Decisions: '74 R90/6 or '77 R100/7

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by mkdauff, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. mkdauff

    mkdauff Idiot Savant

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    I've been in the market for an airhead for awhile and have the opportunity to buy one of these two bikes...but I need advice. Can anyone help me out?


    1: 1974 R90/6, 65k on the odometer. I really don't know much about this bike other than it's in a town in Colorado I've never heard of, and that the guy bought it from a dealer 5 years ago and has only changed the clutch cable and battery over the last year. He says he only rides it a couple times a year, and that the speedo needle is broken off... He's asking $2500.


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    2: 1977 R100/7, 18k on the odometer and just got out of the paint shop...so tank and fenders are perfect. I'm not sure why it was painted, but from the looks of the bike it couldn't have been from significant damage. Bike also has brand new tires and a fresh tune, as it is at a pretty reputable dealership up in Ft. Collins. Shop is asking $3900.

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    Not that it's a huge difference maker, but I'm 6'5'' and right at 200lbs...so a decent sized fella.

    What do you guys think?
    #1
  2. Tenni126

    Tenni126 Adventurer

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    I have a '74 R90. The cool things: last year for kick start, five speeds, first year for disc brake, cool aluminum turn signals and slash five switch gear.

    The bad? Kind of all of that same stuff. The trans is an oddball, the kicker is notoriously weak, and the disc brake sucks. It's got a lot of 1 year only things about it. Plus a few other things. If you are only concerned with getting the better of the two, I'd go with the R100/7. But the R90/6 is cooler I think:1drink
    #2
  3. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    The way it's set up that R90/6 would make a great traveling bike.

    What a deal!

    :evil
    #3
  4. fuhgawee

    fuhgawee Thats a road?

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    I've got a 77 R75/7 and love it. I'm 6'2" and 195lbs, bike is comfortable.
    More comf. after I replaced the higher usa handlebars with lower euro bars.
    Existing cables rerouted not replaced. Huckys is a great source for parts and tips.

    From the pics the /7 look clean, if serial numbers match and it rode decent
    I'd buy it. Believe the /7 tank holds a gallon more than the /6 right?
    #4
  5. LouDiamond

    LouDiamond Adventurer

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    i think they both look like great bikes.

    Is this going to be your 'daily' bike or your 'kick around fun bike'? If it's your daily, you'll sure love having those bags and that fairing on the 74
    #5
  6. stucknarut

    stucknarut Uh oh...

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    No 70s airhead is a speed demon, but anything 750cc or higher should have no problem at highway speed with you. My brother and I are both fatter than you and have no issues on my R75/5 or his R90.

    You haven't said why you want an airhead or what your mechanical aptitude level is; both are relevant. But, here's my 2c.

    At $2500 the R90 is a decent deal, but will probably need some care and feeding right away. Depending on where you send it the speedo can cost a chunk to fix. Plus, non-stock paint, fairing, and seat. If you want a stock look, it'll cost you. And it sounds like you'll probably get to do some delayed maintenance stuff on it at almost 70k and sitting awhile. Net, if you're buying an airhead because you want an airhead project, not a bad candidate. You won't find a decent running R90 for much less.

    But - if you like the stock look, or like a nice shiny bike, or just want to throw a leg over and ride before the inevitable maintenance on a 40yo bike, you'd be better off with the /7. It sure is pretty.
    #6
  7. mkdauff

    mkdauff Idiot Savant

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    Thanks for the replies!

    I'm really just looking for a toy and a more enjoyable way to get around town. It won't really be a daily as I ride my bicycle to work on most days, or I drive or take public transit.

    My mechanical aptitude is more than adequate, especially when working on a mostly mechanical object. I've worked on cars (e30/36 BMW, FB/FC RX-7's) and other trucks/bicycles for awhile now, but never been around motorcycles. That's actually one of the main reasons I'm looking at older beemers, as I want to learn more and airheads are very simple machines.

    I've been debating the fairing and only learned recently that they aren't exactly an hour's swap for on/off. Knowing that, I'll probably stick with naked and maybe get the sport headlight fairing/windscreen at some point and invest in a better helmet and riding gear for the time being.

    I live in Denver and really don't have much travel b/w work, school, grocery, etc. I want a fun ride to take out to the mountains for some curves, ride around town as needed, and make the hour'ish trip up to the girl's house in Ft. Collins and friend's houses in Colorado Springs. You know, all the things we buy motorcycles for!

    The only thing that concerns me on the /7 is the miles, as they can't really guarantee if 18k is accurate. The bike looks pretty clean, and the saddle is original and still has very firm foam (although the trim around the lower edge of the saddle is missing). Pipes have a little bit of pitting, but no rust-through from what I saw. They did say the prior owner had a slow accident that broke the headlight glass and scraped the tank, which is why it was painted and ultimately why the shop just bought it from the guy. Seemed to track fine when I road it though.

    Engine starts quick, only died at idle once but they hadn't adjusted the carbs yet. Runs strong, but it's my first time riding an airhead so I didn't have anything to compare to. I took a brand-new Triumph Scrambler out immediately after riding the /7, and it's obviously a smoother machine but I was expecting that.
    #7
  8. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    I'd get the /7 if the price isn't an issue. I just like their overall look better than the /6s.
    #8
  9. stucknarut

    stucknarut Uh oh...

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    Hmm...your first post said a fresh tune, what does that mean? I'd have assumed it included checking/syncing the carbs, engine oil, transmission and drive oil, lube the drive splines, set valve lash, check compression, and adjust timing. But I'm too cheap to bring my bike in to someone, what do I know. Mileage aside (the odos are often bad) a decent airhead mechanic should be able to give you a rough sense of wear and tear based on that stuff.

    And for the record, a modern Triumph scrambler isn't fair :). Try it against a 1977 pre-Hinckley Triumph and we'll see which one's smoothest.
    #9
  10. mkdauff

    mkdauff Idiot Savant

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    Sounds like instead of checking/syncing the carbs they had actually just cleaned them up. The bike isn't quite complete/ready for sale yet, and is even waiting on a new roundel to come in.

    The shop had only had the bike 1-2 days after the fresh-paint before I hopped on for the first real ride. Also, they have been taking care of the bike for some time but couldn't remember the guy's name off the top of their heads to pull up the records...so hopefully they have those before I make any decisions as well.
    #10
  11. Big Bamboo

    Big Bamboo Aircooled & Sunbaked

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    If they were the same price, I'd go for the R100/7. The '74 BMWs had problems from the factory, and that seat, fairing, bags and paint combo just doesn't do it for me... :huh
    #11
  12. bmwrench

    bmwrench Long timer

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    Get the /7. It has a bigger front axle, later controls make a handlebar master cylinder conversion easier, the frame is stiffer, and the fuel tank is bigger. All in all, a better motorcycle.
    #12
  13. mykill

    mykill odd

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    The /7would be calling me for many of the reasons mentioned above. They are better stronger and faster.
    If you are concerned about actual mileage look at the controls for clues. Brake pedal wear, slop in levers and perches, slop in center and side stands are not foolproof but good indicators.
    Will they let you pull the valve covers? Look for even stud length, valve adjustment screws not at extremes and discoloration around the exhaust valve side.
    Pick it apart and beat them down a bit.
    #13
  14. Lornce

    Lornce Lost In Place

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    Pop the cover off and examine the throttle gears.

    :wink:
    #14
  15. stucknarut

    stucknarut Uh oh...

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    Not to thread jack, but isn't that heavily dependent on whether it's been greased properly?

    You might also ask them to pop the tank and look at the master cylinder. Notorious for leaking, with predictable results to the paint on the frame.
    #15
  16. mykill

    mykill odd

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    At that point you are just looking for similar wear, no one thing standing out as really bad or really good.
    Good idea to pull the tank as well. But the deeper you go and don't find anything wrong, so goes your bargaining power.
    #16
  17. mkdauff

    mkdauff Idiot Savant

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    Ended up buying the /7 a couple nights ago, although haven't brought it down to Denver from Fort Collins yet. Will be doing that tomorrow! :clap

    First things I have to change:

    - Touch-up some paint on the frame
    - Handlebars (what is on it currently are damn near ape-hangers IMO)
    - Horn relocation/replacement (interrupts such a gorgeous engine)
    - Front turn-signals
    - Rear brake and turn-signals

    I really want to do the battery relocation at some point as well, as I hate the side-covers and really love the minimalist look when there's basically just motor/tranny there. I think the curves of the frame in that section are damn sexy as well.

    What are some suggestions in these areas? Good options on handlebars and light conversions?
    #17
  18. Horsehockey

    Horsehockey A GPS? Huh?

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    Congrats on the new bike. If it were mine, I'd focus on getting familiar with the valve adjustment procedure, tank removal, cleaning up electrical contacts, carb cleaning/syncronizing, fluid changes, condition of the rubber bits....all before I started to modify the pure appearance items. I agree with the plan to ditch the high bars. Personally, I ride with the low Euro bars and enjoy the posture and handling. If you go down to a euro bar, you'll have to replace the clutch and brake cables. Your exhaust looks like it might be stainless steel (Epco?..marked on the hangars). You can easily confirm with a magnet....if strong magnetic attraction on headers and mufflers, then not SS. If weak or non-magnetic attraction, then you just got about $1200 worth of SS exhaust with your deal.

    Edit: And I'd install new plug wires and use NGK 5ohm caps.
    #18
  19. mkdauff

    mkdauff Idiot Savant

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    Absolutely on all the maintenance stuff. I've already been to the depths of the forums trying to figure out some of that stuff, and have since decided I'll be better off joining up with the Airhead club here in Denver and learning from other people with experience. The shop I bought it from also does classes in the fall/winter, so I'll be utilizing those for sure. If you know of any other resources other than Clymer manuals, I'm open ears!

    Do you have any pictures of your euro bar setup? Is that the same thing as "S" bars? I'm really hoping to do that conversion soon, as it will be beneficial both in both looks and ergonomics. I'm a little too cramped on the bike right now and want some more lean-forward for my long arms. Also, what's the best source on bars? I've read about Clubman and Flanders...but that's about as far as I've come. I like the look of the bars pictured below which are Daytona's, although they take some modification as they aren't 22mm.

    The shop also says that as long as I go shorter, I won't need shorter cables...just re-routing will suffice.

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    #19
  20. mkdauff

    mkdauff Idiot Savant

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    #20