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Game Changer #1 - Anke-Eve Goldmann

Posted by Hannah Smith on

An inspiration for both book and film, Anke-Eve Goldmann is a European legend. Born in Germany on November 27, 1930, Anke-Eve defied the trends of her day and age, since she devoted so much of her life to motorcycles.

Standing over six feet tall, she already had a commanding presence, but she shocked still further as a female motorcyclist and the first woman to sport a one-piece leather racing suit. She designed her own riding clothes, aided by Harro, a German manufacturer, and traces of those styles remain in women’s motorcycle apparel to this day.

She had three main careers in her lifetime. Aside from racing, she covered international motorcycle news as a journalist for France’s Moto Revue, Germany’s Das Motorrad, the USA’s Cycle World, and other magazines and publications around the world, including ones in Sweden, Japan, and Spain. For a time, she also worked at a U.S. Air Force base in Germany, teaching German to the children of American soldiers.

In 1956, she got a BMW R69, the fastest Bavarian flat-twin roadster of its time, able to top 100 miles per hour with ease. She fell for the bike’s charms and became an advocate of the marque, constantly wearing her pudding basin helmet with the letters ‘BMW’ on the front.

Although she apparently was never employed or sponsored by BMW, she had the opportunity to purchase one of the first six BMW R69S models produced in 1960. The model she bought, an excellent sports-touring bike, boasted 42 horsepower (capable of 110 miles per hour) and had the rare feature of a rearview mirror. 

She competed in speed circuits and endurance races at Hockenheimring and Nurburgring, but because the sport excluded female participants in professional arenas, she was barred from competing at higher levels or in GP racing. 

An influential woman of her time, she helped bring the Women’s International Motorcycle Association (WIMA) to Europe. WIMA, the first organisation to recognise all women in the sport, started in the USA in 1950, and Anke-Eve teamed up with nine other female motorcyclists to found the European branch. 

Whatever the road conditions or the season, she was determined to tour, and even attended the Elephant Rally—a midwinter run through the snow in the Bavarian Forest—several times. Although she owned another BMW, the R75/5, in 1972 she acquired a MV Agusta 750S, a pricy, exclusive Italian hot rod prized by collectors today. By the end of the 1960s, Italian and Japanese motorcycles had become significantly faster than the BMWs she owned, even though she augmented her bikes to enhance their speed. 

Despite her passionate love of motorcycling, she gave up the sport after one of her dear friends died in a riding accident. In the years that followed, she backpacked alone through remote Asian locations—Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, and the Sunda Islands—not long after the conclusion of the conflicts there. She lived a daring life, and although she has avoided interviews and biographies, perhaps one day even more stories will come to light about her incredible adventures.

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