From the time Mike Boileau was a young boy, he was fascinated by motorcycles. And ever since the St. Jacobs resident bought his first bike as a teen, through a three-and-half-month trek down to the bottom of South America five years ago, to his daily commute to Breslau, Boileau has always treated riding with the respect it deserves.
Skilled in bike maintenance and repairs and carrying the experience of countless miles over 25 years of riding, Boileau loves to talk shop.
This weekend, he’ll get a chance to share that knowledge and passion for motorcycles, and more specifically, the airhead era of BMWs he has adopted as his favourite, to fellow enthusiasts as the host of a “tech day” event.
“The airheads club has been around since the (1980s), I think, and it was created to share the knowledge for the particular type of BMW motorcycle,” Boileau said. “They made this type of engine, more or less since the 1920s. The club is based out of California and every state and province has what’s called an air marshal, which is like the go-to person for information. So the guy from Ontario is from Eganville, up near Ottawa, and he’s coming. … They try to do a tech day every year. And they’ve done them in Sarnia they’ve done them in Toronto, up in Eganville, because one of the things about BMW riders is they tend to be long distance tourers. And the BMW bike was designed to be a touring bike, and if it was aesthetically pleasing, well, that was secondary.”Boileau is expecting roughly a dozen airhead riders to stop by his Front Street home on Saturday.
“It is a chance for fellow and newbie airheads to get together to learn how to perform various maintenance tasks as well as to just chew the fat with like-minded enthusiasts,” he said.
“My bike will be undergoing some surgery (and) I look forward to gleaning some expertise as I perform my ‘cam-chain-ectomy.’ There will be about 12 to 15 (people) in attendance, with a special guest. Gunther Schwarz from Waterloo races an airhead in the Vintage Road Racing Association and will be on hand with his race bike to hang out and discuss all things airhead.”
Airheads were built from 1923-1995 and get their name from their distinctive air-cooled flat twin engines, which are easily recognizable since their cylinder heads stick out at a 180-degree angle.
It’s a design that lasted for decades because it was simple and practical, Boileau said. And the airhead club is hoping to keep the tradition going for many years – and road trips – going forward.
“Really, I’m just looking forward to sharing some information and tips with people who also love these motorcycles,” Boileau said, noting airhead club members share a bond that includes a provincial directory that members can call upon if they’re out on the road and run into a maintenance issue. “I hope people here in the region that are into these bikes feel welcome to come out and meet with us. It’ll be a good time.”
The airhead tech day is open to anyone interested in learning more about vintage BMW motorcycles, and will be run all day on Saturday at 31 Front St. in St. Jacobs.