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Airhead Wrangler 05-16-2008 05:07 PM

R80ST Resurrection
I got a new bike this winter and have mentioned it a few times here and there, but thought I'd do a proper thread on this thing. Well, through luck, destiny, karma, kismet, fate, happenstance, etc I had an '84 R80ST in like new condition fall into my lap this winter for free. A neighbor had seen me riding around the neighborhood on all manner of two wheeled vehicles and said they had an old bmw in their garage that they had bought new in '84. The guy wasn't much of a rider then and couldn't even recall what model it was when I asked. He said the mileage was really low, but didn't know exactly. He said I could take it free of charge if I wanted it. He just wanted it out of his garage. He had bought it just after getting married and only got a year of riding in before his wife got pregnant and he was forbidden to ride it anymore. He kept the bike though and it's been sitting in his heated garage for 23 years under a dust cover. I told him I'd take it sight unseen, as I'm always up for a project, no matter how ratty it may look, but this thing blew my basket-case-barn-bike expectations out of the water. Here it is as it was given to me:

Here's what the odometer looked like at the time:

I had instant wood.

It needed a good amount of work to get on the road again. New battery, new plugs, new tires and tubes, new fluids all the way around (the old oil came out looking like honey though - looked brand new). There was old gas in the tank and the petcocks were left on - for 23 years. The fuel lines and carb bowls were packed solid with gas gum and the needles were corroded down to to the size of big sewing needles. New fuel lines and 3 cans of carb cleaner later it was running, but it was only getting about 20 mpg. Then came a complete carb rebuild and rejet from the stock 135 mains up to 150s (which were stock on the '83s, but the '84s got leaned out to meet emissions). The carb rebuild and rejet worked wonders. Next step before puting any real miles on it was lubing the clutch spline which was bone dry. In order to cure the ST of its low range, I got an R100GS tank off of san francisco craigslist in great condition plus it looks a lot better on the bike than the stock tank. On the highway she's getting around 40mpg now, so I can now top 200 miles on a tank no prob. I racked up about 1500 miles on her and did a couple of oil changes over the course of those miles just to get whatever old oil was left in there out. I also changed the fork oil and added some fork boots while I was at it. Then came the Jesse bags. Great looking bags, with a pretty janky mounting system. The mounts look like they were made by a wildwest blacksmith or something - pretty rough. Not only that, but the mounts for the ST are also intended for the R100GS which has a wider subframe. "Oh just put some more washers in there to shim it out," I was told. Also, nobody thought to mention to me that the mounts require you to remove all the body panels and exhaust shield. Their response was "oh yeah normally people just buy a second set of body panels that they can modify to work with the racks." They should try buying body panels for an ST. THEY DON'T EXIST. Luckily, I kind of prefer the naked look without body panels. Normally I don't tolerate that level of idiocy when I pay $1000 for something so simple, but I didn't have a whole lot of choice. Not many companies still make bags/mounts for these older airheads. Next on my list of things to do is to replace the stock rear shock which creaks like a barn door. I'm thinking of going with a YSS or a Wilbers. Any input on either of those? Also, I think I'm running the stock coil, but I'm not sure. These bikes came with the infamous grey bosch coils that are so prone to cracking, but the coil on mine doesn't really look grey. It's black. It also doesn't say bosch anywhere on it. Anyone have a pic of the bad coils I can compare to? Anyway, here's the bike as it looks today:

Cool neighbor, this bud's for you...

Mugwest 05-16-2008 05:24 PM

A suggestion: rub this in our noses a little more.

Damn dude-- good on ya :freaky

this is the 2nd biggest score of the week around here. Must be some kickass Star shining on some inmates

tathambenjamin 05-16-2008 05:34 PM

wowee wow wow
That is amazing. You have inherhited my dream airhead. Please keep us posted on what happens with this.......:clap

opposedcyljunkie 05-16-2008 06:24 PM

helluva nice neighbor you have there. and his wife must really hate the bike to also agree to giving it away :deal

mark1305 05-16-2008 06:29 PM


The whole story. Incredible.

jtwind 05-16-2008 06:40 PM

Nice bike! Free airhead and a good one at that, you don't hear that too often. Me I like the look of the stock tank etc. but that's just me. Sorry to hear about the Jesse's, but that's a story we've heard plenty before. I think any panniers that would fit a g/s would have fit and there's still quite a few of them.

PGK 05-16-2008 06:48 PM

Nice find! That is an amazing barn-find story. Talk about something falling into your lap.


Originally Posted by Airhead Wrangler
I got an R100GS tank off of san francisco craigslist in great condition plus it looks a lot better on the bike than the stock tank.

Lost me here.


Originally Posted by Airhead Wrangler
They should try buying body panels for an ST. THEY DON'T EXIST.

I just sold the two sets I had on ebay....wish I had seen this thread 2 months ago.

I'm glad to see R80ST's still have a following, there seem to be a half-dozen or so people on the boards here who ride them. Definetely the best least-known BMW.

I've also got an ST that I'm resurrecting, which I also got for free, but it's a little more involved.

I'm making a few small changes of my own though....

Solo Lobo 05-16-2008 07:44 PM

Nice bike neighbor :thumb

Perhaps we'll run into each other 'round town some time.

Solo Lobo 05-16-2008 07:48 PM


Originally Posted by Airhead Wrangler
They should try buying body panels for an ST. THEY DON'T EXIST.

These ones?

15 46631242204 Battery Cover Right Prime Coated BUY 1 $71.00
15 46632302102 Battery Cover Left Prime Coated BUY 1 $122.00

they are listed on MAX BMW's on-line fische, and should be a credit card charge away!

England-Kev 05-17-2008 05:32 AM

That is a nice ST, and it is funny how we are so many miles, and an ocean apart, but our bikes have gone the same direction with the same colour tanks! my tank was given to me by someone who drops in here from time to time, and it really makes these bikes look great.

I have also added a screen now, and this looks pretty cool too...

Not to shabby.

Zebedee 05-17-2008 08:58 AM


Originally Posted by Airhead Wrangler
... through luck, destiny, karma, ...

If it was karma that brought the bike to you, keep on doing what you've been doing.

Good luck with running that baby in. She's a beaut :thumb



JWhitmore44 05-17-2008 02:36 PM

That is a sweet deal. I'm not sure which tank I like best.:ricky

Hey Kev, cool fly screen. :thumb

England-Kev 05-18-2008 11:35 AM


Originally Posted by JWhitmore44
Hey Kev, cool fly screen. :thumb

Thanks, I want to fit a pair of spot lights next on the crash bars :evil

Spicy McHaggis 05-18-2008 12:00 PM

Let me be the first to say...

YOU SUCK. :ricky

Nice find...!

Airhead Wrangler 06-09-2008 11:46 PM

Quick Update
Ok, maybe this belongs in ride reports, but I finally managed to get a 700+ mile trip on the beemer and have nothing, but praises to report. It kept up with a Ducati admirably, considering its 16 year handicap. The trip went through wide open prairie, twisty mountain roads and a good gravel section where it finally was able to outpace the Ducati. While it can't cruise at 100+ like the ducati can, it can definitely hold 90 all day. Somehow I didn't experience the big drop in mpg that most people report at those speeds on a R80st. I was getting in the 38-40 range the whole trip, which although low for the average bike, is pretty decent for an ST. Here are some pics.

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