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Thread: Short Wheel Base ? ? ?

  1. #1

    Short Wheel Base ? ? ?

    I am newly back into cycling with a '79 R100RT. Had a '72 R60/5 many years ago, and think I need an R75!

    The SWB's are sometimes said to be "twitchy" or otherwise questionable of handling, but my R60 was a "toaster tank" and nostalgia is an issue. I never was aware of any problem, but: 1) I still have fewer than 10,000 miles, so really am a novice; and 2) BMW lengthened it for some reason.

    I've also read that "problems" came from bags and other shapes and weight near or rear of the axle. With the RT, the R75 would probably be for riding mostly locally and one-up.

    I know there are a lot of guys (gender neutral intended) who have a lot more experience than I do.

    Should I avoid these earlier bikes and go long?


  2. #2
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Albuquerque, NM
    They made them longer to make them better.

    You don't have to avoid them but you can do better and there's little reason not to.

    BMW's a company dedicated to progress and improvement and not so much nostalgia.
    Kent Christensen
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  3. #3
    Liaison 20774's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    San Antonio, TX
    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    BMW's a company dedicated to progress and improvement and not so much nostalgia.
    This is one man's opinion, and a realtively constant one at that! BMW's celebrating 90 years this year...seems like there's plenty of nostalgia in that!

    Nothing wrong at all for wanting something older, just so long as you understand the limitations of the older machine. IMO, they can be quite enjoyable to own...and be proud of the history.
    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!

  4. #4
    Sir Darby Darryl Cainey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Fenwick, Ontario Canada
    A lot of people put handlebar mounted farings on the bikes of that era.
    This caused some strange oscillations, which was cured by making the wheelbase longer.
    Ambassador BMW MOA Ontario Canada
    President Niagara BMW Riders #298
    Knights of the Roundel #333
    1977 R100RS, (Retired) 1993 R100GS (just getting started)

  5. #5
    rsbeemer 22600's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    New Braunfels,Texas/Taichung, Taiwan

    My 2 bits

    I owned a 1971 r75/5 swb for a number of years. It was loaded down pretty good with a full faring, old leather type saddle bags and back rest for my young lady at the time. That was 40 years ago. Anyway, it wasn't a canyon carver or a speedster but I cruised at 70 mph most of the time and rode that bike all over the states and Mexico. I never noticed any problems with stability; I never lost control of it or wrecked it. It was the best bike I ever owned and I've owned a few. That's my take on it. Probably just depends on your riding style whether you need to brace the frame up or go with a lwb. I definitely like the old bikes better than the new.

    1978 R100rs MOA#22600 125cc Kymco , 180cc Kymco Racing King
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

  6. #6
    Rally Rat 1074's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Las Vegas, NV

    Cool swb vs lwb

    I've lost track of how many /5s I've owned over the years. Currently have four in various stages of restoration and riders.
    My opinion is that they're all just fine as long as you don't have a handlebar fairing and the suspension is well sorted you. Ride them within their limitations and either long or short will get you where you want to go with minimun hassle and plenty of joy.

  7. #7
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    south of Los Angeles
    Never had any handling issues with my first /5, loaded with Bates saddlebags (stuffed) and a rack & pack above the taillight. It wasn't any canyon carver, but it was a sturdy mount coast-to-coast a couple of times.
    Another advantage of the longer models is that they had slightly larger alternators - this was a definite improvement.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    you can do better and there's little reason not to.

  9. #9
    Smoooooth at 430 gch71's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Katy, Texas

    Go for it!

    Regardless of someone's opinion...(newer better??)..I personally don't think that way in this case,,,the bikes are pushing forty years and they are still around being driven just because its newer doesn't mean it's always better. Just keep them loaded correctly and drive smartly..use your gray matter between your ears..O when operating the OLD bikes....with all the new bikes all that's being done for you, IE stability computer, anti-lock brakes etc, awesome safety features but they tend to take the human out of the equation. My .02$ go for it and have fun....if you have driven them way back in the day then I say what's new?
    ...driving to work on my airhead
    '73 R75/5, '74 R60/6, '75 R60/6, '80R65

  10. #10
    Registered User GeorgeR1200RT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Had a swb /5 with Vetter frame mounted faring and Bates bags. Added a passenger back rest. Drove that baby more than 125,000 miles and it handled beautifully. Did a lot of 2 up long distance touring with wife or one of my daughters.

    The short frame only allowed a small battery that needed to be replaced every 18 months. I'm sure modern batteries would be a big improvement.

    Modern brakes, suspension, electronic ignition and fuel injection are what I prefer now, but if you enjoy a little tinkering, the old airheads are wonderful bikes and easy to work on.
    R1200RT. Previous K1200RS, K1200LT, R80RT, R100R, R75/5

  11. #11
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    NO Issues:)

    I had shorty too, a R75/5 toaster with chrome sides. 4 speed was the thing then too. Drum front brakes. Everything worked on that bike and it never was an issue to ride anywhere, anytime. Arguably the SMOOTHEST BMW I ever owned to this day. Man would they purr nicely from idle to speed limits. I never gave the short swingarm any thought whatsoever. Wixom bags, no fairing and I bought it used with Vetter(Windjammer 1) fairing on it. It came off, never liked it much on this bike. They were heavy too, at over 30# these early fairings. A totally restored R75/5 I could ride today again on a tour anywhere and that would be a blast... I still have an Airhead today, '78 R100/7 I bought new after my R75/5. Randy

  12. #12
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Chicago, IL
    Those old bikes rock!
    The only thing is, if you don't like to tinker, maintaining them can get expensive. If you do like to tinker, they are a joy to own.
    If you want a modern bike, I think there are better options out there in other brands in just about every category.

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