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Thread: Tell Me About the R60/5

  1. #1

    Tell Me About the R60/5

    Hello. I'm considering a 1971 BMW R60/5. This would be my first Airhead. I do have a couple Oilheads in my garage currently... '95 GS and 2000 RT.

    The R60 would be my fair weather Sunday rider or the occasional overnight camping trip. The bike's owner hasn't owned it for very long but says he bought off the original owner's son. He seems to think it has about 50k miles but the current odometer shows 12k. Apparently the original owner replaced it when the tach quite working some years ago, he thinks. Current owner states the bike has the complete tool kit, owners manual and some maintenance records.

    Anyway, what should I be on the look-out for this particular vintage?? I've been hoping the find an R75 but the price on this bike seems about right ($3500 OBO).


  2. #2
    Liaison 20774's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    San Antonio, TX
    This engine is highly strung, having a high compression ratio and a cam arrangement that can make it ping if not tuned perfectly. An aftermarket electronic ignition can be helpful to slow the advance curve down. It's also possible to reduce the compression ratio or detune the engine. Otherwise it's just like any other Airhead and it's good for sedate putting around.
    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
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Deerfield, Ohio
    Be prepared for a great reduction in power. It will not be as zippy as you are used to. It will be nimble.
    1980 R100T
    1971 R50/5
    1947 James ML

  4. #4
    Registered User cwroady's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    OC, SoCal
    I purchased a ‘72 60/5 as my first Airhead several years (not decades) ago. A year or so later, a deal on a ‘73 75/5 hit my radar and I picked it up too. Both short wheelbase bikes, both took work, both were loved. I still enjoy and ride the 75/5 today. The 60/5, while a Toaster and cosmetically nicer, is gone. I definitely am not bad-mouthing the 60/5, but the 75/5 is much more fun to ride for me.
    Chris - 2015 BMW RT / 1973 BMW R75/5 / 1955 BMW R50 - Yard Art - 1968 Hodaka / 1968 Sachs
    SCBMWRC / MOA / Airhead Beemer Club / VBMWMO

  5. #5
    Registered User 6322's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Riggins, ID
    Agree with the comments about the power difference from the R75/5 and the propensity for pinging because of the high compression and poor fuel quality. Also agree with the electronic ignition upgrade as a solution for several things. The price sounds good if the condition is reasonable. Some of the obvious things to look for are leaks around the pushrod tubes, the seam where the engine and trans meet, timing cover, oil pressure sensor, neutral switch, etc .... Also, while on the center stand, check the wheel bearings and steering head bearings. If you make the purchase, please share photos. I’ve had four R75’s. A ‘71, ‘72, ‘75 and a ‘77. I also maintained a ‘71 R50/5 and a ‘76 R60/6 for friends.
    Gary Phillips - #6322
    Wildland Firefighter, Retired, Riggins, ID
    Heartland Moto Locos BMW Riders
    '77 R100/7 Dirt Hack, '83 R80ST, '85 K100RS w/EML, '93 K1100LT, '00 R1100RS

  6. #6
    I put about 35K on a '72 short swing R60 toaster back in the day and rode it to both coasts and Canada.

    It was OK on back roads but short power on interstates. It was low miles when I bought it but I worked on that machine more than any other bike I have ever owned. Steering head bearings, cam chain, transmission bearings and rear seal. It quit on the interstate in California due to an electrical issue and I rode it home hot-wired with a household light switch taped to the right side frame member to disconnect battery power. The headlight even fell out once. The front brake was downright dangerous in high humidity.

    But I really enjoyed that bike ... It was classy, comfortable and always fixable. Plus, I was young and strong enough to push it a long ways whenever needed.

    I think a bike like that now would make a nice Sunday rider, as long as it wasn't ridden too far from home.

    That said, Fred Tausch from out east put an incredible amount of miles on his R60/5 back then when airheads were common.

    Good luck!
    -Live as fully as you can as long as you can-

  7. #7
    Thanks for the replies, gents. I'm leaning towards holding out for an R75; however, I may still go take a look at the R60 anyway... Just in case the seller is really motivated to get it out of his garage.

  8. #8
    Registered User bluehole's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Midlothian, Virginia
    A lot of it depends on what you want to do with the motorcycle. As fair weather Sunday rider or the occasional overnight camping trip bike the R60/5 should be fine. The machine is not well suited for long distance high speed riding. I think going to look at it is a great idea.
    1972 R75/5
    1993 R100R

  9. #9
    Registered User tanker4me's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    All the comments ring true to me. About 10 years ago I was looking for a R75/5.
    I live in a land of motorcycles, zero R75s for months.
    This sat on Craigslist for 2 months at 4G.
    ‘72 R60/5, 5,000 original miles/original owner!
    Bought it, put 2G into it.
    I kept looking for a R75/5.
    Sold it a year later for 6G when I found a rough around the edges R90/6 for $1500.00.
    I still have the R90/6.
    Last edited by tanker4me; 04-15-2021 at 02:43 AM.
    We are all here for a spell, get all the good laughs you can.
    Will Rogers

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