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Thread: Airhead handling, never good but can be better???HOW

  1. #1
    Der Kaptain mrtnfischer's Avatar
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    Airhead handling, never good but can be better???HOW

    Had about 6 airheads, after owing each for a year I sell them 'cause they do not handle well. Than I rode one that some one put some $ into shocks etc and it handled really well. He actually made a "GS" type out of it.

    Has anyone had experience doing this shock and suspension that really works. My experience was only putting stiffer springs in the front and that really was a waste of money...

    advise, to me , OH Airhead guru's. My new old R75/5 needs a body lift.

  2. #2
    Liaison 20774's Avatar
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    Can you describe what you didn't like about the handling? What did you want to be better?

    I think one thing that is mentioned is to replace the top triple tree. Mentioned quite a bit on the Airhead email list is the Toaster Tan triple tree.

    http://toastertan.com/top_brace/

    Some assembly required!!
    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
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    Do a good tune up / rebuild on the suspension and brakes and ride it within its limits. Personally I think old airheads ride great, not to 2020 standards, but that's not why we buy them. The best airhead in the handling and braking department was my 1995 r100r, much more like a modern bike with a mono shock and Brembo brakes, but we're talking 40 years of separation and technology. Good luck.
    Last edited by chunk; 12-10-2019 at 07:27 PM.

  4. #4
    Get in touch with Tom Cutter, the proprietor of Rubber Chicken Racing Garage. Take his advice, spend money for the equipment (rear shocks, fork rebuild, fork top clamp, decent tires, etc.) he’s likely to recommend, and don’t spend money on handling “improvements” that he doesn’t put much stock in (progressive fork springs, stiction-inducing fork braces, frame braces, inexpensive shocks, etc.). There are, of course, limits on what can be achieved, and it won’t even cheap, but your bike can probably be better.

  5. #5
    +2 on Cutter. My R100 was the best handling of my three airheads. I had a fork brace, San Jose billet top triple clamp, and Koni, now Ikon, shocks. I believe I had Progressive springs and did use 7.5 fork oil. After experience with the R90S, I would use RaceTech straight wound springs. I did like the Gold Valve Emulators on the S but would defer to Cutter on that. But fork springs to match your weight that don't dive like a stocker when braking is a big improvement. EBC pads are a big improvement; I would guess there are shoes that would improve braking on a /5.
    '61 Clubman's Gold Star, '13 690 Duke, '13 Daytona 675R, '18 Street Triple RS, 2020 R1250R (gone but not forgotten: '76 R75/6, '84 R100, '76 R90S)

  6. #6
    John D'oh
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    Tune the chassis by servicing and adjusting the swing arm and steering head bearings and be sure your wheel bearings have proper pre-load. Tire air pressure is often overlooked as a source of handling problems. Billet top triple clamps stabilize the fork assembly and quality shocks correctly dampened for shaft drive keep the rear wheel planted and reduce squat which tends to mess with fork geometry which in turn messes up handling. A forgotten trick - when you put the front wheel back in place leave the axle nut and pinch bolts loose, take the bike off its center stand, take hold of the front brake and ‘vigorously’ bounce the front fork up and down three or four times. This aligns and positions the rollers with the races and releases any trapped stress in the wheel/slider assembly. Return the bike to its center stand and tighten the axle and pinch bolts to speck.
    John D'oh

  7. #7
    Registered User Anyname's Avatar
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    If you start with a monoshock, that helps. It comes with a better fork with a fork brace, Brembo front brakes, tubeless tires and a stronger frame. Adding the Race Tech cartridge emulators and springs improves the forks considerably. Mine also has a Ohlins rear shock.
    BMW R bike rider, horizontally opposed to everything...

  8. #8
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtnfischer View Post
    Has anyone had experience doing this shock and suspension that really works. My experience was only putting stiffer springs in the front and that really was a waste of money...advise, to me , OH Airhead guru's.
    Here's a list of things you can do to take the flex out of your "Gummikuhe" (as airheads are called in Germany) chassis.

    Install:

    .030 aluminum upper triple tree
    quality aftermarket front springs and rear shocks
    braced swingarm

    With the thicker triple tree you won't need the fork brace, which simplifies the installation of the mods.

    I had all of these on my R100RS and it was a stable, good handling machine, at any speed.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Rinty; 12-15-2019 at 06:44 PM.
    Rinty

  9. #9
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anyname View Post
    If you start with a monoshock ...
    Yes, you're better off with a different bike rather than messing with the old ones.

    The ST, G/S, GS, and R are the best handling Airheads. The '87-on RS and RT are good, too, as they essentially have K-bike suspension.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  10. #10
    Registered User Anyname's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    Yes, you're better off with a different bike rather than messing with the old ones.

    The ST, G/S, GS, and R are the best handling Airheads. The '87-on RS and RT are good, too, as they essentially have K-bike suspension.
    My 86 R80 has what appear to be the same forks and brakes as were on my 85 K100. I have been told that the 85 R bikes are the same.
    BMW R bike rider, horizontally opposed to everything...

  11. #11
    A few years ago someone offered stiffening braces that bolted onto many airhead frames. That brace connected between the part of the frame close to the steering head and spanned down close to the swingarm pivot. Anyone know if that item is still offered? It may help for wannabe racers.

    I've had several airheads in recent years- notably a R90/6 and a R75/5- and I really enjoyed those bikes. I did ride them hard. The main weakness I found was with the braking. The single disk on the R90 just barely had enough stopping power and could be taxed to its limit. I had a extra disk, fork lower and rotor from an R90S but never installed it.

    Yeah, the stock airheads aren't track bikes. So what!? They are what they are but they still provide great enjoyment over a wide range of riding.

    .

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by leafman60 View Post
    So what!? They are what they are but they still provide great enjoyment over a wide range of ...
    That's what they said about the Stanley Steamer.
    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
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    That's what they said about the Stanley Steamer.
    If you put 2020 handling expectations on an old Airhead you will be let down every time. I ride a 1976 R60/6 with a sidecar. I drive with 1976 expectations and just enjoy the he'll out of the rig. I'm approaching 100,000 miles and do a long tour every year. There is no perfect bike. Don't squander your time fretting about what your bike isn't. Soon enough you will be too old to ride. I just turned 70 and have been riding since 1966 with no regrets.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    That's what they said about the Stanley Steamer.
    Yes, but if you buy a Stanley Steamer to ride you should expect nothing more than a Stanley Steamer!


    .

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by leafman60 View Post
    Yes, but if you buy a Stanley Steamer to ride you should expect nothing more than a Stanley Steamer!


    .
    Yes, so then, in the sentence above, substitute the word "Airhead" for the words Stanley Steamer.
    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
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

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