Should I be an Airhead owner?

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by round the block don, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. round the block don

    round the block don soreass

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    Here's my situation: I have a '91 GSPD with 76000 kms on it that works just fine. Looks great too. I've only had it for a year and a half and have no service records, though I was told by the seller that he brought it in from Germany and it was a one owner bike owned by an older fellow who sold it due to failing health. I believe this to be true.

    I enjoy this old bike for putting around the back roads on and can do the basic maintenance on it: fluid changes, adjusting valves, that sort of thing. I'm pretty mechanically "sympathetic" and keep all the small things in order but don't have the experience or knowhow to tackle anything major.

    Here's the issue in my mind. These bikes have a whole lot of potental issues: drive shafts, rear main seals, transmission problems [usually at around 80000 kms from what I read], missing circlips, unreliable charging systems, front brakes that could use upgrading, and I'm sure more that I'm leaving out.

    All of these issues are expensive to repair and could easily be in the thousands of dollars. That doesn't add up right to me, there are just too many good, reliable, cheap to run bikes out there, though admittedly the old GSPD has a style and a look that makes it special [but at what price?].

    So what to do? Ignore all the potential trouble and keep riding what is a great working bike that I love or just part ways with it before something bad happens? BTW, I've had 20+ bikes over the years, including 10+ BMW's and I've never had any issues that I would consider major.
    #1
  2. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    If you like it just ride the thing. If it ain't broke...
    #2
  3. jtwind

    jtwind Wisconsin Airhead

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    I'd say no! Generally airhead folks don't worry, just maintain, ride and fix when broke.
    #3
  4. The Raven

    The Raven Banned

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    +1 BMW owners are known for trying to fix things that are not broken. Seen it with my old oilhead and with the airhead. Probably because they like to tinker. I fell into that trap hook line and driveshaft. Seen my thread :lol3
    #4
  5. Rob Farmer

    Rob Farmer Long timer

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    Sell it and buy a 1200GS they take reliability to a whole new level :evil

    or

    Just ride it. The issues you list are potential problems. The front brake can be upgraded cheaply if you're prepared to spend a little time with a hacksaw and a piece of Dural - mine cost £35 to upgrade to a Tokico 4 pot.

    It's only you Yanks that seem to worry about the circlips on the outputs shaft. The rest of the world is generally oblivious to this problem and seem to be able to rack up huge mileages with out any disasters occouring.

    If anything else breaks put a new part in and worry about it again in another 20 years.
    #5
  6. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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    No....give me the PD and I'll take care of it.:D


    Man, if you think all of us in oldschool had never thought about ditching old for new, you're crazy.:loco Heres the deal...our bikes have soul. There I said it! Cats out of the bag!!!

    Seriously, they are very reliable for their age and fairly cheap and easy to maintain. If you have a problem on the side of the road, you will more than likely be able to repair and move on with simple tools and just a few spares..:D Unlike a newer bike with complicated ignition/braking systems that does what the computer tells it to do. My airhead is way more interesting to onlookers than a newer bike. I'm certain I talk and meet way more people because of my bike. You have my dream bike from my college days, and thats pretty neat. Keep it, maintain it, fix it, and ride it. Take it on a big dirt road/camp trip, or just for the weekend, you're mind may be made up. Good luck.
    #6
  7. evildonald

    evildonald Shrubber

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    My 91 r100GS has had it's share of problems, but none of the transmission/driveshaft things have given trouble. The real problem is fretting about those items when you go on a long trip.
    My solution was to send the tranny out to get the circlip installed and higher fith and lower first. Best thing ever for this bike! While it was down I threw in a rebuilt driveshaft and dual plugged the heads. Now it runs better and I don't worry (as much.)
    Worth the money?:lol3:lol3:lol3 Not ever, but where are you going to find a bike quite like an airhead GS?
    my advice is ride it till it breaks, you may have no troubles.
    #7
  8. Turdell

    Turdell Idiot Savant

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    I agree with Hardwaregirl, give it up. If it has no appeal to you then go buy the one you want. Anything can be a potential problem, new or old. As I age and my body has new pains. I find a way to maintain it by keeping active and paying attention to it.

    If you don't understand why some people choose to ride old bikes, then you need to quit pretending and get it to someone who needs it. Not many see the value of the sweat equity put into something, forget the money, its the sense of pride in being able to ride something vintage along with the newest and the best out there. Its a beautiful thing.

    Now I love fuel injection, I like the anti-lock brakes. I love the advances in tire rubber and design. But I love even more being able to synch my carbs by ear and know every detail about my old machines. Its love, true love. Not just the, look at what I have, its a relationship. Peace.
    #8
  9. round the block don

    round the block don soreass

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    That's the philosophy I need: I worry way too much about things that really aren't important.
    #9
  10. bmwloco

    bmwloco Long timer

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    An R100GS left me stranded in OZ back in the early 90's. Drive shaft. I fixed it, brought it home, and sold it as fast as I could. Back then, I didn't know much and it was all about ride, ride, ride.

    Post that, five R80G/S. Some bought laughably cheap, all good.

    Today, there are loads of "fixes" for the R100GS. Given what is available now, I might consider it, though Das Beast works just fine. Barks like a GS, goes like hot stink, and hauls all the stuff necessary.

    All things being equal, I would ride it until it breaks, repair it, and keep riding it. It sure is cheaper than buying a new bike, and you aren't going to find anything remotely like it in the market today.
    #10
  11. Uncle Ernie

    Uncle Ernie Long timer

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    When there was a lot more than lint in my pocketrs, I would get newbikitis fairly regularly- new meaning a different classic / vintage bike. (I came closet o getting a new Bonneville- until I test rode one) If THAT'S the case, just sell and try something different. What the heck?

    OTOH, I think hypochondria is transferreable to inanimate objects. I suspect it's possible to worry something to death. It can be as bad as totally ignoring something- only more painful.
    #11
  12. DaveBall

    DaveBall Long timer

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    Every brand and model of bike has "potential" problem areas. So what? They are mechanical beasts and will fail when they fail. Same goes for everything else in life.

    Over all, the average Airhead, if given appropriate maintenance and attention, will last you many many miles. Don't worry about things that might break, as worry will cause parts of your own body to fail, usually with little notice. Get on the bike and ride it. Do the proper maintenance that needs to be done to any 20-30 year old bike and carry on. When something breaks, fix it and get back on the bike and ride.

    On the other hand, if you are a born worrier, sell the bike and do not buy another one. No bike is 100% maintenance free and no bike will last forever. Those that go looking for problems with their bikes, usually create problems where there never was one. i.e. poke at a scab long enough and it will become infected.
    #12
  13. round the block don

    round the block don soreass

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    Raven, I have seen your thread and that ain't tinkering in my books. Way beyond what I have ever attempted.

    Rob Rarmer, I have a 1200GS in my garage, my second one, and they have been great, trouble free bikes. BTW, I'm not a Yank and I've had the same thought about the circlip as you; it's lasted 20 years and 76,000 kms so is it really an issue?

    I have the GSPD, not because it's all I can afford and need to be able to depend on it, but because I love the the look, feel, simplicity, uniqueness, etc, etc: same as the rest of you guys. I do get a lot of pleasure out of owning and riding it and enjoy just looking at it.

    I don't want to spend a fortune on it though. I guess I'm like the guy who was half Irish and half Scottish; he wants a drink of whiskey but he's: too cheap to buy it.:lol3
    #13
  14. SCQTT

    SCQTT Zwei Kolben

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    I'm sure I'll keep mine forever....if nothing else just to look at. It is in what most people would call "new" condition and is 100% stock.

    For a few years it was my "main bike" & I rode it quite often.

    I did have a tranny problem & charging problem during that time.

    Personally I feel it is a Sunday afternoon icecream chaser or an oddball to ride to bikenight.

    Perhaps when I get older the low height will make it my bike of choice, all my newer stuff is a little on the tall side and gets harder & harded to get on as I age.

    I have said it over & over again much to the disgust of the airhead crowd, but and F650 Dakar is a much better motorcycle in about 99% of the situations you will ever find yourself in.

    If you can get past the brand hang up I feel even the KLR650 is a pretty good match for the R100GS. (this answer brought to you by a guy with several BMWs in the garage right now.)
    #14
  15. Grider Pirate

    Grider Pirate Long timer

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    If you love it, just fix what breaks when it breaks. If you want a bike that delivers the maximum kilometer/penny ratio, get an older twin shock airhead and ride it forever.

    Drive shaft: Yup, They're expensive and don't last as long as they should.
    Never had a rear main seal problem in over 300,000 airhead miles.
    Circlip: Just ride it.
    Transmission: use synthetic gear lube and maybe double the rebuild interval.
    Charging system unreliable? I don't think so. Barely adequate yes, but pretty solid. The main reason you hear of failing charging system is because Airheads get so many more miles than most other bikes (IMO).
    I don't get the front brake thing. I have a '95 GSPD, and the front brake is capable of making the front tire howl from a high speed down to dead stopped. What more do you need?
    You forgot the Speedometer.
    Also that airheads are the only bike I know of that require precision measuring equipment to do an oil change.
    #15
  16. ChromeSux

    ChromeSux Un-plated and Unscrewed

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    I have done most all the upgrades to my 89 R100GS, looking back the only one that was 100% necessary was the circlip, 20,000 miles and the output bearing was shot, same on my friends RT 13,000 miles and the output bearing was real bad and i mean real bad.
    #16
  17. The Raven

    The Raven Banned

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    well, it started as a tinker refresh and ended up where it is....not sure how that happened. I guess I had the same fears and replaced/upgraded everything for good measure. BTW, where in the maritimes?
    #17
  18. crazydrummerdude

    crazydrummerdude Wacky Bongo Boy

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    Don't worry. Be happy.
    #18
  19. LasseNC

    LasseNC XSessive!

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    I think I can recognise your feeling, but only when I get a new old bike.

    I worry what can go wrong, because I don't know its full history and condition, and since I've never wrenched on it, that makes me worry too. But there is just nothing to do about it, well you could take it all apart, but why fix something that is working.

    It will come with time, learn as you go, have roadside help on it, and you're never lost. This forum is quite good for airhead owners too, you'll have all the support in the world.
    #19
  20. round the block don

    round the block don soreass

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    Thanks for all the theraputic counselling- I need it for sure. :freaky

    As mentioned, I forgot the speedometer, which is jumping around, and also the various splines that need regular attention.

    The overall message is sinking in though; ride it, enjoy it, fix it when it breaks, and don't waste any precious time and energy worrying about it.

    I'm going to give that a try.

    And for Adam, I'm in Moncton NB, not too far north of you. Coming up this way anytime soon?
    #20