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What bike is good for lots of kays - 100,000+ ?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by QuarterWit, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. Hello Boys and Girls!

    In the coming year It looks like i'm getting on top of my finances, which means that I can get another toy to stuff around with. I'm thinking of getting something that's a polar opposite of my bike for long distance rides - two days or so, up to Sydney and back and so on.

    What kind of kays do you have on yours, and your mates bike? I'm trying to keep an eye out for ones that can have a few kilometers on the clock and still keep thundering on.

    I've heard the ZZR1100 is excellent at this - and easy to work on too. A customer I was speaking to the other day said the clutch basket pops out nice and easily etc.

    The other one I've been thinking of, and there'd be something charming about it - is the ol' BMW R65 or similar. Spannerman, who's in the SR500 club could ride just about anything he wanted to on any day, but he's always putting around on a crappy old boxer twin. I've also seen ones with mega, mega miles on them still kicking.

    Whatever I get will probably be cosmetically ratshit, or end up that way because I'll ride it on the days the SR doesn't make it out.

    Now the catch - looking to spend around 3k. I'm also budgeting on the second hand bike market dropping in the next year - but I really think that'll be more sportsbikes, Harleys etc as people have to sell off their toys to keep themselves going.

  2. VFR 750 gear driven cams last forever and sound awesome with the right pipe.
    Any bmw r or k series
    all within your price range.
    if you are willing to spend more then the 1998 vfr 800 with the gear driven cams will last forever.
  3. The Yamaha XJ900, the Kawasaki GTR1000, the BMW K100, K75, R65.

    You'll notice a common theme here... all these bikes are low stressed tourers that are designed first to go long distances rather than first to go fast.

    That means that on average the motors and running gear tends to last longer.

    *edited because I didn't notice the $3k limit at first*.
  4. Having owned a K100 and currently owning an R65LS I can assure you that either of these fit the bill. Old K's in particular are extraordinarily robust providing you make sure the drive shafts are properly greased on a regular basis. (Not much more difficult than oiling a chain)

    My brother-in-law had an R75/5 that was toured, production raced for 3 years and toured again - the only problem was a minor diode problem and replacing the rocker covers on a regular basis after he'd ground through them. It's now in the hands of my nephew who has fully restored it after about 120,000 kms. 75/5's are now getting expensive but an R65 or R80 will last for many years.

    There's a plethora of information available for both and lots of parts - secondhand and new available. For good information check out the Internet BMW Riders.
  5. I thought that too, Paul, but i've found two ZZR's for sale, both around '96 or '97 models with 80-90k's on them. Passed them up as the cash isn't in my hand as yet...

    Keep the ideas coming!
  6. :LOL:, well, I've done over 1200 kays in a day on a ten-year old 600 Hornet, and it's a lot more fun from day to day than a big heavy 1100.....
  7. Yeah, but they hold their value too well!

    Whatever I get isn't going to be a commuter, strickly weekends away and some two up riding.

    Perhaps even a ratbike!
  8. For that money I'd be looking at older K100s as, given regular oil changes, the engine is good for at least 400,000 kms. Parts are easy and, contrary to popular belief, not cripplingly expensive. Easy to work on too.

    Surprisingly quick point to point as well.

    Only trouble is, unless you're lucky enough to get one with "S" forks and a decent rear shock, they're a bit mushy and unpleasant to ride. Very much an accquired taste.

    Funnily enough, if you were local, I know where just such a beast resides, along with most of a second one :grin: .

    Otherwise, for cheap, comfortable muscle, it's hard to go past the old GSX1100F. Bullet proof GSXR1100 lump, big fairing, comfy ergonomics and an electric screen. What more could you possibly want :grin: ? Not that common, but I've seen a 'em up for sale now and again for very low prices ($2000-2500) considering the amount of metal you get.
  9. Budget a couple of hundred bucks for rebuilding the rear shocks for a K100. Redo the fork oil and seals and they are a very good ride.

    A plus is that the BMWMCCVIC has bimonthly workshop days with all the special tools and expertise you'll ever need.
  10. Pretty much every multi-cylinder bike on the market built in the last 15 years by any of the major manufacturers will last well over 100,000kms.
  11. Yeah, as long as it isn't too highly stressed.

    My main concern isn't neccesarily how many k's it reaches, but how easily. Shit, something like an RGV250 would make it that far, with countless dollars spent on it.

    I suppose I'm more looking at the ease at which it does the kilometers, and what support network is available. I'm pretty hopeless mechanically, but if somebody is available to show me stuff, or it's a common model and there's videos/walkthroughs online. The K series might be the go.

    My only concern with those models of beemer is that I do hear people slag them off, but occasionally, people who know what they're talking about. I work with a guy who was a bike mechanic for nearly 10 years, and he doesn't think highly of them - he states electrical problems which he just couldn't get his head around. Any experience with these?
  12. I have some thoughts on all three since we have one of each in the garage at present.

    K100RS. I bought one of these having commuted on a 250 trailie when living in the city. Now 40km from the city I needed something bigger. I bought a 1985 K100RS with 85,000km on it. I went for a K having read up on them and they matched my needs - big, comfortable, competent and cheap to ride and run. Even though it was 21 years old at the time, it still ran well but needed lots of attention to minor details. Plenty of the rubber components were stuffed purely because of age. Brakes needed new master cyls front and back, many of the little grommets and seals on the engine cases were perished and all the fluids needed doing. There were some minor electrical issues to sort too. Stock suspension was woefully soft for riding at speed in the hills, but fantastic on the freeway or in town.

    I fiddled with fork oils but ended up taking the plunge and added a set of heavier fork springs and a s/hand Koni rear shock because at the time the bike was being used two up with two big people on it. This transformed the bike completely and was money well spent.

    In spite of it's size, the K is an excellent town bike. Riding position is great, mirrors give you very good vision and they have quite a bit of presence on the road. First gear is fairly low and there is no "snatch" at all from neutral to first because of the single plate dry clutch. The 8 valve motor has bucket loads of grunt down low and the fuel injection is brilliant. They are quite frugal with fuel, because the fuel injection shuts down completely when you roll the throttle off above 2000 rpm, and only cuts back in at 2000 or below to stop you stalling.

    They ARE remarkably easy to maintain, but there are a few catches. Valve clearances and plugs can be done without the removal of ANY fairing parts, and even though the valves are shimmed they can have the shims changed with everything in place. I have made a couple of tools to facilitate this, but to be honest they need changing so infrequently it's amazing. Fluids are separate engine, gearbox and final drive oils, coolant and brake fluid. The engines alone take close to 4 litres of regular car type oil. The fuel injection system is quite sophisticated, but the only (infrequent) tuning required is synchronisation of the throttle bodies, and I use a home made manometer to do it in about 5 mins. The catches are that the clutch splines need greasing approximately every 12 months (5-6 hour job that can easily be done at home) and the final drive spines need greasing about every 20,000km (1 hour job). Both of these are no brainers after the first time.

    General thoughts, some negative. They are a BIG bike. If you are short, forget it. If you have dicky knees, forget it. If you are none of these things, you will become accustomed to the weight in no time.

    They all have a tendency to blow smoke at start up if parked on the side stand. That's why you'll seldom see them parked that way. If parked on the side stand, the oil trapped behind the pistons on shut down weeps through the ring gaps and into the combustion chamber. BMW rectified that with pinned rings later on, but not before making more than 50,000 of them that would smoke. The solution is either to park on centre stand, or lean bike to right when shutting down and wait for oil to drain. Both work.

    They are a hot bike in summer. Fine if moving, but if in town they will keep you very warm.

    They will also get you a surprising amount of attention because they were so popular for so long.

    The standard BMW luggage is great, and because they were made in such huge numbers for so long parts are actually VERY easy to come by. The faired K's don't crash well, and that combined with mechanical longevity means that if you really want to be tight you can keep one going indefinitely since damaged ones are sold for a song.

    I love mine, but I am going to have to sell it... but it will be reluctantly. I bought it with the intention of finding a cheap way into big bike land while managing a mortgage and my own business. I was going to keep it until it died, but then something else came along too good to pass up - more later on that! If you are interested in chatting more about the K's feel free to PM me.

    1985 R65. I learned to ride this bike when I was an early teenage kid since it was my Dad's second coming to motorcycles. It soon became too small for two up riding with two big people on it and was garaged. I earmarked it for restoration as a first road bike for my partner having rescued it from poor storage and neglect at the farm. What should have been a simple major service turned into close to a complete rebuild to cure age related problems. Both cylinders were pulled down after removal of carbs for cleaning revealed a rusty LH intake valve stem. This turned into pitted valve seats and the other head was pulled to check.

    About $1200 worth of parts including new tyres, rings, brake pads, front disc, front wheel, steering head bearings, carbie parts, some electrics, head work and some lily guilding were thrown at it, and some hundreds of hours in the shed. We did it all ourselves bar the valve seat reconditioning and it now runs like a "new" old bike.

    They are a classic machine, with real organic motorcycle personality. They do require constant attention, but it's not hard to give. They have good days and better days. They are very modest performers, but handle very well. The steering is very light and neutral, and the power output is perfect for town riding. They will tour and handle freeway running, but they are more at home in the city or in tootle mode out of town purely because they are a 230kg bike with about 45HP in tip top shape. The bigger R80s and R100s are a different caper all together for touring though, albeit at the expense of town running. The R65s are not a bike to ride if you are in a hurry to get somewhere far away. The basic R65 twin shock models have a single front disc and they are a long way from what your average modern brakes. You have to plan to stop in advance. They just take longer. The R65LS models all had twin front brakes and single sided swing arms. The braking is better (still rear drums though), and the handling is different but certainly no worse.

    The old timers with BMWs will tell you that you that airheads never die, but they do end up a little like Grandpa's axe if you keep them long enough. If you have no mechanical aptitude, don't buy one. If you have even a modicum of mechanical curiosity and ability you'll be fine. They do take more to keep them running than the K engines, but that "more" is just smaller things more often. They started in 1979 and changed a number of mechanical things over the years. Some models will have a likelihood to experience valve seat recession, but it's hard to get a straight answer on which models because there was a transitional range of VIN numbers where different valve seat materials were used. Rebuilding heads is expensive on the airheads and is best left to those who work on BMWs specifically. The up side is that if you have one with recession problems, provided it is not stuffed when you buy it, it's likely to take a while to be a problem - you'll know by how quickly your valves tighten.

    The good ones are now likely to be more expensive than a K the same age. The R65 is a shorter stroke motor than the R80 and R100 engines. The carbs, barrels, pistons, exhausts, headers, cranks and rods (I think), wheels, brakes, forks, rear end and a few other things are model specific. The R65LS shares more components with the other models though.

    I am very attached to it for sentimental reasons, but more importantly it is something my partner loves to ride and is attached to. It's on the not to be sold list. Plenty of other owners of airhead BMWs will say the same, and that's the trouble with them. There are cheapies, but you can buy a lot of trouble if you are unlucky and pick up the wrong one from the back of the wrong neglected shed. To get a good one these days you'll need to find a long term owner/appreciator who is getting out of bikes for keeps. Most who still have one now will have chosen to keep it until the apocalypse. But more on that with the VFR to come...
  13. There's a diode problem with early 70's R's. The K's have a speedo and instrument issue - there's a lot of fixes for this on the K bike forums and sites. The only electrical problem I had was when I put heated grips on the K and it shorted. :oops:

    Have a look at http://www.ibmwr.org/ktech.shtml for a good overview of K series technical info and possible issues. You'll note thqt there's not a lot of really serious break down type issues with K's. If my financial controller allowed me - I'd buy another one tomorrow.
  14. Some comments QW before I post on the VFR...

    In terms of online knowledge base, you'll be AMAZED by the number of support/self service sites and fora when it comes to Beemers. http://www.ibmwr.org/ is a perfect place to start. There are plenty of die hard owners in the US who have been extremely generous with their time to me. Half of them are over 50 and stunned that in this day and age someone in their 20's bought a K100 of some sort. They certainly were with me when I bought mine in 2006.

    The K bikes are electrically complex in one sense, but actually quite robust. Nearly everything is controlled by the ECU and this is where people get stuck. If you have a faulty connection somewhere, like all computers you get rubbish out if you put rubbish in. If you have electrical gremlins, 99% of the time they come down to a wiring issue, but you need to know how to read a schematic diagram to resolve them. No schematic makes it hard to debug because so many things are dependent on seemingly unrelated things.

    Example - I noticed my blinkers stopped working one day. Not one, ALL of them. Headlight wouldn't work either. When you turn the ignition on, the fuel pump primes the system and power is available to all other systems. When you press the start button, there is a relay which disables everything except the critical things for starting - starter motor, injection, timing and fuel pump. Lights, horn, blinkers and any other accessories are cut until the hall sensor tells the brain the crank is turning at the appropriate idle speed. In my case, this relay was faulty. Anyone who has not looked at the schematic or read up on it would not think to check it when the blinkers don't work, nor understood why the headlight was now off. You see my point. Different is different, not necessarily bad.
  15. MacMan Mike - I'd rather ask you questions here than PM you - you've got some very interesting knowledge that deserves to be on a public forum.

    The airheads really do have something special about them, that "kavorka" factor that the SR has. The main thing that bothers me, stupid and simplistic as it sounds, is that it's a lot of money for what you get. A price can't be placed on personality, i know, but my SR has it's days where I kick, and kick, and kick and I'd like to have something that fires up nine times out of ten.

    I might be underestimating my mechanical ability - i've changed swingarms, done front and rear shocks, valve clearences, cam chain tension, some basic carb stuff etc. So I'm not -completely- inept, but pretty close to it. Usually I do something, fcuk it up royally but get it right the second time out.

    The size of the bike doesn't really concern me all that much. Knees are fine, i'm a bit of a short arse (five foot ten) but the size of the bike doesn't concern me all that much.

    So there's a bit of a following to the K series? Makes life a lot easier when there are people who've been around the traps a fair few times and know what the usual problems are etc. I know it helps with my SR a fair bit!
  16. Umm... last time I looked at mine it had twin shocks. :LOL:
    Considering it's the bike used to illustrate the breed in Ian Faloon's book on the history of the BMW twins I think it's pretty representative. Mine's an '85 but looks identical to this one. (but with Koni shocks and an Overland exhaust - cheaper than Staintune and still available from the manufacturer in Warrnambool)


    True - the other thing with airheads is that they will last better if they are kept running. Time off the road seems to make them deteriorate faster for some reason.

    You mean 1970 :wink:

    The shorter stroke motor also gives them much better ground clearance and they rev out very freely. R80, R100 and normal R65 bits are pretty interchangeable - the R65LS isn't so much.

    I would agree totally with that. I bought mine from someone whose partner used to ride it but was starting a family and needed to sell it. The R65 (and particularly the LS) is probably the sweetest of the airheads (although my brother with his R100RT would disagree).
  17. If you an do that much then you'd be fine with a good air-head. (You don't have a cam chain to tension either :LOL: )

    For both the R and K series there's a LOT of help available and no shortage of parts. For $40 a year the BMW club is well worth joining for availability of special tools, discount bits and information and support.
  18. It's not so much the joining of the club that i'm worried about - more the flak I'd receive for owning a beemer.

    That, and I've got nowhere to put the smoking jacket and cravat. :grin:

    Keep the opinions coming!