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Thread: Considering a K

  1. #1
    Registered User 104714's Avatar
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    Considering a K

    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..."

    Thoughts?
    Thanks,

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel lancew's Avatar
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    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?
    #92115 - '01 R1150GS

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  3. #3
    Registered User 104714's Avatar
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    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.
    Thoughts?

  4. #4
    Blocking the slow lane
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    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.
    Jon Diaz
    BMW K75/K12GT
    BMWMOA Ambassador

  5. #5
    What's that noise...? basketcase's Avatar
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    I'm on my third K

    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.
    '98 BMW Z3 Roadster, '00 R1100RT

    If you insist on exercising a right to burn our flag, first be so kind as to wrap yourself in it and then douse yourself with gasoline just before you strike the match.

  6. #6
    R1100R "Traveler" DesertRider's Avatar
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    Re: Considering a K

    Thoughts?
    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.
    DesertRider in sunny Arizona, USA


  7. #7
    Has the GS-Lust The_Veg's Avatar
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    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!

  8. #8
    Registered User John Bass's Avatar
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    K bike

    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

  9. #9
    What's that noise...? basketcase's Avatar
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    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.
    '98 BMW Z3 Roadster, '00 R1100RT

    If you insist on exercising a right to burn our flag, first be so kind as to wrap yourself in it and then douse yourself with gasoline just before you strike the match.

  10. #10
    Registered User 104714's Avatar
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    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......

  11. #11
    Have bike, will travel lancew's Avatar
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    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.
    #92115 - '01 R1150GS

    Why don't they make a Nerf Martini Glass?

  12. #12
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    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.

  13. #13
    Registered User 104714's Avatar
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    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?"

  14. #14
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    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.
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

  15. #15
    Registered User 104714's Avatar
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    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!!!

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