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Honda CB750 or BMW R65?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by jd, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. Okay not particularly committed to either bike but browsing the usual classifieds and I've noticed there's one of each for sale locally and would appreciate any advice on whether either would make a suitable commuter/tourer.
    The Honda in question is an '82 model ex-Police bike which has (supposedly) done 30,000 since having the engine fully reco'd - the only thing that worries me there is just how long an engine can last after a rebuild. The main thing is though that it's cheap (only a thousand bucks) and looks the sort of thing that'd be fairly easy to work on and get parts for. I'm just worried that since the engines already been rebuilt once that it, or other parts like the gearbox, might not have much life left in them. Is this a valid concern or not? Also worried that some parts may be difficult/expensive to track down (it apparently needs new fork seals and the brakes "need work").
    Also noticed that there's a BMW R65 for sale with 70,000 kms though I don't really know much about these, and I worry that finding parts in Ballarat might be an issue. It's also 3 times the price of the Honda which makes me wonder if it would be a better option than just buying the Honda and spending 2 grand on fixing it up. Also not sure if 70k is considered high kms for one of these bikes or not.
    Most of my riding tends to be more straight line stuff on the highway carting luggage or basic commuting so as much as I'd like something light and fun for the few corners I do find I'm beginning to think something larger and more stable is probably a more sensible option (though I do worry about scraping the cylinder heads with the BMW). Basically what I'm after is something that I can ride everyday and at the same time gradually improve/restore (I'll save major work for the winter time if possible) so any thoughts on which bike might be the better option and what sorts of things I should be checking and/or looking for would be appreciated.

  2. JD, talk to TonyE about R65s, also Brian26146 in Taralgon, he has one too.

    And you can talk to farawayman about ex-police bikes; he has a K100 :).
  3. Go the BM.

    Spares won't be a problem. Everything is available and mail-order from either Munich Motorcycles in Perth or Motohansa in Qld is your friend.

    The BMW will be made of much nicer materials than the Honda. The early 80s were Honda's lowest point regarding quality. The Honda's from that era that I've worked on appear to be constructed from cheese and baked bean cans, whereas BM have always used really nice ally and steel (no seized or rounded bolts).

    Can you be sure the rebuild on the Honda was done properly? If the owner's letting it go for a grand, it may be that a "full reco" was actually new rings and valve-guide seals and maybe a cam-chain tensioner.

    70,000 kms isn't excessive for a BMW boxer. If and when it does finally need attention, they're a piece of the proverbial to work on and, like I said, parts are available and (contrary to popular belief) comparable in price to a lot of Jap stuff.

    If you can scrape the heads on a Boxer (without falling off) you'd better start thinking about taking up racing 'cos you're championship material. On any kind of twisties, an R65 will walk away from a CB750, assuming good condition stock suspension. On straight roads the Honda will run quicker quarter miles but I doubt if you'd see much advantage in point to point times on real world roads.

    The BM will probably never have been owned by a hoon and is more tolerant of neglect. A poor oil-change regime will write of a CB750's head , rendering the bike beyond economic repair. The BM remains rebuildable due to replaceable bearings everywhere. They tend to be owned by obsessive types anyway and don't get neglected like cheap ageing Japs anyway.

    On the Honda, be deeply suspicious of top end noise. Knackered fork seals may mean that the fork legs are also shot (pitting or rust). Brakes needing work could mean anything from new pads and fresh fluid, through weeping seals and spongy hoses to a real horror story needing complete replacement of cylinders, calipers and rotors due to wear and corrosion. Potentially VERY expensive. Assume the worst. For a grand, I'd also expect to have to change the chain and sprox and, probably, new tyres 'cos bikes that cheap are usually shod with lethal rubbish, below even Cheng Shin in performance.

    The R65 doesn't have many specific weak points. Charging systems can fail although the fix is not difficult or expensive (according to a more boxer savvy mate). A general check of condition, as you would do for any prospective purchase, should reveal most nasties.

    Bear in mind that BMWs require a long acclimatisation period to get the best out of them so it might not feel entirely familiar or comfortable on the test ride. You WILL find the gearchange slow and clunky (they're all like that sir), requiring firm and positive shifting, feeling for the gear going in. The brakes won't be stonewall standard but shouldn't scare you, and the engine is a relatively old-tech air cooled twin so a little mechanical noise is to be expected. Tappet rattle is not the portent of doom that it would be on a Jap four.

    As for gradual improvement, take it from one who's been there that the best bike to start with is not necessarily the cheapest. That apparent bargain can very easily turn out to be a rolling scrapheap, with every single moving part completely worn out and requiring replacement. It's pretty soul destroying. Particularly when you realise you've sunk enough money into it to buy a mint Laverda Jota and it's STILL a piece of sh*t :cry: .
  4. Thanks for the brilliant reply PatB. :grin:
    I do suspect that the Honda's "rebuild" was just rings and valves since they're specifically mentioned in the ad and, to be honest, the idea of riding a Honda does give me kind of a dirty feeling (and not the good kind either :LOL:).
    Looks like I might have to give the R65 a closer look. It did seem to have a bit of a rust problem from the photos but as long as it's not affecting important parts I don't think that should be a problem (actually been looking for an excuse to try a bit of electroless nickel plating :)).
  5. I'd try haggling on the BM if it's a bit rusty.

    I'm not completely up on values for the little boxer but I think three grand should get you quite a nice one.

    Where is the rust? My K100 has cast-iron front discs that go brown if a hamster spits on 'em, so that's not too worrisome.

    Elsewhere on the bike, I'm not sure. However, based, again, on my old and battlescarred K, BMW materials are sufficiently good quality that surface corrosion remains just that (apart from K100 centrestands :evil: ). All that seems to happen after the paint falls off is that the steel develops a protective orange coating and doesn't get any worse.

    I would be slightly concerned if the sliding areas of the fork stanchions show any rust pitting. Replacement stanchions could be spendy. Check prices with Munich or Motohansa and regard it as a haggling point. What am I saying though? It's a BM so it'll probably have gaiters to ward off such horrors :) .

    Don't get me wrong, Honda have produced some good, nay, legendary bikes. But a tired old early 80s CB750 won't be one of them.
  6. Rust seems to be mainly in the headlight bracket and other bits of chromework though looks to be just shallow surface rust so probably wouldn't be too hard to just clean up and paint/plate. It's the rust you can't see that I usually worry about more ;). I agree that it's probably not worth 3k but I'll see if I can get the price down, otherwise I guess I'll just keep looking. Least I know now not to bother looking at CB750s at least.
  7. Not at all biased, are you? Too bad BMW's of that age can have all the faults (and more)you seem to relegate to the Honda.
    But we all know BMW owners do not talk about the problems their bikes have, don't we?

    Regards, Andrew.
  8. I'd be quite happy to talk about problems with my BMs but there haven't been many. The bikes haven't been minters either.

    I've owned both BMWs and early 80s Hondas. The BMs have been a whole lot cheaper to run than the products of the Big H and, due to the vastly superior materials used in their construction, have been much pleasanter to fix on the rare occasions they have gone wrong.

    My one major BMW expense was when the K100's final drive shat itself due to 175,000 kms of a previous owners neglect. Fixed in less than a day, using new and as-new used parts available off the shelf locally, for $750.

    By contrast, my early 80s Honda experiences have been epics of struggling with round headed bolts welded into furry, crumbly alloy or revolting, cheap, unweldable steel, to remove unrepairable components replacements for which will take several months to arrive on the slow boat from Japan and whose prices will require me to sell my firstborn for medical experiments.


    You bet.

    And yes, any 25 year old bike can have any number of faults. Careful inspection is the order of the day.

    I just happen to believe that, for an older bike with a view to long term ownership and improvement, the BM is a better proposition.
  9. And another thing :) .

    You'll note that I admitted to Honda having produced some excellent bikes too, so I'm not completely one eyed. I've spruiked the GPZ900R and various GSXRs elsewhere as well.

    Not so very long ago I almost paid $1500 for an old GS1000. Mechanically it was excellent, with good rubber, near new C & S and various little bits and bobs that showed it had been looked after. Only major faults were a dented GSX tank instead of the original and some bloody silly T-bars that would have had to go. I didn't clinch the deal for reasons unconnected to the bike. I heard it eventually went for $990 (from a dealer too) so somebody got a bargain.

    I guess my point is that, in the 25 y.o. bike lottery (and it is a lottery when all's said and done) I personally would rather go for something that is more likely to have had caring owners (no guarantees though), for which I know I can get spares without hassle and which was designed with durability (as opposed to reliability which is a different beast altogether) in mind.

    However, if you really want an older Jap four (and I'll admit to soft spots for the aforesaid bikes, the coffin tanked Kwak Z1R and the blacker than black Yam XS1.1S) there are better places to start than an obviously tired CB750 that's had stop-gap top end work.

    My experience of Suzukis and Kwakas of the era suggests that they used nicer materials than Honda and were less prone to the use of whizz-bang new innovations that were great 'til the warranty ran out and then proved to be a pain in the arse.

    Some of the less desirable GS/GSX Suzis and big Zeds are still dirt cheap, and even in WA people are practically giving away ex-plod XJ750 Yams (though I'm not keen myself), any of which will be a better bike than the CB.

    Now if it had been a CBX1000...... :grin: .
  10. I wouldn't buy either of them if you want cheap and trouble free motoring. CB750's of that era have an average reputation. The R65's have an exaggerated reputation for reliability courtesy of the earlier, tougher R60's. Keep in mind, $3000 isn't necessarily a reflection that the boxer is in good condition, even poor one's go for that much.
    Spending $2000 on the honda will give you a better bike than the BMW.

    I like old, big jap four's. They're very fast and very fun. What do you get for $3000 if you buy an old 650 boxer? For $3000 you could have an immaculate 1982 CB900, and then you have 95hp.

    There are only two good reasons to buy a machine this old:
    1. It's a classic you've adored and always wanted since you were a small boy.
    2. You want to go very fast for very little money. If it blows up, at least you can say I saw the good side of 200km/h on a 25 year old bike.

    If you can't justify it by these criteria, you're probally better off with a newish 250 commuter imo, or save a bit more and get something new and nice.
  11. I like big old Jap fours too. I just consider that the rest of the Big Four all offered better bikes than anything Honda managed to produce at the time.

    Back when I started riding, I had a few tired, middle aged Hondas. The reason I had them was 'cos they were cheaper than the equivalent Suzis, Kwaks and Yams. After owning some, I worked out why :grin: .

    If you really want an old Honda four, buy one of the single-cam models from the 70s. 400, 500, 550, 750 (650 seems to be a bit of an orphan). Vastly better materials than they started using later ('78 or so seems to be the cutoff year) and a bit of genuine classic status.

    Yes, BMs are a bit of an accqired taste and the 650's not the pick of the bunch, but I still reckon that, as a long term bike, they're a good bet if not completely shagged out.

    A lot depends on what you mean by a "better" bike I suppose.
  12. I like some of the big old jap fours myself, particularly the GS1100 (and of course Katana). Only real problem I have with buying one is that most are ridiculously heavy, hence why I'm looking more at the 500-900cc range. Plus I figure for a given price it's better to go for a smaller bike in better condition than to go for some large bike that's nearly stuffed simply because it can do 200kph (my car will do more than that anyway).
    Still you do make a good point Kols in that I'm really not that excited by an R65 (or any other BMW to be honest) so might have to keep looking. Never would have thought that finding a decent, cheap, mid-sized bike would be so difficult. Guess that's the result of not having had LAMs in this state.
  13. Hunt up one of the GS550/650/750/850 range. Bullet proof, cheap, good looking, decent handling (by twin-shock four standards, and anything still running will have had the electrics sorted out by now.

    A dealer over here had a '77 or '78 GS750 in a few months ago. Only slightly short of immaculate and only $2200.

    Was sorely tempted myself but it wasn't worth the divorce :grin: .
  14. CB750 is a 4 cylinder engine. You can only rebuild these with up to a certain rebore ring size as the cylinder walls can only be rebored so far as not to be weakend between cylinders. If engine was rebored when rebuilt, find out what oversize rings were fitted and find out how many more rebores can be done in future before you go too far
  15. So what if the guy had posted up he wanted a Z650 or GTR, and to be honest surprised you didn't recommend one :wink:

    FWIW, I really enjoyed PatB's informative threads. I'd love to get an older classic, Z900's & Ducs are too expensive but a Katana, XS1100, Z1300 - naked or bikini fairing :cool:
  16. I've owned both an R65 and a selection of older jap 4's, and did a fair bit of riding on a CB900 (which is very similar to the CB750) so I don't think I'm biased one way or the other.

    One thing you need to take into consideration is that parts for the R65 are still generally obtainable (if somewhat slow to get) whereas lots of bits and pieces for the early CB750's will be made of unobtainium by now.

    The other point is that the early CB750 was probably one of the more uninspiring bikes that Honda made, not the lowest point but getting down in the basement.

    If you really want an older Honda have a look around for a CBX750, which is a much much much (did I say much?) much better bike. Better lights, better handling, more durable motor, better _everything_.

    And if you want a Beemer... well personally I reckon the R80 is a much nicer bike than the R65 (but they do tend to cost more).

    My answer? I wouldn't buy either the R65 or the CB750.
  17. Yep, that's what I'm thinking now. Did see a first generation Honda VF750 for sale cheap, but I know enough to know to stay well away from those :wink: .