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Thread: need some advice on looking at am R90/6

  1. #1
    Registered User ezwicky's Avatar
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    need some advice on looking at am R90/6

    howdy all,

    i had an R75/6 (1976) in the '80s and it was a fantastic bike. i sold it along with my harleys when i bought a house and had kids. i just posted a picture of it in the "post your bike pics" thread.

    now that my youngest will be going off to college next fall, i have broken the news to my wife that i am going to get another beemer.

    i am kind of torn between something with a fairing, like an R100RS or RT, or an older R75 or R90. a more touring-oriented fully-faired bike appeals to the practical side of me, but in reality my wife would probably never ride on the back for more than an afternoon excursion. the R90 or R75 appeals more to me for nostalgic reasons, and will most likely be perfectly good for day trips and even week-long trips. i used to take my R75/6 on week-long trips throughout southwest VA and east TN all the time without a windshield or anything and it was fine. of course, i'm 55 now and a bit more interested in comfort than i was when i was 30.

    so i am looking right now with lust at a craigslist posting for a really cherry-looking 1976 R90/6, listed at $3900. i have a few questions with that in mind:

    1) is it ok to link to a craigslist posting here?

    2) what would you all look for other than the typical stuff like smooth operation, good braking, overall appearance, no smoke, etc?

    3) anything special i should ask the seller?

    thanks in advance for your time and advice. if it's ok to link to a craigslist post, let me know and i will post it.

    thanks,

    -eric
    Last edited by ezwicky; 10-16-2012 at 09:11 PM. Reason: corrected some typos and added a word for clarity

  2. #2
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Eric -

    Since you're purpose is to get feedback on something you're looking at, posting the link would be fine. If the link is to something you have a vested interest in (your bike or a friends bike), that wouldn't be so cool. We'd love to see what you're looking at.

    My first thought was that nearly $4K was a bit high...it had better be a 2-foot bike!
    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!

  3. #3
    Registered User ezwicky's Avatar
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    thanks kurt. this is the one i have my eye on. i would prefer it had bags, but it looks exactly like my old R75/6 and i figure i could fit bags later..

    http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/mcy/3332297142.html

    by the way, what do you mean by a "2-foot bike"?

  4. #4
    Registered User b25bsaboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezwicky View Post
    thanks kurt. this is the one i have my eye on. i would prefer it had bags, but it looks exactly like my old R75/6 and i figure i could fit bags later..

    http://philadelphia.craigslist.org/mcy/3332297142.html

    by the way, what do you mean by a "2-foot bike"?
    If I were you, I would grab it. You will find cosmetic things and some minor issues that need to be resolved, but this is a keeper and it looks good!
    Rick MacPherson
    Success is Not a Destination, But a Journey.
    Accredited Motorcycle Appraiser
    1968 BSA Starfire, 1976 BMW R75/6, 2009 R1200RT

  5. #5
    Registered User wvrocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezwicky View Post
    by the way, what do you mean by a "2-foot bike"?
    Looks good from 2 feet away as opposed to 20 feet away. Mine's about a 30 footer!
    1995 BMW R1100GS

  6. #6
    Registered User lmo1131's Avatar
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    If I were you, I would grab it.
    Looks like a $3,900 bike to me! I'd be checking it out. Take cash!

    If you want to compare, here's what they're offering for $6,100 ( and it hasn't made "reserve" yet).
    Granted, it has bags, a wind shield, and is as close to "show room" condition that you're likely to find.

    See more > >http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1975-...item43b45b465a

    edit- this auction ended (10/18/12) without hitting the reserve.


    ... and what you're looking at (maybe even a one-footer).

    Last edited by Lmo1131; 10-18-2012 at 03:15 PM.
    "It is what you discover, after you know it all, that counts." _ John Wooden

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    1973 R75/5 - original owner

  7. #7
    Minnesota Nice! braddog's Avatar
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    There's a real nice R90/6 for sale here locally for $4500 that does have a shield and bags as well.

    Just looking at the pics, it's no nicer than the one posted, so $3900 may not be out of line.

    Apparently, /6's are going for more than /7's, which I suppose makes sense. Good ones may be a little rarer.

    As far as what to ask the seller, find out how old the tires are, and if he has any recorded maintenance records. According to the CL ad, it looks like some recent maintenance has been done. It may not be a bad idea to find out exactly how long this person has actually owned this bike.

    The ad also calls this a LWB (long wheel base) bike. Aren't all /6's LWB's? Just asking.
    -----------------------------------------
    Brad D. - Member #105766
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  8. #8
    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Braddog View Post
    Aren't all /6's LWB's?
    Correct, sir!
    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!

  9. #9
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    The bike looks nice. The owner has kept it well, and cleaned it up nicely.

    Here are some things to check:

    (1) Check the mufflers. Near the outlet and on the bottom side of the muffler. Looks for cracks, dimples or rust spots. This usually means that the mufflers will need to be replaced in the near future.

    (2) Check the space between the frame and the swing arm on both sides. If there is a difference this means (a) the swing arm was not adjusted correctly; or (b) the bike was wreaked and and the frame is bent. To get it to drive decently, they have to move the swing arm over. If this is the case, I would walk away from the bike.

    (3) See how much play is at the rear wheel. The gear clog in the rear wheel tends to wear out.

    (4) Check the front steering. It should move back-and-forth easily. Then take sit on it and with the front brake depressed push the bike forward and back. There should be no play. A problem here might mean that it isn't adjusted correctly, or the bearing need to be replaced.

    (5) Check the base gasket of the cylinder to see if it has been replaced. The sealant must be able to transmit temperature well. Ask the owner if the cylinders have been taken off. If so, ask what kind of sealant was used.

    I would also ask the owner if there are any seals that might need to be replaced in the future. If he refers to any seal, assume that will need to be replaced. Since he cleaned it up so nicely, you can't tell if the seals are leaking.

    Here is another bike in NY (in my neck of the woods) to compare it to: http://albany.craigslist.org/mcy/3296394254.html Even if you don't want to look at it, it can be used as a negotiation tool. The Fall time isn't the best time to sell a bike, so you should be able to bring the price down some.

    Oh yeah, LWB started in the second half of 1973. Early 1973 had SWB and 1973-1/2 had LWB. Anything after 1973-1/2 are LWB.

    The tires look like Dunlop K91 or K291. Can't tell from the picture. Check to see if they are cracked on the side walls.

  10. #10
    Registered User mysteriousfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ezwicky View Post
    howdy all,

    i am kind of torn between something with a fairing, like an R100RS or RT, or an older R75 or R90. a more touring-oriented fully-faired bike appeals to the practical side of me, but in reality my wife would probably never ride on the back for more than an afternoon excursion. the R90 or R75 appeals more to me for nostalgic reasons, and will most likely be perfectly good for day trips and even week-long trips.
    Eric, The /6 looks sweet...get it if you can...but once you start riding an airhead again, be prepared, because some funny things will start happening to you...sneaking out of work early, ignoring the yard work, offering to run errands (the long way)... looking for any excuse to get out and ride, and soon you will realize you NEED an RT or RS TOO...a nice faired bike in the stable for two-up touring, rainy or cold days, etc, but there is no beating a classic naked bike for those warm summer days in the mountains on the twisties with the air in your face and ...well you get the picture.... (uh, I know from experience...but I started with an RT and went the other direction....) good luck with your quest
    michael
    __________
    1991 R100 classic; 1980 R100RT

  11. #11
    Monza Blue 1974 R90/6
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    I have an R90/6.

    Regarding you questions about the the type of bike to buy, I would say it is all going to come down to your preference, so proabably good to really know what you want from the bike ahead of a purchase.

    From watching ads (I'm always wondering what my bike might sell for), $3900 is pretty much the top of the range for R90/6's. But, I think it is worth paying a little more in this case because the bike is complete, has been cared for, and hasn't been outside for long periods.

    There are a lot of /6's for sale around the $3000 mark that are in rough shape, or not complete, so you'll spend the extra money anyway to get the bike where you want it and it will be harder.

    I would also say you should budget approx $2000 over the next couple of years to fix all the stuff that will be worn out on a 35 year old machine. I'm thinking carb rebuild including floats and diaphrams, push rod seals with attending gaskets, valves, clutch, brake pads and shoes, maybe rebuild kits for the brake cylinder and caliper, shocks, tires, and possibly the transmission. Plus, there might be a few things you want to add like an electronic ignition, LED tail light, louder horn.

    So, you'll have almost $6000 invested and you won't be able to sell it for more than your original purchase price (maybe less!).

    If you don't enjoy basic mechanical work, want brakes that really grab, a charging system that will keep the battery topped up, get stressed when you discover small leaks, peeling tank liner, or a curious electrical malfunction, the /6 might not be a good choice. Or, if you don't like changing fluids, greasing bearings, and adjusting valves on a regular basis - in short, if you just want to go out to the garage, press the button, have the bike start right away, ride, park, and repeat without incident, the /6 might not be a good choice.

    But, as legions of posts on this forum point out, if you enjoy airheads and all that comes with them, that money will buy you a great time (intermixed with periods of frustration) as you work on the bike and ride it. And if this is the case, the /6 will be just right for you and the craiglist example looks like a promising start at a good price.

    Barron

  12. #12
    Registered User ezwicky's Avatar
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    thanks barron (and everybody else as well!).

    my reason for looking at this particular /6 is purely nostalgia and a gut instinct. i had an identical /6 of the same year back in the '80s (except it as an R75 and this one's an R90) and i loved that bike. never had to do a thing to it in the 5 years i rode it and i commuted pretty much year-round. i hated to sell it and i have always wanted another one just like it.

    reading your cautions about /6s i am wondering if this will be the case with all airheads? i'm a maintainer but not an engine-rebuilder, if that makes sense. i don't mind putting another 2k into the bike over time because i would not be buying this one to sell later, but to enjoy.

    would later-model airheads be more reliable?

    i could still be tempted by an R100/S or RT. but i am seriously lusting after this /6 in any case.

    thanks,

    -eric

  13. #13
    Registered User 88bmwjeff's Avatar
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    Here's my $0.02.

    The later airheads tend to handle a bit better and require a little less tinkering due to the electronic ignition and lack of rear/wheel splines to worry about. Keep in mind, the youngest airhead is about 17 years old, so just about any bike could require some bit of repairs above and beyond normal maintenance. That's not good or bad, just the nature of the beast. As far a reliability goes, I would say that would depend mostly on the condition of the bike and how it's been maintained. It sounds like the best candidate for you would be from someone with full maintenance records. This may require you to pay a bit more, but sounds like it would be worth it in your case. IMO, it would be better to pay a premium for a really good bike that needs nothing than to save a few bucks and get one with some issues.

    The list of mechanics that work on Airheads these days is short. So, if you are unwilling to do some maintenance, you may want to think about a more modern bike.
    Jeff in W.C.
    1988 R100 RT (the other woman)
    "I got my motorcycle jacket but I'm walking all the time." Joe Strummer

  14. #14
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    Smile My 2 cents

    You did not say where you are located.
    Why not contact members of this club and ABC to see if there is a wrench who will go out with you when you look at the bike.

    I know that I may get flamed for saying this but:

    It is possibly true that the /6 and laters may handle a bit better than older bikes. But handling is a relative thing and one person's perfect ride may seem abhorrent to another. I have Hagon shocks on my LWB "73 R75/5, and the bike imho handles like a dream. Infact much better than the oilheads I previously had.
    The fun factor is very high.

    Secondly, I disagree that modern electronics (read:black boxes) make the bike better. If you read the Airheads Beemer Club (ABC) files, the electrical problems escalate on the /6's and later. OMG! It just never ends.

    I think I could honestly say that all of us who post on this forum had electrical issues at one time. It is one thing to replace a fuse, a filament, or a wire that must be re-soldered. But those black boxes can tap right into your wallet very quickly.

    So what is the take away here? The "older" bikes are easier to work on and simple. And you will spend some money regardless of your choice. But do not think that electrics are that much better on /6's and later.

    There is an element of satisfaction in riding something that you have worked on. If you are in doubt of that committment, then get an airhead to work on, and also buy a more modern R to jump on and go. Thee are deals galore out there on oilheads.
    "What is beautiful is simple, and what is simple always works"....Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47.
    Currently bikeless, but looking hard! "Center yourself in the vertizontal. Ride a motorcycle...namaste' "

  15. #15
    Registered User ezwicky's Avatar
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    thanks again everybody. regarding my location, i'm located in the philadelphia suburbs, about 45 minutes from the seller.

    i just called him, and if the bike is not gone by saturday morning, i'm going to take a look in person. i have to travel to FL tomorrow and won't be back before then, so we'll see what happens. he did say the only issues are that the horn does not work, and the back tire will need to be replaced. he bought the bike a few months ago from his friend, who was the original owner.

    regarding maintenance, i should have been clearer before. i am very interested in doing regular maintenance and learning to do repairs. i had old harleys of various flavors (panhead, shovelhead, sportster) when i was younger, so i am not a stranger to wrenching. i just need to learn more about BMWs since my last one was so trouble-free and did not need anything other than oil changes. i do have the clymer manual on the way from amazon too.

    i'll let you all know what happens on saturday. meanwhile, i am enjoying to read all the replies so far, so please keep them coming. i do appreciate all the helpful advice.

    thanks,

    -eric
    Last edited by ezwicky; 10-17-2012 at 10:41 PM. Reason: forgot a few lines

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