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Old 03-25-2015, 01:55 PM   #1
pwafer OP
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Potential Airhead here, trying to gauge realism vs dreams

Hello new friends!

After spending a few days reading through as many posts as I could find on this forum, doing research on the side, and trying to coordinate with my landlord... I wanted to reach out to the people that matter most and get your opinion!

I have been a BMW fanatic my entire life but it was always in the realm of cars. My first and second cars were both BMWs. I absolutely love and appreciate their beauty and mechanical smoothness more and more every day. I put a ton of time and money into my e90 3 series so I know what the modding addiction can be like. I moved to San Francisco and no longer have a need for a car so I sold my 3 series and have recently become obsessed with the idea of owning a motorcycle. I started looking into Cafe Racers because I wanted to put some of my own blood sweat and tears into the bike.

At first the Honda and Triumph pulled me into the type of bike I was looking to build. I did some research and came upon the Ton-up Garage BMW R Series "Recall" R75/7 & "Pure" R45. This is where the obsession began and I couldn't stop looking at Airheads and what makes them different then other vintage bikes. I soon lost all hope and knew I wanted to continue on my BMW loyalast path by buying an old BMW and rebuilding it, which brought me to this wonderful website.

Here are the issues: I am 25 years old, probably no garage (am trying to get a small spot to work on the bike from my landlord currently), know nothing about motorcycles beyond my dirt biking days as a child, and don't have unlimited funding. I was hoping to get some advice from some wiser more experienced airheads out there...

My budget is $8,000 now with a $1-2k budget a year for mechanical issues and upgrades.

(1) Do you think it is feasible for me to buy a bike that is in good condition and make some slow steady upgrades over the next year? Most people seem to think if you have X budget, the end result will be 3x!!! That scares me.

example of a 75/5 I really like: http://sacramento.craigslist.org/mcy/4940242110.html

(2) Have any of you used a mutual garage to do work? There are a few in SF like Piston and Chain but I worry not having a garage at home makes my dreams unrealistic. Thoughts?

(3) How steep is the learning curve for these bikes mechanically? How complicated are the majority of maintenance issues? I don't mind paying for a mechanic every once in a while but would love to learn to do everything on my own over time...

(4) Lastly - Is there a preferred model you think would fit my scenario best? My mentality was get a slightly newer bike (R100/7) because it should have less mechanical problems, but I am currently looking at everything /6 /7 +

Thank you so much for the help and hopefully I will be a daily member of the community soon! Cheers!
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:00 PM   #2
Rob Farmer
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Run away as fast and as far as you can! Buy a Honda and enjoy life. Only pain, suffering and a rapidly shrinking bank balance await the unwary in Airhead land.

If you can take the pain and suffering you'll love it.


Seriously

Buy the newest bike you can get your hands on. Try them out and see what you think. Airheads are an acquired taste. The earlier models have more charector but come with some mechanical baggage that needs some experience to deal with.



A late Model Monolever would be a good starting point. R65, R80 or R100 all have their own followers.
Something like this

Rob Farmer screwed with this post 03-25-2015 at 02:08 PM
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:07 PM   #3
Mark Manley
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Originally Posted by Rob Farmer View Post
Run away as fast and as far as you can! Buy a Honda and enjoy life. Only pain, suffering and a rapidly shrinking bank balance await the unwary in Airhead land.

If you can take the pain and suffering you'll love it.


Seriously

Buy the newest bike you can get your hands on. Try them out and see what you think. Airheads are an acquired taste. The earlier models have more charector but come with some mechanical baggage that needs some experience to deal with.

A late Model Monolever would be a good starting point. R65, R80 or R100 all have their own followers.
The R80ST is also a good bike but avoid anything with GS in its name, bloody good bikes but have attracted a classic bike premium which makes them overpriced.
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:11 PM   #4
CafeDude
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Here is what I recommend: call or visit my friends Chris and Rebecca Canterbury over at Boxer Metal in Chico, CA. http://boxermetal.com/contact/

They live and breathe custom BMW's. Talk with them about your needs/wants, and they will certainly steer you in the right direction.

Personally, I like the /6 variants of these bikes. Easy to work on, parts are readily available and relatively cheap, disk brakes, 5-speed trannies, etc. They make excellent foundations for a custom cafe, scrambler, or whatever floats your boat. And they are typically cheaper to buy than the /5 or /7 variants.
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:11 PM   #5
pwafer OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Farmer View Post
A late Model Monolever would be a good starting point. R65, R80 or R100 all have their own followers.
Something like this
That bike is very similar to what I would be looking for! Thanks for the response and advice! I'm not in a hurry by any means so I am going to take my sweet time and find the perfect fit so I start this addiction off properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Manley View Post
The R80ST is also a good bike but avoid anything with GS in its name, bloody good bikes but have attracted a classic bike premium which makes them overpriced.
Noted!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CafeDude View Post
Here is what I recommend: call or visit my friends Chris and Rebecca Canterbury over at Boxer Metal in Chico, CA. http://boxermetal.com/contact/
Will be in contact with them once I get a few more things sorted out and am a little more prepared to pull the trigger! Thanks for the connection.
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:13 PM   #6
B_C_Ries
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For your stated budget you should be able to get a nice Airhead and keep it going.
I bought a 1977 R100/7 in 1987 for $2,500 and I have never spent $1,000 in a year on the bike. (Unless you count things like helmets, gloves and Jackets.)

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Old 03-25-2015, 02:15 PM   #7
squish
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I bought my first airhead in my early 20. Back then it was a 10year old bike. A brand owned mostly by grump old men.

I had a much lower budget then you have for maintiance.

And I have had that bike since then, I've worked on it in living rooms, friends garages under the stairs and out in the open.

It's doable, you can still get parts. But here's what I have found.
Airheads need you, they need lots of ongoing fiddling to make them run right. Sure there are stories of guys who have 200,000 miles on theirs with little more then a light bulb needing to be fixed.
But that has not been my experience spread across twenty some odd years and four airheads.

I hated getting stuck, I hated being late for work, I hated trips to the shop to pick up another batch of expensive parts.

But I love the hell out of the bikes, I have three of them. They make fantastic second bikes, great vintage rides.

But.

If I ever have to be back to one bike, and I want that bike to be cool looking as well as functional I would get one of the current crop of retro bikes, the guzzi v7, Thairumph bonniville, cb1100, or the current apple of my eye the Yamaha SR400.

Then when I have a little more time and money and a shop I would ad in a second or third bike.
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:19 PM   #8
headtube
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I think your biggest hindrance is having no garage to wrench in. Does no garage = no tools? Other than that I'd go for it. But expect to spend a bit of $ to keep it maintained. Once it's running sweetly, you'll be glad you bought it.
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:26 PM   #9
pwafer OP
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Originally Posted by headtube View Post
I think your biggest hindrance is having no garage to wrench in. Does no garage = no tools? Other than that I'd go for it. But expect to spend a bit of $ to keep it maintained. Once it's running sweetly, you'll be glad you bought it.
I live in a 3 Condo unit but the guy that owns the top floor owns the building so he has exclusive access to the garage. It is a massive garage but he uses it to store all the inventory for his shoe store around the corner, 2 cars, a motorcycle, and tons of other stuff. There is some extra space so I am going to try and convince him to let me park in there and work on the bike. Unfortunately I have a feeling this will be a huge factor in my decision!
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:41 PM   #10
patrkbukly
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Do it


(1) Do you think it is feasible for me to buy a bike that is in good condition and make some slow steady upgrades over the next year? Most people seem to think if you have X budget, the end result will be 3x!!! That scares me.
YES

example of a 75/5 I really like: http://sacramento.craigslist.org/mcy/4940242110.html
I WOULD BUY THAT IN A NEW YORK MINUTE.

(2) Have any of you used a mutual garage to do work? There are a few in SF like Piston and Chain but I worry not having a garage at home makes my dreams unrealistic. Thoughts?
MOST IMPORTANT VARIABLE HERE IS THEFT. I DID THIS FOR YEARS AND ITS NO BIG DEAL AS LONG AS THEFT ISNT A BIG ISSUE. I WOULD BE MORE WORRIED ABOUT IT BEING STOLEN THAN WORKING IN THE ELEMENTS. OF COURSE A GARAGE IS BETTER BUT YOU GOTTA DO WHAT YOU GOTTA DO. (Ive been in Miami too long).

(3) How steep is the learning curve for these bikes mechanically? LEARNING CURVE IN MY OPINION IS DEFINED LIKE THIS;
IF IT'S YOUR ONLY TRANSPORTATION IT BETTER BE LIKE A MOUNTAIN. IN OTHER WORDS WITH TIME ON YOUR SIDE YOU WILL LEARN IT WELL AS YOU GO.
IF ITS A HOBBY AND PASSION YOU ENJOY WHILE FREE TIME, IT CAN BE A GRADUAL SLOPE
How complicated are the majority of maintenance issues?
NOT...ESPECIALLY WITH ADV IN YOUR POCKET.
I don't mind paying for a mechanic every once in a while but would love to learn to do everything on my own over time...

(4) Lastly - Is there a preferred model you think would fit my scenario best? My mentality was get a slightly newer bike (R100/7) because it should have less mechanical problems, but I am currently looking at everything /6 /7 +
6, 7, PD, RT, S, RS, WHATEVER COMBINATION OF STYLE AND UTILITY YOU LIKE THEY ARE ALL WONDERFUL.

GET REAL HERE....YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I KNOW IF YOU DONT GET INTO THIS YOU WILL HAVE THAT ANNOYING PEBBLE IN YOUR SOUL THAT YOU WISHED YOU WOULD HAVE....AND THAT AINT LIVIN.
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:49 PM   #11
boxerboy81
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With your background of minimal mechanics and first up motorcycling, I like the advice of a younger airhead, lowest kms you can find with as full service history. The monolever R80 would be a great start. The /5 above looks great but might offer expensive ongoing maintenance, as might a newer R80, but that might be less likely.

The idea would be to maximise the riding and reduce the wrenching early in the relationship. Learn as you go but ride as much as possible.

Souljer did a similar thing last year. Find his R100R thread and you may get an idea.
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Old 03-25-2015, 03:03 PM   #12
TelemarkSean
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(1) Yes. You could probably do it for 4k. I bought my R80 for 2.5k and ended up doing less than 1k of maintenance over about 2 years. Much of this it won't need again for some time. Here's pic from my trip to San Fran. I passed 92,000 miles on this trip.



(2) Never needed to but I'm not sure I would get a project-ish bike without a reliable and clean garage to work in. :(

(3) Better than most, probably. One of the most routine things (oil filter) is a lot more difficult (or at least riskier) than on typical bikes. Still an easy bike to care for. Threads are easy to strip on these bikes. Get a decent torque wrench.

(4) The later models had most of the problems solved while still keeping the old airhead charm. But, I think bike condition is a lot more important than year model. You can find some pretty trashed monolevers ('85+) and some really immaculate /7 bikes. Try to find an R80 or R100, IMO.
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Old 03-25-2015, 03:25 PM   #13
pwafer OP
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Originally Posted by TelemarkSean View Post
You can find some pretty trashed monolevers ('85+) and some really immaculate /7 bikes. Try to find an R80 or R100, IMO.
Are all non-GS R80 & R100's monolever?

Looking online it seems like no one ever posts about it being a mono or paralever bike. It seems like the general consensus is to focus on finding a really solid and well taken care of R80 or R100 so for now that's what I will do!

Thank you all so much for the feedback so far. The more the merrier!


Quote:
Originally Posted by patrkbukly View Post
GET REAL HERE....YOU KNOW AS WELL AS I KNOW IF YOU DONT GET INTO THIS YOU WILL HAVE THAT ANNOYING PEBBLE IN YOUR SOUL THAT YOU WISHED YOU WOULD HAVE....AND THAT AINT LIVIN.
Truer words have never been spoken.
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Old 03-25-2015, 03:44 PM   #14
TelemarkSean
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Originally Posted by pwafer View Post
Are all non-GS R80 & R100's monolever?
No, R80 and R100 and, I guess, R65 got the monolever in 1985. Earlier models like the /7 have two-sided swingarms and two rear shocks.

"Monolever" often refers to a 1985 and later non-GS airheads.

The GS bikes got rear drive upgrades before the road versions. They got the monolever in 1981 and the paralever in 1988 or so.

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Old 03-25-2015, 03:57 PM   #15
pwafer OP
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Originally Posted by TelemarkSean View Post
No, R80 and R100 and, I guess, R65 got the monolever in 1985. Earlier models like the /7 have two-sided swingarms and two rear shocks.

"Monolever" often refers to a 1985 and later non-GS airheads.

The GS bikes got rear drive upgrades before the road versions. They got the monolever in 1981 and the paralever in 1988 or so.
Thanks TelemarkSean! I guess my first bike will be a little less Vintage than originally anticipated but I think a good experience is more important for my first bike.
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