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For Performance Motors' new boss, motorcycles sharpen the BMW brand

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Arnt Bayer, who took up the role in August, is an avid cyclist.

Singapore

YOU'RE just as likely to find the new managing director of Performance Motors Limited (PML) on two wheels as four. Just don't expect an engine to be involved. Arnt Bayer, who took up the role in August, is an avid cyclist.

But motorcycling is something of a past pursuit for him. In his 20s, he got around on a Japanese bike, which he took on an epic road trip with friends.

"I had it for around five years and rode it maybe six to eight thousand kilometres a year," he told The Business Times. "I gave up my car, grabbed a bag and a tent, and we rode all the way from Switzerland to Portugal on a four-week trip.

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"We were quite happy that we got back in one piece," he added. "You know, in your early 20s you do stuff you shouldn't be doing but it was the experience of a lifetime."

After a 20-year break from riding, Mr Bayer jumped back on a motorcycle for the first time a fortnight ago. He rode with customers into the main tent of Pure & Crafted, a music-and-motorcycles festival that PML sponsored.

Apart from top billing, the sponsorship gave PML the chance to put the F 850 GS, a new adventure motorcycle, on preview at the event.

Pure & Crafted also showcased customised bikes from other brands such as Harley-Davidson, but PML saw it as a chance to win new buyers to BMW's two wheelers.

"We want to reach out to all riders, not just BMW owners, and show them what the brand is about," said Anthony Chaw, the head of PML's motorcycle division.

Bikes are a small business for PML, which earns the bulk of its profits from selling and repairing BMW cars. Figures from the Land Transport Authority show that BMW puts 20 cars on the road for every motorcycle it registers. "You could look at the bike business and say it's not important at all. But BMW Motorrad helps to sharpen the BMW brand, just as the M business does," said Mr Bayer, referring to the brand's high performance M division. "From that perspective, it's actually quite important."

Mr Bayer himself seems to know first-hand how riding can stir up strong emotions. "Oh yeah, the itch is there!" he said, when asked if he intends to ride more often. "The only thing is I need to communicate that itch to my wife and to my three-year-old son. With my son, it's not a problem. You show him a bike, he gets excited."

That excitement might be for two wheels, but there's every chance that some could spill onto four. That would only be good news for BMW, especially if you believe that there's a three-year-old in all of us.