30 years with a BMW and BMW people

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Twinboy, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. Twinboy

    Twinboy Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    67
    I just crossed the 30 year mark with owning the same BMW-a 1983 R100 with cafe package offered in 83 as the CS wasn't offered.You could buy the cafe bike or the touring version as an alternative to the RS or RT. I've covered 65000 on this bike.We have several other bikes so the mileage gets spread around.I had wanted a BMW since I first saw a Daytona orange R90S in 75. I was able to afford a new BMW in late 82 when this model was reduced from around $6500.to $5100. I was riding a Norton Commando 850 and a beefed up KZ 900 at the time so the BMW was quite different. After break in and on a familiar road at speed I couldn't believe how poorly the BMW handled.The Norton was flawless and the KZ900 with braced frame and top suspension components were light years ahead in handling and power delivery .I immediately went to work! The awful Conti tires were replaced with some top Avon tires and this helped significantly. Koni shocks and Progressive springs in front were next and the handling improved .In a couple of years a Telefix fork brace and San Jose top triple clamp brought the handling to a comfortable level on a twisty road.The charging system is curious but over the years a heavy duty diode board and solid state regulator from Rick at Motorrad Elektrik have kept the juice flowing steadily. I don't ride extensively at night any more do the stock output is fine for me.The power was starting to fall off a bit so a top end was next on the list. At 64k the fine folks Ivan Len and Paul at Motorrad Unlimited in Asheville NC installed new valves,guides and rings as the 81-84 models had the known valve and seat problems. The bike runs great and handling was further improved with installation of cartridge emulators in the forks.
    Since I have been riding continuously for43 years on a wide range of motorcycles I have found the BMW riders to be a somewhat curious bunch. I went to my first BMW Rally in Maggie Valley NC in the mid eighties. I had and still attend British and Italian Rallies regularly and the contrast in attendees was markedly different. The BMW folks seemed to value only stock BMW bikes and on loathing other brands especially H-D. They were way over impressed with the virtues of BMW to the disdain of all other brands. I realized that this group was definitely "not my tribe" I will say that in the last few years in the Asheville area I have met and enjoy some of the newer folks that have started riding BMWs .They don't hold the same prejudices and seem to enjoy all brands of bikes.This is a great positive step for the huge local riding community in the Asheville area. At our favorite local brewpub the Wedge you will see a wide range of bikes that show up Wednesday evening and everyone enjoys admiring other peoples favorite bike.
    So after 30 years my BMW is an old friend.I have ridden it all over this country in all weather conditions and situations.I will not hesitate to ride it anywhere because I know it and it just flat does its job. At the end of a 500 mile day you had better be on a bike that is your friend and this one is it!
    #1
  2. daveoneshot

    daveoneshot Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
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    Vermont
    Anything else ??
    #2
  3. darmahman

    darmahman "Illogically Deluded"

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
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    3,325
    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    Thanks for the great background. Put up a pic of your bike please.:clap
    #3
  4. StephenB

    StephenB G(/)S ... what else!

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2005
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    Ontario
    Twinboy, I would like to know more about the front forks cartridge emulators ... Racetech Gold Valves?


    Stephen
    #4
  5. JonnyCash

    JonnyCash turd polisher

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
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    Location:
    Midcoast, Maine
    I would echo your observations of airhead people then vs now.
    #5
  6. bill42

    bill42 Old-School BMWs

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    408
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I too agree. I am one of the newer BMW fans myself, and I have always heard from the older Airhead people I know about how BMW riders are so brand loyal that they despise those who modify their BMWs. I tell you, I just don't see those people. I think they all died of old age. I am a member of the BMW club, BMW Riders Association, and I help produce the club's magazine, OTL. WHile it is definitely true that the American BMW rally goer is far older than the typical Rally crowd you will find in Europe, they all seemed pretty open to modified BMWs despite their reputation. In fact, for the last year I have been doing a bike-build article in our magazine about converting a 1981 R100RT into a café racer. I was expecting all kinds of hate mail and I am still amazed that at most there were just a few of the typical hate-mail letters/emails. Indeed most BMW fans seem quite happy to see me breathing new life into an old bike. 10 years ago I bet the reaction would have been much more negative.
    #6
  7. some_guy

    some_guy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Oddometer:
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    NoVa
    +1. Even though I'm not old or a long time BMW person, more of this.
    #7
  8. benthic

    benthic glutton 4 punishment

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    sunny san diego
    I have met some amazing and supportive airheads during my build, but there are definitely some curmudgeons. I got some unexpected bike hate from a very respected ABC member not to long ago that was very discouraging. Luckily there's a ton of people to counter-act that:)

    I don't know if i'll have my bmw in 30 years (that would be an impressive 60yr old bike), but i love it and my bmw friends:)
    #8
  9. Twinboy

    Twinboy Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    67
    Thanks for the kind words about my 30 years with a great motorcycle.Yes, the Race tech emulators were used to bring the forks to a somewhat modern feel.I actually went back to original springs since the thought was that the Progressives would be way too harsh. The fork is very compliant and tracks well,as well as a thirty year old design can do. We are lucky enough to have a new BMW shop that opened in 2011 as well as a top Airhead shop that takes care of us in Asheville. Both of these shops get it .The motorcycle groups in this area have benefited and we live in a truly excellent area for indulging in our favorite pastime. And yes the BMW motorcycle clowns are fading away as most folks realize it is about the fun of riding much more than any brand bigotry. I will post photos of my 83 ASAP.
    #9
  10. bill42

    bill42 Old-School BMWs

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    Long Island, NY
    That is great to hear as I have racetech gold valve emulators installed in my forks as well... but I probably won't get to test them out until late spring.
    #10
  11. GearHeadGrrrl

    GearHeadGrrrl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    726
    Location:
    SW MN & Flatistan when it snows
    And few have been junked. So other than some of the rarer models, there's plenty of garden variety airheads to experiment on with all forms of mechanical hacks. BTW, next year will be my 30th year of airhead riding too, still got and ride the '84 R65LS I bought new- over 100k miles and the heads have never been off nor the tranny opened up.
    #11
  12. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    backwoods Alabama
    Hey! Watch it.

    :D

    [​IMG]

    Well, we got better...

    :)

    --Bill
    #12
  13. Tripletreat

    Tripletreat Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2008
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    676
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    I've been considering race tech gold valves for my 1983 R100RS, thus the comments above caught my eye. They are not cheap, considering that they seem to be pretty simple things. So, I still sittin' on the fence. Help me get off it...
    What sort of extra work (machining?) is required in order to fit them? Realistically, what kind of hit would a post-Christmas budget take? :ear
    #13
  14. chasbmw

    chasbmw Long timer

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    Bath Uk
    The valves are expensive, the springs more so and you have to destroy the damper rod on your existing forks to fit the emulators. (ATE forks)

    You then have to dial them in, this is a PIA because the Racetech info on fitting the emulators is incorrect. Eg RT oil height spec for airhead BMWs is incorrect and results in locked forks and you will have to spend a lot of time getting the emulators dialed in to suit your riding style. Emails to RT went unanswered, and I did not really want to phone them from the UK. The Uk dealer seemed to indicate that I was not the only person not happy with the results I got.

    In my case I ended up using the emulators, with 4 low speed bleed holes, the yellow spring on minimum preload, BMW spec oil amount using 10w synthetic fork oil. I used a BMW standard fork spring shortened to accommodate the emulator with a minimum preload of about 10mm. Your results on Brembo forks may be different.

    I am still unhappy with the result, and have an unacceptable fork action on low speed bumps. I have bought a second hand set of forks, so I can go back to stock.

    On my 1982 bike I retro fitted the BMW 1983/4 fork upgrade, most of the parts needed were still available and the only part NLA was sitting in my local dealers parts system, having waited since 1993 for a buyer. This worked very well, removing the various clonks that the forks were liable to emitting and improving low speed performance.
    #14
  15. Twinboy

    Twinboy Adventurer

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    May 27, 2009
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    The emulators will require some work to install properly.Your damper rods will have to be machined a bit and the fluid holes will require some modification .Race tech supplies the proper instructions or a competent shop can do it for you,The result is well worth the mods that you have to do. The action of the forks and the handling improvement is incredible. I made many adjustments to springs ,fluid weights,braces etc.but this modification transforms the front end from a lightly sprung touring fork to a planted front end. If you don't want to tackle the work send to dampers and springs to Ivan at Motorrad Unlimited in Asheville NC and he will do it quickly for you. They race airheads and won the AHRMA championship in their class in 2012. They know what it takes. Yes the mods alter the stock components but the results are such why would you ever want to go back to the original setup?
    #15
  16. bill42

    bill42 Old-School BMWs

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I didn't feel comfortable doing the conversion myself so I sent my forks to RaceTech and they sent them back to me in about a week- the conversion being done by the guy who designed most of their products- Matt Wiley.

    It is true that they don't seem to always answer emails quickly, but they do return phone calls right away. I figured out they are simply "phone" people.
    #16