contemplating BMW airhead purchase...

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Fred C. Dobbs, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. Fred C. Dobbs

    Fred C. Dobbs Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Winthrop, Wash.
    Greetings.

    I've been riding motorcycles on-and-off for 40 years (!) and am only now finally getting around to finding an airhead boxer. Not too interested in the monoshock R80 derived later bikes--although in many ways they may be "improved"--but rather am looking for a nice /6 or /7.

    I've found a nice clean one not too far away from where I live. I've done a bit of reserch on common issues with these bikes but one thing I am finding is that few BMWs of this vintage seem to have had the valves re-done to handle unleaded fuel. Several of the bikes I have inquried after have 50-60 thousand miles with no problems running on unleaded. It this typical?

    Also, other than checking the usual things--mantainence history, obvious oil leaks, smoking, knocking/noises, ride quality, cosmetics--are there specific problem areas I should look for in a boxer of this vintage?

    I really want one of these and am in no rush--I want to find the right bike for me.

    Thanks for your input!
    #1
  2. DimitriG

    DimitriG Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    Norge
    i love me /7, you cannot go wrong. im 26 and have owned modern bikes since i was 13 starting with a cr125 then 250 then moving into fazers and a cbr. I got rid of all my bike when i moved to norway and got myself a r80/7 as a daily rider and project. i would say it is the most satisfying bike Ive ever had for the riding i do now, they are surprisingly agile and have more then enough power once you get used to the twin.

    my bike has done 150k (km) now and never had the valves done and there is very little seat recession if any. i really think it depends on the bike and how lucky you are, i wouldn't say jumping straight into valve and value seat work is worth while unless there actually is an issue or you are planning on riding a very large distance.

    if you search the forum, there are plenty of technical posts on values and the unleaded fuel issues.
    #2
  3. jtwind

    jtwind Wisconsin Airhead

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,474
    Location:
    Madison WI
    The 76 r75/6 is considered by many to be the best airhead made. The r90's were also great bikes. Hard to go wrong. The 80-84 airheads did suffer from a valve seat issue, likely most are sorted by now but always need to check. Buying a airhead just needs common sense like any other bike.
    #3
  4. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,915
    Location:
    El Segundo, CA
    A lot of people bash the '74 airheads, but how many of them actually own one? I own 2, Blaine owns 1, another member here owns 2, and so on.. and we ride and enjoy ours. In fact, of all the problems I've had with mine, none had to do with the model year. So, if you're reading up and seeing warnings about these bikes, consider this.
    #4
  5. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,239
    Location:
    Asheville NC
    Take one for a ride, if you haven't.
    I like the airhead's architecture and appreciate it as a neato machine, but I absolutely loathe how they run and ride and find it difficult to do anything but a test ride on one after getting it running or tuning one.
    Clearly, I'm in the minority here, but don't be afraid to say "no" to the airhead.
    #5
  6. jtwind

    jtwind Wisconsin Airhead

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    3,474
    Location:
    Madison WI
    Like the 80-84 airheads I'm guessing most of the 74's have been brought up to speed also. These days the bikes on Oak's do not buy list are simply not the same bikes. The 74's chief issue among a few was the first year 5 speed with lots of issues and the carry over small flywheel bolts. I have a few friends with 74's that enjoy them tons, but none of them have the 74 tranny in them.
    #6
  7. Uncle Pollo

    Uncle Pollo Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    50,570
    Location:
    Albuquerque, Neue Messico
    Well ... I have ridden company bikes of all kinds, most modern, convenient, fastests, etc ... and for the entry price tag of $1800 dollars I managed to get a bike that I am very confident working on and I can afford to maintain without giving it a second thought about the challenge.

    Just in service money saved the bike is already paid for.

    And I have something cool looking to ride.
    #7
  8. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    33,465
    Location:
    Central New Mexico, 7420ft above sea level
    I can say even though I am now a certifiable Airhead nut, that most riders who just ride one will not like them. I found I had to ride my R60 about 5 times to get USED to it. Now I loved it before I rode it and after the first second, loved it even more, but some might never like one. I can't see why...:rofl
    #8
  9. durtwurm

    durtwurm Talented Amateur

    Joined:
    May 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,433
    Location:
    Park City, Utah
    Buy one, they are addicting! But...try for one with a maintenance history that is verifiable, (documented) otherwise you may regret the purchase later.
    #9
  10. kraven

    kraven Hegelian Scum

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,239
    Location:
    Asheville NC
    hah, I know. I'm acquainted with a lot of airhead lovers.
    It's a cult thing, seems like. I just can't get the Kool Aid down.

    More power to the people who love them though. We each like what we like.
    #10
  11. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    33,465
    Location:
    Central New Mexico, 7420ft above sea level
    It is indeed a cult thing which makes it what it IS. i do know that most of the Airhead riders I know ride more than a typical rider. I can say for myself, that before I had one, I rode to and from work about ten times a year. I rode my Husky which i just got rid of more than any bike I have had in the last ten years. And since I got the R100RS I have ridden to and from work all week every week except for three days since then. So at least 90 times! I have even put more time on the R60 in the few months I have had it than I ever did on the Husky.... Now I make excuses to ride the bikes instead of taking the cars and I have a couple neat cars!
    #11
  12. Hawk Medicine

    Hawk Medicine Coyote's Brother

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,304
    Location:
    NOR CAL


    If you really look around, you'll realize that the vast majority of Airhead owners don't know any other Airheads owners and that a huge number of them also are not members of a club or a local riding group.

    I've been living in the same house for almost ten years but I was taken aback a couple of years ago when I advertized some parts on CL and a guy who lives a few blocks away bought em to repair his R80. He has a beautiful R80RT that he says he rides regularly but I never see him in the neighborhood or around town. Just onemore phantom BMW rider I guess.

    When you consider that BMW's stats indicate that approximately 50% of all of the Beemers ever built are still on the road, it appears as if the vast majority of their owners are are happily minding their own business and enjoying their bikes.

    Some cult... :lol3
    #12
  13. Uncle Pollo

    Uncle Pollo Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    50,570
    Location:
    Albuquerque, Neue Messico
    Yeah ... I hear that.
    SniperEquis is the only other airhead owner I know pretty well.

    The rest ride around minding their own business.

    Funny, uh?
    #13
  14. rufusswan

    rufusswan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    962
    Location:
    Branson MO
    Well, I feel better. I hate cults, and do not want to be associated with them. Thank You.

    I see (on occasion) other beemers on the road cause I live close to great roads frequented by bikers, but seldom have talked to other BMW riders, which seems sort of a downer. I have found that the folk I do meet, regardless of make/model are friendly and enjoyable.

    I think the OP can rest assured that BMW owners he might meet fall well within the spectrum of human idiocy that qualifies as "normal".
    #14
  15. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    33,465
    Location:
    Central New Mexico, 7420ft above sea level
    can say all the other Airhead owners here locally I have met are the best bunch of guys. Shoot, i think i now know at least 10 of them and confer with at least four or five almost every day. of course five are members on this site...:rofl
    #15
  16. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    33,465
    Location:
    Central New Mexico, 7420ft above sea level
    I can say that every time I stop on the R60 someone asks about the bike and usually is also an Airhead owner.
    #16
  17. Hawk Medicine

    Hawk Medicine Coyote's Brother

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,304
    Location:
    NOR CAL
    Oh, come on....!

    Blaine's been wrenching on that bike of his for more than a year(!) and it still doesn't run right and you.... Why, you never stop wrenching on your bikes!

    This is all proof that Airheads make people sick. They start out pretty normal and next thing you know, they're jack-leg mechanics, with dirty fingernails and the knees worn out of their jeans.

    Now, if you had just purchased a 1976 BMW, none of this torture would ever have taken place and you'd be rich fromthe $$$$ you'da saved!
    #17
  18. Fred C. Dobbs

    Fred C. Dobbs Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Winthrop, Wash.
    Pretty new to this forum--I'd rather ride than write--but honestly thanks for all the replys. The /7 in question is 500 miles away and I am going to have a look/ride next week. Photos/history/mantainence all pretty good...We'll see, though.

    And thanks to those of you who cautioned me that I may not like the ride--good advice. I've not ridden a boxer much--twenty years ago to be exact--but my main ride these days is a moto guzzi (V11 Sport) so I am well schooled in "abby normal" motorcycles.

    Like most folks, I don't get a chance (over worked) to ride as much as I'd like, so the bike I ride is very important. Most new bikes leave me flat and I think an airhead a good compainion to the guzzi.
    #18
  19. Sniper X

    Sniper X De Oppresso Liber

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    33,465
    Location:
    Central New Mexico, 7420ft above sea level
    I had a look into my Chrystal Ball and it says you are going to LOVE the bike, and that you'll be back here shortly after buying it posting all sorts of great stories about it. BTW, do a "drive and buy report on it with pictures!
    #19
  20. Fred C. Dobbs

    Fred C. Dobbs Adventurer

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Winthrop, Wash.
    I'm slated to go to Montana next week to look at the 77R100 and low and behold a 83 R80 RT showed up on Craigslist much closer. It has 50,000 miles and has been fully restored by somone who knows his business. It has been repainted in motorsport blue and gray--absolutely beautiful, needs nothing, 100% in all respects. Priced resonably, too. But.....R80s are rated at 50hp. I can remove the fairing if I choose (never ridden with a fairing before, might like it!) but don't know if I can live with such modest Hp. I understand that the final drive gearing on R80s of that vintage are lower to help with acceleration but my guzzi makes 80 rear wheel HP and I sometimes find myself using it all.

    But....I tend to ride the MG faster than I should, which is part of the reason I'm drawn to the airhead thing--narrow tires, more old school "enjoy the view" sort of thing. Still, are those of you on R80s--and R50/60/75s-- happy with the power your bikes produce? I live in Eastern
    Washinton--big,open unpeopled country. I spend my life at 60--80 mph, not much more than that; well the guzzi sometimes sees 130 but thats another story....
    #20