On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville

Table of contents

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville

13th pictures

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

1/13
Top and bottom: At Saint-Martin, a narrow hanging structure spans the Ardèche. This is where the curve labyrinth of the D 290 begins along the river to Vallon. A very special experience with these rented classics.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

2/13
Break.

Just switch off and enjoy the fantastic views.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

3/13
Natural spectacle: near Vallon, the impressive Pont d‘Arc, a 45 meter high and 60 meter wide rock bridge, spans the Ardèche.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

4/13
Knocked Bayern boxer – BMW R 90 S.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

5/13
A dream in autumn: outside the tourist season, motorcyclists have the wonderfully winding and narrow streets along the Ardèche to themselves.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

6/13
Not original, but usable – Moto Guzzi Le Mans II.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

7/13
It works: The rough asphalt enables brisk cornering even with the ancient tires of our rented dream bikes.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

8/13
Ron Bennenk, ex-border guards and now tour guide:”I’m used to worse things from border guards. That’s why I don’t let the quirks of these machines spoil my mood”.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

9/13
Frank Weeink, journalist:”My motorcycle career began on a Yamaha XS 500″.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

10/13
Rein van der Zee, photographer:”My first motorcycle was a BMW R 75/5, which I still have”.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

11/13
Rent a classic, push a classic – Triumph T 120 Bonneville.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

12/13
With these rental bikes, heavenly support can’t hurt.

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville
Rein van der Zee

13/13
Highlight: Mont Ventoux casts the fog on the horizon.

to travel

On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville

With rented classics through the south of France
On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville

Content of

Three friends, two days, one goal: turn back time and roam the south of France with rented classics. However, the dreams of youth do not always keep what the provider promises.

Uli Holzwarth

02/23/2012

It’s cold, dark and uncomfortable outside. Driven by the gusty wind, the rain pounds against the window in irregular volleys – the November blues has us again. As a distraction, I surf the Internet a little, not looking for anything in particular. By chance I land on the homepage of a French man who rents out classic motorcycles. What a collection! Benelli 900 Sei, Laverda Jota, Ducati 900 SS, BMW R 90S, Triumph Bonneville, Moto Guzzi Le Mans – we used to only dream about it!

And then there are these tempting photos on the website, with lots of sun and even more curves! After two phone calls with Ron and Rein, the spontaneous escape plan is in place: South of France, we’re coming! A few days later I am sitting in the car with my friends heading to Ardèche. To travel back to our youth with the dream machines of that time. Rein, the photographer, and Ron think very much like me. In addition, Rein knows the area, he once had a girlfriend there. Anyway, Ron is always available when it comes to motorcycles. In addition, during his many years with the border guards, he learned never to complain, neither about the weather nor about malfunctioning motorcycles.

Jean-Louis, the landlord, is looking forward to your visit, we’re looking forward to driving the BMW R 90S, Guzzi Le Mans and the Triumph Bonneville. On the phone, Jean-Louis says there is a lot to do before we get there, but the machines are in good shape. He is a real motorcycle fanatic, offers us two nights of accommodation in his “Gîte” in Goudargues and offers his services as a guide. 

As a greeting, Jean-Louis puts a bottle of wine on the table. No, he has not yet had many customers, he admits. Nevertheless, he has already noticed differences: “The French think my idea is great,” says the native French-Canadian, “German customers, on the other hand, complain pretty quickly.”

Is that why he continues to practice his teaching profession? We look around a little. Jean-Louis seems like a collector who can’t throw anything away. In the garage, the motorcycles are hand-to-hand, parts are hanging on the walls everywhere, tools are randomly scattered on the floor. In my memory, the workshops looked cleaner even in the 1970s. And what is Jean-Louis driving? A BMW R 80 G / S. “She’s reliable,” he claims.

When we roll the motorcycles out of the garage the next morning, we quickly realize that all three have already had an eventful past. The paintwork of the R 90 S – to howl. It must have fallen into the hands of an amateur sprayer at some point. Whether its inability, tears have come to the paint as well. Guzzi aficionados also have little fun looking at this Le Mans II: The seat and handlebars, like the cockpit cladding on the previous model, are not original. And the triumph? The exhaust seems to be a homemade brand, the paint … “By the way, the BMW indicators don’t work,” Jean-Louis interrupts the silence. Neither the triumph. We are no longer surprised that the Guzzi also declare their solidarity on this point.  


On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville


Rein van der Zee

Highlight: Mont Ventoux casts the fog on the horizon.

The Triumph only has one kick starter. However, the English lady only wants to jump after three not so sporty late forties from Holland have pushed her panting over a longer distance. On the other hand, it turns out to be the fastest triumph I’ve ever driven: One throttle is enough to let the speedometer needle deflect from left to right below. Maybe that’s where the name “World Beater” comes from? Jean-Louis doesn’t let his good mood spoil, although our journey back to the days of our youth begins with a classic false start. Because even the Guzzi only buzzes after countless start attempts and rough misfires. But then the Italian can’t stop: Still resting on the side stand, she shakes inch by inch. A real character actor, this V2. Ron is already grinning in anticipation.

On the other hand, the laughter is gone. After a few organs the battery of the BMW gives up – pushing is the order of the day. “My old R 75/5 doesn’t have such problems at all,” he growls in disappointment as he tries to keep the 900 over 2500 tours. Below that, the Bayern boxer dies again immediately. “The spotlight spins now and then,” comments Jean-Louis Rein’s efforts. In plain language: no light. “To be honest, I haven’t ridden the motorcycles for a long time,” he apologizes when he looks at our slightly irritated faces. We already had the impression. Does Jean-Louis suspect that Dutch bikers might complain faster than German customers?

So we set off on our journey of discovery along the Ardèche, a little skeptical. From Goudargues we roll over the smallest paths with freshly spread gravel to the Chartreuse de Valbonne. The monastery, hidden in a picturesque forest, offers us a welcome opportunity to pause again after a few minutes. Ron, the unshakable ex-border guard, smiles and doesn’t let the tour be spoiled by small malaises and angularly worn tires. Rein’s BMW is seriously ill, however: it only runs on one cylinder at times, the throttle turns with it, the displays are dead. Rons Guzzi has similar problems: speedometer, rev counter, indicators, lights, horn – nothing works.

I’m on the Triumph Bonneville better. It also seems to be a cross between several models and generations, but it goes very well. As a driver of modern motorcycles, once you have got used to the somewhat unorthodox seating position with a flat bench and the footrests attached far forward, things are progressing quite well. The parallel twin, who is well attached to the gas, has the lowest power in this trio with 49 hp (whether they are actually all assembled?), But thanks to the high torque and the comparatively low weight, the others don’t drive me away.

Not at the moment anyway. We need gas. Why should Jean-Louis have filled the tanks before leaving? After all, he immediately starts looking for a gas station. Half an hour later he returns and happily announces that our problems will be solved in the next town. Whereby he probably only means the question of fuel. Just as we park the motorcycles in front of the gas pumps, however, the employee locks up – lunch break! Even Jean-Louis is now puzzled. And we wonder why he hasn’t switched off the engine of his BMW since it started. Is there a little problem there? Fortunately, we find an open gas station in the same place.

With full tanks it goes on now quickly. Suddenly our tour guide brakes hard and turns left – without blinking of course. With a lot of luck and even more curses, we will avoid a pile-up with the more badly than really slowing classics. Only Ron stays relaxed again. No wonder, thanks to the integral braking system at Le Mans, he mastered the situation of the three of us most easily. Well, somehow this scene reminds me of the Joe Bar comics we used to smile about. 

We reach Saint-Martin via the Route de Saint-Julien (D 343). There is a suspension bridge over the Ardèche, which can only be used in one direction. Today the Ardèche flows calmly in your bed. But with large amounts of precipitation, the picture of the river flowing into the Rhone can change dramatically. The historic bridge fell victim to the thundering water of the Ardèche in 1900.

Even more than St. Martin and the suspension bridge, however, we are drawn to the remains of the early medieval fortress Aiguèze on the opposite side of the river. All that remains are the two mighty towers that were built during the Hundred Years War (1337 to 1453). The village of the same name with just 220 inhabitants was voted the most beautiful village in France seven years ago. With its picturesque alleys and the wonderful panoramic view over the Ardèche to the Rhone Valley and Mont Ventoux in Provence, Aiguèze is one of the most worth seeing destinations in this region .

In addition, one of the most fun routes begins here, even with our machines, which are not exactly in top shape. On the wonderfully winding D 290 to Vallon Pont d‘Arc you can drive really dizzy. Our mood is rising, and so is the sun. The white rock walls reflect the glistening light that makes the autumn leaves shine golden – what a wonderful sight! In summer it is teeming with tourists paddling down the Ardèche in canoes. Now, at the beginning of November, there is a pleasant calm in the “Reserve Naturelle des Gorges de l’Ardèche”, which of course we bikers like much better. The many caves such as the Madeleine or the Cocalière are actually worth a detour. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough time for this. The Pont d‘Arc, a 45 meter high and 60 meter wide natural rock bridge over the Ardèche, is not to be missed.

Sun, fantastic curves, grippy asphalt – we’re getting bolder, pulling hard on the cable. Suddenly Jean-Louis seems to be in a hurry. It probably occurred to him that the headlights on our classics don’t work. Now, in autumn, the sun sets early despite the wonderful weather – but we don’t complain and let it go. The 650 parallel twin of the Triumph has to work hard to keep up with the others. But the agile handling and the exact gearshift make it easy for me to stay tuned on the winding roads. At the front I have to pull hard to get the single disc to brake properly. However, that worries me less than the slack clutch that slips more and more often when accelerating.

Ron, on the other hand, has no problems. On the contrary, the Guzzi is now a lot of fun for him despite its little quirks. He’s just a person of soul who is hardly upset by anything. “Hey, the machine is over 30 years old, you can’t expect a perfect motorcycle.” If you had to deal with a lot of carrots at the border patrol, you won’t let the joy of driving be taken away so quickly. Especially not from the angular worn tires that give the Le Mans a wobbly driving behavior. The Italo-V2 compensates for this with its wonderfully dull thump. “The shift foot has a lot to do when driving fast, however, and the brakes also need a lot of power,” says Ron. He even made friends with the touring handlebars. In any case, the more upright sitting position suits him very well, and the slim Guzzi can be thrown into an inclined position more easily over the wide handlebars, which of course benefits Ron on these winding streets. His final comment during a break: “Despite its shortcomings, I like the Guzzi.”

Rein and BMW, on the other hand, do not become friends. “The engine doesn’t run properly, and the drum brakes on my R 75/5 grip much better than the toothless double disc on this R 90 S.” On closer inspection, we also notice that the front wheel and the rear wheel are not in a line. It goes without saying that both straight-line stability and handling in corners suffer as a result. Rein points to the fork, which should have a travel of 208 millimeters. “The front of the machine hangs far too low and there is no noticeable damping,” he says with a reproachful look at Jean-Louis.


On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville


Rein van der Zee

With these rental bikes, heavenly support can’t hurt.

Ron and I can’t help grinning: In fact, the BMW is like a camel that is about to bend its knees. We look over to the Triumph and the Le Mans. In terms of cushioning, it doesn’t look much better with either of them. That also explains why the three of them buck and swing on bumpy asphalt. Perhaps Jean-Louis just wants to slow down his customers a little in this way.

The historic town hall in Vallon d’Arc with the cozy center looks extremely inviting, although the bars and cafes are deserted; in summer it looks very different. Despite the pleasant silence, we don’t stay long. The sun has long passed its zenith, which is why Jean-Louis urges us to continue on the D 579 and D 979 to Barjac. Here, right in the center, we treat ourselves to a cafe au lait and a snack under huge plane trees. Barjac is located on a high plateau between the Ardèche and the Cevennes. Here, too, there is calm at this time of the year. With a dungeon from the twelfth century, the castle from the seventeenth century and several Renaissance buildings, Barjac also attracts tourists in droves in the summer months.

The sky is now slowly changing color, like a glowing red blanket over this wonderful landscape. High time to return to Goudargues. Jean-Louis takes pole position again and leads us via the D 901, the D 980 and the D 371 to Montclus. A wonderful place, surrounded by shiny gold vineyards and lavender fields. Around 130 years ago, the adventurers met here after gold was found in the valley of the Cèze. In fact, gold nuggets weighing up to one pound are believed to have been washed out of the sediment. Even today so-called gold prospecting expeditions are organized. If you don’t find anything, this grandiose backdrop will at least offer you some comfort. I will probably be able to use it soon, because the clutch is at the end and slips permanently. In addition, the fork, which is hanging deep in the springs, seems to have hardly any reserves, the bend always comes into play in right-hand bends.

Before we put the three young timers back in the garage after an eventful day, Jean-Louis wants to make a short detour to La Roque-sur-Cèze. A historical place that is actually more of an open-air museum, with a Romanesque chapel and the no less impressive cascades of Saudatet very close by. It’s just a shame that it’s almost dark. And our motorcycles have no lights. I’m also very happy to be back in Goudargues, the Triumph’s clutch is now definitely “enough”, which makes it unmistakably clear with the pungent smell of burnt clutch discs. For me this means that tomorrow I have to choose another machine from the “Palais de Motos de Jean-Louis”. After a few glasses of wine with Ron and Rein, however, the anger about it subsided.

The next morning Jean-Louis offers me his small 250cc four-cylinder Benelli as a replacement. Not surprisingly, the now familiar procedure follows: two men push until they run out of breath. The only thing that can be heard is the curses from my pals. The Benelli, however, is silent. Jean-Louis says the Benelli hasn’t been on the street for a while. We really didn’t expect that. At some point it will work, the Benelli.

We set course for Lussan, a medieval town on a mountain with a magnificent view of Mont Ventoux. But after just a few kilometers I feel that my right arm seems to be getting longer and longer in a mysterious way: The throttle grip slips off the handlebars. Jean-Louis improvises with duct tape, but our mood is in the bucket. Apparently our motorcycles too. Every stop turns into a sweaty push because the Benelli’s starting problems are getting more and more serious. Rons Guzzi shows – once again – solidarity, also only gets going with difficulty. Behind Lussan, the BMW really upsets poor Rein. Dropouts and misfires are now constant accompaniments to the slow disease. In the meantime, the Bayern boxer blows white smoke out of the silencers with every burst of gas, as if it was a matter of proclaiming a new Pope.


On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville


Rein van der Zee

A dream in autumn: outside the tourist season, motorcyclists have the wonderfully winding and narrow streets along the Ardèche to themselves.

We are now finally losing confidence in the bikes. And Jean-Louis apparently the courage. He suddenly announces that he still has an appointment. And is gone. Three stunned Dutch are left behind. Anyway, he left us the tape. We’re fed up, we’re going back. The most beautiful landscape, the most beautiful curves and the best weather are only little consolation when you are left lying in a godforsaken area. Somehow we remembered our two-wheeled youth idols very differently.

What we make unmistakably clear to Jean-Louis in the evening. He defends himself that he didn’t have much time to prepare the motorcycles. Then he takes another sip of red wine and says in all seriousness: “I’m glad there weren’t any real problems.”

Well, he seems to have got it after all, his website has been deleted. Above all, we remember this wonderful landscape, which is made for enjoyable motorcycling. We will be back definitely. But then with our own dream classics. At the latest when the November blues grabs us again.


On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville


Rein van der Zee

Knocked Bayern boxer – BMW R 90 S.

BMW R 90 S.

Engine:
Two-cylinder four-stroke boxer engine, two valves per cylinder, bore 90 mm, stroke 70.6 mm, 898 cm³, compression 9.5: 1, 67 hp at 7000 rpm, two 38 Dellorto slide carburetors, single-disc dry clutch, five-speed gearbox , Cardan drive

Landing gear:
Double loop frame made of tubular steel, telescopic fork at the front, two-arm swing arm at the rear, double disc brake at the front, drum brake at the rear, weight with a full tank 226 kg, tank capacity 24 l

Top speed:
200 km / h


On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville


Rein van der Zee

Not original, but usable – Moto Guzzi Le Mans II.

Moto Guzzi Le Mans II

Engine:
Two-cylinder four-stroke V-engine, 90 ° cylinder angle, two valves per cylinder, bore 83 mm, stroke 78 mm, 844 cm³, compression 9.8: 1, 74 hp at 7700 rpm, two 36 mm Dellorto round slide carburetors, single disc -Dry clutch, five-speed gearbox, cardan drive

Landing gear:
Double loop frame made of tubular steel, telescopic fork at the front, two-arm swing arm at the rear, double disc brake at the front, single disc at the rear, integral brake system, weight fully fueled 242 kg, tank capacity 22.7 l

Top speed:
204 km / h


On the move with the BMW R 90 S, Moto Guzzi Le Mans and Triumph Bonneville


Rein van der Zee

Rent a classic, push a classic – Triumph T 120 Bonneville.

Triumph T 120 Bonneville

Engine:
Two-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, two valves per cylinder, bore 71 mm, stroke 82 mm, 649 cm³, compression 9: 1, 49 hp at 7200 rpm, two 30 mm Amal concentric carburetors, oil bath clutch, five-speed gearbox, chain drive

Landing gear:
Double loop frame made of tubular steel, telescopic fork at the front, two-arm swing arm at the rear, disc brake at the front, single disc at the rear, weight with a full tank 192 kg, tank capacity 13.5 l

Top speed:
175 km / h

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