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Thread: Vintage Beemers comparison

  1. #1
    dwyer12180
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    Vintage Beemers comparison

    Got a question about comparing the various pre-/5 BMW's.

    I'm in the market for a vintage BMW to ride (not a garage queen), and am studying the various models. What would your assessment be of a 50/2 versus a 60/2 versus a R69S? Aside from the obvious, what are the performance differences? I want a bike for a vintage touring experience. No racing or high speed riding. However, being this is the 21st Century, you need to share the road with modern traffic, so sometimes you need to get up to 65 mph, sometimes you need to pass a slow moving farm vehicle, sometimes you need to get up a hill without bogging down and holding up traffic. Would any model be capable of this kind of riding or should I look for an R69S to get the most bang for the buck?

    And how about reliability? Assuming the engine is in good shape and the slingers have been cleaned, etc. is any one model more or less reliable if not pushed too hard?

    Thanks for the advice.

    --Scott
    Troy, NY

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  3. #3
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    My opinion is that the R50/2 is probably not going to give you what you want...HP was only 26. It would just take a bit more to get up to speed.

    The R60/2 or R69S is probably more the ticket. The R60/2 had 30 HP while the R69S had 42 HP. The R69S is more sporty but has high compression pistons, so it will probably take high test gas. Timing is a bit critical...with the higher compression, if the bike has a tendency to ping, it might blow a hole in the piston. The R60/2 might be a middle of the road bike, able to cruise at a reasonable speeds and has a little more low end grunt...typically people use the R60/2 to pull a sidecar with the correct rear end ratio. Of course, with the proper rear end ratio, the R60/2 can be a good travel vehicle as well.

    These bikes came stock with 6v electrics and a magneto ignition, so don't expect to power a lot of accessories. They're not too complex, but you better be ready to fix them from time to time. You can convert to 12v and run better lights front and rear for visibility. Realibility-wise, they're about the same, but the R69S is a bit picky with the higher HP engine.

    Brakes are OK for the era, but not at all like today's brakes. When out on one of these things you have to think a bit more defensively and realize you don't have the punch to get out of the way...you have to plan further ahead.

    I really like the R69S with the Earles front end...it's such a different ride than my /7. I just completed a 3700 mile trip on my /7...I'm not quite comfortable yet to do that with my /2. Maybe one of these days...
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  4. #4
    Registered User 88bmwjeff's Avatar
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    This might be better under the Vintage forum.
    Jeff in W.C.
    1988 R100 RT (the other woman)
    "I got my motorcycle jacket but I'm walking all the time." Joe Strummer

  5. #5
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    I often do touring to rallys up to 1000 mi round trip on all
    three of these bikes - rural 2lane preferred 70mph max
    60 best

    You did not state your weight or size - a big man on an
    R50 plugging into a headwind will kill the bike

    My 2 R69S bikes now down with holed pistons trying to
    push too hard on long hot interstate sections will become
    conversion bikes in the near future

    My favorite is R60 - once rode one of these all over Mexico
    without problems - flatter torque curve and less compression
    is easier to ride and less prone to piston problems

    I have one R60 with aftermarket 12v alternator which works
    well - I have another R60 onto which I cobbled a /5 alternator
    which also works well

    There are modern brake shoe materials which have more grab

    Even the stock brakes are quite effective - the problem most
    have is that they learned on disks and simply cannot apply
    enough lever force to get necessary effect - given enough
    squeeze one can lock the front wheel on dry pavement

    You need to tour alone - if you try to run with the modern
    bikes you will kill your /2 trying to keep up

  6. #6
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    An alternative is a pre /5 motorcycle updated with a post 1969 engine and transmission, known as a /2 conversion, A well executed conversion offers the classic styling and ride experience of a vintage BMW and the advantage of technical improvements / reduced maintenance costs of the later type engines. Although most conversions are fitted with larger 750cc - 1000cc engines for sidecar use, a 40hp 600c R60/5, R60/6, or R60/7 engine works just fine for solo use.
    Last edited by r60us; 05-03-2008 at 07:09 AM.

  7. #7
    Bill Burke
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    R60US: THAT is a beautiful bike. My compliments if it's yours.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burke View Post
    R60US: THAT is a beautiful bike. My compliments if it's yours.
    I wish!

    It's on the Epco (stainless exhausts) site and I believe it belongs to Tom of Epco.

  9. #9
    Bill Burke
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    Quote Originally Posted by r60us View Post
    I wish!

    It's on the Epco (stainless exhausts) site and I believe it belongs to Tom of Epco.
    The /2 conversion seems to come close to my idea of perfection. Sort of an airhead version of the automotive Shelby Cobra (upgrading the internals while preserving the classic superstructure).

  10. #10
    Registered User georgej's Avatar
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    20774, Kurt, how would you comapre your '78 R100/7 to the R80/7 same year. My R80 is my favorite bike to ride,never ridden an R100,but I'm thinking of getting one.Will I notice much of a difference? I don't do alot of long distance touring.
    George

  11. #11
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgej View Post
    20774, Kurt, how would you comapre your '78 R100/7 to the R80/7 same year. My R80 is my favorite bike to ride,never ridden an R100,but I'm thinking of getting one.Will I notice much of a difference? I don't do alot of long distance touring.
    George -

    I wouldn't know as I've only been on my two bikes. I've heard the R80 should be smoother, all things considered. On the performance end, some will depend on the rear end. My /7 has a 3.0 rear end, so it's kind of meant for touring. My guess is your R80 has got a 3.2 or 3.36 rear end. That will make for peppier starts but create more RPM for the same highway cruising speed. If you're just doing local riding, the R80/7 is probably well suited for that. Touring would likely be better on a 1000cc bike, especially if 2-up.
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  12. #12
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    I'm not a small guy (225lbs.) and find both my R60/2 and even my R51/3 (24hp 500cc) adequate for touring. Both will do 75+ on the freeway all day. Acceleration to the top end is pretty slow, and drum brakes are not going to stop you like even /6 disks, let alone modern brakes, but with the modern lining material that Vech sells, they are passable with careful riding.

    However, being this is the 21st Century, you need to share the road with modern traffic, so sometimes you need to get up to 65 mph, sometimes you need to pass a slow moving farm vehicle, sometimes you need to get up a hill without bogging down and holding up traffic. Would any model be capable of this kind of riding or should I look for an R69S to get the most bang for the buck?
    Any of these bikes will get up a hill. You'll have to choose the right gear, you may not be able to hold 4th going into a headwind uphill. Passing a farm vehicle is no problem, but you'll be more constrained about passing someone on a highway who is doing 50 and you want to do 60.

    The thing about riding these older bikes is that it requires you to be more involved with what the bike needs. Modern bikes have so much power and braking that you can just do as you please. These bikes need you to consider their needs as well. Listen to the engine, is it telling you that it's lugging? You may have to run at a slower speed than you want in 3rd because you can't get into the power band in 4th. It's the nature of these bikes.

    And how about reliability? Assuming the engine is in good shape and the slingers have been cleaned, etc. is any one model more or less reliable if not pushed too hard?
    Like all generations of BMWs, these have their quirks and foibles. Generally they are quite reliable, but they have much shorter service intervals (oil changes at 1k miles, service intervals at 3k miles). Because of the magneto ignition, these bikes run even if the rest of the electrics are fried or the battery is dead; there's no connection between the ignition and the charging system. The 60 watt 6V generator means that you can run the headlight, but nothing more. There's a 6v Halogen headlight that does put out more light available.

    The two trouble spots that people talk about are the heads on the mid 60s bikes, which are often referred to as "butterheads". The alloy was changed (without BMW's knowledge) and it moves around. The spark plug inserts come out and the rockers gradually sink until you run out of adjustment.

    The other thing is that there's no oil filter on these bikes, but the way they oil the crank is with a pair of "slinger rings". These are sheet metal disks with a lip at the outer edge. The lip fills up with centrifuged wear particles and eventually this reduces the oil going to the conrod bearings. This causes the bearings to wear, the motor knocks and at some point it can sieze. Crank repair is expensive because the cranks are pressed up with one piece conrods, and there are very few people who can service them. Better is to pull the motor apart every 40-60k miles and clean/replace the slinger rings, which are cheap.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

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