A Lifetime of Motorcycles
By Craig Littlefield
Motorcycles have been a passion of mine since I was 16 years old and have been a big part of my life, a very enjoyable part. I feel fortunate to have a passion that has given me so much pleasure and so many interesting experiences.

Awhile back I was talking with friends about what motorcycles we had owned and how far we had ridden. I decided to list all the bikes I have owned and estimate how many miles I had ridden. I also tried to round up photos of all of them.

This is the result. I have owned 25 motorcycles over a span of 50 years. I was never without a bike. I always commuted on a motorcycle, took trips and did some dirt riding. There never was a time I didn't ride regularly. I estimate that I have ridden a total of 673,300 miles. And I am still counting.

Years ridden

Model

Use

Non-BMW miles

BMW miles

 

 

 

 

 

1954-58

1939 Harley Knucklehead

Rode to and from school and around town

6000

 

1958-60

1958 NSU Max

In Germany. Took many trips throughout Europe

20000

 

1959

1955 650 BSA

Project bike

100

 

1960-65

1960 Triumph Bonneville

Bought it in Germany. I rode it home plus I took many trip around the west and rode to school and back

45000

 

1964-65

1958 Enfield/Indian 500cc single

I restored it to just kick around town and do some dirt riding.

1000

 

1965

1960 Triumph Bonneville

Bought from a friend. Had 2 of them. Didn't drive this one much

200

 

1965-69

1965 BMW R69S

Bought it in Utah. Moved to Calif. Drove around the western states plus to work and back

 

55000

1968-70

Bultaco Matador

Did a lot of trail riding on this one. Was my main dirt bike for a couple of years. I rode with a group that rode regularly in the hills around San Jose, California.

3000

 

1969-70

Bultaco Sherpa T trials bike

I was in a trials club and we had regular events. You don't put a lot of miles on these. It was the best trials bike available then.

500

 

1970-73

Yamaha 250 Motocrosser

We rode a lot in the hills around San Francisco, in the Sierras and the hills south of Hollister. We trucked it everywhere. My kids had motorcycles too and we went regularly with a club.

3000

 

1969-72

1969 Honda 750

Trips in western states plus to work and back. Many weekend rides

30000

 

1969-72

1969 H1 Kawasaki 500 triple

Trips in western states plus to work and back. Many weekend rides. This was one was white.

20000

 

1972

1972 BMW R75

Bought in Europe. Toured Europe, shipped home and rode it in Calif.

 

22000

1972-74

1972 Honda SL350 dual purpose

Weekend play bike. Took some trips.

22000

 

1973

1973 Honda 750

Trips in western states plus to work and back. Many weekend rides

32000

 

1973

1973 H1 Kawasaki 500 triple

I enjoyed the 1969 model so much I bought another one. It wasn’t the same. This one was blue and silver.

4500

 

 

1974

1974 BMW R90S

Trips to many western states plus a regular long commute. Rode with the BMW Club of N Calif extensively. Several trips to Canada

 

36000

1976

1974 BMW R90S

Bought it from friend. Rode only for 6 months

 

6000

1977-94

1974 BMW R90S

Had Lester wheels and Labiska fairing. I bought it used from a friend. It was my highway bike for 16 years. Had 36000 miles when I bought it and 3 speedometers later had 180,000 when I sold it.

 

144000

1981 -

1964 BMW R60

I bought this to restore. It is still out in the garage and ready to be worked on. I hope to get to it soon.

 

0

1982-93

1981 BMW R80GS

This was my in town bike. Commuted on it almost half the time, 36 miles a day, for 11 years. Should have kept this one.

 

75000

1993-94

1993 BMW R100GS

Bought new from Iron Horse. Trips all over USA including Alaska

 

25000

1994-98

1994 BMW R1100RS

Turned the R90S and R100GS in on it. Many trips all over. Turned it in on K12.

 

44000

1998-2003

1998 BMW K1200RS

New from Iron Horse. Did trips all over US. 4 corners and others. Three 3 flags rallies.

 

69000

2003-05

2004 Yamaha FJR

Great bike while I was waiting for a  new BMW

24000

 

2005

2005 BMW K1200S

One of the first in the USA. It was replaced when the clutch failed

 

3000

2005

2005 BMW R1200GS

I rented this one for a trip through Switzerland

 

1800

2005-2014

2005 BMW K1200S

I still own this one. A terrific BMW. Over 100,000 miless. I had to give it away kfor $3800.

 

100500

2010-2013

2006 BMW R1200GS

I bought this with 20,00 miles on it.

 

22000

2011 - 2012

2009 BMW K1300S

Bought on Ebay with 666 miles on it. Sold it with only 3700 miles. I liked the K1200S better. I

 

3000

2013-2015

2013 G650

Sold the R1200GS and bought this for dirt riding in March 2013

 

15400

2013

2013 F800GS

Rented for a tour of Peru

 

2200

2014 - now

2014 S1000R

Purchased new from Iron Horse. Very light and fast. I love to tour on it.

51000

2018 - now

2018 BMW G310 GS

The first one to arrive at Iron Horse. I wanted a smaller simplier bike. Sort of like the old days   2000

 

 

 

 

 

Total non-BMW miles

 

211300

 

Total BMW miles

As of March 201

 

 

676900

TOTAL MILES

 

 

888200

AVERAGE MILES PER YEAR

 

65 years of riding 

 

13700

 

 

My first experience was a brief one. I was about 8 years old. We lived in Ogden, Utah, and a neighbor had a friend who had a sidecar rig. He took me for a ride around the block. A life changing experience.

In 1953, when I was 16, I worked at the Rialto Theater in Salt Lake City. I had a 39 Dodge. It was my pride and joy. One of the guys at the theater had a motorcycle but no car. He was dating a girl and was in desperate need of the use of the back seat. I would trade him my car for his motorcycle for a day. The bike was a 500cc Indian twin. It had no rear brake, no key and no license plate. I suspect that it was stolen. It had to be hotwired to ride it. I loved it. I would drive all over town, amazed at the power and the freedom. The wind was in my hair as we had no helmets.

I don't have a photo of my first motorcycle. This, however, is one just like it. It was a 1939 Harley 74 Knucklehead bored out to 80 inches. I was 16 years old. I wanted a motorcycle and I found one advertised in the paper. I went to look at it and bought it. I think I paid $200 for it. I had to work that night so I sent my friend, Lawrence Smith, to get the bike. He had not ridden a motorcycle and he crashed it on the way home. The front fender was bent up and a few minor things. I fixed it up and repainted the whole bike in gold. I had the seat recovered too.

My mother had made it clear that I was NOT going to have a motorcycle. My dad was working in Alaska for the summer. She told me that if I bought a motorcycle she would not talk to me again. She didn't for some time. I can't really say it was a problem.

I rode the bike continuously for a couple of years around town. It was great because at that time it could out drag even the fastest car. I was the only one of my friends to have a motorcycle and I loved it. It was really not reliable to take on trips and I spent a lot of time repairing and rebuilding it. My father sold it while I was in the army in 1958.

I joined the Army in July of 1957. After a few months I was in southern Germany. We lived on an old German air force base and had the freedom to do most anything we wanted with vehicles. I immediately bought a new VW and a motorcycle. The best bike to buy, and several of us had them, waa a NSU Max. It was a great little bike with a good racing heritage but ours were not what you would call fast. It had a 250cc overhead valve engine. The engines were rock solid but all the parts, fenders, tool boxes, luggage racks, and other parts would come loose and fall off regularly. We kept them together however and really enjoyed taking trips and racing each other through Bavaria.

 

While in Germany I had my first English bike too, a 650cc BSA. My friend, Don Calloway and I owned it together. Actually we found it. Some GI had gone home and left it behind. We got it running. It was a blast and was faster and scarier than anything we had ridden before. We left it behind for someone else and we never had a title or license plate on it. Great fun. Check out all the mud.

 

When leaving Germany I had planed to take something home with me. It was either going to be a new VW and a new motorcycle or a new Porsche. I decided on the VW and bike. In Munich I found a Triumph dealer. It took me almost a year to get it but one month before leaving Germany I had the bike. It was at that time the fastest production motorcycle in the world. It was a 650cc Triumph Bonneville. I drove it to Bremerhaven on the North Sea, shipped it to New York and drove it home to Salt Lake City. It was my main motorcycle for the next 5 years. I rode it to work summer and winter, toured on it, went hill climbing and entered it in the drag races in SLC. It would do everything well. I repainted it every year. It came in two tone blue but over the years it was solid blue, silver and gold, maroon and other colors. I sold it when I bought my first BMW. The first bike I wish I still had. I was sad to see it go.

This is the Triumph in Germany in 1960 just after I bought it.

Below is my son Troy and the Triumph just before I sold it in 1965.

Another bike I had while in college was an Enfield 500 single. I bought it in pieces and put it together. I found someone in town who had parts for it. The parts were all from Indians as Indian sold this same bike for several years. It had no lights, mirrors or muffler but it was a blast to ride around town on. It sounded wonderful but it would really beat you to death after a few miles. Great fun. I sold it for $500 to someone who had no idea what they were buying. It was just too pretty to resist.

In 1965 I graduated with my Masters Degree from the University of Utah and was preparing to go to work for IBM in San Jose. The January before we left I bought a brand new BMW R69S. I had a friend who had a 500cc BMW which really impressed me. I bought a R69S. I was the sport model with 600cc and was the best and fastest bike BMW made. It was a very unusual bike and you seldom saw one. I paid the huge sum of $1500 for it. The whole family thought I was nuts. It was a beautiful bike. The finish on it was terrific. It was really slow however compared to the Triumph but it could really eat up the miles. I took it to California with me and would ride it for 5 years.

This is the new BMW, again with Troy.

The BMW with California tags

 

In 1969 two new motorcycles came out that changed everything. The first was the new Honda CB750. They had 750cc, 4 cylinders and a front disk brake. I wanted something new. I put my BMW up for sale. The first person that came to see it was riding a new CB750. Before he left he gave me his new Honda and $100 and drove off on my BMW. I could not believe that bike. My wife and I hopped on it at 10 o'clock at night and headed for Santa Cruz then toward San Francisco. At 3 am we hit a deer going 70 MPH in Half Moon Bay. With a few bandages we were back home in time for me to go to work. I was again back on the fastest production bike in the world.

 

The two fastest bikes made. A 1969 Honda CB750 4 cylinder and a Kawasaki H1 750cc triple

Shortly afterwards I bought the other bike that some folks thought was faster than the Honda. It was a Kawasaki 500cc 2 stroke 3 cylinder. I don't know which bike was faster. They were both very fast. The Kawasaki however was just plain terrifying. Wonderfully terrifying. The front wheel came off the ground when you expected it and when you didn't. I bought it used from a friend with 500 miles on it. It scared him to death. I loved riding it.

The next bike is a Bultaco Matador. We still did a lot of street riding but we also got into dirt riding for some time. I bought this used and we used to trailer our bikes to hills both west and south of San Jose. It was a fun bike but not too exciting. It would go anywhere with the right rider on it. I was the right rider sometimes.

 

Next we all got into observed trials. When trails riding you try to go through very difficult sections without touching your feet on the ground. It was a real family sport and we liked doing it. I was never too good at it. I kept falling off of rocks and running into trees. This bike with the right rider on it was unbeatable in international competition. My bike was not so lucky.

 

In 1971 my wife and I went to Europe and picked up a new BMW and toured on it for a month. It was a BMW R75. We picked it up in Munich and it immediately started spraying oil all over our feet. I rode it 4000 miles around Europe and more at home before fixing the leak with surgery that the dealer could not watch. I really hated that bike. It was sold a few months after I got home. The picture below is in a shop in Salzburg with an Austrian mechanic under it. It had someone under it often.

 

To get money for the BMW, the Honda 750 and Kawasaki 500 had been sold. I bought another new 1972 500cc H1 Kawasaki. It was fast but Kawasaki detuned it and it was more civilized than the first 1969 models. There were a lot of complaints about the 1969 models. All the things that I liked  about it. This one ran good but it just wasn't the same. It went for another Honda.

 

Here is Jim Frego and his Honda 350SL next to me and my second Kawasaki. He loved his Honda. It would go anywhere. I bought a red one just like it. I could not find a picture of it. Jim and I had a great time on back roads and trails on our Honda 350s.

This is Jim Frego in the dirt

 

In 1973 I bought another new 750 Honda. They had tamed them down some too but it was a good bike. I turned it into a cafe racer. It had a Dunstall alloy tank, Dunstall mufflers, clip on bars, and rearset pegs. (not in the picture below) I took over 50 pounds off of it. We would race on Sunday mornings on the roads in the Santa Cruz mountains. It really ran great and I could keep up with almost every hot bike of the day.

This is the same new Honda when it was new. I liked the color.

 

 

We got some serious dirt bikes at that time for me and for the kids. I bought a used Yamaha motocross bike. It was a fun bike with a lot of power and handled great. Troy started on a 50cc Hondo and quickly moved to a SL75. Scott had a MR50 Honda. I had a ball riding with the boys. We would go for weekends in the mountains south of Santa Cruz, camping out and getting really dirty. Troy was good rider but Scott was a little young and not too brave. He had a lot of fun with it anyway. I don't even have a photo of him on his bike.

  

 

In 1974 BMW brought the first new R90S in town. For BMW it was a revelation. It was fast, handled good and had unique new styling.  At a time that we were used to paying under $2000 for a bike here was this new BMW that did everything for only $4000. I bought one for my birthday in 1974.  It was beautiful. It even had a clock.

 

We had some great rides in 1974 through 1976. I had the R90S but my good friends had great bikes too. Below is Jim Frego on his Norton. It was a bit down on power but it handled great and he rode it well and had no trouble keeping up.

The next picture is Don Lemley. He was buying the best and fastest too and he had a new Kawasaki Z1 which at the time was the fastest bike made. He had it hopped up a bit too. It was the fastest of our bikes. We had great times on trips around California and down into Mexico.

 

In 1976 I got a divorce. The R90S went to pay for the lawyer. Don Lemley had sold his Kawasaki and bought a BMW R90S just like mine but with Lester alloy wheels. He loaned it to me as he wasn't riding much. After a couple of months he needed money so I rounded up enough to buy the BMW from him. It was my second R90S and I would drive it for a year or so.

 

Before I moved to Tucson in 1978, I had an opportunity to buy my 3rd BMW R90S from a friend, Gene Sanders. He had put a Labiska cafe racing fairing on it and Lester alloy wheels and it was in perfect shape. It had less than 30,000 miles on it. I sold the one I had and bought his. I would have that bike for 16 years and put 144,000 miles on it. Jan and I were ready to ride it everywhere.

 

The R90S Camping on a club ride

I liked the frame-mounted fairing. There were only 2 of this kind in the USA.

Roger (and sometimes Sharon) Austin has ridden with me for years. (Sometimes with Jan)

 

In 1982 I bought a barely used 1981 BMW R80GS. It was a new model, 800cc, and was intended for on and off road use. I used it to ride back and forth to work for 11 years. It was a great commute bike and occasionally I did some dirt roads and trails. This is the second bike that I wish I would have kept.

One day I found an old 1964 R60 for sale in our paper. I bought it with the intention of restoring it. It now in the garage partially disassembled and in the process of restoration.

 

BMW had nothing new that interested me for years. In 1993 Jan and I decided to go to Alaska on a motorcycle. We bought a new 1993 BMW R100GS. It was similar to the R80GS but heavier and more powerful. It was a better bike for our 8000 miles two-up ride to Alaska.. I would have it for a year and put 25000 miles on it.

 

In late 1993 BMW brought out the new Oilhead twins. I turned in the R100GS and the R90S and bought a new R1100RS. It was a real change from the Airhead BMWs, had a lot more power and handled better.

 

In 1998 BMW brought out another milestone bike, the K1200RS. The horsepower was now 130 vs only 90 on the R1100RS. It was a great bike to ride. Smooth as silk and would pull strong from any speed in any gear. I bought one of the first ones to arrive in Tucson in November of 1997.

One the beach at Dayton

 

One of the first trips Jan and I went on was to do the "Four Corners" like in the four corners of the United States. We did it all  on back roads going from Tucson to Key West to Madawaska Maine, to Blaine Washington, to San Ysidro, California, and home. 11,000 miles in 19 days. And for $75 we got a hat and a plaque. Jan is one tough gal.

                

 

In 2003 I was a little tired of the K12 and it was getting a little tired too with 70,000 miles. BMW had nothing that interested me. I bought a 3-week-old 2004 Yamaha FJR from a guy in Milwaukee, WS. I found it on the internet, flew up there and drove it home. It is the first new bike I had owned that is not a BMW in 30 years. It was a great bike and I kept it until the new K1200S was available in March of 2005.

 

In June of 2005 Jan and I rented a BMW R1200GS in Munich and toured Southern Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Austria.

 

 

 

The new K1200s was delayed from Fall of 2004 until spring of 2005 due to technical problems. I had my name in for the first one. It was one of the first ones to arrive in the USA. It was fun as no one had seen or ridden on. I was to have this for only 3 months and 3000 miles. I did a trip to Utah on it and a track day in California. Then the clutch failed. The dealer, Iron Horse Motors in Tucson, could not get parts for the clutch so they agreed to replace it. I replace it with a yellow and black one in July of 2005.

 

 

 

What a great bike. It was a good sport bike and a good touring bike. I have put over 80,000 miles on it. It still looks and runs like a new one. When I could not sell it I sold the K1300S and kept this one. We have a lot more happy miles ahead of us.

 

 

 

 

In May of 2010 I needed a bike to take Jan on a summer trip. I bought a used R1200GS from Gary Bloomstrum, a SEAT member. It had 19,950 miles on it when I bought it.

 

 

 

The yellow K1200S has 80,000 miles on it. While it ran great it was time for a new bike. I rode Len Robbin’s new K1300S and I was hooked. I bought this K1300S in July 0f 2011. I could not sell the K1200S because of the excess miles. The best offer I got was $3500. No way. I decided to sell the K1300S. I sold it in March of 2012 for $11,350. I will be putting a lot more miles on the K1200S.

 

 

 

I ought a new G650 GS to replace the R1200GS for dirt riding in March of 2013

 

 

In April of 2013 Jan and I went on a 18 day motorcycle tour of Peru. We rode this F800GS 2000 miles. It did great.

 

 

 

  In April of 2014 the new S1000R showed up at Iron Horse motors. My friend Dave Delie got the first one, which was blue, and I got the second one which was red.

In February of 2018 I bought the first G310GS to come to town. With only 34 horsepower it is a chore to ride. I thought it would be fun to go back to the days of yesteryear when bikes were smaller and simpler.

I kept the S1000 to satisfy the need for speed.