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Thread: Airhead wheels

  1. #1
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    Airhead wheels

    Does anyone know?...if the newer "Tubeless" wheels will fit older airheads. Or are there aftermarket tubeless wheels for them ? I like spoke wheels but I prefer tubeless tires....Thanks.

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    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    By "newer tubeless wheels" you mean those fitted to R100GS or those fitted to touring bikes from 1985 on.

    Neither fit earlier models, as axle diameters are different in front and you really can't "bore out" the bottom of the fork legs so they'll fit. The touring front wheels are smaller in overall diameter, too. Obviously, the rear wheels are bolted on with lug bolts so lots of work to fit a different rear drive, take off the left side or your swingarm, etc.

    As for "converting" snowflakes all you can do is increase the valve hole size so a tubeless valve will fit. You can't add the required bead retention feature and therefore you do not have a wheel safe for tubeless running.

    It is simply futile to attempt to make a new, modern bike out of old Airheads. Just enjoy them for what they are and like they are ... or actually buy a newer, more modern bike.
    Kent Christensen
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    By "newer tubeless wheels" you mean those fitted to R100GS or those fitted to touring bikes from 1985 on.

    Neither fit earlier models, as axle diameters are different in front and you really can't "bore out" the bottom of the fork legs so they'll fit. The touring front wheels are smaller in overall diameter, too. Obviously, the rear wheels are bolted on with lug bolts so lots of work to fit a different rear drive, take off the left side or your swingarm, etc.

    As for "converting" snowflakes all you can do is increase the valve hole size so a tubeless valve will fit. You can't add the required bead retention feature and therefore you do not have a wheel safe for tubeless running.

    It is simply futile to attempt to make a new, modern bike out of old Airheads. Just enjoy them for what they are and like they are ... or actually buy a newer, more modern bike.


    No attempt at improvement is futile....and i have a modern BMW as well thank you, ...I was asking for experience / knowledge .....not some smart ass remark.....

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    Registered User toooldtocare's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    By "newer tubeless wheels" you mean those fitted to R100GS or those fitted to touring bikes from 1985 on.

    Neither fit earlier models, as axle diameters are different in front and you really can't "bore out" the bottom of the fork legs so they'll fit. The touring front wheels are smaller in overall diameter, too. Obviously, the rear wheels are bolted on with lug bolts so lots of work to fit a different rear drive, take off the left side or your swingarm, etc.

    As for "converting" snowflakes all you can do is increase the valve hole size so a tubeless valve will fit. You can't add the required bead retention feature and therefore you do not have a wheel safe for tubeless running.

    It is simply futile to attempt to make a new, modern bike out of old Airheads. Just enjoy them for what they are and like they are ... or actually buy a newer, more modern bike.
    Actually sounds like good advice to me.

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    Same here

    Seems like a genuine effort to impart some words of wisdom to me. I didn't detect anything of smart aleck nature in the reply. I once put about 9K in an old Chevy pick-up and when I went to sell it, I got about ten cents on the dollar. Every time I think about updating my 76 900, I remember this and resist.

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    What "older" airhead are you wanting to update to tubeless?

    Most people simply use the newer tubeless tires and put a tube in anyway.

    However, that being said, if your older airhead is a mid 70's then the snowflake wheels should fit.

    Mine has them!

    Sometimes people get a little arrogant & testy when they impart their "wisdom" so just ignore them.

    My very first post asking about the current views on purchasing a battery, I had asked if anybody had used any from some of the discount places like Wal-Mart, Auto-Zone, etc. Years ago (about 25) I had two different BMW's, a /2 and a /6, mind you. I was simply asking what the current views were.

    I was met with a stinging indictment of being a stupid mechanic who didn't appreciate the true worth of these wonderful machines!

    Needless to say, I PM'd the guy and asked him to not ever attempt to give me any more advice, seeing as how I have nearly totally rebuilt two BMW's!

    It is YOUR bike and do with what YOU want!!

  7. #7
    Old Salt MEAirhd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 157149 View Post
    Seems like a genuine effort to impart some words of wisdom to me. I didn't detect anything of smart aleck nature in the reply. I once put about 9K in an old Chevy pick-up and when I went to sell it, I got about ten cents on the dollar. Every time I think about updating my 76 900, I remember this and resist.
    I Concur

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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    By "newer tubeless wheels" you mean those fitted to R100GS or those fitted to touring bikes from 1985 on.

    Neither fit earlier models, as axle diameters are different in front and you really can't "bore out" the bottom of the fork legs so they'll fit. The touring front wheels are smaller in overall diameter, too. Obviously, the rear wheels are bolted on with lug bolts so lots of work to fit a different rear drive, take off the left side or your swingarm, etc.

    As for "converting" snowflakes all you can do is increase the valve hole size so a tubeless valve will fit. You can't add the required bead retention feature and therefore you do not have a wheel safe for tubeless running.

    It is simply futile to attempt to make a new, modern bike out of old Airheads. Just enjoy them for what they are and like they are ... or actually buy a newer, more modern bike.
    What "tubeless retention feature?"

    I suspect that you are going beyond what you actually know and are giving your opinion. I have heard of several who have converted a tube-type rim to tubeless running and I hear they worked fine!

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    Registered User toooldtocare's Avatar
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    Hard to find better description than here. http://mgaguru.com/mgtech/wheels/wl106.htm "Safety rims may be an advantage for people who insist on ignoring their tires and run around with very low air pressure. Even then, the safety rim should only come into play if you try to run flat with no pressure. The safety rim is designed to hold the tire bead in place on the rim in the absence of pressure. With normal pressure in a tubeless tire, a standard rim (not safety rim) will hold the tire securely. So you need not worry about this, as long as you maintain reasonable tire pressure, and don't try to run any distance on a flat tire."

    And, "Safety rims are intended to keep a tire on the rim for a while if run with very low air pressure, so you might have a chance to drive it a little way on a nearly flat tire to get service help. There was an auto safety series show on TV some years ago demonstrating that a car might be driven up to 5 miles at 5-mph on a flat tire (if you have enough patience to stay slow). The totally flat tire will eventually come loose from the rim even with a safety rim. Having a tube inside will make no difference if it goes to zero air pressure."

    Of course, this is his opinion, but it also matches what I have heard over the years.

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    OK, maybe my reply was incorrect? It is sometime hard to sense [intent] in the typed word. But the reply I received seemed more about telling me what I should do & accept, as opposed to just answering my question. As far as the use them as they are, portion. Has no one ever switched seats, maybe a mirror, tried a better battery, etc?....it is {IMO} all an attempt to improve...no?...so why not up grade / improve tires if possible?

    I had forgotten the new style are lug-bolt mounted, & I own one... thanks for that reminder. I have owned airheads with Lester wheels, snowflakes , and tube-type spoke wheels, I would like to find a sealed rim , spoke wheel which I can mount tubeless tires on. If I do? I'll share the information here.

  11. #11
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmylee View Post
    What "tubeless retention feature?"

    I suspect that you are going beyond what you actually know and are giving your opinion. I have heard of several who have converted a tube-type rim to tubeless running and I hear they worked fine!
    By industry standard there are tube-type and tubeless wheels and besides the valve hole size the latter has a raised ridge on the inside edge of the bead mounting surface. The fact you are unaware of this doesn't make it not so. Nobody adds this ridge when they run tires tubeless on these rims and the only "conversion" they've done is to enlarge the valve hole.
    Kent Christensen
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    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    By industry standard there are tube-type and tubeless wheels and besides the valve hole size the latter has a raised ridge on the inside edge of the bead mounting surface. The fact you are unaware of this doesn't make it not so. Nobody adds this ridge when they run tires tubeless on these rims and the only "conversion" they've done is to enlarge the valve hole.
    Wow. You really are full of yourself.

    The person I discussed this with was a man who worked at a very large motorcycle shop that sold about 10 brands of motorcycles and had changed hundreds and hundreds of tires, both tube-type and tubeless. How many have you changed?

    Also how do you account for the fact that running a tubeless tire on a tube-type rim with no tube HAS been successfully done?

    I just would bet that again, you have NO experience with this, but just conjecture.

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    Really need to know what bike you are trying to fit to

    If your older bike will fit the snowflake wheels then yes you can go tubeless
    This is not recommended but will work and many swear by it

    The valve stem hole need not be modified - there is a metal stem that will fit with
    rubber washers inside and outside retained by the nut - had one of these on a bike
    I purchased used - I ran it that way till the tire was used up and then converted back
    to the proper tube type

    As I said using tubless tires without tubes inside on the snowflake wheels is not recommended by BMW and therefore probably a liability for a professional mechanic to do for you but if you are willing to take the risk and suffer the irritation of trying to ever get the tubless tire off the rim with ordinary tools in your kit for a road fix or home tire change then have at it

    The snoflake wheel was not designed for tubless use but seems to hold air and work.

    So in my opinion your question really should be "Which bikes will fit snowflake wheels?"

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    Do you know about these guys?

    http://www.woodyswheelworks.com/

    I'm sure they would have some answers and could probably make you anything you want.

  15. #15
    Sir Darby Darryl Cainey's Avatar
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    Is it possible to buy just the BMW rim and spoke kit that has the spokes on the outside?
    Then have it laced to the hubs on your bike.

    If you can live with BMW Snowflakes they can easily be switched to tubeless, I have been running them for 3 years now & a friend has over 300,000 miles on his conversion without any problems. You have to buy a special Shreader Valve that fits the stock hole size.
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