View Full Version : Changing to an airhead K, or ?

05-17-2010, 01:17 AM
Due to some lifestyle changes, I must sell my 2004 1150RT. However, I am hoping to turn around some of the sale and purchase a less expensive, smaller bike.

My primary use would be my 25 mile commute at about 60mph. I am hoping to keep the price down to $3000-$4,000.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


05-17-2010, 02:36 AM
used Triumph Scrambler, Suz SV650, BMWR1100R or 850R, Guuzzi 750's, H-D 1200 or 883 Sprtsters

05-17-2010, 03:40 AM
K,K,K,K,K,K,K,K,K,K,K,K,K,K,K750 or K100
But I am biased

05-17-2010, 05:05 AM
If I lived up your way, there was a really nice 79 RT in Spokane.
If you aren't running freeways (60mph?), and don't need two up capacity, one of the undervalued 1981+ R65s might be just the ticket. Cheap parts, cheap insurance, low wear on everything, easy maintenance, great on two lane country roads.
But then , I am also biased.

05-17-2010, 07:45 AM
Due to some lifestyle changes, I must sell my 2004 1150RT. However, I am hoping to turn around some of the sale and purchase a less expensive, smaller bike.

My primary use would be my 25 mile commute at about 60mph. I am hoping to keep the price down to $3000-$4,000.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Do you do your own maintenance/repairs? That will be a major factor.

K-bikes can be strong mounts, but a $3-4K flying brick can be a complicated, needy bike (liquid cooling, aging early electronics, fuel injection bits (pump, injectors), lots of well-hidden vacuum hoses), etc. I've owned four K12s, but if low cost and minimal maintenance were issues, I'd stay away from the flying bricks (unless I found a *stellar* deal on one that made the potential maintenance costs/effort worthwhile).

Airheads are stone simple, and 99.999% of their problems are known and addressable. They have their fair share of required maintenance needs, but are easy to work on if you are so inclined. If you are not so inclined, there are very few truely capable professional airhead wrenches left, so you can expect major $$$ and only a 50/50 chance of repairs being done "right" the first time with even routine "stuff." And the newest airhead (1995) is now >15 years old. On the plus side, there's something about an airhead that makes it just a pleasure to ride.

In the BMW line, oilheads may be your best bet. Like the airheads, their issues are known. They are not as maintenance-intensive as the airheads (not that the airheads are that bad, especially if you pick up a well maintained, regularly used airhead). Oilheads also handle very well (the same can be said of the last of the airheads, late '80s to '95) and have plenty of power. As for age, they start where the airheads end, 1994. The earliest oilheads were known for annoying lean surging -- some bikes had it, some didn't (a test ride is a must). Again, like the K-bikes, getting a "good" oilhead for $3-4K may be a challenge.

I've stayed away from the F650's. They are good bikes, but personally I found my wife's F650 to be not all that pleasant a ride -- but that's a biased comment, as I'm just not a single-cylinder enthusiast.

So where do I end up? There are *lots* of nearly maintenance-free UJM's out there in good condition in the $3-4K range. If you are looking for a low-/no-maintenace mount, I'd start looking there, or add a few sheckels to your pile and look for a good oilhead. If you turn a wrench, a late '80s-'95 R100 airhead is hard to beat.

Once you've sorted through this $0.02, you can let us know if you have a particular type of bike in mind (GS, sport touring, sport, standard, etc.).

05-17-2010, 09:24 AM
With a quick glance into the 'flea market' , I spotted many good deals in the $3-4k range. A R100 or K100 would satisfy most peoples needs, either short or long range riding. It's a buyer's market.
As previously mentioned, airheads are simple. I rode airheads for 19yrs before buying a K100 last fall. I would not hesitate to recomend either. I still have a soft spot for airheads though. Whichever moves your soul most, I do not think you could make a wrong choice.

05-17-2010, 01:58 PM
I would lean toward a 85 or newer airhead. The valve issue and most other issues were resolved and they are dependable and parts are easily available. A K75 would be a good choice if you don't have a short inseam. I would also consider a shaft driven UJM. I've had Hondas, Kawasaki and Suzuki and they were all dependable but parts availability became an issue on older models (frequent changes year to year).


05-17-2010, 02:27 PM
Thanks to all of your suggestions. To clarify a couple points:

I am in western Washington state.

Primary use will be commuting so engine size is not so important. Actually prefer smaller, less weight and higher mpg.

I have an incredible airhead mechanic close by. I will chat with him soon to see if he knows of any bikes in our area.

I owned an air cooled VW for years and did most of the maintenance myself, so I can get by. Honestly, however, I would prefer to not get to heavily into fixing stuff. More interested in a solid, everyday commuter.

Style? No preference. Primary trip will be 40 miles per day.

I like the 1150rt I currently have. Primary complaint is it is pretty heavy for commuting purposes, mpg seems low for a commuter. Great for my iron butt ride.

hope that helps and thanks again for the tips,

05-17-2010, 09:08 PM
You want "smaller, less weight,"
The k100 and K75' are 550+ pounds.
Any oil head is 500+pounds.
Airheads are 500 pounds+ or-.

Smaller and less weight would be another brand.

05-18-2010, 12:56 AM
There have been number of CA Highway patrol bikes on ebay lately. Definately in you price range.

05-18-2010, 03:04 AM
There is a very nicely upgraded R100 on the Portland Craigslist right now for $4500.
Good luck.

FWIW, About 12 years ago I had a similar lifestyle adjustment where I got rid of a 96 R11RT and picked up an 84 R100. I found the giggles per mile to be just as good, and have never regretted the downsizing.

05-18-2010, 03:15 AM
Be on the look out for a solid 600 or 750. They are out there and simple and very fixable.

05-18-2010, 03:28 AM
Think outside the box(er). These are fun and practical. And farkleable.

05-28-2010, 05:54 PM
If it doesn't have to be a Beemer, and you want relative simplicity, I suggest a Suzuki Bandit 1200 (except the 2001-early 2002 models). Air/oil cooled (so it's an "AHEM" Oilhead :whistle :lol), carbs, chain drive (even Beemers got that), a dealership on every corner, an impressive aftermarket, and some great web sites (http://maximum-suzuki.com/). Good deals on low-mile models are out there.

No bias here, just a motorbike lover.

05-28-2010, 07:31 PM
I bought my wife's F650CS for $3500, with only 9000 miles on it... ABS, heated grips & runs like a champ. Gets great mileage too, I ride it all the time!

05-28-2010, 07:40 PM
I have an incredible airhead mechanic close by

As a diehard flying brick guy I would recommend a K75 standard w/ABS, but having a talented and independent (aka affordable) airhead wrench nearby would probably have me also looking for an R80RT or R100RT (you planning on riding year around?)

You want "smaller, less weight,"

'92 K75 Standard - 228kg wet (75hp)
'92 R100R - 218 wet (60hp)
'92 R80 Standard - 210kg wet (50hp)

Though to be fair, the full fairing K75RT is 258kg wet.

05-29-2010, 02:50 PM
Having owned a K and an airhead and now a hexhead, my experience is that the airhead was the least reliable and the most maintenance-intensive...it seemed to need near-constant adjustment and fiddling to keep it in a good state of tune- and yes, it was a very late-model airhead, not an old clunker. That said, it was a really fun little bike to zip around on! It had about the same power-to-weight ratio as my beloved old K, and it got lots of compliments wherever it went.

05-31-2010, 12:56 AM
I have a '90 K75 that has been great...if you get one with a top case and bags it works great for running errands or hauling your ÔÇ£stuffÔÇØ to work. I have found mine to be extremely reliable. It handles two-up pretty well and has plenty of power. It will run at 60 ÔÇô 70 miles an hour all day long if you want.

I am definitely biased but I say pick up a gently used K75. You should be able to find one in your price range without too much trouble.