Last week started with a loud pop, not unlike the sound of a cork exiting a champagne bottle. I was out and about with a close friend who remarked, “Did that sound come from your hip?”
It was the left hip to be exact, and my next step (a cross between a limp and a bridge collapse) reflected the jolt of pain that followed the sound effects. Unlike previous jolts, this one lingered for a day or two, as the hip joint took its time in resetting. A visit to my orthopedic specialist resulted in an x-ray that looked like a crime scene photograph.
“This is a normal hip joint,” said the doctor, manipulating a scale skeletal model depicting the bone structure of an 18-year-old competitive pole vaulter. The joint moved smoothly and with the kind of precision reflected by a half-million years of bone evolution. Yet I couldn’t help wondering what happened to the rest of the “pole vaulter” that only this section of his left hip remained on display in a medical office. I wondered if I’d visited a urologist would a perfect model of male genitalia be on the guy’s desk.
“This is your left hip,” said the doctor, using a pointer to highlight the ghostly white spots of a film that hung over an illuminated panel. The x-ray depicted the hip bone of a brontosaurus that had been pickled in brine. “In a worst case scenario, the joint is reduced to a cartilage-free assembly of a loose bone-on-bone connection, that may audibly grate as it generates pain. Your hip has replaced the cartilage with broken Coke bottle glass and carved the rounded ball joint into a perfect cube.”
The doctor frowned and added, “If you were a horse, I would just shoot you now.”
The past two years has been an ongoing attempt to halt the spread of the arthritis with various formulas of Glucosamine, Chondrotin, fish oil, snake oil, herbal teas, honey and vinegar, juice from South America, real drugs and exotic massages from a place in Philly. The result has been a losing battle as the disease has made slow headway in both knees, both hips, and other joints as well. Compounding the problem is a body chemistry that absorbs fat calories from the air. Consequently, my options are limited. According to my orthopedic specialist, the only mechanical joint that will effortlessly function in my body now is nose gear from a Boeing 747.
Part of my arthritic evaluation was a process that measures the restricted mobility of various joints. It appears I’ve suffered a loss of motion that makes it almost impossible for me to get my left foot on the high peg of my beloved K75. BMW’s have fairly high pegs enabling the motorcycle to nail 46-degree curves without scraping anything. (The left peg on my bike is three inches below my left ear.) In prior years, the joint seemed to stretch as I rode more often. That is no longer the case. A friend of mine, Mike Evans, recently stated that the rigid nature of my left leg gives me a strange stance in the saddle. He followed me for 30 miles one day, convinced I was about to make a right turn at any second.
My first thought was to lower certain aspects of my K75, such as rebuilding the forks and carving the seat. (This is already a “low seat” version of this model.)Yet options for lowering the pegs are either not practical nor economically feasible. (I have exhausted all reasonably priced options for dropping the pegs on a K75. There are none.) In fact, I am opposed to dramatically altering the geometry of this fine motorcycle for what may amount to one or two more riding seasons. The only option that seems to make sense is switching to another bike. I tried a “cruiser” with a seat that was as low to the ground as a bull dog’s nuts. This didn’t work either. The far forward controls pose a different set of challenges to these knees.
On a hunch, I sat on a 2004 BWM K1200 with lowered forks, a lowered seat, and lowered pegs — with a lot less difficulty. This motorcycle is somewhat longer, heavier, and more powerful than the K75. In fact, it has a 60 horsepower advantage over my current bike, which is something I would just have to get used to. (The thought of being able to accelerate quicker and go faster — shedding a year in age for each mile per hour over the 100 mark — holds little appeal for me. Furthermore, I’d have no interest in owning a bike that would make me feel like I was 17-years-old just by looking at it. Nor would I lend any consideration to the fact that the 2003, 2004, and 2005 K1200s are the most beautiful “K” bikes to claw their way out of the Teutonic design suite.)
If I had to have a 2004 BMW K1200, however, there would have to be some modifications. The most practical of these would be in lowering the pegs, the forks and the seat, so I didn’t need a step to mount it. As members of my riding club — the renegade Mac-Pac — are quick to point out, a lowered bike shouldn’t impact my riding style, as I have to take a curve at 30 degrees, let alone 46. There are plenty of existing kits for lowering K1200 pegs that do not require the services of a machine shop and the skill of a tool and die maker. Lowering the forks would also allow me to custom choose the ridel, while the saddle would eventually go to the folks at Russell Day Long. My thought is to end up with a hot-looking BMW that is only about 27 or 28 inches above the ground, with pegs that do not require me cover my ears with my knees.
My K75 was a labor of love and reflects it with a ton of custom extras incorporated into its frame. A K1200 would follow the same pattern. My choice of a color would be the rare “Orient Blue” or a “Jet Black.” On the gas tank would be an air-brushed black widow spider (in some shade of deep red), with the telltale hourglass in black or orient blue on it’s abdomen. The factory panniers would be in the flattest of black paints, each adorned with a white skull and cross-bones. The license plate would read, “POIZN.”
I would eventually equip the bike with a Russell saddle, PIA HID lights, Moto -Lights (mounted on the front brakes), and another set of LED riding lights. This would require a custom side-bar light mount (similar to that on the new K1600s.) I’d also want a heated seat and a digital thermometer for ambient temperature. This would be my second “dream” bike. There is nothing prohibitively expensive about acquiring and equipping this machine... I just can’t own two motorcycles, especially if it is painful to ride one of them. This will mean selling the K75, something I swore I wouldn’t do.
I am now onto several potential candidates for a K1200, which means the time has come to list the K75. I am planning to list it through a local dealer this week. The machine is a 1995, BMW K75 — Low Seat Model — in “Mystic Red,” with 25,126 actual miles on the speedometer. It’s extras include:
Condition: Very, very good — Garage kept, never dropped
• Eastern Beaver Relay in headlight
• Moto-lights ($450) - separate relay
• PIA HID lights ($650) - separate relay
• 36 Flashing LEDs auxiliary stoplight ($100)
• 36 50% running lights, 100% stoplight LEDS on plate bracket ($135)
— 72 extra LEDs total —
• Centech Auxiliary fuse box
• Russell Day-Long Saddle (electrically heated)
• Auxiliary volt-meter
• Fork Boots
• Works Perfomance Shock
• Square custom mirrors
• Stone Guard for throttle bodies
• Parabellum Scout Fairing (Tinted Plexiglass - clear spare included)
• “Authority Style” crash bars (powder coated black)
• Muffler -- Jet Hot Black
• Factory sidebags (really tight mountings)
• Factory topcase
• Pigtail for tender connection or heated gear
• 6,200 miles on the tires
• New Front Brakes in 2010
• New clutch cable
• Clear plastic belt buckle scratch guard on tank (at seat)
• RAM mount for GPS
Above: Left side of "Fireballs," the legendary 1995 BMW K75 of song and story. Note PIA H.I.D. lights mounted on rare "authority" bars, powder-coated in black. Light switch is integrated in dash panel.
Above: Right side of "Fireballs." Note theme of "Black and Red" is carried through to the Moto-Lights mounted on the front brake caliper mounts. The width of the Russell-Day-Long Saddle is enhanced by the fact it is a heated seat.
Above: The business end of "Fireballs." One of the last low-mileage K75's in existence... And a real find equipped like this one.
Above: "Fireballs" wearing her traveling bags. All three keyed to the ignition lock.
This motorcycle has been featured in my column BMW MOA’s publication — The Owner’s News (ON) — and has been regularly profiled on “Twisted Roads.”
Asking $4200... Interested parties contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
No international sales...