My BMW R100/7 is 38 years old now, and Shail Sharma had already been working on Beemers for three years when it came out.
Shail is the longstanding owner of Shail’s Motorcycles and Greater Vancouver’s (if not Western Canada’s) elder statesman of BMWs. Sure, he will fix your Russian Ural, sell you parts for your 2016 GS Adventure, and advise on how to nurse a British Royal Enfield across India, but if you want to really light the fire, show up on an airhead twin or a K-bike. That’s his bread and butter, and no one knows classic BMWs like Shail.
He wasn’t born in Bavaria though. Far from it, in fact. He brought his family and a love for motorcycles to Canada from Fiji in 1974 and promptly found work with Phil Funnel, Canada’s godfather of adventure touring and at one point, the country’s leading BMW salesman.
Shail set up his own shop at 41st & Fraser in 1989, and has since bounced through a handful of locations, finally ending up in a spacious warehouse in Langley, closer to home and family.
While many of his clients likely call the Fraser Valley home as well, they phone, email and ride from all over for his and his team’s help. Service is generally provided for those in the Lower Mainland and the interior of BC, he gets parts orders and knowledge requests from Vancouver Island, all across Canada, down through the Pacific Northwest, and even Mexico on occasion.
Personally, he’s been riding since 1973, when a friend lent him a Honda 175, which in turn caused him to buy a 350 as soon as possible. And while Shail admits that he first thought BMWs were ugly, he was absolutely hooked when he bought his first one – an R75/5 – and now he won’t ride anything else. He’s owned about five R90S’s (his favourite model), and he’s building one of those and also an R60 with an R50 motor from scratch right now. He loves the R100RS’s, once rode one of his R90s down to Mexico for a rally and won the “long distance traveled” award, and went on a BMW-sponsored tour of Europe on an 1100GS a while back.
Culturally, he’s enjoying the increased following of and interest in BMWs around the world. He reflects on the fact that while certainly shows and races like Long Way Down/Round and the Paris-Dakar Rally have popularized the brand, above all, the bikes are just more accessible than they used to be. He says that, “back in the day it was all doctors and lawyers riding these things. A $5,000 bike in 1976 was a lot more unattainable than a $20,000 bike in 2016.” Words to be believed, when uttered by a man who’s seen the transition happen in real time.
As for the classics? Whether you blame the hipsters or credit websites like BikeEXIF, there’s no shortage of demand for Boxer twins and other decades-old BMWs because of the custom platform they offer, or the pleasant sight of a well-fettled stock example. Shail is happy with where the brand sits, both in the world’s appreciation of its bygone models as well as the direction in which its taking its newer offerings.
The shop is certainly worth a visit. At the front desk you’ll typically find Shane or Renée – Shail’s kids, deeply knowledgeable in their own right – with Shail himself or Gerard, Brian or Steffan working away in the back. Whether you’re in the market for a new steed and want to visit their showroom of 15-odd bikes for sale (and there are some absolute gems in here, believe me), need some parts or service for your BMW, or just want to talk about the bikes and maybe want some guidance on how to buy a classic /5, /6, or /7, Shail’s Motorcycles is a welcoming place to arrive at.
Photos by Jesse Yuen
BMW. URAL. ROYAL ENFIELD. PARTS. SALES. SERVICE
Toll Free 1-877-200-1881
Sales, Service & Parts 604-513-1376
#3-19862 96 Ave in Langley