A challenging project: Bens R69S – column

R69S sail two
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Ben van Helden teaches goldsmith training in his own academy. He is a lovely person. And of course he is also a motorcycle enthusiast. We both have a mild preference for lost and forgotten dreams and for bikes with a serious scratching factor. We have been working on old motorcycles for a very long time and where many people scour the internet for unique finds, we still live old-fashioned. We know many people who know many people. And we kindly try to keep our ears open.

This is how Ben once found a very nice Sanglas

And a hell nest of Condors. And of course he also had Russian sidecars and just as ugly Chang Jiang as I have now. But usually Ben sets the bar a little higher than I do. He now owns a BMW R69S. Ordinary. From under a tarp. Ben had known the bike was there for five years. But it took a while before the motorcycle was awarded to him. The fact that what was once Bavarian pride and the fastest series engine in the world had slept under that tarp for fifteen+ years turned out to be a thing a little later.

Once we arrived home, it soon became apparent how much nature and time can destroy. The time when the boxer was the pride of the street had apparently been a while ago. Because we can't imagine a real BMW enthusiast who wants to use a block of wood as a tank support. And it wasn't even oak!

Once in his hometown Ben went to work

At first he took a few evenings just to check out his asset. After that, the once 42 hp strong boxer was allowed on the bridge. And there are veterans who have been traumatized from less. The quiet determination soon turned into puzzled giggles. If it had been a less iconic bike from a less famous brand, Ben would have laughed at his loss. But he has too big a heart to put his find to sleep. In addition, he still has some heavy duty disassembly tools that he once had from his Chang Jiang adventure. But will the pistons ever be used again? There's no chance of that. Fortunately, the parts supply for classic BMWs is excellent, although the fit of the 'spare parts' that BMW has made in China or thereabouts sometimes leaves something to be desired.
The top restoration of a BMW R69S can be very expensive. But recently we saw a perfect R69S change hands for €27.500.

Unlike hard core BMW-o-philes, Ben doesn't go for the top

He wants to make his asset tidy and running smoothly without falling into perfection or perversion. In addition, it can be useful that fellow villager Theo Terwel sometimes has parts left over from restorations that do not meet his highest standards, but that are too good to throw away. Ben hopes for more of that stuff. And he's in no rush. The BMW is worth a serious investment. And in addition, the sale of the property that Ben and his Erna have in France must be the space for a happy ending for the BMW. So if you're looking forward to a BMW R69S restoration, but don't mind a five-hour drive to France? To your rustic dream home with rental option? Then take a look at

And whether Ben regrets his purchase? “No! Otherwise he would have just stood there…”

Also read:
- The BMW R69S (1960-1969). (Ever) The fastest series engine in the world
- BMW R69S: Worth a hypotheque
- More articles about classic engines
- Lake columns


Give a reaction
  1. That monstrosity of a tank, not a BMW product if I have it but one from Hoske, was supplied with spruce fittings as standard, with oak an option. But now I'm sucking my thumb.
    Thanks to the BMWs of the 60s, I never became curious about that brand; she didn't like it and I still don't. Moreover, at that time a striking part of the official Netherlands rode on these things; that also created distance. But I recognize the undertaking, the project that is gloriously presented here: bravo!

  2. Yes, that's some heavy stuff you need, you see, but not only a HD can convert iron, but also a hefty Bavarian, great pictures

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