I have no idea what I was thinking. A past friend convinced me to buy a BMW motorcycle. I had a barn full of Honda’s Yamaha’s, Ducati’s ,Triumphs a, Gilera and something I don’t even remember. Based on the household rules (my wife) I had to sell something in order to buy something. No problem. A surfboard and a couple of motorcycles later I had a perfect 1976 R90S with a 100RS fairing. A perfect traveler. Barely broken in and had been sitting for 17 years. Burried underneath boxes, pieces of carpet and a blanket was a bike that I didn’t really know I wanted
So, I trailered it home and proceeded going through it. All the fluids, new tires, brake pads and a good bath. I loved the R90. It did everything I wanted it to do and did it willingly.The R90S has a great history. My friend Reg Pridmore won the AMA Superbike Championship on one (highly modified of course) and friends have put hundreds of thousands of miles on them with no issues. I put over 50,000 miles on mine in a bit over a year. It is a great motorcycle.
Then a few years later I listened to another friend that suggested a different bike and I thought “hey, why not?” The BMW went to a new home and a Buell Ulysses took it’s place. Back to the first question, “What was I thinking?” Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my Buell every time I hit the starter button but it just doesn’t have the same soul…as if a German bike actually has a soul, but I’m comparing it to Italian and British bikes.
An R90s is about as perfect a motorcycle as you can get. It doesn’t require a computer to get it to run right, it handles better than most of us can ride and it is very comfortable on long rides for a vintage Sportbike, and yes ladies and gentlemen it is a Sportbike. This is a motorcycle that turns exactly when and where you want it to, it is a motorcycle that will stop on a dime and give you nine cents change and will keep you happy all day long and above and beyond all that, it’s beautiful. The R90 is really just an overbuilt tarted up R75 but damn, it works!!!
I found a true sweetheart on ebay today, if you truly like or love vintage Sportbikes this is a perfect bike for you. Click on the link (the blue line) and you’ll get more info and more pictures. This is a great bike and the price is not out of line. And you get the saddlebags!!
<a target=”_self” href=”http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1974+BMW+R90S&icep_item=282191334074&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg”>
1974 BMW R90S</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1974+BMW+R90S&item=282191334074&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”>
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!
This is the time of year that many (most) classic bike lovers, collectors and hoarders start looking through the garage and wondering what project to work on next. In some cases it’s an easy choice, it’s the bike you have been buying parts for the past year and it’s finally time to get to work. Or…it’s an iennie-meenie-mienie-mo decision, “what bike do I want to ride this spring?” Usually these decisions are made late at night after drinking beers with friends that wish they had your problem…never a good time to make choices that end up costing you a lot of money or your wife making you sleep in the garage with your new ‘project’.
But, some vintage bike people have a different sort of problem, they have ‘non-project bikes’ (bikes that already run just great and just don’t get ridden enough) in the way of bikes that need love. I found one of those on ebay this morning, a 1964 BMW R60/2 that is ready to go.
The R60/ series was basically designed as a true utilitarian motorcycle. Stout, reliable, capable of pulling a sidecar (the frame mounts were already there), and with a top speed af around 90mph, no slouch for its size. The R60 weighed 430lbs, put out around 30hp and was built like a tank. One of the unique features of the R60 in Europe and the early versions brought to the US, was the Earles front suspension. The Earles front suspension was designed to help eliminate the front-end dive of the telescopic fork and keep steering more accurate under braking. It also was the front suspension of choice for those that want to attach a sidecar. Side note here…years back my friend Jeff got a wild hair up his ass about getting a side car rig. He decided that a BMW R80RT was the bike of choice for the project. He got his bike and a sidecar and then started having the best time of his motorcycling life. After much frustration with the handling, he talked with other side car nuts and found that the Earles or leading link front suspension would cure all his ills (bike related ills …not his other psychological ills…). Once that was installed, life was great. I can personally attest to what a difference that change made.
The R60’s really are one tough motorcycle. The travel stories out there that star an R60 are endless. There is a great book, ‘Two Wheels To Adventure’ by Danny Liska that documents his trip from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego on and R60. It is a great read for any one who has a wanderlust and a testament to the strength of the R60’s.
The R60/2 I found today is a ready to go rider that has had some extras added that are well worth it and unique looking too…as in not your typical old BMW accessories, but really perfect for this bike. The black bike has only 47,000 miles on the clock and has pampered its whole life. The seller has detailed service notes and good history of the bike. The is equipped with a Heinrich fairing which looks really great on this bike and a set of Enduro(?) saddlebags which flow really nicely with the fairing. New seats for comfort and they look great. The bike does have the Earles forks which makes it an ideal candidate to hook a side car up to, I think a Steib would be perfect.
The seller is one of these guys that is making room (both mentally and logistically) for other projects and is looking for a better home for this really nice BMW that is a rider not a show queen and as he puts it, “it won’t break your heart to get a few rock chips from a great ride.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and more information.
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….
Writing about this motorcycle is way too easy. Why? Because I have one! I acquired mine about a year and a half ago and have loved every mile with it. The R90S is a fantastic motorcycle in every way. BMW built a wonderful tourer, the R90/6, then made it a bit sportier, a little faster and quite beautiful. The ‘S’ model is quite comfortable for long distances, right after I got mine I took off on a one week, 2000 mile trip and was comfortable every mile.
The R90S has plenty of power for one or two up touring, it will cruise all day long at speeds that in most states, will land you in jail or at least, with a much thinner wallet. The 898cc motor only put out 67 horsepower but those 67 ponies would gallop up to the bikes 124mph top speed with no effort at all. The 6+ gallon gas tank is good for a range of over 200 miles before needing a fillup. The R90S was very light for the day, just under 500 pounds fully gassed up and ready to go. The Delorto carbs can be a finicky but once you learn them, they are actually quite easy to maintain tune.
The R90S retains BMW’s reputation for reliability , relative ease of maintenance, long distance comfort and then throws in ‘sport’ just to make it interesting. To prove their point, BMW took the ‘S’ model racing and won the first AMA Superbike race at Daytona in 1976 ( got second place too ), then with Reg Pridmore riding, went on to win the Superbike Championship that same year.
Is there anything about the R90S that isn’t perfect? Sure, the clutch pull is a bit heavy as is the throttle, but these little things are so minor that after a short while living with an R90S you don’t even think about them, and…compared to a vintage Ducati (my old Darmah, lets say), the clutch feels silky smooth. The gas cap faces the wrong way, Hans and Frans had a one too many St Pauli Girls’ the day they designed that. And then there is my (and everyone who owns a BMW motorcycle of that generation), biggest gripe of all when it comes to my bike…the sidestand. Who’s brilliant idea was it to have the damn thing automatically retract the second you start to stand the bike up??!! I mean you move 1/16th of an inch off the stand and you better be sure you are balanced, and, if it’s facing the slightest bit downhill your bike will be rolling down that hill without you. Ok, enough griping about the centerstand. Just order up a Brown centerstand from any number of BMW dealers and problem solved.
Can you improve the perfect motorcycle? Yes, and quite easily. First, leave the motor alone, the handling is where you can make the most difference in your R90S. From San Jose BMW you can get a much better, stronger upper triple clamp and a fork brace, you will be amazed at what those two simple things can do for this motorcycle. A set of Koni shocks on the rear and there you have it, Bavarian perfection.
So, now that I have sung the praises of this motorcycle to the heavens and have you ready to trade in your first-born male child for one, where can you get one? Tis easy my friend…ebay! I found this 1975 model today and it looks great. It has been recently serviced, a number of parts have been replaced; bearings, seals and the like. Some new brakes are on there as well new mufflers. All in all, just the things you need to simply buy the bike…the ‘buy it now’ price is really quite reasonable by the way, fly out to pick it up and ride it home…make sure you take the long way home, you’ll be glad you did. Click on the pics below for more pictures and additional information about this fantastic motorcycle. Do you think I’ve gone a bit over the top here? Me neither.
The BMW R27 is a really cool motorcycle. Yeah it’s good looking in a classic sense but it also, In typical BMW fashion, is way over built. It’s as much a 250cc two wheeled tank as it is an easy to ride, fun traveler. The R27 had the first rubber mounted single cylinder engine for BMW, which helped smooth out the ride. Another interesting feature of the motor is the layout. Most engines have their crankshafts running across the motor, the R27 runs the crank lengthwise which eliminates the need for some bevel gears and also keeps the motor more level with the driveshaft for again, smoother running. This little 250 was made for traveling. Cycle World magazine in 1964 claimed the R27 was ,” the smoothest of all the 250’s we have tried “
The chassis of the R27 is a welded tubular set up strong enough to do sidecar duty, and the brakes were very adequate for the bike and the times. The front suspension is handled by an Earles fork, a different approach to the ‘leading link’ style front ends. The benefit to the Earles fork was that under braking there was no front end dive so braking was smoother and the motorcycle stayed under control better. Over the years many manufacturers have tried just as many methods to control front end dive and none worked as good as the Earles fork. The down side to the Earles suspension was weight, this kiss of death. But it sure helped the bike ride great.
The R27 was made by BMW from 1960 through 1966, so why is this one a ’67? Because often times dealers dated the title the year the bike was sold, not when they were made. Though the R27 was a very good motorcycle, it was competing against the Honda’s and Yamaha’s of the day that were lighter, faster and less expensive. The BMW put out 18 HP while the Japanese counterparts were putting out 22-24 hp. The R27 sold for $850 when new, $200-300 more than the others. The American public went for lighter faster and truthfully, more modern styling. Today an R27 is a much more sought after and valued motorbike than the Honda’s and Yamaha’s of the time.
Today on ebay is a very nice 1967 R27. It has not been restored, it’s just in beautiful original condition. The clock shows 26,000 miles so a good going through in the not too distant future might a worthwhile investment and lucky for you, parts and services are still available rather readily. The motorbike is pictured with the solo seats (also known as the ‘swinging saddles’) but the also correct bench seat comes with the bike. The owner has taken a lot of good pictures and has given a very good description of the bike for you…not all that common. Click on the pics for more of everything about this really nice BMW.
When people build Cafe Racers one of three things happen. The bike is way over done, the bike is way under done or it’s done just right. This bike I found on ebay today is the Goldilocks version, it’s just right. Take the basic BMW chassis, slide a newer bigger motor in, do a couple of nice upgrades (check out the sweet upper triple clamp), add the requisite cafe styling and go ride it.
The owner of this BMW upgraded the ’72 with a ’78 R90/6 motor for a little more oomph, changed the old Bing CV carbs for some nice Mikuni’s, which really help the motor…look good too. Looking at the back end view, the exhaust looks wide open, which, is probably going to be a bit loud…you might want to think about getting some different mufflers ( even though these do look right) or learn to roll off the throttle near your neighbors or the closest police car. The custom tail section and seat work nicely on this BMW. And, check out the cool bar end blinkers, I like ’em.
This is a great way to have a clean Cafe Racer that looks like a comfy ride, it’s going to be reliable, (as in it hasn’t been over built), and it won’t break the bank to get it under your fanny. Nice bike. Click on the pics for a lot more pictures showing the details of this BMW. If I ever get tired of traveling on my R90s a nice Cafe treatment like this would be perfect.
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.
Last year I got myself a present, a beautiful BMW R90s, one of the original ‘factory’ cafe style bikes. I had lusted after that motorcycle since it first came out but at the time, the BMW’s price tag and my wallet were not the match made in heaven. Thirty three years later one of my dream bikes resides in my garage and, on my favorite roads. A few little upgrades have been done but essentially it’s still a stock bike. A few friends that are waaay into Cafe racers keep giving me ideas of ways to trick it out but I keep resisting. It’s fast enough, handles good enough (actually it handles a lot better with the suspension upgrades and other changes I have made), it’s beautiful and plenty comfortable. Why change it? Not everyone thinks like me. Read on.
Some people just can’t get enough of a good thing. Take a perfectly good motorcycle and well…make it perfect. Start with a 1980 BMW R100s, take it apart down to the last nut and bolt then let your imagination, engineering skills and wallet go to town. Searching ebay this morning for a cool cafe racer, this BMW literally jumped off the screen at me. It is stunningly beautiful. The builders of this bike did literally everything you could / should do to make an R100s the perfect Cafe Racer. Everything has been lightened up; the frame, the motor, wheels…everything. The frame has been modified for better handling, the motor has been built up to make an already fast bike (by 1980 standards) faster. When you have speed and handling the next thing you need to be able to do is slow the bike down quickly, so new, lighter, better brakes are in order. BMW’s can be a bit anemic sounding in stock form and you certainly wouldn’t want to strangle all that new power with a stock exhaust, so new mufflers are in order. It looks to me that this BMW is equipped with either Conti mufflers or replicas, I can hear the song in my mind now, it’s beautiful.
When all the work is done, it’s time for the beauty treatment. Some people go very understated and simple, others go way over the top to the point of making you wonder what happened? This BMW is no shrinking Violet by any stretch of the imagination. It will stand out in a sea of motorcycles for all the right reasons. The paint job is done in a semi classic style with colors that just grab your eye. Click on the pics to see sooooo much more about this bike including a full list and pictures of all the mods done, it’s a very impressive list.