R80 ST - What to look for, what to upgrade?

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by itinerant, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. itinerant

    itinerant Adventurer

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    Hi all,

    Having heard such wonderful things about them, I've been keeping my eyes peeled for an R80 ST over the last couple years, and the stars have finally aligned - there's one for sale nearby, and I actually have the cash to buy it. The bike has very low miles (under 10k), but is not running. The owner says it's been outside for the better part of two years, and when he went to get it ready for selling, he found water in the crankcase. I haven't been out to see the bike yet; we've arranged a time in about a week, but I've seen a few pictures, and am pretty confident that I want to buy it. I just wanted to post the question of what I should be looking for, and if there was water in the sump, how worried should I be? It's not seized. I'm perfectly happy to rebuild carbs, get a new battery, improve electrics, etc., but I'm wondering if I'm likely to need a top-end rebuild, and what else? I'd like to avoid that slippery slope, or at least know what I'm in for. Shall I bring a compression tester with me, and if so, what results am I looking for?

    Any advice will be much appreciated. If I buy the bike, I'll definitely be asking about what to upgrade on it. My focus is on getting it running really well and ready to take me on long trips - not at all on making it look nice. I live in New York City, so I'd just as soon NOT have it be a shiny target.

    Thanks!
    #1
  2. spo123

    spo123 Man About Town

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    Just plan on an engine swap, at the begining....Then rebuild, as necessary.:deal
    #2
  3. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    drop the carburetor float bowls and check for signs of water
    drain the gearbox oil and check for the tell-tale emulsification milkshake
    sure, go ahead and do the same for the final drive. no need to drain it all, just enough to get a sense of what's inside.

    my buddy bought a set of forks.. whole front end... one side had internal corrosion due to water.

    I was looking at an R80G/S that sat outside a while.
    With the spark plugs removed you can look inside the cylinder... use a penlight.
    Do you see water?
    I did. :cry

    my R80ST :raabia ?

    Rode it for a while... compression ok... leak-down test revealed ring issues at the left cylinder.
    Subsequent top-end overhaul revealed broken second compression ring that side and... pitted Nikasil cylinder walls due water loitering there sometime in the past.

    Who knows, maybe this one isn't so bad.
    Is the owner making it worth your while?
    #3
  4. itinerant

    itinerant Adventurer

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    That depends on what you mean by "worth my while". He's asking around 2,000 for it.

    I'll certainly look for all those things, and know exactly what you mean by the "emulsification milkshake". I honestly don't mind doing a top end rebuild / valve job, with potentially a cylinder honing and re-ring. I don't mind rebuilding the forks, I've done that before too. I have all the tools for those jobs, and if I buy it for 2,000, don't mind throwing another 1,000 (or even 2,000) at getting it running right. I guess what I'm wondering is, 'is that reasonable, or should I run screaming in the other direction'?

    I should say that I put a deposit on a new F650 GS, and am just waiting for the dealer to call and make me decide. I guess the way I feel is, I'd rather spend $4,000 on an R80 ST, which is classy and reliable, than 10,000 on an F650, which is not at all classy, and reliable. In other words, am I crazy to think that this bike could be a rock solid daily rider/long distance light tourer?
    #4
  5. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    IMO, not at all.
    the long distance part... problem is they're geared a little low for that, which may hurt your mileage if you're in a hurry.

    any properly sorted "airhead" could be a rock solid daily rider/long distace tourer.
    The R80ST may be a little more versatile in a dirt friendly street bike sort of way, but mileage is not its long suit.
    #5
  6. itinerant

    itinerant Adventurer

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    That makes sense. Thanks for the input. Since the biggest bike I've ever put any highway miles on is a KLR 650, I'm willing to bet the BMW gearing feels fine to me, at least at first. I'm not a huge fan of highway riding, anyway.

    Here are some photos of the bike.

    Anyone have any thoughts about street focused dual sport tires? I've got Shinko 705s on the KLR, which I love, but I can't find them in the sizes for the ST. I ride almost entirely pavement with the occasional dirt road. I'm never very heavily loaded, and really don't pass 70 mph on the highway.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

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    You won't be able to hone it as it has nikasil barrels but hopfully a re-ring will suffice.

    As for long distance tourer it depends on how fast and on what type of roads you travels on, it is certainly no K1600 but at a steady pace, up to 70 mph on ordinary roads it will take you as far as you want to go.

    The extra disc has been added later, I have done this to my G/S and is a wothwhile extra, as for front tyres I would suggest a pair of Avon Distanzias, I run them on my G/S and with steady riding get 8-9,000 miles from a rear and they do 19 inch front in 100 and 110.

    Here is luggage manufacturer Al Jesse with his R80S/T which took him to many places and was the test bike for some of his products. A great all round bike.


    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    AFAIK no R80ST left the factory with dual disc brakes, that's special.

    It sounds as though the bike would suit you nicely. Have you seen these threads?

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=391063&highlight=R80ST+registry

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=418019&highlight=R80ST+registry

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=350434&highlight=r80st+dual+sport

    there are not a lot of dual sport options in 19" for your front tire, consequently there's a fair amount of discussion around that.
    Probably the ST doesn't push the off-pavement envelope so hard that tread is a critical consideration(?)
    I've recently been running a Dunlop K70 which sort of looks agressive but is a street tire, and haven't found it inadequate.

    That bike looks very appealing. Hopefully the price is too.
    If you have the time and means to maintain it, you may find it giving greater returns than the F650.
    #8
  9. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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    Blimey, that looks ready to run, I can see no way that that has been left outside for two years, I also doubt there is water in the motor:deal

    I hope you have that at home now before someone else grabs it:clap
    #9
  10. England-Kev

    England-Kev Long timer

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    Some advice...

    From the top.

    Remove the tank, and flush out with clean fuel.
    Remove the fuel taps and clean the filters.
    clean the carbs
    change all oils (do not change oil filter at this time)
    new tyres and tubes
    new battery
    new plugs (fire a little oil down the bore while the plugs are out) rest plugs on cylinders so they are shorted out at electrode, and turn the motor over, this will help circulate the oil before start up. (plugs must be shorted out)
    Add new fuel
    refit plugs
    full choke
    ignition on, check oil light is on
    and fire it up (now oil light should go out)

    Run it for a few days before changing the engine oil again, and this time change the filter too

    Have fun, ask questions.:deal
    #10
  11. squish

    squish Out of the office.

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    It wouldn't hurt to drop the oil pan, clean it up and make sure the pick up is bolted on solid.

    on new to me bikes, I flush out all the old fluids, just so I know what's been done.
    I also go in and clean all the major electrical connections and make sure the bike has good grounds.

    That helps solve a lot of funky issues right off the bat.

    Good luck

    Oh yea and the stock tank for me was only good for about 110 miles to reserve.
    #11
  12. itinerant

    itinerant Adventurer

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    Wow, thanks for all the input, guys, I really I appreciate it.

    Renner -> my research showed the same: that no ST came with dual discs, but that the forks supported an easy addition of a second one. I've also read around that it isn't really necessary, but hey, why not!

    England-Kev -> thanks for the list! That's very helpful. I've read before that it's important to ground the plugs if they're not in the cylinders. Why is that? Does it hurt the coils if you don't? Also: it's true that it looks good, but the owner swears it was outside a bunch, and that he found water in the crankcase. Anyway, I'm going to pick it up next Sunday (out of town for work until then).

    squish -> thanks for the advice. Flushing the fluids seems like a good idea, but I'm not sure I would've thought of it.I'll be ok with 110 miles to reserve for the time being, but would like to find a 100GS tank to throw on there. They're damn expensive on eBay, though! :eek1

    So what's a good source for airhead bits like gaskets, oil seals, bearings, carb kits, oils, etc? I'm used to buying stuff from Dime City Cycles for my Honda, but they don't carry beemer stuff, as far as I can tell.
    #12
  13. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

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    yeah what he said!!!
    #13
  14. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    your local dealer is often a good resource.

    Go here,
    http://www.maxbmwmotorcycles.com/index.html
    select parts, fiche, and bottom center insert the serial number to bring up the illustrated parts catalog for your bike.
    the prices listed are fairly current and accurate.

    you have a "neighbor" who recently had a lot of work done there on his R80ST.
    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=745609

    there are plenty of independent suppliers.
    Hans "Hucky" Lowe is popular: http://www.bmwhucky.com/

    have you bought this bike yet?
    #14
  15. subagon

    subagon Hopelessly lost

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    FYI, I bought a ST last year with a bad transmission. I replaced 5th gear with a taller one that should reduce the RPMs around 5% when in 5th. It's a $200 part and I won't have done it just to reduce the RPMs, but since I was in the gearbox anyway...
    #15
  16. baldwithglasses

    baldwithglasses Godspeed, Robert

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    Hell naw, it's Kennesaw!
    I'd give him $1500 cash and tell him how much work it will take to refurb the motor and tranny, and to sort out the inevitable electrical gremlins that go hand-in-hand with long-term neglect.
    #16
  17. itinerant

    itinerant Adventurer

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    Haven't bought it yet (sorry for all the conversation before I actually have the bike), but it's more or less a foregone conclusion. He's not listing it. I offered a deposit to hold it until I could get down there, but he said not to worry. We've set up a meet next Sunday.

    Renner, thanks for the links. I'm so used to modern dealers not having anything for my CB350, it didn't even occur to me to go to a place like MAX, which is practically down the road from my father's place in Maine. I'm headed up there today, actually, and may try to pick up some replacement fluids.

    Not sure how I feel about wheeling and dealing. We'll have to see when I get there what sort of shape the bike is in. He seems willing to let me start pulling things off the bike, changing fluids, etc., before actually buying the bike. that's worth something.

    By the way, what's the best option for a battery for this bike? I'm pretty sure it'll need a new one; the owner says the current one has about 20 seconds of cranking (not continuously) before it needs to go back on the charger.
    #17
  18. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    IIRC Wirewrkr posted somewhere recently regarding a good & inexpensive battery. I&#8217;ll try a search for it&#8230;<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I can say getting the battery in & out of an ST is a small challenge. Depending on the battery, it&#8217;s a tight fit.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    The technique that&#8217;s worked well for me recently has been to&#8230; while lifting&#8230; rotate the battery so the left wall becomes the top, then easing it out.<o:p></o:p>
    If that battery doesn&#8217;t want to come out easily without removing other parts you might first give this a try.

    edit: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=19436609&postcount=53
    in another R80ST thread, no less. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=819789<o:p></o:p>
    #18
  19. Solo Lobo

    Solo Lobo airhead or nothing

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    Here's the reailty... if there is damage from the water in the trans rebuild start at ~$600, and then go up from there when gears and other things are in poor condition... the rebuild on my G/S's trans was $1,200

    If the final drive has the same water issues (as mine did) there's another chunk... think I spent ~$400 on mine....

    Point being, this ST may run you much more than $4K.. add in tires, battery, rear shock, etc... head rebuilds are expensive as well.

    That said, I prefer to rescue airheads, just have your eyes wide open... you may hit a home run and have none of these issue or you may go well beyond the $4K starter
    #19
  20. Renner

    Renner combustophile

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    well said.
    top-end/head work can get up around $1k quickly.

    I hadn't seen the $4,00 reference till now.
    Can't say I'm very good at pricing bikes but IMO that particular R80ST should start closer to $3k.

    Personally, I'd like to see what others think is a fair price for this one.
    #20