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Old 12-23-2011, 08:08 PM   #1
Kikemon OP
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R80 G/S question(s)

I have been interested in getting an R80 G/S for a while now. I haven't had an old bike in a while and my last airhead (R65LS) and I did not get on well. I was wondering if you could give me an idea of what I could expect with one of these. Will it be too slow to get out of its own way? I don't need a super fast bike, but a little punch would be nice. Would it handle like an anvil or be fairly nimble on the road? I've read reviews written back in the day but would like to know how it would compare to a more modern bike. I would love to get one that needs a little work (to save $$$ on initial purchase) but I also realize that I might be better off getting one someone else sunk money into making right. Are there common mechanical failure points? Will I be able to get parts for it? Any help is greatly appreciated!
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:32 PM   #2
One Less Harley
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Good luck finding a good one.

Parts are easy to get, your' in a great area to ride plus a couple of good guys in the Oregon area which know their stuff. You don't have to find a pretty one, but find one that has been maintained well. Pretty much basic maintenance things. A kick starter sticking out hitting the left leg in indicative of a bent kick shaft, probably won't hurt the tranny. Check for a well shifting bike, but trannies are a little notchy. Check rear wheel for excess play or roughness while turning in neutral. Check front head bearings for looseness same for front wheel. Look over wiring harness for botched repairs, also check harness under front fender.

Beware modified cobbled together bikes, funky exhaust. Rusty pipes are expensive to replace. Some people swap out front ends which might create handling issues if not done right. Not necessarily a bad thing but be aware of it and warrants closer inspection. Inspect sub frame for cracks under seat area. inspect rims at nipples for cracks, if cracked another expensive repair. I'd pull the plugs and inspect plus a compression/leakdown test.

A well maintained G/S is nearly bullet proof, but with 100K miles your in the range of needing a top end redone and maybe tranny bearings.

G/S's aren't real fast but are adequate on power and gobs of low end torque. Not supper great for fast road work but not to bad if you consider the age of the bike. Same can be said off road, but fun for fireroads, gravel roads and moderately difficult trail work. About 400lbs, but carries the weight low which is a plus. capable of all day interstate runs but will only get 37-42mpg. More fun on secondaries.

Front forks are known to be noodley, and don't inspire confidence in fast rough sweepers... Many people replace fronts w/ something else. DR650, R100GS, or KTM forks. GS forks are easy, the others require some research to be done right!!


Do yourself a favor and use the search engine for PLENTY of G/S info.
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:36 PM   #3
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Thanks for the great reply. I've been trying to use the search engine but I keep getting an error message ("Can't find term...")
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:38 PM   #4
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check my sig, but old school always has something going on w/ the G/S's. Scan backwards through the current post.
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:40 PM   #5
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That's fantastic - thanks!
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:00 PM   #6
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The ADV search is...not the best. Use the google, enter:

"site:advrider.com R80 g/s " (w/out quotes)

"site:" tells google to look at a specific url

"advrider.com" tells the google to look at advrider.com for this search request

"r80 g/s" tells the google that this is what I want to search for at advrider.com


Voila! 32,800 R80 G/S results at advrider.com in .13 seconds...

https://www.google.com/search?q=site...ient=firefox-a

Here's a good G/S thread:

Infra's 1981 R80 G/S Maintenance and Improvement Thread - ADVrider

Enjoy.
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Old 12-24-2011, 02:04 AM   #7
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It is difficult for somebody else to say whether or not you will like an R80G/S, I have both the R80G/S and R80GS and for their age consider them the best allround bikes available using them for everything from commuting, fetching the shopping, holidays and riding around the world, they are my only transport. Compared to a modern bike, the F800GS for instance, they are a dinosaur producing only two thirds of the power and only two thirds the mpg but still enjoy riding them and they now attract some attention as a classic.
Good luck with your search, they are getting difficult to find this side of the pond and fetch silly prices.
This is quite a good thread on the matter.

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=64632
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Old 12-24-2011, 07:52 AM   #8
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Thanks guys this is just what I needed. I appreciate the education!
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Old 12-24-2011, 10:29 AM   #9
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Just curious - why didn't you and the LS get along?

The G/S doesn't handle quite as well as the LS, nor stop as well. Of course, the LS doesn't handle rough roads as well, but that's to be expected.

With its lower gearing, the LS feels similar to the G/S in power, especially unloaded solo riding. I had a plain R65, but it had taller gearing as I recall, and it handled solo touring just fine. I've ridden the G/S to Montana and back from Portland and it was fine, although it's no longer an 800 but a liter. But still stock gearing.

It's very difficult giving advice not knowing your intended purpose and exactly what you're looking for. These tend to be fiddly bikes that aren't the best at anything, but good all around. Treated well, they hold up, but ridden hard with spotty maintenance - not so well. They are fairly rugged, but like anything mechanical, do have their achilles heels and it's best to be aware of them and treat accordingly.

If they're for you, there's nothing else that will fill the niche. If not, it'll just bug the crap out of you. No way to know without paying the admission and find out for yourself.

That's why I ask about the bad relationship with the LS.
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Old 12-24-2011, 01:24 PM   #10
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The R80G/S is an old bike. It wasn't a fast bike back in the day, and it's not today.
The 800cc boxer engine is one of the best of the airhead engine, it's got grunt, it's got a slow revving character that's pleasant to ride, but the flip side is, it doesn't feel super fast.

These bike's didn't get nicknamed the rubber cow for nothing.
BMW's are not noted for there superb handling. Soft suspension, flexible frames pronounced shaft jacking and a crank running with the frame all conspire to make these bikes handle with their own special flair.

The bike and engines are easy to work on and easy to find parts for, however the G/S now comes with a premium purchase price regardless of condition. It's been said before "There's no such thing as a cheap Airhead" This is very true.

There is a tremendous amount of information about these bikes on the web, some of it is even true.

Lots of little things can be out of sorts on the older machines, especially if the bike was used off road much.

Germans do things a little different then the rest of the world, If you "get" it then they are pretty easy to work with
If you don't well then it's more hard.

Personally I really enjoy while also really hating my airheads. Today if I was airheadless, I doubt I'd go out and spend the money to buy one for the prices they are going for. The value of the bike to me Vs the price of the bike just isn't there.
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Old 12-24-2011, 05:27 PM   #11
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Old 12-24-2011, 06:52 PM   #12
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Yeah, I now realize I asked a question that is impossible for anyone by myself to answer. But, I've been going through a lot of bikes (serially) trying to find "THE ONE BIKE" that will do everything I want from motorcycles. I think what I really need is a bigger garage so I can have more than one bike! As it is, I get a bike, love it at first, then grow bored/frustrated and eventually see something else that is even more perfect.

I have always been attracted to the mechanical elegance of airheads. I had an R65LS about 15 years ago but it was too slow and heavy for me. I am older now and do not need to go so fast anymore, but I do still like a bike that can get out of its own way - or someone else's. Of course a bike needs to speak to you and I definitely love the sound of the flat twin and the connectedness I got with riding the LS was cool. I even really liked the rocking of the bike when the throttle was blipped.

I guess what I was really getting at is what would it be like living with an R80G/S or GS as a daily rider. It would be used for commuting (10 miles mixed freeway and surface) year round, short trips (~300 miles) and fire road exploring. When maintained, are they reliable? Seems like yes. I do like wrenching but prefer riding. Will I be able to get parts for it when it breaks? Seems like yes there too.

For what it is worth, I'm currently on a 2004 Aprilia Tuono Factory
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kikemon View Post
I guess what I was really getting at is what would it be like living with an R80G/S or GS as a daily rider. It would be used for commuting (10 miles mixed freeway and surface) year round, short trips (~300 miles) and fire road exploring. When maintained, are they reliable? Seems like yes. I do like wrenching but prefer riding. Will I be able to get parts for it when it breaks? Seems like yes there too.
Living with a G(/)S is wonderful...for the right people. You can commute the heck out of it. And then ride it around the planet. There are few bikes that are better for fire road exploring. But it ain't no Tuono.

Airheads are ridiculously reliable but you won't get me to jinx myself by saying how many miles or decades that airheads have always brought me home.

Yes, parts are available, either through BMW or other sources (with some exceptions for body parts or other non-essential parts).

Will you own only one bike? If you need the 100+ hp of the Tuono the G/S will never satisfy that need. If you want a terrific, low tech, easy to maintain go anywhere bike the G/S will be a gem.
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:10 PM   #14
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If I get a GS I will have to let the Tuono go. 100+ HP is nice I have to admit, but I don't know that I need it. I would definitely need to relearn how to ride a bit (passing/braking distances etc.) and my expectations would have to adjust. An R80 might feel like a slug at first but I know I would adjust.
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