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eatpasta
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Los Angeles, CA
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Hello there, everyone. I am new to Beemer bikes (I've put about 14,000 miles on my GS in about 6 months...) and I have fallen in love with these things. I seriously cant stay off my GS, and I have always kinda wanted an older Beem.
My girl spends A LOT of time on the back, and we rode by (what I think was) a R90 the other day and she loved it.

"Thats cute!" she said "its not nearly as ugly as the GS!"

Surprise whatever... the GS is.... what it is. Tongue

Anyways she is taking her motorcycle safety class in a few weeks and I was thinking an older Beemer would be perfect for her. Not only that - Ill definately be stealing it on weekend rides alone!!

Cool

So, I came here ask the experts about these bikes; what is a good, older bike to have as a rider. Dead reliable, easy maintenence (like my oilhead perhaps...).

Someone was telling me the other day, that I want to stay away from ponts and the like and stick with newer, eletronic ignitons. Is this true?

Anyhow - thanks for any and all help!

-cheers

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1983 CB1100F - Scarlett
2002 BMW R1150GS - Gladiator

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
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schrader7032
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San Antonio, TX
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What's the best vintage BMW to actually ride??

Ask 5 BMW owners what is the best bike and you'll get 10 answers!! They all have their pluses and minuses. One thing you might do is look at some previous posts...I believe some of this subject was covered within the past 6-9 months.

Sounds like you're thinking early to mid '70s. Right off the bat, I'd say avoid a '70 model as it was the first year of the /5...growing pains. Also, I think the '74 models had some particular issues, most likely transmissions. I'd say a 1973 R75/5 (long wheel base) or a '75/'76 R90/6 would be bikes I would look into. If 900 cc is too big, consider the R75/6 of the same years.

As for reliability, a lot will depend on the previous owners and you as the new owner. The bikes will need some routine maintenance in terms of bearings, valve adjustments, spline lubes, forks, etc. If the bike has high miles, it might need a top end refurb to bring the performance back or to keep it running stable. I think one needs to accept the fact that you'll be tinkering once in a while.

As for points vs electronic ignition...that's another flip a coin answer. Points are dirt simple once you understand what's going on. Could be fixed somewhat easily by the side of the road. Electronic ignitions can help with performance and can improve the smoothness of the bike. But they can fail...DAMHIK. If you convert to an electronic ignition, carry all of the original ignition parts with you so you can convert back in an emergency. And do your homework when looking into these ignitions. There are 4-6 types available, each with different levels of installation, features, and price.

Happy shopping...

Kurt in S.A.

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Kurt in S.A.
'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

eatpasta
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Los Angeles, CA
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What's the best vintage BMW to actually ride??

Cool cool cool. Ya, Im not afriad to be tinkering around with the bike at all. After buying the GS, I have grown to like being inside the motor from time to time. THe only bummer part of it, is living in Los Angeles where you not welcome to work on anything, anywhere, that is, unless you own a home and even then not all the time....

I guess the homework start now!

-Cheers!

Wink

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1983 CB1100F - Scarlett
2002 BMW R1150GS - Gladiator

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
TS Eliot

tricyclerob
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Fork,Md
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What's the best vintage BMW to actually ride??

Although not yet considered Vintage, I think for a newer rider an R65 might be the ticket. Light, handles well, and for you, a Sunday afternoon ride would be very different due to the "revability"[ is that a new word?] of the R65. It's quite different than almost every other BMW I've ridden. $2500-3000 will probably land a very nice one.

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redavide
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What's the best vintage BMW to actually ride??

I'll put a vote in for an R90/6 -- I have one and it really is a pleasure. It's comfortable, it's got enough power and braking for an old bike, reliable, easy and fun to work on, easy to find parts for, looks good. It's great to take a fairly short day trip with or you can really pack it up and go long.

The stock points ignition has never been a problem -- in fact, the opposite, it's very easy to adjust and maintain, it's extremely reliable and works like a Swiss (German?) clock . . .

The R75/6 is essentially the same bike with smaller cylinders. R60/6 is a bit different (carburetors, brakes, engine)

jrapose
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What's the best vintage BMW to actually ride??

That's a second for me too !! I fell off my GS four times in four months...and said heck with it....too tall.... (I have been riding for 40 years so falling off should not happen.. nromally)

I gave the bike to my son...and bought a 76 R90/6 and love it....perfect size for short guys like me... lots of power and speed... and is darn reliable.... and easily fixable if needed....with lots of used parts around...the perfect answer... GREAT bike...best of all there are tons of nice ones still out there resonably...

Joel MZ-B Guy

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gregbenner
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What's the best vintage BMW to actually ride??

I have a 12GS as well and got a '76 75/6 a few months ago. I really like it, runs great, so far very reliable.

greg

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jeff dean
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What's the best vintage BMW to actually ride??
mearns4389
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VBMWMO #4389
Stephentown, NY
Joined: 10/27/2006
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size

Is this second bike really for your girlfriend? How tall is she? I have two friends who would like to get there wives riding BMWs. BMWs are the perfect size, but there wives are to short. (about 5'4") They have looked into leg implants to make the wives taller but the price is exorbitant.

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BolDor90/6

c.d.iesel
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Darien, Connecticut.
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best to ride ?

Best to actually ride - including handling ??

Any Single-Sided swing arm model, or
go back to any /2 (pre-1966) models with Earles
forkfront suspension

The last of the /7 R65/R80 are the best for road with
the single rear shock, and 'larger' front forks
A "LOW" seat is available for the the short inseam rider
Any of the twin shock models just feel too tall,
have wooden like handling, you feel like your sitting ontop -
rather than IN the bike.

Any Earles Fork model just eats up the miles in pure comfort
The rougher the road/trail - the better it works

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greghertel
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What's the best vintage BMW to actually ride??

Go with a /7. The /6 bikes were sorting out how things worked and there are many year specific parts to keep track of. The models from 81 on had most things sorted and there is a model to suit most riding styles. Hard to beat an R80 for just riding or a R100S for sporty riding and good looks. R65's are inexpensive but do have some specific parts that may not be as easy to find. Ignore that bs about "simple by design". These are complex bikes built from a constellation of pieces and _will_ require tinkering.

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Maksmith
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I am not sure an older BMW

I am not sure an older BMW would be right for a beginner. You really have to pay attention and drive the bike.

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sonofrust
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Encourage her to get

Encourage her to get something with at least one front disc brake. I agree that an old BMW looks cool, but there are better beginner bikes. If you're asking opinions about the best old airhead to actually ride on the modern road, than that has to be the R100RS. Again, probably not the best for the beginner, but you'll certainly enjoy it!

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Cordless
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1977 R75/7

I vote for the 1977 R75/7. Tom Cutter, an airhead expert, told me years ago the '77 75/7 was the best airhead made. Took me a few years but I finally found one and bought it. I encourage you to do the same.

sminn560sl
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Central Kentucky
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Difficult Question

If I ignore all of my nostalgic preferences I have to pass on the recommendation often given in Excellence Magazine when people asked the best year of Porsche to buy for a daily car. The answer is the newest one you can afford and like. BMW, like Porsche, implemented improvements in their bikes with every year. While a lot of folks love the /5, the /6 has more electrical capacity, more power and is generally more reliable. The newer they get, the better they get. I used to ride and /2 on a regular basis and thought I'd gone to heaven when I started riding a /6. When I bought my 87 R80, the /6 felt crude. When I rode the K1200RS I thought my R80 felt like a crude relic.

I love to ride my /2, but will choose my 87 R80 if I'm going any distance, especially with a passenger. I'd ride a newer one but the 87 is the newest BMW I have.

So, it's a personal question. Where is your personal cutoff for nostalgia v.s. technical superiority?

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Steve in Kentucky
91 BMW K1 (caretaking); 87 BMW R80 (RS); 61 BMW R60/2; 66 BMW R27; 74 R90/6; 59 NSU Maxi; 71 Norton Commando; 71 BSA 250 GP; 66 Triumph TR6R; 61 Norton Manx; 59/61 Triton; 14 Triumph Thruxton

anderson7585
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Houston, Texas
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My problem (well one of them

My problem (well one of them anyway) is that I can only ride "old bikes" and to qualify a bike MUST have Spoked wheels and Drum brakes. The /5 is the convergence of Spokes, Drums and electric start so my "modern bike" is a 1973 R75/5.

Vince

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1973 BMW R75/5 (LWB) "Griselda" (stock looking but with logical/practical improvements), 1971 Norton Commando "Commando Bizarro" (a truly strange custom project), 1936 BMW R2 "Ediltrudis" (stock, currently out getting a pro restoration). www.vinceandersononline.com

Zeno Lee
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Seat height on R90/6

Joel mentions above that he's too short for the GS, but the R90/6 has a stated 32" seat height.

In my shared motorcycle garage, there are 2 /6 bikes and compared to my R50/2 the seat seems pretty high.

I can flat-foot on my /2. I have a 30" inseam.

I'm wondering if other owners of /6 bikes have problems with a short inseam like me.

I'm at the beginning stages of branching out of /2s into /6s

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Bruce Frey
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Texas Hill Country, USA
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We have the same inseam and I

We have the same inseam and I have no problem handling my R90S. The only time I have uncomfortable moments is scooting it around the garage to access other bikes or the tool bench. If your foot slips (on an extension cord, for example) it is easy to lose your balance and drop the bike.

Bruce

Souljer
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Since this seems to be ongoing...

Hi,

A year or so ago I was wondering the same question.
Since the original poster is probably long gone, I post now for any future visitors who may be following in our footsteps and finding themselves on this excellent site.

I came to the conclusion later after buying my BMW. The more I ride it and learn about it, the more I like it and appreciate it.

My bike ended up being a 1993 BMW R100R

Many unique features on these Last Airhead models.
Mine has stock:
Early Paralever rear suspension.
- Same basic drive train as period GS bikes. (I think that includes the stronger frame, but I'm not sure.)
Dual front disk brakes.
Tubeless tires.
Wire rims.
A stronger and stiffer fork (I think it's from the then current K75)
Electronic ignition.
- among other things I'm probably forgetting or don't know yet.

Hope that helps.

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but that which is made to be better is almost always different.
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rimcanyon
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This is an old thread, but it

This is an old thread, but it raises the same question I am interested in getting an answer to.

I have a 28" inseam. Which models would you recommend for someone with a short inseam? In one of the posts above, c.d.iesel posted that a short height seat is available. Is this a custom option, or available from BMW? Do the vintage BMW's with the solo saddles have a lower seat height? Do longer wheelbase models have a lower seat height than short wheelbase models?

schrader7032
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San Antonio, TX
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Check this website for specs

Check this website for specs on the various models. IIRC there's very little difference in seat height as reported. What can affect your "reach" to the pavement might be some upholstery work to narrow the nose of the seat to let your legs point more straight down rather than out.

http://www.bmbikes.co.uk/bmwmodels.htm

Another thing to consider is to run with metric tires...they have a shorter profile and can drop the seat down. The downside of this is that the geometry may be affected when not using the speced inch-sized tires (at least for the earlier models; later they went to metric tires). Another downside is that with the bike being lowered, the stock sidestand won't work as well. Possibly using an aftermarket sidestand like a Brown or Farley would solve that problem.

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'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

rimcanyon
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Thanks for the link to the

Thanks for the link to the model specs. Unfortunately seat height is missing for many of the vintage bikes. R51/2 & R25/2 have a seat height of 28.3", compared to most of the more recent models with 31-33". However the models I am interested in don't have the seat height listed, e.g. R60/2, R50/2. I wonder if the R51/2 seat height is due to the solo seat, and if I could get a similar seat height with an R60/2 with the right seat?

schrader7032
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San Antonio, TX
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Look on page 10/11 of this /2

Look on page 10/11 of this /2 manual:

http://bmwdean.com/1966-owners-manual.htm

I'm not total sure if these numbers are for the solo seat or the bench seat...and there were several variations of the bench seat, a narrow an a wide one. The seat height on my R69S with a Denfeld solo seat (bike on centerstand) is about 33.5 inches.

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'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

rimcanyon
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On the first link with the

On the first link with the model specs, the seat heights were described as being with the rider in place. So that might account for the difference between 28.5" as reported in the manual and your measurement of 33.5" on center stand, but 5" seems like a lot. The Denfield seat appears to be thicker than the original solo seat, so that probably adds an inch to the saddle height.

firecaptp7
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NW Missouri
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Confused yet? My only Beemer

Confused yet?

My only Beemer today is a 1971 R75/5.
I've been riding /2, /5, /6, /7 and S models since 1972.
I accept each one for what it is and don't try to make it into something it's not.

But as a daily rider for a beginner ... I'd try to find a 1976 R75/6.
750 motor is smoother. 5 speed is better shifting.
More modern brakes, instruments and lighting.
Either a naked bike or with an "S" fairing. Euro bars.
Big fairings can be intimidating and confuse a new rider.

Good luck.
Jerry

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schrader7032
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Denfeld vs Bench

rimcanyon wrote:

On the first link with the model specs, the seat heights were described as being with the rider in place. So that might account for the difference between 28.5" as reported in the manual and your measurement of 33.5" on center stand, but 5" seems like a lot. The Denfield seat appears to be thicker than the original solo seat, so that probably adds an inch to the saddle height.

Here are two pictures of my R69S, with the wide Schorsh Meier bench seat and a Denfeld solo seat from Vech. The solo seat is sagging a bit in the middle for some unknown reason. I have since received a replacement from Vech which goes straight across. The shots are from two different distances, so it's hard to really do any measurements, but you can get an idea based upon the tank where the seat height is for these two types of seats.

From my eye, it would appear that the Denfeld height is lower.

  • rtside_bench.jpg
  • rtside_denfeld.jpg
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'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

rimcanyon
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Lowering the seat height

schrader7032 wrote:

From my eye, it would appear that the Denfeld height is lower.

I think so too. In the manual it also says that the solo seat is adjustable to accommodate riders of different weight. I don't know if that is true for the Denfield. There is a lot of room below the solo seat, so I think it would be possible to adjust the height by modifying the support. It might take some creative problem solving. The OEM saddle support is basically a large rubber vibration damper, which seems like a good idea. But not simple to modify.

iagins
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VBMWMO #8471
New Mexico
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There are a series of holes

There are a series of holes on the Denfeld seat supports. By moving the saddle to different positions, it lengthens or shortens the arm, making it more or less stiff for different rider weights.

Ira Agins
Santa Fe, NM

schrader7032
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VBMWMO #7032
San Antonio, TX
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Denfeld Adjustment

rimcanyon wrote:

In the manual it also says that the solo seat is adjustable to accommodate riders of different weight. I don't know if that is true for the Denfield. There is a lot of room below the solo seat, so I think it would be possible to adjust the height by modifying the support. It might take some creative problem solving...

The Denfeld is supported at the front (under the rear of the tank) with a simple through bolt on the frame which basically allows the frame (I think it's called a T-bar or T-frame) to move vertically. At the rear, the frame rests on a part referred to as the silent block. It's a rather stiff piece of rubber with a piece of steel embedded in it.

The adjustment is really about moving the silent block forward or back to decrease or increase the lever arm of support. If the silent block is moved forward, more weight of the rider is behind the silent block and the ride would be softened somewhat.

That said, this amount of movement is fairly small and although it moves on a slightly sloped area on the frame, I would think that the amount of vertical movement is quite small. The open area that is under the seat is needed for easy access to the battery especially when removing it...I usually slide mine up and tilt it to get out the rear over the top of the rear fender.

I've attached a picture from a catalog of the typical solo seat installation. This link shows an R69S restoration with the silent block installed towards the top of the page. As I said, the movement of the silent block is quite limited forward or backward.

http://www.snafu.org/restore/2000-02/page2.html

  • soloseatcatalog.jpg
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'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

rimcanyon
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I'll have to wait until I

I'll have to wait until I have one in-hand, but I think I can modify the height at least an inch. First I have to find an R60/2 or R69S, but I'm not overly concerned that I can't make it work. Perhaps the Denfeld would be easier to modify than the stock solo seat, but that decision also can wait. Maybe in the mean time someone else who has done something similar will respond.

I read an interesting story about the Apex Garage that said that one of the owners, Rachel Burden, had the same problem, and solved it by putting a board wrapped in a towel down on the fender, in place of the seat. I'm sure she has a more elegant solution now, I should call and find out.

http://www.bmwmoa.org/blogpost/1228796/207521/Apex-Garage-A-Roundel-in-t...

BMboomer
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Old thread

Hi Dieter, I know this is an old thread, but I am also an R100R Classic rider, & I love this bike. Mine is a 1995 model, with only 48000kms. I am the second owner, & I've had the bike for more than 16yrs now. I've owned a few BM's over the years, starting with a new R65 back in 1980, and this one has certainly been the best of the bunch for me. I really like your seat/rack arrangement, & also your tank cover. The fork gaiters are great too. I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction to buy those mods for my bike. Cheers

  • img_20160726_114139_hdr.jpg

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