All of us that ride motorcycles have riding friends that are devoted to the bike they ride. More than just their own bike but the brand as well. I ride with friends that bleed black and orange, some Italian red and some German…what color do they bleed? And the Brits..well, thats a horse of another color. But the point here is that we all have, for whatever reasons, our favorite and we become somewhat fanatical about our brand. I have owned all of them and loved all of them, almost equally. Well, my Ducati was a pain in the ass to work on…
Oddly enough most of my riding friends speak German, particularly vintage German.BMW to be specific and to be even more specific, R75’s. Having owned an R90 I do understand the affinity. The BMW does everything you want a motorcycle to do. Comfortable, good handling (that is part of why the police departments like them so much), and above all else…reliable as at the day is long. A vintage BMW is a motorcycle is a bike that when you put that second tank of gas in during a ride, you’re planning the third.
I found a great classic today on ebay that honest to goodness is a fly there with your riding gear and ride this bike home. It has the luggage racks but no luggage..you can easily get them. This is a great bike at a good price. Really, fly to Virginia and spend the next two weeks riding home.
Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. Nice bike!
In the early 70’s the Honda CB750 and the Mighty Z1 from Kawasaki were truly dominating the sportbike world (a term that really hadn’t been coined at the time).Triumph had the Trident;BSA the Rocket 3; Suzuki,the GT750. European bikes were there but not dominant. Enter the BMW R75/5.
THe R75/5 was relatively light at 463 lbs, finally came with 12volt electrics (those actually showed up a bit earlier but was now standard), had both electric and kick starter (the gentlemans kick starter, you actually stand next to the bike not straddling it, and simply push down the starter lever. Smooth, easy and very gentlemanly.
Most of my riding friends nowadays have Airhead BMW’s, I have one as well. And, most of them ride /5 BMW’s. They are reliable, classic looking, good handling and as compared to the CB750, which was what they (BMW) were after. The /5 series less sophisticated but in many respects more soulful than it’s Japanese counterpart.
I found this 1975 R75/5 semi Cafe on ebay and loved it instantly. My friend Bill Stermer of Rider Magazine, has one very similar to this one. THe Hannigan fairing is a beautiful design. It is amazing how much this fairing, racy as it may appear, makes a long ride more comfortable. Krauser bags because a /5 is designed for traveling,new shocks, Dyna electronic ignition (which I really need to put on my R90S…) rebuilt Bing carbs, a Corbin seat and new tires. This bike has only 27K miles…barely broken in by BMW standards.
For BMW, the R75/5 was truly a landmark motorcycle. Yeah, it was more expensive than it’s Japanese competitors but it had and still has, a feeling and sound that makes you feel like you are riding a motorcycle not a sewing machine on wheels. It may top out at 110 MPH, a few short of the CB750, but the feeling of those two big pistons pushing you along with a vibration that can’t be described until you feel it yourself, the clacking of the valves opening and closing, the distinctive exhaust note that only an Airhead BMW can give, truly magical.
This is a great motorcycle and a really good value…this is really a fly and buy motorcycle. Click on the pictures below for more info.
The best of the vintage sport tourers. Stone reliable, comfortable, plenty fast enough, sort of sporty handling…actually excellent for its time, and quite good looking, in a Teutonic sort of way. The R90 was the natural outgrowth of the legendary R75 and was a needed upgrade for BMW. The Honda CB750 was faster and stopped better, thanks to the front disc brake, than the R75 and…Kawasaki had just upped the ante big time with the King Kong of them all…the mighty Z1.
The reviews of the R90 were glowing. Cycle World put it this way, “the BMW R90/6 is so exciting, it’s difficult to find a point at which to begin describing it.” Cycle Guide magazine said this, ” a powerful motorcycle designed to compete in the performance conscience market of 1974.” Lets think about performance for just a moment. The Z1 put out a very strong 82 HP, Kawasaki’s H2 750 was rated at 74HP and Honda’s CB750 67 ponies. BMW showed up at the party with…maybe 59? Not what you would call threatening. But, horsepower isn’t everything, there’s this little thing called torque and that is where the boys in Munich beat everybody. The R90 had pulling power all over the place. Yeah the Japanese had the top end and the rush of speed but it was the BMW that would get you from corner to corner quickly with no drama.
I found a nice 1976 R90/6 on ebay today, not too many miles and looks to be in good condition overall. What I really like about this motorcycle is the Hannigan Sport Touring fairing. These fairings have a very distinctive look and feel to them. My friend Bill Stermer, author and journalist ( he wrote the definitive book on these bikes and is a contributing editor to Rider magazine ) has one on his R90 and just loves it. I have ridden the bike and understand why. This bike has the stock BMW saddle bags which are very nice, but I do recommend that you also add a safety strap to the bags as they are known to, at the worst time, pop open and leave your stuff spread across the landscape. I do have one big question about the bike though, it has a new front wheel, why? Was the bike crashed? did it hit a big pothole on the road? if there was some damage, how are the forks? But, maybe it got a new front wheel just because the old one was corroded and looking a bit ugly? Anyway, that is the only question I would ask, otherwise this looks to be a great bike at a good price that will last anyone years and years. Plus, that Hannigan fairing is so cool. The more I look at this bike, I wonder if it might a better bike for me than my R90 with RS fairing? Hmmm. Click on the pics below for more info. And, if you call now, you get a free tank bag!! Don’t wait.
’76 BMW R90/6
This is a nice ride. And, it’s no average R60/5. If it was just your regular old, everyday R60 it would be a really great all around motorbike. Cruise all over town, throw it around on some nice twisty canyon roads or strap on some saddlebags and head off into the sunset. The 600cc motor has plenty of power for solo riding and does surprisingly well with two on board. The /5 series BMW’s are renowned for reliability, smooth riding good handling. A few slight modifications and the little 600 becomes a terror in the canyons. Ok, so the blue one here has a bit more than a few slight mods, but you get the idea.
I found this really sweet BMW R60 on ebay today and, for what I believe to be a very reasonable price considering all that has been done. The bike has been sitting up in a loft in downtown Los Angeles for the past couple of years since it was built. It’s not a simple re-build, it’s been built. The owner apparently wasn’t satisfied with the little puny 600’s power and couldn’t afford a 750 so he took the motor to the gym. After time with a personal trainer / mechanic, it came home a strong healthy 800 with a 5 speed transmission. Some fresh paint, new shoes and a few other goodies…and the bike just sits???!!! How in the world can someone build a bike then park it in a loft? Well, his work is going to look and ride great on a road near you. This is really one sweet ride. You need to get yourself one of those cool vintage style Davida helmets, some goggles, a proper leather jacket and cruise Sunset Boulevard up into the Hollywood Hills, park at some beautiful overlook and check out how beautiful L.A is at night…Ok, that’s just my idea of a great Saturday night on a classic bike. Click on the pics below for more info about this really nice Vintage BMW. It’s a good deal. And one more thing…you’re going to have to do the break-in miles, it is a fresh build. Oh too bad for you….
Vintage bike touring takes courage and, a little bit of lunacy. I should know, my traveling friends (except one…come on Craig, get with the program) and I, all travel on motorcycles built in the 1970’s. We all have a our reasons why and some of them even sound good. Would I travel on a ’75 Honda CB750? Sure. A ’73 Yamaha XS650? Yeah, that one too. What about a ’76 Triumph Bonneville? A definite…maybe? An AMF Harley Davidson Electra Glide? Highly unlikely. Choosing a vintage touring bike that you are actually going to tour on is tougher than you think. There are a great number of motorcycles that on paper look like they would fit the bill but when you do a bit of research, well, maybe not so much.
When I’m traveling, besides scenery and road side diner menu’s, I look at the motorcycles on the road. I love seeing what others are riding, especially if it’s old. I have been known to rather abruptly turn off into a parking lot in the middle of nowhere just to look at a fully loaded old motorcycle and talk with the guy, or gal, riding it. Ninety percent of the time there is a great story that goes with the motorcycle, and ninety percent of that ninety percent of the time, the rider has an equally interesting story. I love stories, that’s why I’m always the last one to arrive at the campsite or hotel.
When I was deciding on an older bike for traveling, I narrowed the field down to BMW or Moto Guzzi. Both marques have great reputations for solidly built travelers that would get you there in classic style and, more importantly, get you home, still looking classy. Both were big twins that could carry me, the wife and all our gear across any desert, up any mountain, through any weather and without a whimper. These were the two best choices in my mind. BMW, Guzzi? Guzzi, BMW?…decisions,decisions. I started my search for a Moto Guzzi. My traveling friends all ride BMW’s and since I’ve always been the odd duck of the group, I wanted a Goose. Hey, if it’s good enough for the LAPD, it’s good enough for me.
I began where everyone else looking for a cool old bike does, ebay. Sometimes you find what you’re looking for, and other times you find what you weren’t looking for but is better than what you thought you wanted. That makes sense, right? After ebay, you head into the various internet resources…owners groups, dealers, forums and blogs, searching and hoping you’ll find your new traveling companion. You’re also hoping for the deal of a lifetime…somebodys nephew of a distant cousin of your mothers brothers second wife found this old bike stashed in the corner of his grandfathers barn under thirteen blankets and a bag of oats. The ad reads, “old motorcycle, don’t know anything about it, can’t even pronounce the name. Come get it and it’s yours”. Aren’t dreams wonderful?
I did find my new traveling companion, it’s not the barn story but damn close. Everyday though, I still search for old bikes I’d like to see the country on and then stash it in my barn so it will make a story for somebody one day. Today, I found a nice old Moto Guzzi Ambassador that will, with a little love, will be your new best friend on the road.
If you’re looking for a vintage traveler that you don’t have to put thousands of dollars and hours into just to get it road worthy I think I may have the ride for you. This Guzzi was born in 1972, has a little over 40,000 miles on it (not too much by Guzzi standards) and has been gone over some. There are new bits an pieces that are listed and some that are not. I do question the modifications to the front brake that are supposed to ‘improve efficiency and cooling’ however. It looks like the motorcycle has been taken care of but could still use a good going over just to make sure. Overall, this Ambassador might have been the one to find its way into my travel plans if, it had been on ebay a couple of years ago.
If you are going to travel on this Moto Guzzi, which I hope you will, I have a suggestion for you, find a Wixom fairing and saddle bags for it. That set up was very popular at the time and it fits the bike perfectly, style wise and function. Click on the pics for more about this really nice older Goose.
And, if you’re wondering whether I got a Guzzi or a Beemer…it’s a 1976 BMW R90s out of my sons father-in-law’s garage that had been buried for 17 years under a blanket, a piece of carpet and a couple of boxes.
I’ve got BMW on the brain of late. I’m getting mine ready for a road trip, there have been a couple of very cool BMW’s at our local bike night and I spent the Fourth of July watching fireworks with some of my BMW riding friends. Maybe that’s why we had bratwurst and sauerkraut on the BBQ??
So, I just couldn’t help myself when I found this nice /5 on ebay this morning. The owner describes it as a cafe racer but in the truest sense of the term, it’s not…close, but not quite pure cafe. I would describe this as more of a classic Euro style GT. It hasn’t been stripped down…instead of clipons it’s got nice, low, but comfy handlebars, full fenders and the really cool original toaster tank. It does have a very cool cafe style Corbin seat, which after riding with one on a couple of different motorcycles, I can attest to their comfort. The non stock mufflers have a bit of a Dunstall look to them and in my auditory imagination probably sound wonderful.
The motorcycle has just shy of 55,000 miles on it which, by BMW standards, is just barely broken in. Yeah, it’s wearing it’s age, a nick here, a scratch there and maybe a little dent somewhere…but just like me, aging very gracefully???!! The owner gives it a 7 out 10 score. Here at home I only get a 5 out of 10…maybe I need a cool Cafe seat. Wait that’s the problem, my seat has spent to much time in the cafe. Click on the pics for more pictures and details. And, by the way, this bike is a good deal.
There is no such thing as a 1972 R90/6…that’s OK, this is a Cafe Racer!! They’re meant to be customs and this is one very clean Cafe Racer. Here’s the story, some guy bought this 1972 BMW that had been sitting for twenty years and the motor was locked up. He took the motorcycle all the way down to the bare frame, refreshed everything, stuffed a ’78 R90/6 motor in it, built a custom tail section and turned it into a very cool Cafe Racer. Now it’s ready to ride.
I have seen many a BMW turned into a Cafe Racer, BMW did it themselves when they brought out the R90S model. Besides being a great bike it was also the first AMA Superbike champion.
A couple of years ago I finally drank the BMW Kool Aid. I too found a BMW that had been sitting for years and couldn’t help myself. I didn’t have to do too much to make the R90S roadworthy. Clean the carbs, change all the fluids, a new battery, some new tires and off I went. At the end of a 2000 plus mile road trip, I understood.
Cafe Racer people are a a unique breed. I don’t see them as all that much different than the ‘chopper’ crowd. Take a bike, strip it down to the basics and turn it into what you want it to be. Customization comes in many forms and this man turned an old BMW into a very cool bike. Good thing he didn’t want to turn it into a chopper or cruiser. Wait..BMW did that too. I like the R90S better. Click on the pics for more pics, but you have to call the guy for more info. Could be well worth it.