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Thread: R80 Questions

  1. #1

    R80 Questions

    I am looking at an 86 R80RT. Current owner has had it a year, ridden it very little. The story is that he got it from a guy who had it serviced after sitting for a number of years. Paperwork is available to support new tires, carb overhaul, fluid changes, and headstock bearings replaced. The odometer shows about 18,500. The bike is clean, runs well, with no evil noises, but I am no expert. My experience is with older British bikes where if something isn't rattling, it can be assumed to have fallen off.

    The mileage sounds suspiciously low for a 27 year old motorcycle, even one that sat for a while.


    Is it possible for a BMW Dealer to provide any history on work done on the bike by other dealers?

    Is it common for the headstock bearings to be bad at that low a mileage?

    Thanks for any advice you can give.


  2. #2
    Liaison 20774's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    San Antonio, TX
    Can't help with the dealer info...worth a question to them. As for the steering stem bearings, they could be ruined in less than 5000 miles if they were properly serviced or tightened to spec. If the front end wasn't tight enough, hitting bumps will dent the races creating bad handling issues. But usually this is so noticeable that the owner will get it fixed because the bike would be undriveable...weaving or shaking at speed.

    ~20K miles doesn't sound so horrible. 5K would bother me...100K would bother me. If the price and you have some confidence in the general health, who knows??
    Kurt -- Forum Liaison ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  3. #3
    Registered User GeorgeR1200RT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    I had a 1984 R80RT for more than 50,000 miles of use....bought it used with only 15k on it. I loved the bike for solo touring and local riding.

    Did long trips with passenger, but it was not real comfortable for two somewhat large people. A Corbin seat was more comfortable for both rider and pillion. I also beefed up the rear suspension with heavy duty springs and shocks.

    Regarding steering head bearings, this is the only thing I found to be a problem. Replaced them at least twice. Frankly, for what I paid for the bike and the cost of new bearings, it was not that big a deal.

    I traded the R80RT in on a K1200LT because of plans to do a lot of long distance two up touring. The LT did the job in great comfort. For the value I got for the R80RT, I wish I had kept it. At the time I only had storage space for one bike.

    If I found an R80RT with low mileage and a decent price, I would seriously consider buying it.

    I would also plan to spend some money to make sure all was well...and I have an excellent mechanic I trust to do the work. On an airhead, I would change fluids and do valve adjustments, but that is about it.
    R1200RT. Previous K1200RS, K1200LT, R80RT, R100R, R75/5

  4. #4
    BMW used to use some very strange grease that would at a certain age under some set of who-knows-what conditions suddenly harden into a thick consistency like cosmoline. I once had an Airhead, and later had a K bike that handled well one one week and became essentially unsteerable a week later because the grease had hardened to the point that turning the steering head one way or the other was difficult. Periods of storage made this problem worse.

    While it is true that the bearings could be removed, cleaned, regreased, and reused, many folks concluded that if they were going to go to all of the trouble to take the steering stem/head apart they might as well put in new bearings. It was the passage of time that caused the issue, not the accumulated miles.

    So new steering head bearings on a low mileage bike that is 27 years old and has done a lot of sitting doesn't surprise me a bit, even if the original bearings were presumably properly installed and adjusted.

    I also had a K75 which I rode 370,000 miles with the original bearings which were regreased and readjusted exactly twice.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  5. #5
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Albuquerque, NM
    Think it most practical to just go ahead and assume it not possible that a BMW dealer can provide you service information ... even for service done by them. I'd assume this as regards any dealer for anything automotive. It's not the NSA.

    PS. I've experienced the grease essentially turning into a locking compound, too.
    Kent Christensen
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

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