Not Your Typical BMW Emporium

Text: Henrik Kunze • Photography: Henrik Kunze

The San Francisco Bay area is unique in many respects. One that readily registers in a motorcyclist's mind is that, for all its urban congestion - three major cities and a dozen smaller ones surround the bay, there are still amazing amounts of quiet, crowd-free, winding roads. Perfect for a Sunday ride and most of them are within easy reach of any point on the regional map.

There are the routes wandering through the Oakland Hills along the crest of a chain of rises that stretch from Richmond to San Jose. And, of course, life can't get much better when you're in the middle of a ride on Highway 1 anywhere from Marin County all the way to the Oregon border. In short, the region is blessed with some fantastic motorcycling roads and nature has seen to it that there are more than enough hills to keep most developers at bay. That said, if you are ever traveling through this part of the world or live here now, there is one more ride that can't escape mention.

Starting out from San Francisco and heading south along the coast at Ocean Beach on California Hwy 1, it is possible to ride all the way, without ever setting a wheel on a freeway, to Santa Cruz, California. Getting to this ocean-side resort and college town, with its famous Boardwalk, is one of the best day rides the planet has to offer. The most direct route follows the coast through places like Devils Slide, Pacifica, and Half Moon Bay on Hwy 1. But on weekends when tourists and Winnebagos often choke the way, I recommend an alternative: Take a left in Half Moon Bay, up Hwy 92, to the turnoff on top of the ridge for Skyline Boulevard. You then follow this beautiful road, winding by Alice's Restaurant, the legendary motorcycle hangout, to Hwy 35 and Hwy 9 and roll on into Santa Cruz. Believe me, these great roads are the kind that make for very enthusiastic riders.

Two such enthusiasts are the owners of BMW of Santa Cruz County, Bill Plum and Marc Corker. They grew up on these roads and it shows in their business. Bill started wrenching on BMW cars and motorcycles in the mid-eighties. In 1992, he saw the light and concentrated exclusively on bikes. Marc joined Bill that same year, starting out as an apprentice mechanic.

Built in 1999, their business is as bright and professional a dealership as you will find. With a full line of BMW bikes and accessories, they cater to the adventure rider as well as the weekend warrior. Their display of German-made Wunderlich aftermarket products is unrivaled - which is not surprising since they are the North American importers for this line of must-have goodies. Wunderlich supplies a full line of products for every BMW made since the eighties, ranging from bash plates for any vintage GS, to luggage, crash bars, and even windshields for your K-bike. Judging by the slew of BMW GS 1200s on the floor, you get the idea that this area produces quite a few adventure riders, including the owners whose personal rides (one each) are the GS 100, GS 1150, GS 1200 and WR 450 dirt bikes.

The four-person strong service department is open Tuesday through Saturday to help any traveler in need, and the dealership conducts business seven days a week. If you don't ride a BMW - perhaps you're more inclined toward the sporting persuasions - Bill and Marc have that crowd covered too. They own the Yamaha dealership next door. That service department is also open five days a week. A lot of riders stop by when attending the races at nearby Laguna Seca because this shop is the official dealer for Valentino Rossi gear.

But folks in Boise, Idaho, or New York City, needn't fret. Bill and Marc attend all the regional motorcycle shows and sell Wunderlich accessories directly to the public. After all, they're riders first, not some guys who thought it would be profitable to own a dealership, and they use many of the products themselves. They own property in Mexico and know many of the secret spots along the way, all explored, no doubt, on many trips down the Baja Peninsula. After trying many of the products they stock in challenging conditions like those, these guys can certainly vouch for their road worthiness.

So, after you've gorged on seafood on the pier or ice cream along the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, spin up the road a mile to Watsonville and check out this great shop. Bill and Marc will be glad to see you.

BMW of Santa Cruz County
1875 Main Street
Watsonville, CA 95076
(831) 722-6262
www.bmwsantacruz.com