Another G/S on the road

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by bgoodsoil, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    Hey! I've been taking up valuable screen space by starting a new thread every time I run in to some problem with my G/S project. I'm likely to have more questions so I'm making this thread to keep it all in one place.

    For a little history....

    I started riding about 5 years ago. At the time I was in the Coast Guard and stationed on an island off the coast of Alaska. We averaged over 100" of a rain a year so for my first 2 years of riding it was ALWAYS wet. My first bike was this '84 KDX200. It barely ran when I got it but after minor tuning it scared the hell outta me.

    [​IMG]

    Then I saw Easy Rider......yeah, I'm one of the guys that got into riding because of that movie. I didn't have a ton of money, but I ended up getting this '99 Vulcan 750 shipped up from Oregon for $3k. not bad!

    [​IMG]

    I decided that when I got out of the CG I would ride my bike back home from Alaska to Georgia. The island I was on had 13 miles of paved road and the highest speed limit on the island was 45. The first time I ever had a motorcycle at 60mph for more than 10 seconds was when I got off the ferry in British Columbia on my ride home. Not a bad start to touring.

    I slept in the woods for most of the trip home(power lines or next to radio towers) and decided I'd be better off with a more offroady bike if I wanted to avoid hotels or campgrounds. I'm cheap. I picked up a KLR. I had it for about a year, and 23,000 miles, before a little old lady pulled out in front of me. Here's my KLR.

    [​IMG]

    I flew over the lady's hood, cracked my tibia on my handlebar enroute and dislocated my right shoulder upon my return to Mother Earth. I owe my armored jacket for the fact that I hit the pavement at 40mph and didn't break a bone. Now, I also wear full knee/shin pads every time I ride. Since I don't drive(my bug is still not running, 1 project at a time!) that's every day.

    I got out of the hospital, got a hefty settlement from the insurance and bought a Harley Sportster.

    [​IMG]

    Big mistake. I rode it on a trip to Mexico and it didn't do too well. It weighs almost 600 pounds. I was bottoming out the suspension on the highways and I was scared to ride it in the woods to find a campsite. Also, it drew waaaay too much attention for my liking in rural Mexico. It's a gorgeous bike, I've sat on the back porch just to stare at it, but it doesn't suit the type of riding I want to do.

    That brings me up to about a month and a half ago when I found this
    '85 r80G/S.

    [​IMG]

    Last week it looked like this.....

    [​IMG]

    edit: now it looks like this.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the pic, Blaine :wave
    #1
  2. elmoreman

    elmoreman takin' a break, boss

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    Right on, bro!

    I had that same trip in mind, but mide got amended by time and a desire to ride more off-road.

    You've got a great list going there...lots of things to improve on the basic g/s design. I'd add proper skidplates on the oil pan and centerstand. I'd also leave off the HPN tank. That thing is huge, and after reading about people doing RTW, very few people even NEEDED that size tank. Go for a regular airhead GS tank. It gives you a range of around 200+ depending on terrain.

    DR forks...cool idea :evil

    Oh yeah...the BEST thing I did for safety on my bike was adding a

    LOUD ASS HORN.


    Stebel air horn really gets people's attention. They think I'm an 18 wheeler. I can guarantee it has saved me from bad situations more than a few times...
    #2
  3. Gimmeslack

    Gimmeslack furthur

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    Suggestions?

    I suggest you give me your bike. NICE!! :thumb
    #3
  4. Justinmarque

    Justinmarque Thumper>Airhead

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    Music City, USA
    I did a very similar trip back in '03. I had an XR650L and my buddy rode a KLR. Made it from Nashville, TN to the Panama Canal. Ended up shipping our bikes back from San Jose, Costa Rica (that due to my buddy having a nice spill in the highlands)

    Tierra del Fuego was the original goal but the trip ended up costing us a bit more than we initially anticipated.

    PM me if you ever need suggestions, tips, things to avoid, etc.

    Good luck. Nice bike
    #4
  5. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    sounds like the perfect and complete transition. Hardley Ableson -> airhead G/S.


    Nice bike indeed. Should be rock solid by the time you're done giving it a good once over.
    #5
  6. bpeckm

    bpeckm Grin!

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    Good on ya, and thassa good bike.... well done!
    #6
  7. Putts

    Putts Gettin' there.

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    Mine's exactly the same year and model. Cool. :thumb

    Looking forward to your long journey before you even get to your long journey.
    #7
  8. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    I somehow managed to post this twice. And I was trying to REDUCE the number of threads I made. Anyways, here's a pic of the fairing....and me showing off.......

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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    sounds like youve done your homework. Nice bike, man... I'm someday going to own one...Love the progression of rides,, as well.

    You wont hate yourself if you kick down for heated grips, and a set of bashguards.

    Just be safe - I've heard a probably apocryphal statistic that said most people crash a few years and a few thousand miles into their riding career. Takes a hair longer for judgment to catch up with skill, but it proves youre really riding, anyway.

    Glad you got it out of the way,and got back on one.
    #9
  10. BMWzenrider

    BMWzenrider The Road Scholar

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    Brad,
    While you have things apart would be an excellent time to get inside of the transmission and find out if you have one of the infamous circlip transmissions.

    You do NOT want to have your output shaft bearing to eat itself while in the middle of Central America.

    -----

    The BMW airhead transmission is very reliable, except that for a couple of years they decided to remove the circlip from behind the large bearing on the output shaft. Nobody knows why...

    [​IMG]

    What we DO know, is that the transmissions without the circlip have a nasty habit of eating that bearing because of the helical 5th gear pushing against it.

    [​IMG]

    It is a relatively inexpensive fix, and afterwards you will never have a problem for at least the next 80-100k with regular oil changes.

    It is probably time to have all the seals replaced anyway, and some of them are MUCH easier to do with the tranny taken apart...

    -----

    For more information you can check out these two excellent websites:

    http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/transmission.htm

    http://largiader.com/articles/circlip/

    I would recommend any Airhead rider bookmark the home pages for each of these websites if you don't already know about them...

    -----

    Tom Cutter @ The Rubber Chicken Racing Garage does the circlip repair/installation on an exchange basis (shaft only) for only $66 including return shipping as of last month (when I had my new 1989 R100GS's tranny circlip done).

    That is if you take the transmission apart yourself and just send the output shaft to him.
    You can also send him the entire transmission and he will do the seals, inspect the bearings, do the circlip, and clean the whole thing up before putting it back together with correct shimming, etc...

    Tom does quality work, and I have had a full transmission rebuild done by him, as well as the recent circlip install and other work.

    http://rubberchickenracinggarage.com/
    [​IMG]

    -----

    Oh yeah, and get a LOUD ASS HORN!!! :ear

    (Steibel Nautilus is my current personal fave.)
    #10
  11. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    The circlip is definitely on my longterm list, along with a higher fifth and bearing replacement. Thanks for the pics and the links, now I actually understand what that 'circlip' problem is!

    I've talked to Nathan at Boxerworks about it. Since the bike only has 18,000 miles on it he said I could probably wait, but that he could do it. I'd have taken it by already but he doesn't have any higher fifths in right now(dang HPN!) and I'd rather be riding. It's really only an afternoon job to pull the tranny.

    Here's what happens when you hit a bee at 50mph

    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. AKjeff

    AKjeff Long timer

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    How did the bee look? :D

    Cool thread, I've been in love with the airhead G/S and GS since I first saw one. I'm currently looking for one myself. Just looking, I tell my wife :augie

    I'll follow along and learn as you learn things on your G/S. For instance, I just learned what the tranny circlip fix meant too.
    #12
  13. BMWzenrider

    BMWzenrider The Road Scholar

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    Waiting can cost you more in the long run...

    And there is no way to tell when (and it is WHEN, not if) that bearing will start to eat itself. If it happens when you are more than 20-30 miles from home, the fragments can cause other damage if you don't get a tow once it starts vibrating.

    Back before the people at BMW knew what was going on, I had a 1993 R100RT that I bought new which ate that bearing every 15k till some teen spun out in a turn and took me out with his ass end.
    To their credit, that was back in the the Unlimited Mileage Warranty years, all three bearing replacements were done under warranty (bike had just over 47k when it was swept out from under me.)
    But they just kept replacing the bearings without doing the circlip repair/install...

    We picked up a nice low mileage 1986 R65 monolever for the girlfriend to ride last year. Only 9,xxx miles, and within 2k of buying it I started feeling that old familiar rumble...

    So when I picked up this '89 R100GS with "only" 17,600 miles, the first thing I did was pop the transmission cover to check for the circlip.
    (later found out from the original owner when I tracked him down that the tranny had already had the big bearing replaced under warranty, but as with my '93, they didn't know to replace the circlip yet when it had been done...)

    Some have reported that they have gotten as many as 40-50K before trouble, but in my experience (three of them now), it can easily happen with lots fewer than 20k...
    And if you don't recognize the symptoms early enough, you are going to be replacing gears, or complete shafts...
    NOT cheap.

    Seems that it happens earlier on bikes where the rider uses engine braking more frequently, but that may just be anecdotal...

    -----

    IMNSHO, do it now.

    You will KNOW that the tranny is safe, and you may just save yourself a nice fistfull of cash...

    YMMV... but I wouldn't put money on it... :evil
    #13
  14. BMWzenrider

    BMWzenrider The Road Scholar

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    Oh, Boxerworks is a highly recommended shop as well.

    If you have Nathan in your back yard, no reason to go shipping your stuff off... ;)

    But do it now!

    Gee... am I sounding preachy 'bout this issue??? :rofl
    #14
  15. BMWzenrider

    BMWzenrider The Road Scholar

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    I just got my 1989 R100GS back on the road after receiving it in "kit" form earlier this year.

    It came in several milk crates and with the wiring harness dangling and cut open after a "restoration" the second owner started 10 years earlier and never got farther than taking it apart.

    Here is how I got it:

    [​IMG]


    And here is what it looks like when I got it back on the road last week:

    [​IMG]


    The sad part is, now that I have her running again, my circumstances are not looking good for being able to keep it.
    I need to sell something to make room and get some money (and reduce my insurance costs), and nobody seems interested in my sidecar rig.

    So this may be the next one I offer up to generate some income and make room. :cry
    #15
  16. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    I can't get to sleep so I might as well take it out on the bike. I've buttoned up everything that I took off last week, now zenrider has me convinced that I should pull it all apart again sooner rather than later. When Nathan gets in the high fifths, hopefully next month, he'll have my tranny.

    I could install my Trailtech computer....if I had it. I could put in the new fork.....if I had it. I could install the LED lighting....if I had it. The fork should be in this week so I went ahead and attempted to pull the old one. Actually, wait, I'm going to put this in Elmoreman's DR fork thread so other folks can have it all in one place. adios
    #16
  17. johno

    johno Long timer

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    I like that Bee shot.

    Just add a pipe, and you look like Popeye.:rofl

    Sorry, couldnt help myself.:eek1 :D

    Great bike by the way:clap
    #17
  18. bgoodsoil

    bgoodsoil Dare to be Stupid

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    ha! man, I posted that pic over in Face Plant and some guy uploaded this. I haven't gotten any tattoos in a while, I lived on a boat for a few years, maybe I should get me some anchors!

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. Gimmeslack

    Gimmeslack furthur

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    So what ARE the symptoms? :ear
    #19
  20. BMWzenrider

    BMWzenrider The Road Scholar

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    Well, that is the main problem for most G/S-GS riders, the first clue/symptom is when the back end feels like you are riding on a fresh knobby. Especially when pulling under power in 5th gear.
    If you ride with agressive rubber, it could mask the feeling till it is too late.
    If you are riding on gravel, you will never feel it until your transmission is about to explode.

    It is just a sort of rumbling/shuddering vibration through the rear wheel & driveshaft that you will first feel under hard acceleration in top gear.

    -----

    One other way to diagnose it is to have the bike in the air and to turn the rear wheel with the tranny in neutral and feel for any "notchyness" as it turns.

    But again, with the sharp angle that our U-joints go through when on center stand, that makes it harder to do as well.

    Looking for bits of hard stuff on the magnetic drain plug is always a clue, of course...
    Or you could disconnect the driveshaft and turn the output flange by hand to feel for any roughness or notchyness as it turns.

    -----

    Some bean counter who didn't understand helical cut gears thought they could save $25 per transmission by eliminating this little clip because, "Hey there haven't been any problems with the clip there, what harm could it do to take it away?"... :bash
    #20