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Leo562 01-17-2013 06:42 PM

I Have NO Experience
Hi I'm Leo and I am 18 years old.

My father has left a 1978 BMW R100S. It has been sitting in our garage for about the same amount of time that I have been alive.

But now my father has left and I am left with the exciting pleasure of restoring it. But there is a catch I am not experienced at all. :(:

The only thing I have is the Clymer Manual and the tools my father left me and of course the BMW it self. :shog

I have joined this community due to the fact that I see potential help. This community seems very knowledgable.

So my first question (in a probably very long series of questions) is where do I start?

P.S. I do have experience with electronics i.e. soldering wiring and the sort.


I would really like to get this baby up and running it is in pretty good cosmetic condition due to the fact that it has been in the garage the whole time :D

ritetwist 01-17-2013 06:50 PM

Congratulations.Gotta be close to a record. 19 y.o. You gotta lot of guts,or desire, or both.
Read the manual while sitting by the bike,find everything the book talks about(no tools yet).
Stay in touch with forum and enjoy.Can you post pics? They're gonna ask!
Good luck.
I'm going to watch this one.

Leo562 01-17-2013 06:57 PM

Thanks! That's what they tell me.

I'll take the advice and i'll keep in touch!

I'll post pictures when there is better lighting hopefully be up by saturday.

DGW 01-17-2013 07:02 PM

First thing get a new battery, drain the gas tank and the carbs, new gas, new spark plugs. It may just start up. If not chack back for the next step Good Luck

hardwaregrrl 01-17-2013 07:08 PM

First thing to do is change all fluids...then you've got to clean out the gas tank and the fuel valves. I'm certain the carbs will need a full clean, and rebuild.....but you could just clean out the jets in the mean time just to get the bike to start. Remove the spark plugs and clean them up, check gap, reinstall. Then get a battery....that's where I would start. Once you've got it running then you can fine tune.....check valve clearences, timing, bleed the brakes, clean and rebuild the carbs, then new tubes and tires and a super scrub down. Ride for a 100 miles, then change all fluids again.

Glad you found this's going to help you A LOT! Keep us in the loop.

hoss18 01-17-2013 07:08 PM

Good on you for trying... Im sure that you will get a lot of different advise on this forum, Remember that most of us are not "experts" just enthusists who enjoy what you are about to do. We can offer some advice but never forget in the end it is your call how far you go.
As far as your bike goes - it is a great one as your introduction to an airhead. Generally these are a solid simple bike and it may not need much to get going. If its cosmetically ok and it used to run before it was rested maybe all it needs is oil/filters/petrol/battery change - but go over all the rubber (including the tyres) bits as they tend to perish over time. Because of the length of time It might also be wise to check out if there is any corrosion in the carb float chamber before you start it.- you might have to have the carby serviced.

disston 01-17-2013 07:10 PM

Please don't "restore" your Father's bike. Restoration is not for bikes in good original condition. The real beauty is in original machines, not restored machines. Stick around long enough and you'll understand this one.

You say this bike has not been started even for 18 years or more? Has it been covered? Or it has a lot of dust on her? It would be good if you can post some pictures of this bike. How many miles on the odometer? of course.

The first concern is probably is there gas in the tank? If there ever was it may be gone now. Could you remove the bottom float bowls of the carbs, push the bale wire to the side and the float bowl will drop. They may need a little encouragement if they are stuck. There is a cork gasket that may or may not fall apart. If it survives keep it in place. But if it falls apart don't worry you are going to get another one anyway. You want to check the float bowls for gum and varnish residue which will tell us if the bike was parked with gas in her.

Is there any liquid gas in the gas tank? If there was it may have been turned into varnish also. You are in luck the vintage bike you have is much easier to remove the tank than something more modern. Get in the habit of appreciating this fact. These bikes are built to be maintained by their owners. The fuel lines on an Airhead do not have clamps on them if the correct size fuel hose was used. If you twist the rubber hose it should be easy to pull it off. Open the seat and you will see two plastic knobbie things holding the tank on. Twist these off and with the rubber fuel lines off both sides the tank will lift off.

You can wash the tank with soap and water. you can rinse the inside out with a garden hose but you will probably have to soak the tank with a cleaner to get the dried gas varnish out. I think some have used Sea Foam for this.

There's going to be more, much more, before you are ready to start this bike. Take it slow, one step at a time. Read the manual. Which one is it? Is it the 1980's vintage manual with a rider dressed in blue on a Beemer with a large red fairing? What tools do you have in the kit? Might be a good idea to take a picture of the tools also.

I know I ask a lot of questions but these are questions that will help. At this point we would really like to know what you find when you look in the carb float bowls and in the gas tank. Was the bike stored wet or dry?

You have one of the most desirable of Airhead models and one of the most powerful too. What color is she?

pommie john 01-17-2013 07:13 PM

You're going to get lots of advice here, some of it conflicting :D

In your position, what I would do is:

1 Check there's oil on the dipstick

2 Take out the spark plugs, place the plugs in the caps with the metal body of the plug resting on the metal of the engine. This is important, you must earth the ground electrode of the plug or you can damage the ignition system.

3 Put on a fresh battery and push the button until the oil pressure light goes out.

Any sparks at the plugs while you push the starter? If so, the next thing I would do is drain the fuel, take off the float bowls and spray carb cleaner everywhere in the carbs. Put them back together, fresh fuel , fresh spark plugs, and see if it starts.
If it starts, well done! Before you run the engine any longer, give it fresh oil and filter.

There are plenty of other things to check before you take it on the road, but we can cover them later

JonnyCash 01-17-2013 07:29 PM


Originally Posted by disston (Post 20513083)
Please don't "restore" your Father's bike. Restoration is not for bikes in good original condition. The real beauty is in original machines, not restored machines. Stick around long enough and you'll understand this one.

:clap Thank you!

Houseoffubar 01-17-2013 07:34 PM

Where are you? Having an inmate drop by, and take a look would pay dividends, I would imagine.

Kai Ju 01-17-2013 07:34 PM

Where are you located ?
You might want to check and see if there are any fellow airheads living in your neck of the woods. It's a lot easier to pick things up when somebody shows/teaches you.
Second to that is reading the manual, several times.
Keep us in the loop and get some pictures up. Would love to see it.

Leo562 01-17-2013 07:39 PM

Before I start I would like to thank you all for your replies these are very informative answers and I am shocked how fast you replied and glad to see your interest in my project.
I am finally surrounded by a community who understand why I would like to run this bike again!

Ok so I can not answer all of these questions immediately due to the fact that I have Finals soon... so I am studying but this saturday I will address all of your questions!! ASAP!

I can say that the rubber tubes are one of the first things that I saw that looked like they need some help.

I also have another question! Where do you trust to get parts for a motorcycle of this type? Do you prefer OEM parts or...?

And I live in California near LA just incase anyone was wondering!


disston 01-17-2013 07:40 PM

A bike that has been sitting for almost 20 years? I think it needs a little more attention to detail. Drain the engine oil before the engine is turned one bit. To do this first take out the fill plug before you take out the drain plug. It is debatable whether you want to put a new filter in at this point. I'm willing to say you can leave that for later. But I would want fresh oil in the sump from the first get go. After the engine has been run for ten mins this oil will be drained. and fresh put in again.

Do you live close to a BMW Motorcycle dealer that you may be using for parts? There are sources for many things that are cheaper but you will benefit from the nearness of a dealer if that is an option. Where do you live? It is a good idea to put this info in your profile. Let's get some of the basic info up front so we know how to tell you and what to tell you you will need to know.

Leo562 01-17-2013 07:44 PM


Originally Posted by disston (Post 20513083)
Read the manual. Which one is it? Is it the 1980's vintage manual with a rider dressed in blue on a Beemer with a large red fairing?

It is this one

disston 01-17-2013 08:08 PM

Start making a list as we go along of all the parts that will be needed to begin. There will also be many things that you may have to buy just to have in case you need them.

At this point you will need 3 feet of fuel line.

Before we go any farther with the parts list. Lets try to address the issue of cost. These machines are not really cheap to refurbish and get running, if we do everything. It is suggested that you not be too cheap but it is going to cost a fare bit of moola. So I'd like to suggest an estimate for getting this bike running of.......$250, maybe a little more. That does not include tires or the battery.

You also need some stuff from the Auto Super Store. You know the place for the cheaper auto parts, chain store, like Advance Auto or you can go one better and go to Riley's or NAPA. You need Wheel bearing Grease, Carb Cleaner and a can of Sea Foam. Probably a couple other things too. Carefull when you go in those places to not walk out with any Snake Oil or Fuzzy Dice. They specialize in stuff that costs a lot of money and does nothing for you.

There is an endless debate about which engine oil to use. Please refer to the numerous threads on Adventure Rider to get the feel of this controversy. But for now and because you are so new at all of this I will suggest you put this concern as far in the back of your head as possible and buy either BMW 20W-50 Non Synthetic Engine Oil or if you can't get to the dealer for this right away try to find Golden Spectro 4 20W-50. At this point it is not too important which oil you use because you are going to change the oil several times before the bike is ridden very much at all. This oil is expensive.

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