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Old 08-06-2014, 06:39 PM   #1
TwoShoes OP
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Location: Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
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TwoShoes gets a /5 (was: R50/5 collective wisdom requested)

Hi everyone, First post to Airheads forum...

I've had an itch for about 2-3 years now to get a classic bike. I've been riding for 28 years and have been through the evolution from standard, cruiser, sportbikes, then R1150GS (current ride) and more lately a smaller agile dual sport (KTM 350 EXC-F) for trail riding. I'm not looking for a museum bike but for one which would be fun to take down country roads at a slower pace and to putt around town with. My idea was to find an older (preferably BMW) bike that needed some TLC, fix it up and be done with it.

A few days ago as I was getting on the GS at the local farmer's market, a lady walked up to me and struck a conversation saying I had a nice bike and she had one like it but it was quite a bit older... a 1975. I asked her if she was interested in parting with it and she said that yes, she might be, as it was her husband's and he had passed away some time ago, in fact it had been sitting in her shed for the last 9 years.

I went tonight to have a look at it, turns out it's a 1971 R50/5. There's oil leaking from the oil pan, behind the transmission, out of the left fork, some varnished gas on the right petcock, it has an aftermarket seat and Windjammer fairing, BMW hard bags and the taillight lens is missing but otherwise appears complete, no rust seen anywhere. 29 000 miles. She tells me it was running when he stored it back in 2005 and the battery had been removed, telling me it was stored with at least some preparation. The inside of the tank appears clean, still 1/4 tank full of gas in there. No rust. Motor kicks over easily with the kickstarter, throttle motion is grabby.

Questions;
1. does the R50/5 have a decent reputation ? will it be fun to ride around with it ? Not looking to go cross country with it, just warm summer day rips around town
2. I am expecting a total teardown of the motor, stripping the bike down to the frame etc. I've never done anything like this but have been doing all my own maintenance and repairs on other bikes for years. My impression is that parts shouldn't be too hard to come by, as most are still available from BMW. Am I right ? I'm not looking to have a running bike anytime soon, this will likely be a multi-year project.
3. Should I be walking away from this and going to a better model / better condition to start off with ?

Any opinions are welcome. She doesn't know what to ask for it and I'm not sure what to offer for it. $ 1200 ?
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:03 PM   #2
disston
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This may be exactly what you want if this idea of putt-putting around town is it. A little under powered compared to anything else you have ever had but it should be smooth. Even capable of slower highways. It sounds like it won't be too much work to get it running.
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Old 08-06-2014, 07:13 PM   #3
georgej
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My first BMW was a 1971 R50/5.Underpowered?I guess,but it would go 60 mph on two lane back roads with no problem.I sold that bike, then I came across a ride report on this site. Across Canada on a 1971R50/5. ?And it was my bike.I have two Airheads now an R80/7 and an R100RS. Soon to acquire a 1977 R100S.If I had the room and the money I would get another R50/5 in a heartbeat.
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:22 PM   #4
Beezer Josh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by georgej View Post
I sold that bike, then I came across a ride report on this site. Across Canada on a 1971R50/5. ?And it was my bike.
That was a great report...by Lornce, I believe. It's also proof of the capabilities of an old R50/5.
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:24 PM   #5
Beezer Josh
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Yep, found it: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...canada+r50%2F5

Read it and expand on his footsteps! Oh, and post lots of pics from your epic ride here.
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:40 PM   #6
hardwaregrrl
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A "true" barn find...however, seems the bike found you. I feel like this is fate...and she certainly took a shine to you enough to tell you about it. Buy it!
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:12 PM   #7
Bill Harris
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Go for it. There is nothing wrong with 500-600cc BMWs. If the engine turns over, that plus a plus on a barn find. And parts etc are available.

$1200 may be a bit too much. But if you feel good about the bike, and if the widder lady seems deserving and if you can afford it, it'll work.

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Old 08-07-2014, 12:43 AM   #8
OLD GREEN
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My first airhead was a 50/5 and I was too busy grinning from ear to ear every time I rode it to even notice how slow it was.

Seriously though, once sorted it made an excellent around town bike and back road burner. If another one happened to find me I sure as hell wouldn't leave it behind. I say go for it.
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Old 08-07-2014, 06:47 AM   #9
rudolf35
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Fate at it's best

My R50/5 was the best stroke of luck I ever had. It will do 65 to 70mph all day long, dependable as a rock and it always shames the TT outfitted GS's, LOL!

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=690370

Do not even think about it, just get it and enjoy. My R50/5 even had my wife state that this bike will never leve home.


"The Old Lady" 1971 R50/5
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:27 AM   #10
saranac
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I've had my 1972 R50/5 for the past 31 years and have ridden it through the South and PNW since then. Along with friend Spencer (who rode his R75/5), it was the /5 that I rode to the Wisconsin Dells Slash 5 25th Anniversary in 1995. Other then the Bings tiny ports and jets clogging over the winter when I do not ride enough, I have no trouble with bike. Regular maintenance.
Generally I ride about 60 - 65 mph on the interstates. This is a pretty high rpm with its 3.36 final drive ratio but it goes all day at that rate if I am not 'smelling the roses' state of mind. Much more enjoyable ride at 50-55.
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Old 08-07-2014, 04:48 PM   #11
Dreossi
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I'd buy it, these old bikes are a real smile! I bought an r60/5 with a 'run out of oil' motor, my first major rebuild, parked my r100gs, and rode my 'new' /5 for a change. I realize the r60 is a wee bit different than an r50, but as i understand it they are very closely related. Anyway, i am amazed at he refinement and charm of my r60.... I just took its first major trip from my home in london Ontario around the gaspe in Quebec, and home via New England, some 2,500 + miles with full camping gear, and the bike ran perfectly. I was able to keep up or best the traffic, even through Montreal, and enjoyed several 600 mile + days. When ridden within reasonable limits, and with reasonable expectations, i think any reasonable airhead will succumb...and succumb hard!
Maybe consider r60 jugs , and as i have, consider an r75 cam, if you are worried about highway performance...
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:53 PM   #12
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Nah, just ride it in the Old School Old World way that it is built for. You can do highway, but you will LOVE 40-50mph on the back roads. Ooomph enough for spirited riding, just use the throttle more and the brakes less, and lean in hard...we have all gotten so used to/demanding of big power/big displacement, and the fun is in the riding. You have the right roads for that bike.... ride, and the bike will love you for it!

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Old 08-08-2014, 04:19 AM   #13
Bill Harris
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Back in the day, a 500-600cc bike was HUGE. But really, with the Liter Bike trend we've been brainwashed into thinking that small is not good. I've ridden my /5 around for 40 years and I rarely find it lacking in power. It'll carry my (now) porky arse at extra-legal speeds most anywhere. Now, I'll admit that on an Interstate hill at 75-80 mph it would be nice to crack the throttle walk away from slower drivers, but after all these years, I'm used to humility...

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Old 08-08-2014, 12:06 PM   #14
TwoShoes OP
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Thank you very much to all who have replied. She accepted my offer for $ 1 200. Got the bike home today, as a bonus, she found the original seat and a box full of "stuff", new brake shoes, gasket kit, a new replacement switch for the right hand side... I'm pretty happy about it






Should be a fun project. First priorities will be to remove the fairing and see if I can get it running !
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Old 08-08-2014, 12:35 PM   #15
Dreossi
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good show! enjoy!
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