Considering an R90S

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Slash2
Posts: 381
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:22 am

Considering an R90S

Post by Slash2 »

Greetings group. I’ve been riding BMW’s for about 20 years now. Started with a modern k bike and slowly made my way back in time to a 1951 R67 after enjoying several 60’s era twins. I’ve been intrigued by the R90S for about a decade but just couldn’t really justify the price tag. For the cost of a nice example, I could buy a nice R69S which just always seemed like a better investment. At any rate, of the two iterations, I’ve always preferred the silver smoke and figured a first year would be a neat addition to my collection. I’ve seen a few come and go that fit the bill in terms of mileage, condition, price etc but just never felt inclined to commit. A week ago I stumbled onto a 1974 R90S in silver smoke with approximately 5k miles in mint condition under long term ownership. The asking price is about $15k.

I saw these reach a peak several years ago at which point I think this bike would’ve brought more than the current asking but it seems the model is currently languishing behind as other models jump in value. So perhaps it’s time to grab one while the getting is good.

Are there any things I should be especially concerned with? Any reasons not to get a first year example? The bike in question has been recently serviced by a veteran specialist and has a clean bill of health. Original paint and all original equipment. Clean title etc. The bike is too far away from me to just go have a look unfortunately but I do intend to conclude the deal in person should I decide to buy.

Any tips, suggestions, words of encouragement or discouragement are welcome. I’m still awaiting high resolution photos but will add those to this post when I receive them.

Thanks and perhaps I’ll be joining your ranks this summer.

-Chris
64' R60/2 - 66' R27 - 51' R67 - 68' R69S
88' R100RS - 06' K12R

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schrader7032
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Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:00 am
Location: San Antonio, TX

Re: Considering an R90S

Post by schrader7032 »

I think the first year model has some "issues". One is that the brake disks are solid...the later year drilled disks stopped better. Also the first year 5-speed transmission was a little weaker internally than the '75/'76 models. Also, the '76 model engine case opening is 99mm while the earlier models are 97mm. Upgrading to larger pistons is easier because the rest of production was 99mm.
Kurt in S.A.
'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

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srankin
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Location: Spencerport, NY USA

Re: Considering an R90S

Post by srankin »

Kurt has covered the biggest issues. I will add I believe the front axle in the first year was smaller then the later years.

The first year had the kick start which is cool but because of the weaker internals, (I can't remember the exact details of what was weaker, sorry). It is not advisable to use it unless it is really needed. With the robust BMW charging system and electric start, it is very rare to have to use a kick starter.

To find an example in such good condition with so few miles, I personally think the asking price is reasonable. Good luck, and if you get it I hope you have a great time riding it. They are a gorgeous example of BMW's best. St.
Owner of a 84, R80RT and 78, R100RS

bremoit
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Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2021 2:11 pm

Re: Considering an R90S

Post by bremoit »

I was in your position for a number of years, looking for the right 90s. Original paint, low mileage, not modified, etc.

Ended up with a 75 Daytona Orange that fit the bill for $11.5K in December of 2019. Bought sight unseen--but did get a bit of history from the owner-- before buying on consignment from Morton's BMW in VA.

I knew it would need some repairs and happily dove in replacing RMS, rebuilding forks, master cylinder and steering head components, among other things.

One never knows what will need attention after putting some miles on the bike. The more you know about maintenance history and what parts have recently been replaced, the better. A clean bill of health is a nice phrase but is rather vacuous in reality.

I believe I've seen the bike for sale you've mentioned and it appears to be well represented in the photos.

I'd ask about the following:

Gauges working correctly? Odometers are not always a true tale of actual miles, especially on a bike of this age. It not wrong to be skeptical of a odo reading on a super low mile bike.
Original rear main seal?
When were the push rod seals last replaced?
Steering head bearings?
Fork seals and components? Lower bushings on these deteriorate and turn to mush if not looked after.
Wheel bearings?
Carbs maintenance history?

Be informed as you can on all this so you are prepared for what lies ahead. Maybe nothing for a while or something may sneak up on you. If you are handy with the wrenches, you might enjoy working on the bike and making the needed repairs. If not, and I don't want assume anything, it can get pricey relying on someone else to do the work, which you already know.

Either way if it's an original first year silver smoke you are after, I believe you are looking at a very nice example.

Good luck and please keep us posted.

sherman980
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Joined: Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:00 am

Re: Considering an R90S

Post by sherman980 »

Owned a number of R90S's over the years ('74 to '76) and put tens of thousands of miles on them including a number of cross country trips. From an actual riding perspective, there is virtually no difference between years. I would challenge anyone to differentiate differences in braking, acceleration, etc. between the different years other than the addition of a later "shift kit" does help the early models shift a little better. The most notable difference to me was always the hand switch assemblies (/5 style on the '74 models). From a reliability vantage point, the only potentially significant weak point on the early ones are the smaller flywheel bolts. I worked at a BMW dealer for a short time when the R90S was introduced and NEVER saw a failure there or since, but they are not unheard of. My personal preference is the '74 model. I like the early hand switch assemblies and all of the other "unique" bits on the '74's, but that's just me. Toss a tank bag and some Krauser bags on the back and go for a ride - a day, a week, a month, etc. and enjoy!
Thanks.
Chuck S

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sblaylock
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Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:05 pm
Location: Victoria, BC. Canada

Re: Considering an R90S

Post by sblaylock »

Hey Chris,

I too have a 74 R90S. Mine was a low mileage bike - 21,000 Miles when I bought it, which had me do some research on the 74 frontend. As the mileage is so low on the one you're looking at you may want to confirm a few things.

The instruments on the 74 "should" have the silver band around them. Also, the 74s had thick hashmarks on the instruments. The 75/76 had thin hashmarks. On the bottom of the speedo there will be a "W" ratio number. It should be "W-1.112". If it's different, it could mean it's been replaced. On the 74 bikini fairing, there should also be the mystery holes on the bottom.

All these things "should" be there, but as we know BMW put different stuff on different bikes as parts were used up or last years parts were left over. Some of these things will depend on the manufacturing date i.e. a late 74 could have some 75 items on it.

As was mentioned about the solid front discs, the two drawbacks I've found is there's next to no braking in the rain, and it seems very difficult to get the solid discs to not squeal. As was mentioned, I too prefer the /5 switch gear. I find it's simple and seems to make sense to me.

From a riding standpoint, I've had a lot of different BMWs. From a 1928 R62 to a 2006 R1200GS and numerous others in between. That said, the R90S is one of the most enjoyable bikes I've ridden. It's the bike I go to when I'm planning anything outside of the city. It has the power and speed for any highway and handles the twisties really well if properly setup.

Keep us posted on the purchase. If it does happen, there are a few upgrades (reversible of course) you may want to consider.

Scott.
Scott Blaylock
Stoney Peak BMW Service
Victoria, BC. Canada
BMW Classic and Vintage Motorcycle Service and Restoration
service@stoneypeak.com

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Slash2
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Re: Considering an R90S

Post by Slash2 »

First off. Thanks to everyone who has chimed in with advice and suggestions. Your insight is invaluable in this hunt.

I just received a batch of photos and a cold start video. If this were a 60’s bike, I’d be scrutinizing every detail with an educated eye, but as I’ve only seen 1 or 2 of these in person, I’m at least partially relying in the wisdom of the group to point out anything I’ve missed. I’m not sure how many photos I can add to an individual post so I’ll make a few posts and include as many photos as I can.
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64' R60/2 - 66' R27 - 51' R67 - 68' R69S
88' R100RS - 06' K12R

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Slash2
Posts: 381
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:22 am

Re: Considering an R90S

Post by Slash2 »

I see that some of these are being uploaded sideways but they’re coming from my computer in a normal orientation. Any way I can fix this?
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64' R60/2 - 66' R27 - 51' R67 - 68' R69S
88' R100RS - 06' K12R

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Slash2
Posts: 381
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:22 am

Re: Considering an R90S

Post by Slash2 »

A few minor paint issues of note. There is a scrape on the front fender and a few blemishes on the side cover.
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64' R60/2 - 66' R27 - 51' R67 - 68' R69S
88' R100RS - 06' K12R

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Slash2
Posts: 381
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 10:22 am

Re: Considering an R90S

Post by Slash2 »

A few more.
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64' R60/2 - 66' R27 - 51' R67 - 68' R69S
88' R100RS - 06' K12R

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