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Member Profiles

posted 2 Jan 2012, 15:19 by Section Webmaster
Our Chairman, Richard Tavener, has come up with a great idea for an addition to our website.
We are going to have a Southern Section Member Profile of the month. We would be most grateful if you would all participate and send us in your biking profile to be chosen by our Webmaster as the SS Member Profile of the month.

It was suggested that Bruce Preston should be our first Member Profile:



Like seemingly every budding motorcyclist of my generation my life on a powered two wheeler began when I bought a BSA Bantam in 1951.  I was just 16. My BMW connection, at least my psychological one, began at the same time; whenever I had a problem with the Bantam I pushed it round to the dealer in the next street in Hammersmith, where I grew up. This happened to be MLG, the only dedicated BMW dealer in the country.  It was then that I began my lifelong friendship with Charles Lock, the L in MLG, and we remain friends to this day.


It was in 1957 that I joined the BMW Club.  My membership number was 150 and there were just 80 members!  Following the birth of my daughter Jill I bought a R67/2 with Steib TR500 on the side, unsurprisingly from MLG! The motivation?  I was fed up with dirty, greasy chains that always needed adjusting.  I immediately fell in love with the 600cc BMW engine and have owned a BMW almost ever since (when my son Mark was born in 1960 the outfit had to make way for a car so I invested £25 in a MAC Velocette,  which served me well for a year  until I could afford another BMW). An R51/3 came next and, in 1964, the R60/2 replaced it.  I still have the R60 (always my favourite bike) and it is used regularly.  Other BMWs came and went, the R80G/S was wonderful but the pillion seat was painful so a R100SRS replaced it.  This model was intended for the Australian police but it never happened and BMW marketed it as the SRS, a white bike with blue and red pin striping.  That gave way to an R80RT – I wanted a fairing.  Finally, ten years ago, an R1100RT took its places. The two BMWs sit happily side by side in the garage with a 350cc Velocette Viper, bought in a box in the 1960s but now rebuilt, to keep them honest. Bertie Goodman owned Velocette and we became good friends as he was president of the BMF.  Even though I don’t ride the Velo often (Brenda refuses to go on the pillion!) I love looking at it in the garage.


After a year in the BMW Club I ‘volunteered’ to become social secretary.  There was no competition for the job and a year later Herbert Kennard, another good friend, retired as Editor so, as no one else wanted the job I stepped in, figuring that the club needed an Editor more than it needed a Social Secretary.  Another youngster joined the club at the same time as me.  His name was Keith Sanders.  We were about the same age, which was about quarter of   a century younger than the remainder of the membership; we made a good team when Keith became Sports Secretary. Within a few years the membership increased to over 500, we started printing the club magazine on Keith’s mother’s kitchen table and we subjected our BMWs to the torture of the Lands End and Exeter trials.  Sadly Keith had a stroke and died at the age of 50.  I lost a very good friend.


I retired as BMW club magazine Editor in 1967 but my years pounding the typewriter keys had given me the writing bug and I became editor of the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) magazine, and then called Unity.  Soon I changed the name to Motorcycle Rider.  After about ten years in the editorial chair I became Chairman of the BMF.  At the same time I was touring editor of Motorcycle Sport and wrote also for Motorcycle Mechanics, What Bike, Motorcycle News, Motorcycle Weekly and the Lancashire Evening Post.  Oh yes, I also had a day job at the Daily Mail as a camera operator. Where did I find the time? 

The Daily Mail made me redundant in 1989 so I settled down to devote myself to writing.  I had just finished writing BMW Motorcycles, The Complete Story when  my friend Greg Harrison of  the American Motorcyclist Association asked if I would help to lead a motorcycle tour in the UK.  Not ‘arf.  That just grew and grew and soon, more than ably assisted by my wife Brenda, we were leading tours in New Zealand, South Africa, the Alps, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Spain and Portugal and Ireland plus of course, the original UK tour. A great job for it gave me unlimited copy for Motorcycle Sport and the chance to see much of the world.  I’d visited New Zealand a dozen times before the AMA pulled the plug on running motorcycle tours and it is very distressing to see Christchurch, one of our favourite cities, suffering so much.


Now I m back to square one, just an ordinary club member enjoying being in the Southern Section.  I still love foreign travel and every January Brenda and I fly to South Africa where we wallow in the luxury of our son Mark’s holiday home on the Garden Route, also riding the Suzuki Vstrom 1000 he keeps there.

One of my best rides?  Riding from London to Vienna, a thousand miles in a day on a K100LT with my youngest son Simon on the pillion, we also rode to an FIM Rally in Sweden in two days – on a 125 Honda!  The toughest?  Taking R100 Paris Dakar with Brenda on the back to the top of the unmade Sani Pass, which connects South Africa to Lesotho, two hours of very challenging riding.  I was feeling very pleased with myself until a Mercedes truck laden with stock and with men sitting on the top appeared around the corner.  So that explained why we saw so many trucks lying on their roofs in gullies! We have taken many memorable rides and we both feel that motorcycling has been very good to us.  Plus we have made some wonderful friends around the world.  The BMW Club has been a huge part of our lives, the best being the friendships that have endured. 


Section Webmaster,
2 Jan 2012, 15:19
Section Webmaster,
2 Jan 2012, 15:19