Inexperienced but proud owner of a '74 R90/6, want to make it a café racer project!

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by xombiexplox, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. xombiexplox

    xombiexplox Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Oddometer:
    19
    So, this is my first motorcycle ever and the first time I've ever taken on something mechanical and manly.

    I'm wanting to clean it up nice and lose some weight (on the bike) and add some power! Do you guys have any recommendations for a COMPLETE first timer?

    I'm buying tools this weekend, and I've already got the hardcover Haynes service manual. Now that I've got the bike and the drive, the hard part's over right?? ;)

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. Yeahoo Whoyah

    Yeahoo Whoyah Duct Tape Advocate

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    Don't touch it, leave it alone, just ride it. Period.
    #2
  3. RecycledRS

    RecycledRS Along for the ride

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    Welcome to the forum. This place has all expertise you need to help you restore, maintain and modify your new ride. You have ready recieved your first of many opinions on " cafeing" this good looking bm. My vote would be to first get it running properly and then see if you haven't grown to love it.
    #3
  4. KhaoSanMan

    KhaoSanMan Airhead

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    Apr 26, 2009
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    Chico, CA
    Have fun! Happy to help if needed. Welcome to the forum.


    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I537 using Tapatalk
    #4
  5. Kai Ju

    Kai Ju Long timer

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    To those that are imploring the young lady to leave it stock...it's not.
    Dyna ignition booster if not the complete thing, Excel rims, Mikunis, aftermarket shocks, albeit short ones. I'm sure there is more but the point is it's her bike, to do with as she pleases. (I'm making the assumption that the OP is astride her bike)
    I would start with longer shocks, if you can reach the ground with ease, and lower bars.
    Start with that as well as getting to know the bike by doing maintenance such as oil and filter change, valve adjust, checking the timing etc.
    If after you know your bike and feel comfortable wielding a wrench, have at it.
    As has already been said, lots of info, and opinions, to be found here.
    I would also recommend attending a tech day if there is one near you coming up. Unlikely due to the time of year but you never know.
    Also, guys will trip all over themselves offering to help so let's see what happens.:D

    More than anything, welcome to the world of Airheads, and the asylum.
    #5
  6. xombiexplox

    xombiexplox Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
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    Yeah, thanks! I have been reading lots of similar comments on here, so I'm prepared for that. I just got my permit, waiting to go to a safety course and I'd like to tinker for the next few weeks until I get that license.

    It runs fine in my understanding of this machine, only problems are:

    - Odometer stopped working. Not sure if a mechanical failure, or maybe it's due to the weird spindle/rotating-looking thing near my rear hub. The previous owner replaced the hubs recently (he says) and now it doesn't look like it's attached to anything.

    - Small amount of leaking fluids. Some drips down my kickstand and near that side, it's a greenish color. Also, a darker colored liquid is dripping closer to the center. Only a few drops a week but it's concerning for me.

    What I really want to accomplish is a complete tear-down, clean and lube everything, sand and paint the frame, maybe rewire all the electronics, new front and rear suspension, new cafe-ish seat and drop the handlebars.

    As I have hardly any tools at the moment, and only a few weeks until I finish my safety course I'd like to have things finished by the time I'm legally able to ride. I think I might have to just stick to adding some clip on bars and tidying up the electronics.

    I'm really excited though! Thanks
    #6
  7. xombiexplox

    xombiexplox Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2013
    Oddometer:
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    Thanks guys! I'll check around for some type of workshop around here, but Oahu is small so I'll keep my fingers crossed!
    #7
  8. Brun

    Brun Been here awhile

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    Jun 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    BorderBurg, South East Oz.
    Very nice. The bike is pretty good, too.
    I can tell you are already grinning, and that is good.

    I suggest you also get the Clymer manual - it is much better, with pictorial step-by-step instructions, perfect for the airhead neophyte. The Haynes is worth having just for the coloured electrical diagrams. Both books have some errors, so be mindful.

    Old BMWs are the perfect bike to be learning manly mechanical stuff on. I'll second or third the request to not convert it to a cafe until you have ridden it well and learned a few things about it. If you change the bars to the 'Euro' type (narrower and lower) you will find it is a very capable sports/touring bike. I'll never understand why the american market was lumbered with those huge bars - they turn the bike into a cruiser, which is just wrong.

    The other matter worth dealing with quickly is the front brake. You may have already noticed that it doesn't work very well, even when properly set up. The good news is that a handlebar mounted master cylinder will make it work really well, for a lot less cost than refurbishing the existing under-tank master cylinder. Check out this thread:

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=742109

    Have fun. Fondle that bike and get to know its little quirks. And do feel free to ask questions.
    #8
  9. xombiexplox

    xombiexplox Adventurer

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    Oct 28, 2013
    Oddometer:
    19
    Thanks! Yeah I've definitely noticed the front brake needs work. Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction!
    #9
  10. Zodiac

    Zodiac loosely portrayed

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    Brooklyn
    Subscribed, well, just because...:lol3
    #10
  11. ozmoses

    ozmoses Ride On

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    USA

    Maybe inmate BigBamboo is a good (local) resource for info?
    #11
  12. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Oddometer:
    12,366
    Location:
    Silver Spring, Md
    No idea where she is. Do you really think she's on the Big Island in Hawaii?

    Most of us riding these bikes are the older conservative crowd or the younger Cafe crowd it's true. The older ones tho stick around and answer your questions. We will try to dissuade you from cafe-ing this bike right away. There is plenty to do right now and you should know the bike before you take it apart. The bike is designed to be maintained in it's current form. Everything on the bike is serviceable as it sits on the bike and for some major service parts come off. We will teach you this, the procedures and tell you when it is time to take the transmission off, when it is time to replace the rear seal, etc.

    The bike looks like it has had a lot of work put it into the current form and it served very well for some years. However it has seen many, many miles and the work to bring it back to pristine shape has only begun. The wheels are excellent. That is a big job and they will shine with just a little washing and polishing now. You should try plain wax and avoid "Chrome Polish" compounds for the most part. "Polish" is abrasive and over use removes the chrome.

    You are missing one of the eyebrow shades for the tachometer. You say the odo doesn't work? Does the speedo work? If so the problem with the odo is internal, in the speedo unit. If the speedo also doesn't work the cable may be at fault. The speedo cable is on the right side the rear of the trans and is held on by the bolt that holds the battery ground cable on. Sometimes things around the battery cable are a little different but I can't see what's happening in the picture, it is behind your right leg.

    You have /5 aluminum front turn signals. I don't see any rear turn signals. Maybe they are incorporated in the bags which are off the bike? Working turn signals are a safety feature and should be maintained.

    These bikes are big. They are heavy. The large handlebar helps to steer and handle the bike. It actually looks after market but I'm not sure. There is a stock Magura bar that is called the USA bar and that may be it. But none the less it helps wield all that weight. The most radical weight savings will take off only a couple of pounds unless you spend some big bucks. The machine can also be hot rodded and made a bit quicker. The end result will be it is still a 37 year old big heavy bike that almost any Japanese $3,000 250cc machine can walk away from.

    Good Luck with it. It does look like a special machine that somebody has put a lot of thought and care into.

    edit; You say it is a 1974 machine? The left handlebar switch looks like the '75 or '76 switch? The title may be off or the switch style could have been changed but you can look the Vin # up on RealOEM.com It will tell you when the bike was built, new model year starts with Sept the year before (back when this machine was built) The # is stamped into the engine block above the dipstick and is also on a tag riveted to the front headstock. Check the numbers in both places, they should match.
    #12
  13. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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    Charlie, last time i checked this was Hawaii. :deal

    Welcome to the madness, xombieplox! And to search the airhead archives here put it in google and enter "advrider" after what you're looking for.
    #13
  14. disston

    disston ShadeTreeExpert

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    Sorry. I missed that. It wasn't in her profile and I didn't see it. Duh. Still Oahu doesn't really make you a neighbor of Big Bamboo on Hawaii. The islands work that way, ya know?

    There are others in Hawaii. Who's on Oahu? They should have enough Airheads for an ABC Chapter or at least a Tech Day?
    #14
  15. Domiken

    Domiken Been here awhile

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    Manhattan
    Looks like a fun project, good luck!
    #15
  16. Tankad

    Tankad Pure Shenanigans

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    Milwaukee, Wi.
    I would start with the euro bars or the "S" bars by Magura. this will need you to change out the cables (clutch, brake, ext.) and mirrors as well, because the new bars will make the original cables to long and the mirrors to short. this is an easy thing to do and a good starting point for someone new to mechanical things. It will also change the handling of the bike more in line with the style you are heading in. The gauge cluster can be more trouble than they are worth. you may want to change it out to an acewell gauge. this will be a more difficult job, but there are a ton of information on this forum for this job, so not impossible with your current skill sets.

    good luck and welcome to the forum
    #16
  17. AntonLargiader

    AntonLargiader Long timer

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    That can be fixed. Contact Wirespokes.

    - Small amount of leaking fluids.

    Find another Airhead owner locally. Save yourself a lot of time and expensive lessons.

    Rather than clip-ons, try some wide flat bars. I have the 'Superbike' bend by... Renthal? No, someone else... on my R100R and I like it a lot. For tighter roads, wide bars absolutely rock.

    You will probably want better brakes, so that front-end upgrade should be high on your list.
    #17
  18. r60man

    r60man Been here awhile

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    Robesonia PA
    I am not one of the anti cafe crowd. Your bike do with it as you wish. I will just give one piece of advice. The bigger bars are much easier to ride and control that shorter cafe style bars. I would definitely think about keeping it that way until you are fully accustomed to riding a bike. If you were not a noob to bikes I wouldn't even mention it. Nice looking bike, enjoy!
    #18
  19. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

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    I'm in love. :raabia

    As the owner of four 1974 airheads, I might have a little bit of insight to any peculiar things you might discover about our somewhat-unique-year models. If you have any questions, feel free to post them. There's a fair amount of mis/dis-information out there if you dig deep.

    It's your bike and you can do what you want. Most of the old dudes here like to keep 'em stock if they're already stock. Yours isn't, so check out this thread for inspiration: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=252051

    At 27, I am old enough to be a cranky old guy, but young enough to still absolutely love a well-executed cafe racer. If/when I find a non-stock airhead, I will do just that, but all these dang bikes I've been finding have been too nice to tear apart.. yet.

    I recommend getting rid of the handlebar risers ASAP, and getting some "S" or "euro" bars. I tried Clubmans (the poor mans clip-ons) and they were just too dang low.

    Be sure to post pictures of your progress.
    #19
  20. Wirespokes

    Wirespokes Beemerholics Anonymous

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    Welcome to the forum!

    You know, that's a touring motorcycle and I doubt there's enough road on Oahu for a decent tour. :D

    I agree with what Anton said - low bars will change the feel of the bike and help handling. The stock BMW low bars are fairly narrow, but it is possible to get wider ones with a low rise. Sometimes they're called sidecar bars because more leverage is needed with a hack. And no, you won't need to change the cables if you convert to low bars - but some adjusting and re-arranging (re-routing) will be necessary to accommodate the extra length.

    That looks like a fairly decent and original bike and I'd be hesitant to chop it up. If it was in really rough shape and it was the only thing I had to occupy my spare time for several months - maybe a complete teardown would be considered. But you have absolutely no idea of the scope of such a project if you think it could be done in a couple weeks or a month, especially when you've had no wrenching experience. Taking it apart is easy - going back together is something else entirely! Ask anyone here how many basket case bikes they've seen or gotten that really only needed to be re-assembled. A LOT!

    Frankly, I prefer evolution to revolution - and what I mean by that is this: rather than taking it down to the last nut and bolt, checking everything and making it all like new, instead concentrate on the highest priority item first and take care of it best you can. Then the next and the next. That way you can be riding it and using it during the upgrade. It will also give you time to get in touch with the bike and get a feel for it.

    For instance - the frame. Usually it's only scratched in a few places. It's pretty easy to sand any rust, primer and paint without removing anything. Mask off the engine or other things in the area and spray. Or POR has a good brush on paint that supposedly dries without leaving brush strokes. That's probably the route I'd take.

    As for the odometer issue - that's quite possibly the most common failure for the whole 25-year-run of the airheads. Do get it repaired as it's possible for the odometer to jam and damage other parts in there.

    My vote is to install low bars and a custom seat - if that's what turns you on - and get the brakes working well. There are those who say the ATE brakes will never work well, but that's wrong. They may not have been the best, as far as brakes go, but they can be made to work very well.
    #20