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Thread: Conceptual Reliability

  1. #1
    BUBBAZANETTI
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    Conceptual Reliability

    Just some random thoughts here.

    if someone were to ask you, "what is the most reliable BMW" how would you reply?

    i think about this having recently transitioned from Oilhead to Airhead, there are some marked differences. i knew this well because i'd come to an Oilhead from an Airehad, but i was young, naive and basically never touched anything on it. i received it crusty, kept it crusty and left it crusty. now that i'm actually digging into some of the major mechanical systems, i've come to realize why they have a good reputation as a tinkerers bike.

    the Oilhead just ran, the same way, every day, every push of the starter.

    the Airhead seems to idle differently if there's a few clouds in the sky or if you sit further back on the seat.

    i appreciate the simplicity, but one has to have a much more intricate "feel" for their particular machine, something i'm slowly acquiring.

  2. #2
    univers zero tessler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BubbaZanetti View Post
    if someone were to ask you, "what is the most reliable BMW" how would you reply?
    My 92 K75.

    (simply because it's the only bike I've ever owned, it's fun to ride and it's never given me an ounce of trouble).

  3. #3
    I was quite close to posting a similar thread; but about Honda/Nissan/etc cars. They have a reputation as being bulet-proof million mile cars, but every one I'm familiar with has 80k or less on them, and they're crapping out. Whereas, everyone I know who has an older domestic vehicle has at least 160k on them. My brothers truck had 225k on it when he bought it.

    But, I guess the "reliability" of the machine reflects on the owner. Their attention to detail, or just their willingness to "tinker."

    People who like to maintain old vehicles buy old vehicles. People who don't, buy new ones and jump from year to year to the newer one. Which, in my opinion, the maintenance of an older machine is a drop in the ocean compared the the boatloads of money it takes to buy new, eat the depreciation, and do it all over again.

    I'd say the airhead engine, or whole bike, is quite reliable. You can rely on it if you do even the most basic maintenance to it. But, people don't want to maintain. They don't want to think about oils and valves and seals.. maybe that's why some new cars are coming out without dipsticks.

    /rambling

  4. #4
    Rally Rat
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    I'd agree there. The airhead may not run as consistently as a computer controlled new bike, but it's not a bad design; just an odd one.

    The fundamental truth about airheads is that the ones we hear anecdotes about going hundreds of thousands of miles are usually well maintained one-owner bikes. The ones we buy used with less than 3,000 miles a year on them if you average it out, and/or multiple owners; are Pandora's boxes on wheels. You never know what you're going to find in there.
    Last edited by 108625; 06-03-2009 at 02:24 AM.

  5. #5
    Mars needs women! 35634's Avatar
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    I never owned a totally reliable bike. If I endorsed one it would break. That said,
    my 87 K75S ain't bad, needed shift fork & drum at about 90K. Just normal stuff
    before and since and it's got 180+ on it now.
    1987 K75S
    Original litter
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    2012 Ural Gear Up

  6. #6
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Reliability and BMW are seldom used in the same sentence.

    Think of it this way: BMWs are LOTS closer to Ferraris than they are Camrys. This assuming the common assumptions regarding those two cars and maybe referring a bit to the days of 6-carbs on the Ferrari.

    Defining reliability is tough in any event. The Airheads, for example, require lots of work but you can do it. The newer bikes don't require as much, but when they do it isn't simple. Which is more "reliable," then?

    "Reliable" IMHO for sure doesn't mean "never have to do anything." NOTHING's reliable if you don't follow the manufacturer's service schedule and only when you do you're going to get as close to bulletproof as you'll ever get.

    "Reliable" and "cheap to run" are not the same thing, then, as following the prescribed maintenance schedule isn't necessarily cheap.
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  7. #7
    JAMESDUNN
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    Quote Originally Posted by 108625 View Post
    I'd agree there. The airhead may not run as consistently as a computer controlled new bike, but it's not a bad design; just an odd one.

    The fundamental truth about airheads is that the ones we hear anecdotes about going hundreds of thousands of miles are usually well maintained one-owner bikes. The ones we buy used with less than 3,000 miles a year on them if you average it out, and/or multiple owners; are Pandora's boxes on wheels. You never know what you're going to find in there.
    I recently saw an ad where a potential buyer was advertising for a used airhead. He did not care how many miles it had, nor what the cosmetics were like; he did care about the maintenance and was seeking a bike with service records. It seems he was an experienced airhead guy based on the above. This is in line with your thinking ,and something I agree with.

    I bought a used airhead about four years ago. I knew the history and the owner. There were some records but not a lot. Not a lot of miles either. I purchased the bike and rode it for one year with little required maintenance, then things went south. Let's just say, I spent a lot of money and did a fair amount of work. The bike is now well sorted. Next time? I'll go for the one owner bike, with records, or failing that, the two or three owner bike...with service records.

  8. #8
    JAMESDUNN
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    Most reliable?

    Oh yeah. Most reliable BMW? The one that is well maintained and "looked after", regardless of type or model, although some of the latest Beemer's seem to have "issues" and are expensive to repair. I have owned K's, oilheads, and airhead bikes, and find all reliable with regular maintenance. The airheads are the easiest for an owner to work on. Labor cost at a shop is high, plus one for the airheads. The K's and oilheads are not as easy but not bad either compared to some. My most reliable bike was a K75S I owned, but my "94 RSL is not far behind.

  9. #9
    BUBBAZANETTI
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post

    Think of it this way: BMWs are LOTS closer to Ferraris than they are Camrys. This assuming the common assumptions regarding those two cars and maybe referring a bit to the days of 6-carbs on the Ferrari.
    i think i'd equate an airhead to something like a Volvo P1800

    what is the "Camry of Motorcycles"???

    it seems, by their nature; high revving machines built for performance and modest weight, that car like reliability will never be the norm.

    is the Goldwing the Camry of Motorcycles?

  10. #10
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    This sounds like a chautauqua I read, maybe 30 years ago. The discussion was about Quality, but it sounded pretty similar to this...
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  11. #11
    Rally Rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarrylRi View Post
    This sounds like a chautauqua I read, maybe 30 years ago. The discussion was about Quality, but it sounded pretty similar to this...
    Please, please, please, don't go there

    Worst book I ever read

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BubbaZanetti View Post

    if someone were to ask you, "what is the most reliable BMW" how would you reply?
    I would probably reply any 1987 to 1992 K series. And I don't own one.

  13. #13
    I would reply "K75".

    Legendary reliability can also be found in the Toyota Camry, but the winner is, in my humble opinion,

    Honda 1.6L VTEC engine
    Mike Marr
    1978 Yamaha XS750 (Needs rings), 1996 BMW R1100RS, 2004 Honda CRF230F

  14. #14
    Registered User MOTOR31's Avatar
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    In order of reliability in the BMW's I have had since 76 it would be
    91 K75RT
    78 R100/6
    76R75/6
    04 1150RT

    I've only had one real failure in the airheads and that was a carb diaphragm but they did require regular maintenance in that the valves had to be adjusted regularly and the charging system, especially on the 75/6 lacked real ability to maintain a battery.

    The K75 just ran and ran. It did have problems once the gas was replaced with gasahol as part of the clean air movement. Once the alcohol gas mixture started being all I could get, the rubber parts inside the tank started to degrade. I had to replace the pump vibration dampener and hoses every year and also lost 2 fuel pumps because of the rubber bits degrading.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by 108625 View Post
    we hear anecdotes about going hundreds of thousands of miles are usually well maintained one-owner bikes
    ..and not only that, but they're old enough to have gone that far. Their age is their opportunity to pack on the miles. Thus, it seems that they may be more reliable than a new bike which hasn't had the time to rack up the miles.

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