It’s easy…no…practically inevitable that we fall in love with the bikes we own. We experience some of our greatest and most profound moments while riding them. After all, we bought them in the first place because they sparked something in our hearts. Often, when we make a big purchase, the emotional side of our brain overpowers our critical thinking – perhaps we may not be making the wisest choice, but we get an overwhelming sense of happiness. But, occasionally, as time goes on, there seems to be a moment when your critical voice begins to overpower your emotions. Does this lead to a decision to abandon the love you once felt so strongly about a particular machine?
Robert M. Pirsig wrote in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn’t any other test. If the machine produces tranquility, it’s right. If it disturbs you, it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”
Reading these lines was like seeing my disarrayed thoughts clearly on a page. I admit it’s hard for a motorcycle not to give me satisfaction, but I felt the relationship with my favourite bike had dwindled last summer; my mind wasn’t changing, which left only the machine to change. I had vowed never to sell my BMW G450X, but now I couldn’t remember why.
There was nothing wrong with my G450X – sure, it was older and had character – but it was great nonetheless. I was in love. Owning BMW’s only dirt bike made me a proud owner. That bike was the first in my dream collection of bikes (even though many people would state it could never be a collector’s item).
Something changed, though. We didn’t lust for each other the way we used to. I began looking at the bike with dread and fear of breaking hard-to-source parts on it. It needed someone who would find it intriguing; someone who wanted to take it apart and learn from its design and make it better. I felt I was sacrificing my riding skills and the bike’s condition by continuing to ride it.
I found my G450X by fate. When I walked into buddy’s shop one day, the bike was just sitting there; I had never seen one first-hand before. It was covered in dust and tucked between some machinery. It called to me, like the ring does to Gollum. Over the following year, I persuaded my friend that the bike would be better off with me.
The G450X was BMW’s first and only dirt bike, the company’s attempt to break into the dirt market. The model débuted at Austria’s Erzberg Rodeo in 2007, and Andreas Lettenbichler took first place with a G450X at the Redbull Romaniacs in 2009. The following year, Juhan Salminen rode a G450X to second place at the World Enduro Championship. The model produced a few good wins, but never gained traction – especially after racer David Knight had mechanical issues with it in many races and, after one particularly disastrous race, threw the bike down in the pits and began urinating on it.
The G450X was introduced in North America for 2009 and 2010, but sat on showroom floors without much movement before being discontinued. The unique design of the G450X was what drew me to the bike to begin with. It featured BMW’s coaxial design, having the swingarm pivot shaft run in line with the countershaft sprocket. This allowed for a longer swingarm, constant chain tension and improved overall traction. The fuel tank sits under the seat toward the rear, while the battery sits at the front of the bike. The clutch is attached to the end of the crank, a unique feature making the clutch spin faster and be very responsive and smaller in size overall. The G450X truly is a work of art – in some aspects, its design is still better than that of many dirt bikes out there today.
Throughout the years, I’ve hurled my burly G450X around on the trails and found so much joy in riding it. But my emotions for my bike eventually were pushed aside by my voice of reason. I wrote a well thought-out paragraph describing my rare machine and hesitantly posted the notice to buy-and-sell sites. Then came the call – one I dreaded, but knew needed to happen. A friend of mine was in the market for a G450X and luckily mine was the only one for sale in Canada, perhaps in North America.
Letting go can be tough. I remind myself often that my bike is in a better place now, with people who love and fully appreciate it. We just had different paths in life, and at least we enjoyed each other’s company during our time.
It wasn’t the machine that had changed. My mind did.