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Old 05-26-2013, 06:56 PM   #1
shmangzy OP
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Location: Burlington, VT
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first airhead! R75/5

Hey just bought my first airhead, 1972 SWB toaster. Rides great (i think as I don't have another to compare to but is a ton of fun and feels right) No leaking or major mechanical issues seem to be apparent. Since I picked it up I have....
replaced the tires and fluids and added a few cosmetic touches (mirrors and side covers) so were looking great! certainly not showroom but has that nicely aged look of a machine well loved and used.

So now I have two things left to do...

1. The front forks...but will deal with that at the end of the season they're not terrible but could use some love.

2. Deal with the speedo/tach (the big one)

Now when I bought the bike the tach didn't work and part of the needle was broken off, but the speedo worked although was about 10 mph fast and at times would start wavering back and forth for a bit until it steadied again. Ive been trying to figure out the best course of action. I've been thinking of either sending away the headlight unit to be repaired and fixed up at some shop (maybe palo alto, or overseas, etc) or purchasing an already re-manufactured (repaired) speedo/tach online and replacing that myself.

I guess what I'm wondering is...

1. How much does it generally cost to send away your until and have it repaired/ how long that usually takes.

2. How difficult is it to install the speedo/tach on a /5 and could someone point me to a nice thread or other website that has good directions on this subject.

Basically I want to do this the fastest way possible as the weather is too nice to have the bike sitting in my garage for too long.


Well I appreciate any information and advice.

Thanks!

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Old 05-26-2013, 06:58 PM   #2
shmangzy OP
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WOAH not sure how that picture got so big. anyways thats before I did anything to it.

Also, I forgot to mention that last night when I was riding I may have gone a little too fast and the speedo needle wobbled way too much and got stuck on the wrong side of the little needle stopper so it is now stuck there.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:07 PM   #3
Cordless
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If you send it off, check in with fellow ADVrider Wirespokes. He does great work and is a fine fellow.

There's a thread about him further down this page.

While your speedo/tach unit is away, rig up a simple bicycle speedo for $15 to give you your speed. These airheads don't really need a tachometer--in fact, the famous R80g/s didn't come with one.
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:25 PM   #4
shmangzy OP
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thanks for the tip. Ill send him a pm
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Old 05-26-2013, 07:27 PM   #5
Big Bamboo
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Just a heads up, if you ride without a functioning gen light, no charging will occur.
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:39 PM   #6
Plaka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shmangzy View Post
Hey just bought my first airhead, 1972 SWB toaster. Rides great (i think as I don't have another to compare to but is a ton of fun and feels right) No leaking or major mechanical issues seem to be apparent. Since I picked it up I have....
replaced the tires and fluids and added a few cosmetic touches (mirrors and side covers) so were looking great! certainly not showroom but has that nicely aged look of a machine well loved and used.

So now I have two things left to do...

1. The front forks...but will deal with that at the end of the season they're not terrible but could use some love.

2. Deal with the speedo/tach (the big one)

Now when I bought the bike the tach didn't work and part of the needle was broken off, but the speedo worked although was about 10 mph fast and at times would start wavering back and forth for a bit until it steadied again. Ive been trying to figure out the best course of action. I've been thinking of either sending away the headlight unit to be repaired and fixed up at some shop (maybe palo alto, or overseas, etc) or purchasing an already re-manufactured (repaired) speedo/tach online and replacing that myself.

I guess what I'm wondering is...

1. How much does it generally cost to send away your until and have it repaired/ how long that usually takes.

2. How difficult is it to install the speedo/tach on a /5 and could someone point me to a nice thread or other website that has good directions on this subject.

Basically I want to do this the fastest way possible as the weather is too nice to have the bike sitting in my garage for too long.


Well I appreciate any information and advice.

Thanks!

I wuz gonna tell you to disconnect the speedo tach immediately to avoid further damage. Anyway, do that now. Pulling the unit is easy. look in there and you will see how things go. mark wires. Replace the fuses if it has them.

Change the fork oil right away. Easy to do and again can save more costly and involved repairs. Fork oil is cheap. Drill is in your manual.

make sure rear wheel splines are lubed, hopefully when you changed the tire. Otherwise that too is an immediate need. I would say the tranny splines as well. Others have differing opinions.

My general philosophy is to avoid repairs down the road by doing the PM now. If the bike is new to you and you don't have an accurate maintenance history, do all of it. All oils, all greasing. Take you all day if you're slow.

Inspect the speedo cable boot at the transmission to make sure it isn't leaking (as in hardened up). Ditto the Drive shaft to tranny boot. (10 minutes)

If you are new to airheads the tach is important. You can live without it, but run at a higher RPM that quite feels right. If you fit a cheapo volt gauge that will tell you the important thing: When you are at high enough RPM to have charging. It's higher than feels right to the initiate. Cost you $16 and just lash it on somewhere. I found having one installed was wise---but I also toured mine cross country a lot. Ditto an oil pressure gauge.


Other than that things that need attention, like carbs and timing will announce themselves with poor running. Wouldn't hurt to set the valves because you don't know what they sound like when they're right--and if you have a tight exhaust it can burn, very expensive. Classic symptom is hard starting.

Little Seafoam in the gas to clean the carbs. Learn about tuning them (buy the bing manual). The thing may be a lot smoother than it is with them properly set. Again, a feel you don't have yet.

Put some 303 on the switch gear, Cable boots at the bar, seat, intake tubes and fork boots.
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Old 05-27-2013, 07:05 AM   #7
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Remove BOTH the speedo cable and tach cable NOW!
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:35 AM   #8
Plaka
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Remove BOTH the speedo cable and tach cable NOW!
You can make a little sleeve out of some tin can material and put that around the cable ends with duct tape to keep the spinning cables from contacting anything.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:01 AM   #9
shmangzy OP
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Thanks for all the replies. I'll be out in the garage to removing the speedo and tach cables this afternoon. And its my unserstanding I can still ride the bike like that but the meters just wont be working? is that correct?
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:03 AM   #10
kwb210
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5 United

Regarding the speedo assembly - go to this page: http://5united.org/
and then to to this section: http://5united.org/articles/ and head over to the speedo/tach rebuilding sub section. Gives you an idea of what the process involves. I have a couple of 5's and delight in riding them! One of them is in the process of a light reserrection, mostly just neglected maintenance from the prior owner. I figure if I take the time to simply do it right the bike will be set for many miles of riding. And all of the advice so far is spot on.
Regards,
Kurt
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Old 05-27-2013, 11:17 AM   #11
1911fan
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I may have the opportunity to pick up a 1972 R75/5 for a fair price. Has not run for an unknown period, but likely a year or so. PO is not around to answer questions.
I'm figuring on all the PMs plus carb cleanout. Any eccentricities I should look for before purchasing? Bike appears to be in very good condition.


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Old 05-27-2013, 01:40 PM   #12
disston
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Possibly two R75/5's.

Appearance should tell the story. Shmangzy can see where to start. Headlight speedo & tach.

How many miles on the one you are looking at 1911fan? Will you be able to test ride or this comes home in a truck first? The second may be preferred because the oils should probably be changed before riding. Still if it's only been parked for a year the oil is not all that bad. If any gas in the tank through it away and drain the float bowls of the carbs. Rinse tank and replace fuel lines. If bike has near or over 100K then pay special attention to the transmission and clutch. You may want to do a compression test. If the family has any records in the way of receipts these could help immensely to know what has been done recently to the bike.

The Airheads are slow by modern standards. Do not expect to change this with any sort of reasonable amount of money. Hot Rod Airheads cost six times more money than they are worth and then they will still loose to last years hot seller. Look to put what ever it is in good running stock configuration and then see if you like the style. It either appeals to you or not.

The /5's have that front drum brake and then only a year or two later BMW had the Ate disc set up for the Airheads. Don't let it fool you. The /5 drum twin leading shoe will out perform most Ate disk set ups. Neither will compare to really good modern brakes.

Where do the Airheads come out ahead? I often tell my friends I'll race you. Let's start right now and from the East Coast, where I am, the first one in San Francisco wins. So far I've had no takers but they get the idea.
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Old 05-27-2013, 06:26 PM   #13
1911fan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disston View Post
How many miles on the one you are looking at 1911fan? Will you be able to test ride or this comes home in a truck first? The second may be preferred because the oils should probably be changed before riding. Still if it's only been parked for a year the oil is not all that bad. If any gas in the tank through it away and drain the float bowls of the carbs. Rinse tank and replace fuel lines. If bike has near or over 100K then pay special attention to the transmission and clutch. You may want to do a compression test. If the family has any records in the way of receipts these could help immensely to know what has been done recently to the bike.
It'll be a pig in a poke, I'll go pick it up and take it from there. The famous 'ran well when it was parked' applies here, and the PO may or may not have kept any records, or maintained it. Mileage is a mystery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by disston View Post
The Airheads are slow by modern standards. Do not expect to change this with any sort of reasonable amount of money. Hot Rod Airheads cost six times more money than they are worth and then they will still loose to last years hot seller. Look to put what ever it is in good running stock configuration and then see if you like the style. It either appeals to you or not.
Yeah. My dad had an R6 (?) back in the day, nice ride but not quick. It was fast though, given time.

I think it will be a nice ride.... I was not looking for it, and it may or may not fall into my lap. Not real sure I can afford the process of making it run; current condition is cosmetically nice according to pics. Maybe it just needs a battery.

Mrs 1911fan misses her Guzzi, and this will be more of a street ride for her. I am looking forward to riding it, too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by disston View Post
The /5's have that front drum brake and then only a year or two later BMW had the Ate disc set up for the Airheads. Don't let it fool you. The /5 drum twin leading shoe will out perform most Ate disk set ups. Neither will compare to really good modern brakes.
All good info. Speaking of which, are there any online resources I should know about?


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Old 05-27-2013, 07:25 PM   #14
Plaka
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disston View Post
Possibly two R75/5's.

Appearance should tell the story. Shmangzy can see where to start. Headlight speedo & tach.

How many miles on the one you are looking at 1911fan? Will you be able to test ride or this comes home in a truck first? The second may be preferred because the oils should probably be changed before riding. Still if it's only been parked for a year the oil is not all that bad. If any gas in the tank through it away and drain the float bowls of the carbs. Rinse tank and replace fuel lines. If bike has near or over 100K then pay special attention to the transmission and clutch. You may want to do a compression test. If the family has any records in the way of receipts these could help immensely to know what has been done recently to the bike.

The Airheads are slow by modern standards. Do not expect to change this with any sort of reasonable amount of money. Hot Rod Airheads cost six times more money than they are worth and then they will still loose to last years hot seller. Look to put what ever it is in good running stock configuration and then see if you like the style. It either appeals to you or not.

The /5's have that front drum brake and then only a year or two later BMW had the Ate disc set up for the Airheads. Don't let it fool you. The /5 drum twin leading shoe will out perform most Ate disk set ups. Neither will compare to really good modern brakes.

Where do the Airheads come out ahead? I often tell my friends I'll race you. Let's start right now and from the East Coast, where I am, the first one in San Francisco wins. So far I've had no takers but they get the idea.
Heck, I can stand in Denver and tell 'em first one to take a bite of the dark chocolate pate at the counter at the ChocolateSmith in Santa Fe wins. No takers.

Maybe it's the 8 gal. fuel capacity? I can, theoretically, just squeak it without putting my feet down.
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:08 AM   #15
disston
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1911fan View Post


All good info. Speaking of which, are there any online resources I should know about?


1911fan
There are many sources. Start with Duane Ausherman's info. He does mostly /2's but updates to the /5's & /6's which is the next thing. What I like about Duane's site is that I seem to get an understanding of principles instead of just replacing parts.

http://w6rec.com/

For general reading on any topic check out Snowbum. He is considered the expert on many subjects.

http://bmwmotorcycletech.info/

His stuff can seem daunting and hard to grasp. He's a smart guy and like some smart guys his mind races around. You'll get used to it some but when you burn out skip over to something else. Return to the Tech pages after a breather.

I think everybodies favorite is also on the Adventure Forum. He's Anton Largiader.

http://www.largiader.com/

Hang around you'll meet plenty of knowledgeable people on this list. A lot of personalities too.

All three of these people mentioned are ones we have bestowed the title of Guru on. There are also some others with this title and they can be found on the Airlist mostly. If you need help finding that write me a PM and I'll tell you where it is and also try to talk you into joining the Airheads Biker Club. Not needed BTW but you get the magazine with membership and most think that that rag is worth the price of admission because it contains the writings of Oak Oklesen.
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