The club for BMW owners has been through a few changes, in name and structure. We caught up with current President Garry Williams to understand what the group offers to riders today.
Growing up on a farm, Garry Williams rode motorcycles from an early age. A farm bike, of course, but when the era of ‘carless days’ arrived riding a motorcycle as daily transport made even more sense than usual. Progressing from a TS90, his riding career encompassed motocross, enduro and even a try at road racing. The BMW bug bit during a spell in the UK when he bought a R 100/7 and toured around Europe. But it was going on BMW safaris back in NZ that got Garry hooked: “I started with a little F650 then just progressed through bigger and bigger adventure bikes, right up to the HP2 Enduro that I’ve got now.”
The HP2 Enduro has been in Garry’s hands for 15 years, covering over 214,000 kms. Only six made it into New Zealand new, back in 2005, and Garry knows every owner, as well as most of those with more recent imports. In fact he has another of the original six in his garage, the property of a friend now in Sydney. As Garry puts it, “having a third of the original stock in your garage is pretty good going.”
In 1995, almost as soon as he and his wife returned from overseas, Garry bought a R 80 TIC ex-Police bike at auction. He then joined the BMW Owners Register, as it was then known. “The intent of the club then was that you could join if you owned a BMW, and the bike was registered on a central database that we kept,” says Garry. “We didn’t have Land Transport doing the centralised stuff that they do now. Parts were hard to get, so we would buy bits by the container load and store them in Auckland. And if your bike got stolen the Police would have a record of your chassis and engine number, all that sort of thing.”
After a few years Garry became club Secretary then it was officially incorporated into a Society. Since then he’s always been part of the executive, with stints as Editor, Vice President and, since 2016, President. He’s seen a few changes. And challenges, including the GFC, Covid, adapting to BMW Motorrad’s shifts in distribution structure in NZ, updates to corporate identity requirements and others. But as he contemplates handing over the presidency in 2024, having completed the club’s constitutional maximum number of terms in the role, he’s happy with where the club is at having passed its 40th birthday.
The club went through big changes in 2012, with Garry playing a key role as Vice President supporting the then President. The focus was on broadening the governance and becoming more of a national organisation. “The club started with 15 guys in Auckland,” says Garry. “I was living in Auckland when I joined in 1995 and the representation and growth from Auckland was fantastic. But it was all Auckland-centric. So the change was about having more representation from other parts of the country and we now have a very broad base of members. I’m proud to have been the first President, and in fact the first Vice President, resident in the South Island. There’s still obviously a lot of members in Auckland because of the population and the number of bikes sold there. But it now feels like a truly national club.”
A rebrand saw the old BMW Owners Register become the BMW Motorcycle Club Aotearoa New Zealand. And while the primary membership category is based around owning and riding a BMW motorcycle, the options are now wider. “You can become an associate member if you don’t have a BMW, you can become a pillion member,” advises Garry. “It really is much more than a register.”
The ultimate vision of Garry and the executive team is that everyone who owns a BMW motorcycle in New Zealand becomes a member of the club. And it certainly offers benefits, tangible and intangible. “We have hundreds and hundreds of years of technical expertise across all models,” says Garry proudly. “There’s the camaraderie of people involved, there are people who can help you out pretty much anywhere you are in the country, our membership directory has people who opt in to host you if you’re touring around. So it’s a very congenial, friendly club. We also have three or four big events every year, which are big on riding and socialising.”It also comes down to cold, hard cash. Membership of the club is just $60 a year while deals with Aon insurance, Bluebridge and Resene can easily save that amount and more.
Another aspect is improving rider skills and safety. BMWMC works closely with IAM, Ride Forever and the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Committee, and has a strong safety record among its members. Garry has taken Silver and Gold Ride Forever courses and strongly promotes the coaching to members, including the cashback offer. “I must do another one,” says Garry. “You always learn something, even though I’ve been riding well over 40 years.”
With so many GS models in the club, Garry is also working hard on delivering off-road training and experiences for members.
Interested? Just go to bmwmc.nz for details.