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Old 07-14-2012, 09:08 AM   #1
red450 OP
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Location: Naptown, IN
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opinion on 81 R65

I've been bitten by the airhead bug and I found a 1981 R65 for $1700.

I saw it in person (did not ride it today) and talked with the owner for quite a while. He said the carbs need attention because the idle has been all over the place, sometimes too low, sometimes stuck high. I've done basic carb work on my bike in the past, so I'm not too intimidated by it.

I would be selling my current bike (1993 Yamaha XJ600) to fund this bike, so I'm kind of torn between the urge I have for a BMW and the fact that my bike is a good runner.

This would be a commuter, light back road touring and all around bike.

Any input/opinions are appreciated!
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Old 07-14-2012, 11:05 AM   #2
tathambenjamin
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I love my R65, as I enjoyed My R100 before that. However, you can't ignore the fact that a bike that old will need sorting. My current BMW is also an 81 and I have owned it for a year. It is in beautiful cosmetic shape and has had just two owners prior to me who put on a total of 15k. In the year I have owned the bike I have found several issues that will run easily into the hundreds of dollars- the little things add up.

Most of these are small items that seem to come from sitting and not having been ridden enough. Here's my list of things that need doing (I mention them because they are common with BMW's of this age).

1) Various gaskets and seals including the rear main seal are leaking at least a little.
2) Center stud on right cylinder stripped from previous owner over-tightening.
3) Final drive level check bolt is stripped and needs repair
3) Exhaust fins were frozen on and one of the exhaust outlets will likely need to be repaired as a result
4) Exhaust clamps and header crossover are rusted/ baked together form heat cycling
5) handlebar master cylinder has developed a small leak and will require a rebuild/ repaint of the brake lever and control

As I said, there is some work here, but most of these are things I can do as I ride, and the bike still performs beautifully in the mean time. I like the R65 more than the R100- it winds up a little quicker, the clutch pull is lighter, the braking better, and the handling is a little quicker. Take your time and try to be aware of as many of the neccesary repairs as you can- I like my bike a lot, but it is better to know what the issues are than to be surprised by them on the road.
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Old 07-14-2012, 12:11 PM   #3
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The R65 models are undervalued, but are starting to finally be appreciated for the solid machines that they really are.
81 is a good year, the earlier (79 & 80) models are fine too, but 81 was a much better machine.
You didn't mention price, sometimes it's too much, sometimes not, depends on the bike and current condition.
The idle irregularities doesn't always mean the carbs are bad. There are other likely candidates as well. Vacuum leaks, tight valves, sticking advance mechanism, maybe more.
I would want to know the compression on both cylinders before plunking down cash, and in order to do this correctly, you either have to remove the carbs or take off the rear snorkels and lift the slides manually. The throttle cables will not do it due to the fact that the carbs are of the constant vacuum type, ie, the skides are attached to diaphragms that engine vacuum is involved in lifting them up when the engine is running. Also it's a good idea to adjust the valves before performing the test and also before attempting to synch the carbs. The rubbers that mount the carbs to the cylinder tends to get old and crack, often causing a major vacuum leak as well.
when you perform the compression test, you want the numbers from each side to be fairly close to each other.
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Old 07-14-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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IMO '81 to '84 are the model years to have. In my experience, nine out of ten high idlers I have run into are fixed simply by readjusting the carbs correctly. R65's carb idle setting are a bit more finicky for them usually being run harder and hotter than other models.
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:07 PM   #5
boney
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Quote:
Originally Posted by red450 View Post
I've been bitten by the airhead bug and I found a 1981 R65 for $1700.

I saw it in person (did not ride it today) and talked with the owner for quite a while. He said the carbs need attention because the idle has been all over the place, sometimes too low, sometimes stuck high. I've done basic carb work on my bike in the past, so I'm not too intimidated by it.

I would be selling my current bike (1993 Yamaha XJ600) to fund this bike, so I'm kind of torn between the urge I have for a BMW and the fact that my bike is a good runner.

This would be a commuter, light back road touring and all around bike.

Any input/opinions are appreciated!

Is Naptown Napa by any chance? Here's a reference number for you. Mrs. Boney and I just picked up an R65 out of SF. It's got 50,xxx miles, runs great and idles well once it's warm. OTOH, the paint is only okay and all the aluminum is well patina'd. Missing side covers etc. >$1800< Not that we haven't dropped $500 into it for small things like a right side mirror, rebuild kits for the front calipers, a side stand etc.
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Old 07-16-2012, 05:05 AM   #6
red450 OP
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Thanks for all the replies!


Naptown is Indianapolis. I'm going to have to do some serious pondering about this bike. Whether it's this R65 or another model, I want an airhead in the garage.
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Old 07-16-2012, 08:24 AM   #7
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Go for it! They're great bikes and that's a decent price. 81 was also the only year to come standard with dual front discs.

If you'd give us an in-depth evaluation of the bike, we could better advise you. Does everything work? Any noises when running? Transmission whine? Shifts easily? Vibrations? Gauges operate properly? Odometer works as it should?

And take some pix for us. Detailed pix.

This is a much better machine than the yamaha and will do all that you mentioned.
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:12 AM   #8
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Go for it!

It is a 30 yr old bike and there will be some work I am sure. But it is fairly easy to do ( there has been good advice - compression check would be sweet). Beside part of owning an Airhead is to get into it - once you do you will never leave.
Bought a 83' R65 for my son as his second bike- he loves it and I use any excuse to jump on it and go for short - medium and long trips. It will do everything you ask as is light and quick handling enough to make it fun on the twisties too.
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:17 AM   #9
WRC51
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Iam in the same boat as the OP, bought a KLR with the intention of doing mostly back and off roads. But it hasnt worked out that way and find my self doing longer stints on the freeways to get to distance places. I also would rather ride than wrench at this point in my life, but most of the bikes that can be bought new today just dont have any "soul". Iam holdoing out for a 90-95 R100GSPD but there have been some very nice and fairly priced early (70s ) airheads on CL lately tring to push me over the edge. Iam thinking sell the KLR, pickup one the the CL bikes and really see if it is the bike for me. I have learned quite abit from the Airheads threads the past few months, and the search continues.
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Old 07-17-2012, 07:38 PM   #10
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It could be a very nice and dependable bike, but it will take some work to get it that way - hopefully not alot. But, if you aren't comfortable with doing your own work, it may be out of your price range to pay to have things done - and sadly, there are fewer and fewer shops that know how to work on these bikes , even if the shop does have that blue and white rondel on the door.

But, fear not, for support teams you have this group here, the BMWMOA forum (if you join them) and we have an entire (free) forum dedicated to the R45/R65 bikes, feel free to come on over to bmwr65.org and check it out!
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:02 AM   #11
WRC51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nhmaf View Post
It could be a very nice and dependable bike, but it will take some work to get it that way - hopefully not alot. But, if you aren't comfortable with doing your own work, it may be out of your price range to pay to have things done - and sadly, there are fewer and fewer shops that know how to work on these bikes , even if the shop does have that blue and white rondel on the door.

But, fear not, for support teams you have this group here, the BMWMOA forum (if you join them) and we have an entire (free) forum dedicated to the R45/R65 bikes, feel free to come on over to bmwr65.org and check it out!
Thanks for the invite, I have no problem with doing the work(I was into Aircooled VWs for about 20+ years and was a Cat. HD repairman for 35 years before I retired). Thankfully there is a local airhead shop in Eureka that I have heard great things about, you are correct this fourm and a few others I have been visiting have great info. Thanks Bill
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Old 07-24-2012, 12:10 PM   #12
red450 OP
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Thanks again for all the input. The R65 is still for sale but due to some financial issues, I won't be bike shopping until Sept. If it hasn't sold, I'm going to jump all over it.
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