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Thread: An old guy shares some thoughts on BMWs and their riders

  1. #1
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    An old guy shares some thoughts on BMWs and their riders

    When I first became involved in BMWs the older riders were still on /2's, /5's and /6's with a few really futuristic guys on the /7's. I have now realized that I am now one of the "Old Guys with the Old Bikes" watching as a whole new generation of riders are coming up. I used to worship those old guys and wanted to be just like them. I could listen to their stories all night long around a campfire. I only hope I can be as good as they were. One of my mentors was the Late, Great Keith Patchett who taught me more about the Type 247 motor than anyone else in my experience. I started out on a /7 which was a great bike; (all it needed to be right was a new BMW). Back in those days, we just accepted that alternators produced 280w and adjusted accordingly, turning off our Widder Electric Vests when we were running at low speeds in town. If you wanted one of them to handle, you needed to put on Konis and Progressive Fork springs as well as the Luftmeister Fork and Frame Braces. I remember buying a Big Bulb kit from Keith which allowed me to run a 100w bulb that my riding buddies thought must be as bright as the landing lights at JFK. One of the required skills then was the ability to rebuild and balance the Bing carbs. If you wanted to go high tech, you replaced the varnished styrofoam floats with the hot new plastic dual floats from Bing. Yet another high tech upgrade was a Boyer Electronic Ignition though I always carried a spare points can just in case. While BMWs have always attracted a more affluent rider, many of us rather thought that those who couldn't set their own valves, balance and adjust their own carbs and play with their own ignition timing were somehow lacking. Pay someone to change your own oil? Get Real!! One of the things that bonded many of us together in the MOA was that we couldn't afford to have the dealer maintain our bikes, so we banded together and shared our knowledge to do it ourselves. One of the things I admire about the Airheads is that they maintain that tradition. At some point in the not to distant future, I will probably return to an Airhead myself; (I love the RT's and RS's with the 247 motor). GOOD LORD, THE DAFT OLD BASTARD HAS BEEN RAMBLING ON FOR AGES!!! Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this post; hope you enjoyed it! Respectfully, 3hawks

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    #4869 DennisDarrow's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing and perhaps passing along a few ideas for those that don't have quite as many retreads on their soul as some of us. You thanked Keith, who IS still right there with us riding and I personally thank Ciff and Betty Smith out of Blackwell, OK for bringing their traditions to me so I can still be passing them along. Good ol Leroy and his adjustable metric sledge taught many of us OKC riders a whole lot about the subtle strategies of keeping an airhead running......God bless them all, as they are still with us.......Dennis

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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will3hawks View Post
    When I first became involved in BMWs the older riders were still on /2's, /5's and /6's with a few really futuristic guys on the /7's. I have now realized that I am now one of the "Old Guys with the Old Bikes" watching as a whole new generation of riders are coming up. I used to worship those old guys and wanted to be just like them. I could listen to their stories all night long around a campfire. I only hope I can be as good as they were. One of my mentors was the Late, Great Keith Patchett who taught me more about the Type 247 motor than anyone else in my experience. I started out on a /7 which was a great bike; (all it needed to be right was a new BMW). Back in those days, we just accepted that alternators produced 280w and adjusted accordingly, turning off our Widder Electric Vests when we were running at low speeds in town. If you wanted one of them to handle, you needed to put on Konis and Progressive Fork springs as well as the Luftmeister Fork and Frame Braces. I remember buying a Big Bulb kit from Keith which allowed me to run a 100w bulb that my riding buddies thought must be as bright as the landing lights at JFK. One of the required skills then was the ability to rebuild and balance the Bing carbs. If you wanted to go high tech, you replaced the varnished styrofoam floats with the hot new plastic dual floats from Bing. Yet another high tech upgrade was a Boyer Electronic Ignition though I always carried a spare points can just in case. While BMWs have always attracted a more affluent rider, many of us rather thought that those who couldn't set their own valves, balance and adjust their own carbs and play with their own ignition timing were somehow lacking. Pay someone to change your own oil? Get Real!! One of the things that bonded many of us together in the MOA was that we couldn't afford to have the dealer maintain our bikes, so we banded together and shared our knowledge to do it ourselves. One of the things I admire about the Airheads is that they maintain that tradition. At some point in the not to distant future, I will probably return to an Airhead myself; (I love the RT's and RS's with the 247 motor). GOOD LORD, THE DAFT OLD BASTARD HAS BEEN RAMBLING ON FOR AGES!!! Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this post; hope you enjoyed it! Respectfully, 3hawks
    The demographics of the BMW rider has definitely changed, but so has the bikes and how we get info. I got interested in BMW's because my Dad talked about these guys he knew that had these well made German motorcycles. My dad and his friends were skilled trades people........they had good paying jobs and could afford better toys. That would have been during the Butler & Smith days when Mom & Pop shops were more common in PA. As we moved into the 80's and 90's, the typical US Beemer owner became more of a white collar guy but definitely older. I quit doing my own oil changes when I discovered I was paying the same labor rate for the major services whether or not I did the work. But, you were still riding a bike that might not have a dealer for 100 or more miles and you were most likely someone interested in some atypical aftermarket stuff.....windshields, seats, luggage, engine and lighting accessories that the typical MC rider didn't care about. Something like an AeroStich suit. Owning one of those in the 1980's made you a really rare bird.

    The newer stuff is a change. I'm giving it a try. While it seems to function fine, I sense some lack of the old K-Brick & R259 beefy-ness. It might just be perception. Relative the BMW riders, we're also changing. Someday, I might understand how.

    The airhead sounds like a lot of fun. I don't know how it would be on the interstate, but the two-lane roads of northern PA should be an ideal match.
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
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    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 36654 View Post
    The demographics of the BMW rider has definitely changed, but so has the bikes and how we get info.
    This is true, but more significantly so has everything with the BMW cars changed the same way and that's what leads the bikes.

    A few months ago I posted in another thread that I did an economic analysis using constant dollars and determined that the $7K I paid for an R100RS in December, 1983, is in fact very nearly the equivalent dollars to the $16K price of a 2016 R1200RS.

    This IMHO makes it pretty hard to pine much for the good ol' days when in the interim BMW and its suppliers have gotten lots smarter and more competent and are able to bring in 2016 a bike with improved power, improved safety, improved reliability, and improved comfort for essentially the same price. Pretty important to Americans too, is vastly increased GVWR, i.e. increased weight carrying capacity ... yet another safety improvement.

    When you get old you can stop learning or try to keep up, but in the meantime the design and engineering staff at BMW will have turned over and remained fairly young and will do wonderful things for their customers. They'll learn lots from the car side of the business, too, as that's where the real money is and for sure that's where most of the innovation begins.

    Yeah, you get retired and your income becomes pretty much fixed and the prices of new bikes looks fairly out of reach. But, complaining is like beating your head against a wall ... it feels better when you stop. And stay slow and lightly loaded on those old Airheads.
    Kent Christensen
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    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    This is true, but more significantly so has everything with the BMW cars changed the same way and that's what leads the bikes.

    A few months ago I posted in another thread that I did an economic analysis using constant dollars and determined that the $7K I paid for an R100RS in December, 1983, is in fact very nearly the equivalent dollars to the $16K price of a 2016 R1200RS.

    This IMHO makes it pretty hard to pine much for the good ol' days when in the interim BMW and its suppliers have gotten lots smarter and more competent and are able to bring in 2016 a bike with improved power, improved safety, improved reliability, and improved comfort for essentially the same price. Pretty important to Americans too, is vastly increased GVWR, i.e. increased weight carrying capacity ... yet another safety improvement.

    When you get old you can stop learning or try to keep up, but in the meantime the design and engineering staff at BMW will have turned over and remained fairly young and will do wonderful things for their customers. They'll learn lots from the car side of the business, too, as that's where the real money is and for sure that's where most of the innovation begins.

    Yeah, you get retired and your income becomes pretty much fixed and the prices of new bikes looks fairly out of reach. But, complaining is like beating your head against a wall ... it feels better when you stop. And stay slow and lightly loaded on those old Airheads.
    It's a valid point that you probably aren't going to do a lot of repairs to a modern car in your garage. But, then again, they don't need them....fluid & filter changes and you're good for the first 100K. Brakes and tires as needed.
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
    1) My expectations are never low enough & 2) Incompetence is infinite ........David Brooks

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    Quote Originally Posted by will3hawks View Post
    When I first became involved in BMWs the older riders were still on /2's, /5's and /6's with a few really futuristic guys on the /7's........
    Excellent post. Thanks for that!

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    Registered User kentuvman's Avatar
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    I'm grateful to own a 1973 R60/5 and a 1982 R65LS. The R65 was a rescue that needed everything and figuring things out, particularly why it kept conking out and leaving me stranded a few times. It sure frustrated me but I didn't give up and through the various forums and airhead experts, ie Matt Parkhouse, I finally figured things out by essentially going through and learning all the systems that make an airhead run - valves, ignition, carb overhaul, setting and balancing, timing, and going through the connections on the wiring harness one by one. My airhead was the ultimate puzzle and even though it cost money to get things right, I view it as an investment at the Airhead University. I'll hang on to them as long as I can because they both have unique characteristics and I know I can fix most things to prevent me from being stranded.

    A very well engineered design and machine, these airheads are!

    Thanks for your post!
    Ken Tuvman
    Excelsior, MN
    K1200GT & R65LS

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    #4869 DennisDarrow's Avatar
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    Maybe I just read in a strange way; but to me, the OP was writing about the folks, traditions, standards of behavior, and yes, the mechanisms and mechanics that made the airheads what they were and are. His essay is not on replacing the airheads with the modern; but the standards that made them what they were/are, the people that made them that way, and yes, the traditions that passed on; but yes, still live today.........Perhaps it is why I only have and only will have ever had airheads and that my standards of acceptance of what people do is pretty much the same........God bless these United States....Dennis

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    Airmarshal-IL James.A's Avatar
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    For the MOA, the airhead bikes are the point of initiation for many younger riders. It has been discussed before but is worth re-hashing. Airheads are the ideal motor bike for college aged riders because of the comparatively modest price of admission and the simplicity of design which allows for the user to do the maintenance. Whether the young rider is a student or an office worker or a pick & shovel type, these machines offer the best value for a person with a modest level of disposable income.

    It is important and rewarding (at least to me) to take every opportunity to encourage and teach the younger members of our "cult". I would want that when my riding days are over, that my beloved 750 wind up in the possession of a new, younger rider and be used and enjoyed the way it was meant to be.
    Last edited by James.A; 11-25-2016 at 04:45 PM.
    1973 R75/5

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    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    I have a lot of kids stop in with their parents...always ask them if they could own any of the models we have...ALWAYS point at the Airheads. The 19-20's make me smile when they think and say those bikes are just cool

    And no they are not modern state of the art by todays standards, however they were in their day and shouldn't be dismissed for what they were and are.

    If they scare you to ride one ...then do not. So what it doesn't have the latest technology. ..ride accordingly.
    My biggest smiles come from passing a new machine in the curves or keeping them right behind me for miles...then at a stop have them stare in awe when they see and ask how old and what size is that bike? I'll keep ours as a caretaker until I pass them on to someone who appreciates it as I do.
    Still have a 69S that I haven't completed...will do the same with it as well.
    Steve Henson-Mod Team and SABMWRA Prez

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    flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision~unknown

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    Registered User kentuvman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James.A View Post
    For the MOA, the airhead bikes are the point if initiation for many younger riders. It has been discussed before but is worth re-hashing. Airheads are the ideal motor bike for college aged riders because of the comparatively modest price of admission and the simplicity of design which allows for the user to do the maintenance. Whether the young rider is a student or an office worker or a pick & shovel type, these machines offer the best value for a person with a modest level of disposable income.

    It is important and rewarding (at least to me) to take every opportunity to encourage and teach the younger members of our "cult". I would want that when my riding days are over, that my beloved 750 wind up in the possession of a new, younger rider and be used and enjoyed the way it was meant to be.
    James - you're another great contributor to the Airhead forum with a deep knowledge base of these amazing machines - I'm amazed how many great deals there are today on all kinds of Airheads that will provide reliable and rewarding transportation for short and long distances.

    I was telling my wife this morning that it would be neat to accumulate @ 100 airheads and start a business to sell used airheads on a bike lot. Probably not profitable but a nice idea?!
    Ken Tuvman
    Excelsior, MN
    K1200GT & R65LS

  12. #12
    Airmarshal-IL James.A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kentuvman View Post
    James - you're another great contributor to the Airhead forum with a deep knowledge base of these amazing machines - I'm amazed how many great deals there are today on all kinds of Airheads that will provide reliable and rewarding transportation for short and long distances.

    I was telling my wife this morning that it would be neat to accumulate @ 100 airheads and start a business to sell used airheads on a bike lot. Probably not profitable but a nice idea?!
    Thank you, Ken, for the kind words. This is where the Airheads Beemer Club (ABC) scratches an itch that the MOA and Owners News leaves largely un-touched. ON has Keep 'em Flying by Matt Parkhouse, but not much else. Matt is a true gentleman and the embodiment of the Airhead ethic in ON. I hope the editor(s) of ON have the good sense to continue to publish his articles. In all fairness, the MOA does have an obligation to provide content for all BMW riders.

    For those of you who receive Airmail, I would direct you to page 11 of the December issue. There is a picture from our Chicagoland tech day. 4th from the left is a young rider who is a college student who wanted to do push rod grommets on his /7. This is how we will keep younger riders coming in to the sport of motorcycling on BMW's.

    Another participant on this forum, dmftoy1, held a tech day in late September. At that gathering we had a conversation that went something to the effect of; "when I win the lottery, I am going to buy a store front up town and pay you stupid money to come and run it with me." I said" let's keep buying our tickets." It used to be that a statement like "when I win the lottery" was as far fetched as "when the Cubs win the World Series",... so ya never know...
    1973 R75/5

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    Quote Originally Posted by James.A View Post
    Thank you, Ken, for the kind words. This is where the Airheads Beemer Club (ABC) scratches an itch that the MOA and Owners News leaves largely un-touched. ON has Keep 'em Flying by Matt Parkhouse, but not much else. Matt is a true gentleman and the embodiment of the Airhead ethic in ON. I hope the editor(s) of ON have the good sense to continue to publish his articles. In all fairness, the MOA does have an obligation to provide content for all BMW riders.

    For those of you who receive Airmail, I would direct you to page 11 of the December issue. There is a picture from our Chicagoland tech day. 4th from the left is a young rider who is a college student who wanted to do push rod grommets on his /7. This is how we will keep younger riders coming in to the sport of motorcycling on BMW's.

    Another participant on this forum, dmftoy1, held a tech day in late September. At that gathering we had a conversation that went something to the effect of; "when I win the lottery, I am going to buy a store front up town and pay you stupid money to come and run it with me." I said" let's keep buying our tickets." It used to be that a statement like "when I win the lottery" was as far fetched as "when the Cubs win the World Series",... so ya never know...
    You've got the December issue already?
    Howard Edwards

    2014 Road King; 1975 R75/6

  14. #14
    Airmarshal-IL James.A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 20715 View Post
    You've got the December issue already?
    Yup.
    1973 R75/5

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    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will3hawks View Post
    Thanks to anyone who took the time to read this post; hope you enjoyed it! Respectfully, 3hawks
    I did; thanks for posting.

    And Matt Parkhouse's column is still the first thing I read every month when my News arrives.
    Rinty

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