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Old 05-23-2014, 06:43 AM   #1
MotorcycleWriter OP
Studly Adventurer
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Joined: Dec 2012
Location: N.Alabama, World's Rockiest Trails
Oddometer: 770
R80RT: Opinions?

I've been considering getting rid of my oilhead and going to an airhead. This happened after I bought a well-cared for R100GS last summer in Tucson. Basically, I'm so impressed by the superior execution of the older technology that I've lost interest in the new stuff. And I'm no spring chicken myself.

I've come across an R80RT not far from where I got the R100 last year and it looks like the job will be taking me out there again soon. It's an '85 with 28K miles. I've heard that the R80 is the smoothest of the airheads, but compared to my 1150 it's little more than half the horsepower. While I probably don't even use half the horsepower on my 1150, I thought I'd solicit the opinions of those with more airhead experience than I have - since I'm always so willing to share my ridiculous opinions with all of you! Once you've had an airhead... you can never go back.
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Old 05-23-2014, 07:05 AM   #2
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Southern Ireland (Irlande, Eire, Irland, Hibernia)
Oddometer: 135
I've had three oilheads which have come and gone but I still have my two airheads. I love them both and could not the fault oilheads that I have owned. However, I keep going back to my airheads because they do everything that I need a motorcycle to do. Airhead don't quite have the performance, braking or the handling of the newer oilheads but then again I don't necessarily need those higher levels of performance. I find that you ride the airhead accordingly but my R100 is plenty quick for me. In my opinion, the airhead models are more classic.
Which ever you choose, it's a personal decision and you need to decide what you want/expect from the older bike and whether it will satisfy your needs. Parts availability is excellent for the airhead range too. My '82 R100 has 85k miles on the odometer and still runs perfectly.
Really though, I'd be happy to own either, be it an 1100/1150 oilhead or an older airhead.
1973 BMW R60/5
1982 BMW R100
1987 Moto Guzzi NTX 650
1980 Honda C90ZZ
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:45 AM   #3
Beemerguru...G/S guy
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Joined: Nov 2006
Location: Foster City, CA
Oddometer: 865
+1 to what airhead-irl wrote. It's comforting to know that if you're riding anywhere in the West with all the miles between towns and gas stations, you can fix most issues on an airhead with the factory tool kit and a couple spare parts you always pack (diode board, rotor, rotor tool, VR).

4 out of the last 5 R80G/S bikes I've refurbished went to riders who SOLD their R1200 Adventures. They each wanted the reliability and ease of maintenance of the stone age technology...and you can upgrade the airhead subsystems to improve performance, capabilities, and reliability. Fix on the side of the road instead of trying to call for a tow in the middle of nowhere.
Greg Hutchinson
BMW Club of Northern California, Ambassador, BMW MOA, Vice President Vintage BMW Club
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Old 05-23-2014, 10:50 AM   #4
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Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Oddometer: 2,889
Here's my '85 R80RT. This airhead is the smoothest airhead I have ever owned. I had an '84 and it was the same way ... there's something different about those mid-80's R80 engines ... This one is now an R100 (still crazy smooth), DRZ front end, lengthened swingarm (100mm), Mikuni carbs (still being dialed in) ... and once I settle on a small windscreen she'll be a primary bike while my '91 R100GS gets a 100K mile overhaul.

'85 R80RT G/Sified <|> '91 R100GS Bumblebee (103K miles and climbing) <|> '73 R75/5 LWB
Airhead Zen: Ride - Repair - Ride - Maintain - Ride - Repeat

Beater screwed with this post 05-23-2014 at 10:58 AM
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Old 05-23-2014, 11:42 AM   #5
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Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Cottonwood, CA
Oddometer: 309
Differing opinion

Not everyone has the same interests or expectations in what they want from a motorcycle. My Airhead started life as a 1984 R80RT. I am performance orientated for the most part and was pretty unimpressed with the R80 performance. You could tell it was gaining speed by watching the speedometer but they were no other indications you were actually accelerating. I have since converted it to 1000cc with big valve heads and 40mm carbs. It is still pretty smooth. It is a lot more fun to ride now, especially since I retained the R80 gearing.

I also have a 07 R1200GSA. Even though I spend about equal time on either bike and really enjoy the Airhead, if I could only have one it would be the GS, hands down. As far as reliability I had a R60/6 for several years that never had an issue, an R100GS that had several major breakdowns, and now the R80/R100 that has been problem free in the 6,000 miles since a major rebuild. The R1200GSA has never even hiccuped in the 40,000 miles I have ridden it so far and is the best motorcycle I have ever owned and there has been a lot of them.

Lots of people are very happy with their R80's. I was not one of them.

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