"Growing up near Stuttgart in Germany in the ’70s, locally-produced Kreidler mopeds were king among 16-year-olds. I couldn’t stretch to a revered Kreidler Florett RS, so instead settled for a Maico MD50 moped, bought with a year’s savings from a newspaper round.
"During my apprenticeship in 1976, a Yamaha RD 250 marked my introduction to real biking, and man, you could thrash it around the hills with gusto!
"Soon realising that being on full throttle wasn’t what I wanted long-term, my next bike was a red Kawasaki Z 440 Ltd twin. This soft chopper – with a more relaxed four-stroke engine, good looks, great sound and torque – made for an easier relationship (and a longer lifespan). It was even a reliable companion for touring Europe, but the small fuel tank and stepped seat weren’t ideal for long days in the saddle.
"Soon after returning from the Pyrenees, and wanting something more suitable for touring, a BMW R45 became the next steed. My dad had a BMW sidecar in the ’50s, in which I was a regular passenger on my mother’s lap from the age of one, which must have surely steered me towards BMWs.
"After a few years spent in Berlin I moved to the Black Forest region in Germany, and a more nimble Yamaha SR500 replaced the R45 BMW, which, although nice, had proved somewhat underpowered for its weight. But what can I say? Once into BMWs, always into BMWs, and from the mid ’80s I was the proud owner of a BMW R80ST: a bike that didn’t really sell that well in its day, even though it was as flickable as a 250cc bike, and, despite its 800cc displacement, not too heavy, torquey, and with an honest 50hp.
"The late ’80s saw me moving to New Zealand to start a family, and for some time I rode only a mortgage, but a trip to India brought me back to biking. Smitten by the Royal Enfields that roamed the streets of the subcontinent, I had a used 350cc RE Bullet shipped to New Zealand for some Bulleteering on home turf.
"Did I say I contracted the BMW bug? Won over by a blue 1977 R75/7 I spotted in the local buy, sell & exchange paper, I continued the BMW chapter. What a mistake to sell her some years later.
"I always liked the engine of the early Yamaha Viragos, and in 2009 an ’81 Yamaha XV 750 (with its unfortunate starting problems) ended up in my garage. This bike was my last from the land of the rising sun – so far.
A spontaneous click on eBay during a one-year stay in the UK won me a BMW R60/7 in need of TLC. This is the latest Beemer I have bought, and it won’t be the last.
"My lifelong passion for motorcycles, together with redundancy from a teaching job, prompted me in 2009 to begin writing about bikes. I have an investigative mind, which leads me to write books on subjects where others haven’t gone before, and Veloce Publishing has been the perfect partner for such endeavours. New titles for 2014 will be British Custom Motorcycles, followed by Italian Café Racers. I am also working on a book about Italian sidecars for a German publisher, entitled Italienische Gespanne."
Click here to view all books by Uli Cloesen.