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rhys 12-12-2009 08:26 AM

Which airhead to buy(?)
I looked at a '75 750/6 this week.... turns out it had a salvage title and oxidized aluminum, $2,000 for a machine with a sexy Corbin and a solid sounding engine. I passed on it.

I graduated from high school and found my nose pressed up against the glass of a showroom with blue toaster tank Beemers on the floor. I hadn't yet purchased a bike, but I fell in love with the blue and the toaster tank. That summer I bought a Honda CB100 and taught myself how to ride...... over a dozen bikes and thousands of miles later (to include 60,000 on an Oilhead) I still long for an airhead Beemer.

It doesn't have to be blue, nor must I have a toaster tank, but I want an affordable airhead. What is the wisdom with regard to best year models for me to consider from????

dduelin 12-12-2009 08:55 AM

Can o worms but I say '81-84 twin shock models. You get the 1981 improvements - Brembo brakes, lightened flywheel, Nikasil cylinders, electronic ignition and still have the classic airhead fenders, tank, and side covers.

GB 12-12-2009 09:28 AM

Let the airhead experts in Old's Cool give you their input.. moved it there.

Uncle Ernie 12-12-2009 09:42 AM


Originally Posted by dduelin
Can o worms but I say '81-84 twin shock models. You get the 1981 improvements - Brembo brakes, lightened flywheel, Nikasil cylinders, electronic ignition and still have the classic airhead fenders, tank, and side covers.

I'll drink to that. Most affordable would be an R65. I had an R65LS (harder to find now) that I rode all over the country and loved it. R80 is a good choice, but would cost a little more. More torque, but not all that much faster, really.

Mobiker 12-12-2009 09:51 AM

Being as this is Advrider, the obvious choice is a R80GS. Hard to find and kind of over valued tho....

I've always liked the R80ST also.

R90S :evil

The only one I have experience with my R100GS. Lots written here about them. Its been good to me.

Airheads rock :super

bgoodsoil 12-12-2009 10:01 AM

I think the early '80s were the sweet spot. they have a lot of the improvements but before you ran into circlip issues or paralevers.

I've only owned an r80 but I've ridden many others and I have to say I like the 80 the best. Below that and you get a little less power, above that and you get vibration and the gas mileage seems to go down.

I like the monolever final drive but they're way overpriced right now. The twin shocks work the same and they look classier. The ST tanks don't do it for me, the sidecovers look cheap and that plastic airbox ruins the look of the engine.

The Nikasil cylinders are famous for lasting forever. I consider them a big bonus.

I've heard many many people describe the ST as being the 'best handling air-cooled BMW' every made. I took one through the mountains a while back and I was impressed. I'd still take the /7 based on looks.

All that to say 'yeah, I agree with the other guy.' Put my money on an early '80s r80/7 or r80ST

Yarddog 12-12-2009 10:07 AM

What's the big deal about a salvage title? My '96 Camaro has a salvage title, and it goes down the road just problem transferring the title into my name, and I pay the registration as normal every year...

For some reason, folks get their panties in a wad about salvage titles, and I'm not sure why that is...if the vehicle is otherwise good and legal, who cares if it got ripped off earlier in its life, then somebody brought it back to life? Maybe that's a reason that the price is where it's at!!! Two grand sounds like a decent price for a legal bike with all the pieces...that's what I paid for my '78 R100/7, and the aluminum was oxidized as well...but I didn't care, I bought it as a project bike, and I'm gonna black the machine out anyway!

So, don't necessarily pass on a salvage title out of's prolly no big deal, especially if the PO has a reason why that is...if, on the other hand, you're not looking for a project, then you were prolly right to pass on it, it's a lot of work to bring back oxidized aluminum...

Wirespokes 12-12-2009 11:13 AM

I agree with Yarddog except that it's a lot of work to bring back oxidized aluminum... It really isn't, especially if you do it a bit at a time and know the drill.

So how much are you willing to spend? What sort of riding do you want to do on this airhead? Do you like working on your bikes?

Everyone has his favorite, and for different or similar reasons, but they're all wonderful bikes - 1970 all the way to 1995. It's just important to narrow down what qualities and characteristics are important to you.

Then we could recommend which machines would be a match.

crazydrummerdude 12-12-2009 01:32 PM


Originally Posted by dduelin
Can o worms


FWIW, I like mine. '74 /6's.

rhys 12-12-2009 11:07 PM

Okay.... fair enough. I'll try to narrow down what I want, though I will not limit myself to "want" alone:

I'm a really short guy, so the red LS650 with it's white wheels was the NEXT Beemer I lusted for (after the blue toaster). They have a cult following though and fetch top dollar.

I've heard the 800cc was an all time "best"..... and if I had the money, the original (little) 800GS would have already been in my garage. I still regret not getting the phone number of a gentleman I ran into at Lick Observatory considering the departure with his cherry 800Gs.

Then I was at A&S in Roseville, Kali' and spied something called a Mystic...... OHMYGOD! I'm a bit of an odd fellow and like 'different'; I fell in love with it. Then the salesman pointed to a gal on the other end of the parking lot who just bought it from them. I've been looking for one since.

Now..... I'm not made of money; I live in a foreclosure capital of the Nation, Stockton, CA.... and owe twice as much on my house than it's worth, and I'm a year from retiring. Women don't date short fat white boys who have little money, so I spend all my money on THE hobby, motorcycles (and marksmanship, photography, zymergy, cigars, etc.).

The salvage title Beemer I looked at is not out of the race, a little CAT tractor flat black, give it to The Frame Man to check out the frame, bar-end mirrors, a retro half helmet, gauntlet gloves, and an attitude..... and go RIDE.

BUT..... what of year models before I buy?
And you guys gave me the answer I was looking for. Y'all seem to agree that early 80's is a good airhead to point myself toward.

Do I like to wrench?...... yeah, minor stuff. I'm more of a rider not a wrench. But I have an '08 Bandit bagger as my means of trouble-free miles, so a little wrench'n is to be expected on whatever airhead graces my garage.

Bigger Al 12-13-2009 08:59 AM

This place is a great resource for information, and there are a few of us who are relatively close by. I'd be willing to lend a hand or impart what knowledge is rattling around in my head. I've also got a few of the specific Airhead tools and a garage if you need to do some in-depth stuff.

Kismet 12-13-2009 01:55 PM


R 75-80-100 /7

Have fun.

Be safe.

Uncle Ernie 12-13-2009 02:09 PM

I rented a Mystic for a week. You're lucky someone else bought it.
(You must have some good karma left over)

scrannel 12-14-2009 06:37 AM

I drove an R65 from Berlin, all through Europe, Greek Islands, then east to Turkey then through the Middle East (Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan), then India, boat ride to Malaysia, down the Malay Peninsula to Singapore, boat to Australia, sold the bike in Perth. Changed one rear tire, oil when required.

bgoodsoil 12-14-2009 08:14 AM

I like my G/S but all that wheel travel is usually unnecessary. I feel like such a poser getting my groceries in that monster.

Oh and thanks for teaching me my new favorite word: zymurgy!

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