View Full Version : Considering a K

10-14-2003, 06:22 PM
I've owned some old airheads; currently am riding the R1200C, but I've been feeling this undescribable "pull" toward a K bike.

I'm leaning toward the K100, but would like some input from those in "the know." What's a good K model? Year?

I put, easily, 2k miles on my "C" a month, but am looking for something to take me "further..."


10-14-2003, 06:47 PM
Lots of room for answers to that question- what do you want out of the K? I had an '85 K100RS that I traded with over 100,000 miles, and now have a '99K12RS that I bought new... in a lot of ways the '85 was just as much motorcycle as the '99, until you get to the pointy edge of the performance range. I'll let someone with more experience compare the K's, but I will say that lately I've been looking at some of the ads in the ON and IBMWR site, and those old 2-valve K100's look like an awfully good deal.

Why are you thinking K?

10-14-2003, 09:07 PM
To tell ya the truth lancew, I'm not sure. I remember my old 55' R50 and how it just went and went. I'm reading about the various models around today and get the impression (maybe falsely) that the K's were built around the same concept..."a tractor on two wheels." I want long distance, functionality, take me there and back, without a bunch of bells and whistles. Am I in the ballpark with the K? Or just looking for something that, even BMW, doesn't provide anymore?

They say the "flying brick." That conjures up images of toughness, along with "ugliness" that gets you there and back.

Hope this gets my point across.

10-14-2003, 09:16 PM
Its tough to beat an '85 thru '88 K100 for sheer functionality, especially at the prices they are trading at these days. IMO you can buy one for $2500-3500, put 100K miles on it, and sell it for the same coin later.

10-14-2003, 11:48 PM
Moving from a Honda cruiser in 1995, I started out on a 1985 K100RT, the one with the funky looking windshield. I later swapped that swoopy looking thing for a windshield off a K75. I rode the K100 for 30,000 trouble free miles.

About the time I started looking wistfully at "other motors," I looked at and rode several airhead R's. One in particular, a 1993 R100RT, was very tempting. But it lacked the finer amenities of the K, so my next ride was a 1995 K75RTA. The K75 was bought "as new," with 1,150 miles on it when I first rode it. I bought the K75 before parting with the K100, and sold the K100 to a sober house painter for cash money -- to the dollar what I had paid for it three years earlier.

I have a damaged rotator cuff in my right shoulder, and the solid mount bars on the K75 worked me over on long trips. After a lot of thought, I sold the K75 (again, for top dollar) and later bought a Gold Wing. The Wing was a great ride, and handled much better than the motojournalists would lead one to believe.

While I had the Wing, I made a trip to the Smokey Mountains with a couple of other riders, and had a chance to ride an R1150RT for some 45 miles, from Ducktown, TN, over to Cleveland, in a steady rain. That broke me from wanting an R model. Now, for those who like them, that's great, but the constant gear changing to stay in the sweet spot wore on my nerves. And I found the wind and moisture protection of the fairing to be sadly lacking. After just a few miles riding the R1150 last year, I noted an annoying and stready stream of water droplets coming up through the fairing and striking me in the face. No problems like that for me on any of the K's I've ridden. (However, I can't speak to the K12). At any rate, I knew when I got off that R at the Waffle House in Cleveland that an R was not in my future.

The post 9-11 economic woes had thrown me into a vocational and financial tail spin, so I later sold the Wing to free up some cash. Also, I had developed a hankering for a Wing of a different color. My initial thoughts were that after the dust settled, I would get a late model GL1500 SE, or perhaps a new 1800 model.

Meanwhile, a friend whose male children were reaching their teen years found his K1100LT squeezed out of the carport by 4-wheelers, folding deer stands, and boats and such. Subsequently, his K took up residence in my carport for safe keeping, where it stayed for over a year. We recently shook hands on a permenant deal, so I am now on my third K.

On the downside, note that the K's can be a hot ride in the summer. However, some aftermarket options exist for funneling the hot air from the engine off your legs, and out the back. (This was a problem only when sitting still on the K100, was a constant pain in the butt on the K75, and is not an issue on the K1100. The K1100LT incorporated some fairing changes that help significantly.)

My personal affinity for the K models is pretty well rooted. In particular, I like the wide power band. On all three, after getting into 5th gear, I have found that I rarely have to change gears to enjoy the sweepers, and that I can use the engine compression and throttle for braking and managing the curves. Put another way, from 30 mph up, it is an effortless ride, with a minimal of shifting. (Deals Gap and other switchback rides are the exception, naturally). In my biased opinion, you can't go wrong with an K model! They are strong, smooth, quiet, and rock solid dependable.

Good luck. Let us know what you do.

10-15-2003, 02:23 AM

Rick, I am not a K-bike expert, but I recently went through much the same thing, finding myself "pulled" to another K-bike, so perhaps can offer another perspective on the "pull."

In my case I'd previously owned a K75S and sold it, wooed away by newer, more "modern" sporting bikes. Essentially the K75S was replaced by an F650CS which though a very different bike in many ways, was also quite similar in nominal performance, in type of bike (sporty standard/sport-touring), having ABS, and being a BMW. Along the way I also picked up a Kawasaki 4-cyl naked bike (ZR-7S).

Initially I found the 650CS to be a lot of things the K75S never was: The light CS was more agile, better handling, and had the quick-snap throttle response that the K-bike did not. But over time I found that the CS was also not nearly as well made (multiple safety recalls in the first year), had recurring problems that BMW refused to fix (surging, etc.), and was obviously not designed or intended for the home mechanic. It seemed that everything required a trip back to the dealer and that even minor work was cumbersome. It didn't even have a way to check the oil before setting off for a ride -- the bike has to be warmed up, then the oil checked while astride the bike holding it vertical. And, surprisingly for a BMW, it offered no option at all for factory hard luggage. Compared with the K75 the 650CS seemed like a toy, and a very breakable one at that.

All that got me back to wishing I had my old K-bike back. It was not flicky-quick and didn't have the look of nouveau art, but it always started, it always ran well, it was durable as an anvil, and it was very easy to work on and modify. It was also so much smoother than the 650 thumper.

So I sold the 650CS (taking a significant loss in the process) and just bought a very clean '93 K75S. I need to do a few things to it to suit me (the low seat, to begin with), but I instantly felt at home again, feeling like I was back on a "real" BMW, a smooth, rock-solid machine that feels like it could roll on and on forever (and probably could). Not that the 650CS isn't a "real" BMW (whatever that means), but that the K75 is, in my view, an example of the best that BMW could offer back in the days when BMW motorcycles were built on the traditional BMW principles of long-range comfort, long-term durability, and easy serviceability, machines that weren't so much flashy as classy, not upscale fashion accessories but durable, industrial-strength tools for the long-term, long-range, truly committed rider.

And that's why I'm back on a K75, what "pulled" me, if you will. Maybe some of that is what is "pulling" you too, and if so I can tell you that in looking for a K-bike, you've come to the right place. :)

10-15-2003, 02:42 AM
Yes yes yes and yes! All of you guys- even Espresso in his attempt to describe what he wants in the bike- nailed it right on the head! The early model sometimes seemed to me like an "antique starship"- technically very advanced but in an unobtrusive way that cast an air of simplicity. The modular construction is almost breathtakingly elegant (except when your starter clutch fails but that's another story).
It's a great all-purpose machine that will get you there and it will exude confidence in itself while doing so.
The 85 has often been called the Finest Year, but as it's the only one I have experience with I can't really say. I think this assessment is based on the fact that the 85 was the simplest. No real bells or whistles, but a damn good bike.
I have to part with mine and it seems like the end of an era and I will really miss it, but I know it's for the best.
Best of luck to you in your search and keep us posted!

John Bass
10-15-2003, 11:20 AM
One thing you guys missed is the cost of service. I had a K1200LT and my average service cost was $600.00 now I have a CLC and have not spent more than $250.00 on a service. The K lacked the character of a bike which I have regained with the R bike , it feels like a motorcycle instead of a two wheeled car.
Good Luck:wow

10-15-2003, 12:48 PM
Like I said above, I can't speak to the K12's, but none of my pre-12 K's have required a lot of expensive service. The heaviest thing I've ever had to have done was a water pump/oil pump seal on the K75. After seeing it done, I realized I could have done it myself. Spline lubes are a pain, but they too can be done by the owner.

As a result, I do almost all of my own service; oil and fluid changes, tire removal and reinstallation, etc. And I am considering the purchase of a tire machine from Harbor Freight so I can do those myself. The cost of the tire machine aside, I figure I can keep my annual maintenance costs to less than $150 per year.

That said, my home has a partial basement that permits me to tear things down and lay them out on a workbench. So I recognize that some riders will lack the space necessary for doing their own chores, and the cost of at least one annual trip to the shop may be a necessity. Even so, a creative rider can do a lot of his/her own maintenace with a roll around storage chest of tools and supplies. Home Depot sells a line of roll arounds with multiple trays that stack nicely in a closet.

10-15-2003, 12:56 PM
Thanks for all the input. I'm glad to know that my "vision" of what the BMW had always had for me, is still very much alive with you folks! I know I'm getting "old," and I don't think that because of that I'm "pining" for the "old, the way it use to be..." days gone by. But, then again, maybe I am. Technology is great and I am glad for it. But not in my motorcycle! Friends tell me how "ugly" the BMWs are and I usually just smile and wave good bye as I pull out and head for the hills. They may not be flash or fashion, but they sure are a damn good ride!

I'll keep you posted as I move forward.
Ride safe......

10-15-2003, 01:45 PM
The early K is definitely a "flying brick"... I think if that term describes what you are looking for, then you will be happy with one. They are bigger, heavier, equally stable (at speed), and have more high-speed 'grunt' than their contemporary twins, but are definitely the kind of "beautiful" that appeals most to an engineer.

note- the '85 (finest year) was a little different than the 86-88 2 valves. Subsequent years were slightly de-tuned to eliminate a vibration in the bars and pegs, and they were given a more comfortable seat... well, at least a different one...

The new K12's have gotten away from the "simpler is better" mantra, and give away some functionality too. Comparing RS models, the early K's had better ergos, a better horn, luggage that didn't have a big "muffler chunk" taken out of it, a better windscreen, and a design that took a big hunk of motor and used it as part of a great design.

10-15-2003, 10:56 PM
k-bikes are a great choice. If you do most of your own maintenance,I would stick with the 2-valve head pre-abs models. The 4-valve with abs models require expensive diagnostic equipment most of us do not have. The good points of both100's and 75's far outweight their negative ones.

10-17-2003, 01:47 PM
Again, GREAT ideas/thoughts you folks have been providing me with. With that in mind, what are the differences between the RT and RS models? And are there any other models I've overlooked?

Also, I was talking with a guy yesterday and he indicated it was
difficult to get parts for the 85 K100. He advised an 86 which, again he claimed, had the same engine as the 85, but that parts were interchangable between it and the year models up to 91.
Is there any "truth" to his statement or just "myth?"

10-17-2003, 02:05 PM
Originally posted by espresso
Again, GREAT ideas/thoughts you folks have been providing me with. With that in mind, what are the differences between the RT and RS models? And are there any other models I've overlooked?

Also, I was talking with a guy yesterday and he indicated it was
difficult to get parts for the 85 K100. He advised an 86 which, again he claimed, had the same engine as the 85, but that parts were interchangable between it and the year models up to 91.
Is there any "truth" to his statement or just "myth?"

Truth. The 1985 model was its own bike. I'm not sure whether there are issues with parts availability or not.

10-21-2003, 08:52 PM
Well, I may be in a position to make a decision on a K bike sooner than I expected. This past Friday night I "engaged" a deer! I really didn't think the damage to the bike was all THAT bad. But, so far, the repair estimate from my BMW dealer is sitting around $6K!!!! "To put it back to original condition." WOW!!!

I'll see what my insurance company will ante up. WOW!!!

10-29-2003, 04:26 PM
I buy & rebuild "distressed" K machines.
> K75: total 8, keeping 1, 1 for sale, 6 sold. All to owners happy with their choice. Still in regular contact with 5 of them.
> K100: total 2, 1 for sale, 1 to finish bodywork B4 sale.
> K1100: a K1100LT rebuilt into the "K11LTX" see ON 11/03.
There may be a better bike someday, but it isn't now. While not perfect, the tradeoffs are WAY in the plus column. I have 1 from other era, '74 R90S & '99 R11HR, the LTX is my daily ride. You can buy one right, ride it 2-3 years & sell for same. Where's the downside here? I don't think you'd be disappointed, except in raw torque. I had an R1200C and it did have low end grunt.

11-26-2003, 09:50 PM
My first BMW was an 97 F650, which I purchased new and have ridden 42,000 miles so far. I've been looking at new bikes for the last couple of years, but had not found anything, including the new BMW's, that really turned my on enough to justify the cost. I'd noticed the K75 S at various rallys, etc.. Then I sat on one, then rode one, then rode another. I started looking for a good low mileage bike last spring, finally found a 93 K75S in late summer, 19K miles, mystic red, with all of the accessories. I rode over 6K miles the last two months of my riding season, and am very pleased. The F650 is a great bike because it is so verstile, but the K75 is a much better street bike. I've been pleasantly surprised by the flexibility of the engine, which requires much less shifting thant the F650. While it may not have the absolute power of some of the newer bikes, it's a significant step up from the F650, and I find the performance very satisfying. The added passing power and the smoothness of the engine, along with the larger gas tank and higher mileage. means I put on more miles in less time and my 55 year old body arrives in better condition. I'm also impressed with the quality of the machinery, and how straightforward it is to maintain. Then there is the fact that the difference between the price of a new BMW and my almost as new K75 is enough for a couple of other older bikes that I've had my eye on...

11-27-2003, 09:40 PM
Originally posted by espresso
... I've been feeling this undescribable "pull" toward a K bike.

Is it to the right?

When I bought my '94, I was told by the mechanic that had just done a bunch of work on my R100RT that the later model K75's were much better bikes and required a lot less repairs. At the time they were obviously much newer so who knows how much that had to do with it.

12-16-2003, 06:51 PM
here comes the flames!
the best bike BMW has ever made is the K1100LT. I looked for 8 months to find a replacement (medium tall person, likes to go fast, and likes to ride two up and camp). I thought the K1200GT would do it (actually an RS), the Yamaha FJR1300 (too small), the Honda ST1300, the Triumph (something). Nothing was as good as the K.

So I kept it and got an R1150GS Adventure. Perfect compliment. The K1100LT is still the best there is.

12-16-2003, 07:11 PM
I like to make fun of the K's since I moved over to a GS, but the old K's are tremendous as daily rides. My K75s tolerated my abuse without a whimper for many miles. The closest it came to letting me down was a dead shock and a dead battery. Both were, of course, my fault.

My complaints were short:
1. Lack of Power
2. front and top heavy
3. slow steering
4. old school suspension
5. tight steering lock

It took more work to get it down a twisty bit of road than any of the newer bikes I've ridden (including my GS). This could make it more thrilling at times than I'd like.

But outside of the most frigid temps, it always started on the first press of the starter button.

12-17-2003, 06:30 AM
Speaking of frigid temps that's an area where Ks, especially RTs and LTs really shine. The Brick engine makes lots of heat. With a huge fairing in front of both rider and radiator, it's a great winter bike especially if you remove the knee pads so the heat can flow out over your legs.

12-19-2003, 02:13 PM
HELLO, on the subject of the K bike, many responses will be varied on individual rider style. I myself like to go in comfort with great performance and good upright riding position. I broke my back in an accident 4 years ago and I can't ride comfortably on some of the other bikes bmw has to offer. I have been a Harley rider for the better part of 25 years and just bought my 1st Beemer @ BIKEWEEK 2003. So far I have really enjoyed the increased power, handling, and ABS plus all the other bells and whistles on my bike which is an 03 K1200 LTC. I'm sure others may not agree but I am very pleased.

12-19-2003, 03:55 PM
Welcome to BMW's, Cowboy. You're gonna love that thing.

12-23-2003, 06:52 PM
Hey all,

Couldn't resist this one - I had wanted a bmw since i began riding about 5 years ago, and finally found the dream bike last summer - an '85 K100. Like most of the posts here, I bought it because I wanted a bike that was reliable and comfortable for year-round, long distance riding. Bought it with over 50K on the clock, and it runs like a top. I moved up to the K from a 600 Yamaha, so comparatively speaking, I hadn't even known what I was missing! Compared to the sport-tourers of late, it is definitely minimalist, but if you want a bike that can go the distance without letting you down, this is it. It's not the best city-bike in the world, especially in the summer, but with aftermarket heat guards it's not really a problem.

And unlike a few others who have weighed in here, I LOVE the way this bike looks. It looks no-frills sporty, with everything on the bike put there for a good reason. I've heard people complain that the K's are too much like 2-wheeled cars. It is true that the mirrors will show something besides your shoulders, and the headlight is large and square. Also, the horn can be heard from outside a 2-foot radius of the bike...If this is not a problem for you, I suggest you buy one immediately...:)

12-28-2003, 08:20 AM
I'm relatively new to BMW. I have a 2003 R1200CL which I love. Great handling, Great mileage. I ride it everwhere.

Lately I've been thinking about a used K bike. So far I've found some nice 90's K75S examples, K100RS, K1100RS, and a K1. As you can see, there is a wide variety that has caught my interest. All these bikes have relatively low mileage considering they are 10+ years old.

I'm looking for something that will go long distances with luggage to rallies such as Daytona, Sturgis, Myrtle Beach, Hollister, etc. Maybe do some Iron Butt rides. So it must be reliable and relatively quick.

Is there anything I should look out for regarding potential problems with any of these models? Any recommendations? Personal favorites?

12-28-2003, 02:05 PM
Originally posted by Mudbug
Lately I've been thinking about a used K bike. So far I've found some nice 90's K75S examples, K100RS, K1100RS, and a K1. Personal favorites?

I've only had a oilhead and an airhead. But I've lusted for the K75S since it came out. My friend now has one. I think at my advanced age of 40 I would rather have a K75C. I can ride all day sitting up. For that same reason I've stopped lusting for the K1 - IMHO the coolest bike ever made!



Here's a Iron Butt K75C!

12-29-2003, 05:14 AM
Well as an owner of a 2002 r1150r and a1988 K75s I guess I can have an opinion on this. If money were not an issue and I was told one had to go today it would be the R bike. Why ? Well for all the already mentioned reasons and then some . I don't see any leaps forward in quality on the R bike , maybe some steps backward . As far as I am concerned Paralever addressed a problem that didn"t exist., or was barley perceptale to the average rider. Now on my R I have a paralever bearing that goes south at 30,000 to 40,000 mi. . My K does not surge. Amazing that 1988 technology. My K does not use oil with over 50,000 mi. on it. I add a small amount of oil to the R every 400 to 500 mi. . Works out to about a full quart about every 4000 mi.. Hell my Harley didn't use that much. And speaking of oil what is with the now you see it now you don't syndrom. With my R every little problem is addressed with "they all do that" or "it must be the way you ride it" With the K bike it is "this thing runs really good with no fuss" followed by "yeah, they all do that" Hey I still like My R bike but c,mon BMW it could be a lot better for the price you are charging us folks. Just my thoughts

12-29-2003, 06:10 AM
Originally posted by MarkF


Here's a Iron Butt K75C!

Actually, that's Phactory Phil Rose's old K75C. It never ran the IB, but it was there for the checkpoint one year.

I had a K75C as well. It was pretty comfy, but I have to confess that long highway trips really aren't its forte. The fairing doesn't really provide much in the way of protection and the extended screens I've seen all look kinda dorky.

The K75S is probably a better bike. It had some better suspension upgrades in the fork (which can be applied to the C.)

My brother has an 86 K75C and loves it after putting a ton of miles on his old R75/6.

They're neat for regional touring and stuff, but I wouldn't want to ride one from Montana to Boston again. Those headwinds on the plains were a killer.

12-29-2003, 03:24 PM
Originally posted by KBasa
I had a K75C as well. It was pretty comfy, but I have to confess that long highway trips really aren't its forte. The fairing doesn't really provide much in the way of protection.

I guess my R1100R would be terrible for long rides, too. Well, it's all I got so it's what I ride, regardless of the distance.


12-30-2003, 12:04 AM
Originally posted by MarkF
I guess my R1100R would be terrible for long rides, too. Well, it's all I got so it's what I ride, regardless of the distance.

Depends on one's preferences and expectations, I guess. I don't like full fairings -- never have -- and my 1100R suits me for pretty much everything. It's very comfy, has ample power power for anything, and at slow speed and in twisties it handles better than would a much heavier full tourer (not to mention being easier to service and won't cost a fortune if dropped). My -R does have the factory windshield (makes a big difference over full-naked), touring cases, extra lights, etc.

I do understand that for very cold weather a fairing can certainly help keep you warm. But for all-around use and some types of touring a full fairing can also be a real drawback. If you doubt that come tour through the Arizona desert in summer and see how much fun it is to ride in the still air behind a full fairing in 110-degree heat with a jet of hot air searing your leg. For any kind of warm- to hot-weather riding or touring, naked is the only way to go (naked bike, that is, though there are times... :eek)

12-30-2003, 04:20 AM
Hey all you R1100R / R1150R guys and gals there is a pretty good web site for us naked types. But you probably already know that. But just in case here it is . SCOTT

12-30-2003, 09:22 AM
Been touring with an 81 R100RT this season in the rocky mountain west. It's a wonderful old bike and has taken me and the wife all over. Riding 2 up on that machine does have some power drawbacks in this environment. So the time has come, and I couldnt wait. Getting a late model K1200LTC, but keeping the R100 for solo riding. I think its the best of both worlds, especially after riding some Harleys and Wingers. OK, so I'm not mechanical enough to do my own maintenance. I dont mind supporting my local BMW dealer as I dont donate to any other charities.


12-31-2003, 07:58 PM
I was in the market for an R1150RT about a month ago. I test rode it and the GT... I wish I never did, because now I own the GT!!! It's the most AWESOME BIKE I EVER RODE!!!

Happy New Year! :bliss

01-04-2004, 09:01 PM
In 37 years of motorcycle riding i've owned a few bmw's.to recollect some: R60/2,R90s,R100rs,R1100RT/P,K100rs,K1200rs.
My 85 k100rs has it's place next to my 2001 k1200rs and will always have that spot in my garage.(not for sale)
I enjoy the ride and the power of that 1200 no question about it but if I ever had to choose the 1200 would go.Ask your dealer ones if they ever had to go inside a crankcase on a k100.I've seen close to 300 000 miles on them without any major work done other then normal wear,clutch etc.It's to be seen over the years if the sporty k1200 can earn that reputation.

2001 k1200rs
1998 r1100rt/p
1985 k100rs:clap

01-24-2004, 03:45 PM
Have to weigh in on this one. I have a'91K100RS which I bought at the end of the '00 season. My R80 has sat pretty much ever since. I enjoy the flexibility of the power which this bike has, no matter what gear its in. True, it feels top heavy at times, but you adjust to it after a while. The only issues I have with the bike are ABS (first generation) failures, they're touchy. Next would be wind on a long trip. Am going to try the Laminar Lip for that. My step-dad had a '91 LT which I rode, better wind protection but a lot warmer in hot weather. Only mod I've done so far is install bar backs, a little more upright. To me the styling looks great. And as stated maint. isn't a big issue. I think if the abs gets sorted out it'll stay with me a long time. IF I were to sell it, I know I'd get what I paid. Only 21,000 on the clock so it will last a LONG TIME.

01-31-2004, 01:52 AM
:idea The great thing about Beemers is that there is so many different kinds. I have seen some great deals in the flea market on K100s, K1100s and most any other model BMW that would make someone a great ride. Have fun!:bliss :clap :bliss :brow

02-18-2004, 04:08 AM
I got my K 100 RS (1987) model last year, with 28K miles on it. I've put 7K on it already. I really like it,and it has all the power you'd want. I often cruise at 100 or better,and it seems to want to go faster. I've added a Rick Mayer seat which I suggest doing to these bikes. Rugged,easy to work on,reliable,fun. I saw one of these K 100's at the Rocket rally last year,it had been riden over 300,000 miles! Go for a K bike friend,you'll love it!

02-21-2004, 06:07 PM
The mechanical part of these old bikes are great. I just sold my K100LT. I really wished that I had not.

I think that one needs to remember that when getting an older bike. You need to think about thinks like. Can I get the tires that I want. Are the Shocks any good. Do the front forks leak. Cables seals, shocks and seats do age. I can't think of a better buy for the money than an older K bike. Buy one and you will enjoy it.

THE Beemer Bill
02-22-2004, 08:05 AM
I have a K1100RS SE, 1996, black and silver. It is as close to perfect as I have gotten. I had an 86 K75s that was equally impressive, but didn't have the nuts of the K11. All I had to do was throw some K100 bars on it so my hands wouldn't go numb. BTW...bought the K75 for $3k, sold it for $3200...nothing but wax put into it.

Enjoy your K.