for a few extra road hours.Keeping pace with my rapid companions aboard M1000RR's and the like gave me little time to take in the scenery but once we eventually cleared the city limits and began whipping past fields and through pine forests the oft overlooked and perhaps leftfield R1250R certainly convinced that further exploration of it's many capabilities would be time very well spent. Give one a try.Back at base only one thing remained on the itinerary, that 100th birthday party. A vast Oktoberfest style beer tent bore host to a smorgasbord of international BMW staff and fans. Those obligatory voluminous beer jugs clinked in cheers as songs were sung and yet more sausage-based plates were consumed to fuel the ensuing pounding of the earth as the best damn cover band you have ever heard raised the roof... An incredible atmosphere and celebration that drew long into the night and stood to the passion of those behind the brand.Happy Birthday BMW. You sure know how to party. Now, when can we all have a go on that new R12 nine T???