Germany and Austria: The Walk of Fame

Germany and Austria: The Walk of Fame

Sadly, you can celebrate a centenary only once every 100 years. I’m saying that because one could get used to high-class events like BMW’s 100th anniversary tour in the German and Austrian Alps. The three-day 100 Years of BMW Motorrad Anniversary Tour went from Munich to the Grossglockner mountain, going through places that have played an important role in the history of Bavarian motorcycles.

Two important figures from the classic BMW scene also joined the ride. Hans Keckeisen from Augsburg, Germany, a sheet metal artist who manufactures parts for restoring classic motorcycles, rode his 1936 true-to-the-original R 5. The other big name was Sebastian Gutsch from Munich, a technical expert on the air-cooled two-cylinders of the past century. He was riding on a 1952 R 68.

Riding from the German Sudelfeldpass to the Höchkönig mountain in Austria was a wet adventure.

The Straight Road And Mountain Fog

The tour’s first stop was the now rather unspectacular Hofoldinger Forst south of Munich. Or, more precisely, the stop was at the long straight stretch of highway inaugurated in 1935 as the first section of the autobahn between Munich and Salzburg. BMW used this part of the new highway to test its fully-enclosed 500cc motorcycle with rider Ernst Henne. The half-liter engine had two overhead camshafts driven by bevel gears and, with 90 hp, it was considerably more powerful than its 750 cc predecessor.

As the volume of traffic was vanishingly low at the time, there was no need to close off the road for the test rides. On November 28, 1937, Ernst Henne achieved his last world record on the highway near Frankfurt with a top speed of 173.67 mph. The record lasted for 14 years.

Motorcycle & Gear

2022 BMW R 18

Helmet: Shoei GT-Air II
Jacket: Held Baker, Held Omberg
Pants: Held Marlow, Held Omberg
Boots: Held Ventuma Surround GTX
Gloves: Held Sambia
Luggage: BMW

As the tour continued toward southern Bavaria under a pouring rain via Fischbachau and Bayrischzell to the Sudelfeld ski resort, the daredevil riders who plunged into the unknown with deep confidence in the technical development of the time were on our minds. We were also riding into the unknown. The fog on the way to the Sonnenalm mountain refuge, 41,00 feet above the sea level, was extremely dense. We could only guess which direction the riders in front of us were heading.