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Big John Sny 07-03-2009 09:34 PM

Considering an airhead as a commuter
Hi, I'm new to the forum. I have an 87 shadow I have been commuting 50 miles a day to work in heavy Dallas traffic and an opportunity to trade my bike for a 78 r100 came up. The BMW has 18,000 miles and is in good condition. I was interested in the chance to ride something that has a more upright seating position, has hard luggage, has a center stand. I had heard that the airheads don't have the greatest brakes (the shadow is not that great either), but I've heard that when properly maintained they are pretty reliable. Most of what I've heard has all been based on reputation. I was wanting to hear from actual owners what kind of daily commuter it would make. Mostly I am on the freeway. My wife rides with me occasionally, but just in town; she hates riding on the freeway.

Wirespokes 07-03-2009 09:40 PM

The 78 is a good one. Which model?

If it's got the dual disks, they can stop very well if properly tuned and adjusted.

And, yes, the bike can be a great commuter. It's got low mileage, but may need some TLC before being dead reliable. Most used machines are that way anyway, of course, so that's nothing new.

Post some pix!

Big John Sny 07-03-2009 10:00 PM

I will try to upload a pic later. my computer seems to want to fight me tonight. The bike only has a single front disc. Should it have two? He said the mag wheels on it are aftermarket.

Hawk Medicine 07-03-2009 10:08 PM


You bike has a single disk, so the first serious mod to consider after getting the bike road worthy, would be to add the second disk. Most of us don't consider the single to be anywhere near adequate but duals on that bike wiill make a huge difference in stopping disrtance and feel.

Don't ask, just do it!

Rob Farmer 07-03-2009 11:38 PM

1978 R100 with 18K on it? They can feel strange to begin with but once you get used to the feel of the bike you will love it. A second front disk is essential. If it's anything like mine you should get another 80,000 miles out if it before it needs any serious attention. Mines just had it's third set of points at 214,000...I was tempted to contact BMW to complain :D

nolleman 07-04-2009 01:56 AM

Sound good to me! Thats some low miles for a '78. I have a '92 with just over 40k on it and my only issue was with the starter failing at about 36k. I wish it had a kick starter on it.

jtwind 07-04-2009 04:46 AM

Nice bike! It will be a fine commuter. Learn to keep the revs up if it's in town to keep battery charged. I would first optimize the single brake. Rebuild the master cylinder and caliper, new brake pads, SS line and adjust properly and see what you think. When set up and adjust properly the brake is acceptable, very few of them get the treatment they need.

Chronus24 07-04-2009 07:01 AM

I had a '78 R100/7 and would recommend it to someone for a commuter. I sold mine with a bit over 80k and it only had one problem that totaled about $50 in repairs. I had a corbin seat on mine which was nice for longer rides but it had good around town ergos too.

d mc gee 07-04-2009 08:52 AM

I have an 81 R100, it is pretty much the same bike with a few updates. When I bought it there was a Windjammer on it. As much as I dislike the looks, it was a great fairing for commuting. Just put your coffee in the fairing pocket get going down the road enjoy a smoke using the lighter and the still air behind it. I has a real sweet spot between 60-70 mph.

Big John Sny 07-04-2009 01:11 PM

He is trailering it to my house tomorrow so he can bring the color matched fairing with it and other parts. He did tell me the odometer gear has stripped. Is that hard to fix? Anything I should check well when I test ride it?

Achiii 07-04-2009 01:16 PM

I commute several times a week on my /6. I have a 120 mi round trip route. It has, so far, been very reliable and a comfortable bike.

Wirespokes 07-04-2009 01:32 PM


Originally Posted by Big John Sny
...the odometer gear has stripped. Is that hard to fix? Anything I should check well when I test ride it?

The odometers all do that sooner or later. There are write-ups on the web how to fix it, but it can be meticulous tedious work.

Or I can fix it for you much cheaper than the repair shops, and will clean and lube it as well.

Big John Sny 07-04-2009 04:53 PM

I still can't seem to up load the pics. reduced the size and width of pic but no dice.

Naysayer 07-04-2009 05:16 PM

I agree with the brake bleeding being necessary. also consider an after market diode board and learn to set your valves. that can be an enjoyable way to spend 1/2 a beer. They are generally very easy bikes to maintain and there is nothing that can break on the bike that you can't get almost immediately via aftermarket or dealer suppliers. Think about joining Airheads for tech advice.

Big John Sny 07-06-2009 08:58 PM

Thanks for all the good advice. I rode the bike to work today and love it. I went ahead and rebuilt the speedo when I got home and it works great. I do have a couple more questions? First, there was no turn signal bulb when I took the speedo apart. I put one in, but it is on all of the time and flashes when the signals are on. I am assuming that is not normal. If not, is this something common? Bad turn signal relay? maybe a mixed wire? just thought I would see if this was a common problem also. Second, why are there 5 different positions for the ignition switch?

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