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Thread: Which R ? Which year ?

  1. #1

    Which R ? Which year ?

    I have been bitten by the vintage bug. I love the looks of the R60 series, and the R90 series. Any thoughts on which R series I should focus on ? I would like one which I can ride rather than keep as a museum piece. I also, would like one with good rear support and suspension.

  2. #2
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Surf City, USA (Santa Cruz, CA)
    Because the bikes you mentioned seem to be Airheads (post 1969) rather than Vintage BMWs, I'm moving this over to the Airheads group.

    For myself, I would say you could ride any BMW back to WWII, instead of keeping it as a museum piece. All of the twins will do at least 80, and handle reasonably. The bikes from before 1970 are much lower. The Earles fork bikes (1956-1969) have an excellent ride and, like the Telelever and Duolever front suspensions on modern BMWs, have no front end dive when you brake. The pre-1956 bikes have a "plunger" rear suspension, which is definitely less capable than having real shocks back there.

    But your list sounds like you're thinking about the Airheads, and in particular, the ones from the 1970s. While any BMW generation of bikes has a certain set of issues or potential issues, these are perfectly adequate and fun bikes to ride. The R60, only available through 1976, will still get you to 85 or 90mph. The R60/5 (1970-73) has dual leading shoe drum brakes in front, which are good for drums but can fade with repeated use or be grabby in the wet. The R60/6 (1974-76) has a reputation for pinging, but a thicker base gasket usually fixes that.

    The R90/6 and R90S are fun bikes and although the disk brakes are somewhat wooden in feel, they do work pretty well. I've put over 40k on my R90S and done some touring with it. The Dell'Orto pumper carbs on the S are a bit thirsty, but it is possible to wring 200 miles out of a tank.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison

  3. #3
    No longer a member here
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Go for a R100/7 series. The /7 were improved bikes over the /6s, especially in the motor area. Parts are easy to find and not yet compromised by vintage bike collectors' demands and to begin with, you will be able to find a decent bike for between $3,000 and $4,000.
    If you want a "rider", I would personally stay away from anything that has a drum front brake.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Northern Front Range, CO
    i would have no issues with a drum on front of an airhead. If adjusted properly, they are every bit as good as a single disc model (which is more of an indictment of the "meh" quality of early airhead discs than any endorsement of the later model drums).
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

  5. #5
    Yep... what he ^ said.

    I had a 60/6, which is the only post Slash 5 bike that had a drum... double leading shoe system. I had it adjusted to where it would provide pretty decent stopping power for around town riding. With my rig, riding solo and I weighing all of 170#, I found it be quite adequate. Discs, of course, do a lot better from high-speed stops, as they don't fade. The other caveat with a front drum is that they tend to grab when first used after sitting, or after being damp.... just gently use the brake once when you first start out, and then all is well....!!

    Last edited by rpeckham136133; 01-28-2013 at 05:07 PM.

  6. #6
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Albuquerque, NM
    First of all, there's no such thing as "the R60 series" or "the R90 series."

    In any given year all the bikes are identical save for the size of the cylinders and the rear drive ratio. Carbs and cylinder heads match the particular cylinder size as well.

    In terms of Airheads with the 247 engine, there were the /5 series from '70-'73, the /6 series from '74-'76, the /7 series from '77 to essentially '80, the '81-'84 models, and finally the '85-on versions. Through 1977 there were three engine sizes per series, after that just two.

    Supplementing these "large bikes" were the R45/R65 bikes, the G/S + ST group, and finally the GS + R group.

    The real cutoff IMHO as to whether an Airhead looks "vintage" or not is whether it is an RS or RT or not. You can decide as to the S + CS bikes. There never was a bad RS paint job, but the first RT in brown was pretty bad, so if you can still find one that hasn't been repainted, well that will look "vintage," too. Oh, I suppose the gold RS, too. You decide regarding a wire-wheel RS.

    It's only natural that they got better mechanically every year.

    I'd think you'd have trouble keeping up with one of the new BMW scooters on an R60 or R50.

    If you want good suspension, you'll start in 1985.
    Kent Christensen
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  7. #7

    M2 cents worth

    I can't help myself, so here I go?

    I worked in a motorcycle shop while in high school. I was into "cool" and speed. I was 17 in the late 60's. We sold Hondas, and BMW's.

    I HATED the BMW's!!

    After college, i talked my wife into letting me get a motorcycle. I purchased a 1968 R50/2. I was fun to rebuild, but it just didn't have the "zip" I wanted, and the Bing Carbs were JUNK!

    I then looked around, and found a used R90/6. Ran pretty good, but ran GREAT after I did an upper end overhaul, rings, valve job, gaskets and seals. I went over the much-improved carbs. This bike ran great, and at 80 mph, it was as smooth as can be, and quiet. Parts were easy to get, and it was a joy to own.

    Then came along a few small children, so I decided to sell them both - I didn't want the kids growing up without a dad.

    I REGRET selling the R90/6.

    Well, after being talked into a motor cycle again. It HAD to be a BMW. My grown up, post college son, purchased a K100 (more snazzy and fast, ) but not the "classy" bike that I was used to.

    I looked around, purchased an 1978 R100/7. Though I haven't had enough miles to make too many judgement, I like this R100/7 better than the R90/6. Has more power, and runs just as smoothly. Parts seem easy to get, and relatively inexpensive. I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for the bike either!

    My Opinion: Stay away from the pre-1970's the /2's and earlier. Too "old-fogey" and too much "sit-and-look-at" and not enough "go-out-and-ride." I never cared for the 1970 thru 1973. But after that they really had about 6 years of great motorcycles. I have never cared for the BMW's (either twins or the K-bikes) starting with the 1980's.

    So . . . any Beemer from 1974 thru 1979. Size will depend upon your desires. The early ones (/6's, or at least mine) had both a kick starter AND electric. they dropped the kick starter along the way. I miss the kick starter on my /7, but love the bike!

    I did find some really nice ones from this era when I was looking to purchase, so if you want, private msg. me, and I will let you know of one that I think would be perfect. I would buy it along with my R100, but I don't have the money to own two bikes. So... it would be a good one - for YOU!!

    I don't know the guy, other than my going to look at the bike. I get nothing out of this!

  8. #8
    Registered User rapz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Mission, TX
    I believe my 1979 R100RT was the most expensive production bike in the world with an MSRP of over $6K. It's retro, but it'll run 80 all day. It turns heads anytime I park it.
    Last edited by rapz; 01-29-2013 at 04:23 AM.
    IBA No. 58411
    Current Bike 2017 BMW R1200RT; 2008 Harley Davidson Ultra Classic 105th Anniversary Edition; Scooter

  9. #9
    Registered User kwb210's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Washington, the state

    my ride: 1977 R100/7

    I was out of bikes for many years, 25 plus. Purchased a well taken care of 1977 R100/7. Rode her short distances for the first year and enjoyed it. Did some mechanical stuff the next winter and then begun really riding her. At a BMW Rally I rode the new models, wow, really cool but when I walked back to my R100/7, and then rode her home the 500 or so miles, well, I really connected. The seat is perfect for me and I really like the handlebars, I can run most all day long and be alert and comfortable. So, now I find my self riding 10,000 miles a year and I never commute to work, just rallies and general riding. This pic is on the way to a rally in Quincy, CA. roughly 900 miles from home. I replaced the plastic bags with the metal ones, I have an upgraded charging system so I can run heated gear, keeps me comfortable and happy. I could afford a new bike but have chosen to run this 1977 model. That sounds kind of cold. Last year on the way back from Mexico I stopped at a hotel, it was cold and normally I camp, I asked a guy with his two Harleys if he thought this was a safe place for the night, he looked at my bike and told me to park that black bitch between his Harleys and she would be safe. So now she does have a name. I also have a 1972 R75/5 and feel comfortable riding her pretty much anywhere. The main reason I take the Black Bitch (slash 7) is because of the custom seat, all the difference in the world after a couple of hours. At least to this mid 50 yo rider anyway.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    1977 R100/7 1971.1972.1972.1973 R75/5
    1974 R90/6 multiple boxes
    Airhead Revival
    "Objects in the mirror appear to be losing" unk

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