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Thread: How Big is Big Enough?

  1. #1
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    How Big is Big Enough?

    Beginning the process of researching to buy an airhead. At 61 after raising a family and paying for 2 colleges I'm ready to return to riding. Half the fun is seeing the resources that are here and elsewhere. While there's a lot of info on the mechanical side of things I see less about "sizing" so here's my question.

    At 6'3", 220 lbs I don't think I'm likely to find an airhead that's "too big". But, what's likely to be too small? I see some discussion of "inseam" as a measurement of seat to ground as measure of the rider's ability to straddle the bike with feet flat on the ground. Are their airheads where my 35" inseam would result in a bike that's too small? I also see some discussion of seat and handlebar adjustment....which models/years have this feature "built-in" (if any)?

    Finally, as to riding position, I frankly don't envision a "laying forward" position as comfortable. I've seen a couple of 74-76 R90s bikes that look beautiful but without yet taking one out for a ride I wonder if the low faring and shorter, lower bars means the riding position is meant to be leaning forward.

    Since I suspect most of my riding will be weekend type trips I wonder if a fairing is even needed. I frankly like the "naked" look and it would store easier in my garage.

    Although the friends I rode with back in the day had BMW 900's and 750's, the bike I owned and enjoyed for years was an 81 Honda CB900Custom. Here were the specs on that bike for size comparison:

    http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/mod...b900c%2082.htm

    Thanks in advance for all input. I'm looking forward to my first airhead.

    Randy in Florida

  2. #2
    #4869 DennisDarrow's Avatar
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    Hey........WOW compared to this ol guy you are a giant up there in the lofty stratosphere. The only thing you leave out is your weight. To me, and this is totally subjective, perhaps, the /5 and up are gonna be kinda small. You definately will not be leaning over no matter what bars are on it. Your legs, while not being bent double, could be a bit on the tight size. By the way, the foot space for the brake and shifter are to me, size 10 and down for getting in there naturally. The power is nice at below 200 pounds but above to me, is kinda on the weakish side......

    Why don't you just go to a rally or find a local club to go to a meeting/dinner ride and ask someone if you can sit on one on the center stand. For me, at 5'10" and a 32" inseam I can easily flat food the bike and really do not lean forward on my "flat" bars from an S..........
    Good luck to ya Bud..........God bless.......Dennis

  3. #3
    Registered User godfather's Avatar
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    Great to hear you're re-entering the fold.

    My first suggestion would be take the MFS Basic Rider Course...nuff said bout that.

    I am on the vertically challenged side. At 5'6" with a 30" inseam and I can flatfoot my 78' R100/7 without issue. The /5 I had a couple years ago was the same size.
    I rode a R90S when I was looking at Airheads a month or so ago and the low bars were not an issue, so you should be fine there. The leg room will most likely be your biggest obstacle. I do not know if there are peg lowering kits for the airhead, maybe someone can chime in.

    Good luck and WELCOME!
    Attitude is everything!
    1978 R100/7
    08' V-Strom 650 great light weight tourer

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    Considering that this may be your only bike, and you want to have some fun riding it, not spend a lot of time on restoring and maintenance, I would suggest to stick with a later /7 airhead, maybe one from the 80s. You may appreciate the better low end performance, and some of the more advanced features, like disk brakes, for example.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DennisDarrow View Post
    Hey........WOW compared to this ol guy you are a giant up there in the lofty stratosphere. The only thing you leave out is your weight. To me, and this is totally subjective, perhaps, the /5 and up are gonna be kinda small. You definately will not be leaning over no matter what bars are on it. Your legs, while not being bent double, could be a bit on the tight size. By the way, the foot space for the brake and shifter are to me, size 10 and down for getting in there naturally. The power is nice at below 200 pounds but above to me, is kinda on the weakish side......

    Why don't you just go to a rally or find a local club to go to a meeting/dinner ride and ask someone if you can sit on one on the center stand. For me, at 5'10" and a 32" inseam I can easily flat food the bike and really do not lean forward on my "flat" bars from an S..........
    Good luck to ya Bud..........God bless.......Dennis
    Dennis - Thanks for the comments. I've got some checking to do. It seems my initial surprise is foot space...my previous bike being a 4 cylinder didn't have the opposed cylinder sticking out and I never thought of that factor for my size 11 1/2 feet.

    Godfather - took MSF Basic to get my Florida endorsement years ago but have already checked out and will enjoy the MSF Experienced Rider Course as a refresher with whatever "new" bike I get.

    Thanks to all for input.

    Randy

  6. #6
    Superkraut typ181r90's Avatar
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    I'm 6'2, 200 lbs, 34" inseam, size 12 boots. My R90 fits me perfectly, and that shares the same frame as pretty much all the LWB /5/6/7 airheads

    It had Euro bars on it when I bought it and that riding position was a nice, comfortable, neutral riding position - could ride all day, but I also have fairly long arms. I've since put clip-ons on it which even though force you into a more forward posture, is still comfortable for rides up to 2 hours or so, then I gotta stop and stretch. Even though I went with clip-ons, I still kept the stock shifter and rear brake positions as I still find that comfortable, when I tested rearset fitment I found it to be a little too cramped. Point is, you should comfortable on most airheads with the stock seating position and even with a sportier riding posture.

    Concerning speed's relation to weight, I have no problem getting my R90 up to 100-110 (I think the fastest I got was 115, indicated on the speedometer, so probably slower), and acceleration is snappy, even for 32mm CVs (thought mine are rejetted a little for my exhaust, nothing crazy though)
    // 1975 BMW R90/6 (cafe'd) // 1957 BMW R60 (in pieces) // 1967 Aermacchi/H-D Sprint 250 SS (custom special) // 1973 VW Type 181 Custom SOLD )

    http://symphonyofshrapnel.blogspot.com

  7. #7
    Registered User 88bmwjeff's Avatar
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    I have about a 33 inch inseam, and I've found my 88 R100 RT to be a bit cramped for long rides. Unfortunately, newer bikes are not much better. You may need to have the seat raised and perhaps the pegs lowered. Stretching on a regular basis has made riding better. While not all bikes are on this site (some older BMW's are though), using the link below will help you see how you will fit on different bikes. As far as not leaning forward, an RT or a GS would give you more of a upright position as would. The RT does come with a big fairing--don't know if that's your thing though. The fairing works great to block the wind on cold days; however, it also blocks the air on hot days, which is not prefered, DAMHIK. I would assumed that a standard bike (non RT, RS, S, GS, etc.) should have a rather upright position as well. With regards to foot size, I wear 12.5's and with the right boot, I have no problem shifting.




    http://cycle-ergo.com/
    Jeff in W.C.
    1988 R100 RT (the other woman)
    "I got my motorcycle jacket but I'm walking all the time." Joe Strummer

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 88bmwjeff View Post
    I have about a 33 inch inseam, and I've found my 88 R100 RT to be a bit cramped for long rides. Unfortunately, newer bikes are not much better. You may need to have the seat raised and perhaps the pegs lowered. Stretching on a regular basis has made riding better. While not all bikes are on this site (some older BMW's are though), using the link below will help you see how you will fit on different bikes. As far as not leaning forward, an RT or a GS would give you more of a upright position as would. The RT does come with a big fairing--don't know if that's your thing though. The fairing works great to block the wind on cold days; however, it also blocks the air on hot days, which is not prefered, DAMHIK. I would assumed that a standard bike (non RT, RS, S, GS, etc.) should have a rather upright position as well. With regards to foot size, I wear 12.5's and with the right boot, I have no problem shifting.




    http://cycle-ergo.com/
    Cool site Jeff! I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortable. Keep the insights coming.

  9. #9
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    R90/6 and R100/7 are physically the same size and both are 60 hp. I'm 6'2'' 190lbs. 34'' inseam 11 1/2 size boot. You take a stock seat and have it raised a little to give a little more leg room. You run crash bars to add hiway pegs to give you a way to streach out occasionally and relax the legs. Stay away from RT's and RS's so the lower fairing doesn't crowd your feet. Just my opinion. I've rode and owned all these bikes.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by barryg View Post
    R90/6 and R100/7 are physically the same size and both are 60 hp. I'm 6'2'' 190lbs. 34'' inseam 11 1/2 size boot. You take a stock seat and have it raised a little to give a little more leg room. You run crash bars to add hiway pegs to give you a way to streach out occasionally and relax the legs. Stay away from RT's and RS's so the lower fairing doesn't crowd your feet. Just my opinion. I've rode and owned all these bikes.
    That's what I appreciate about this community. Thanks Barry.

  11. #11
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    When I was out looking for mine - about 1 month before last Christmas, I ran across a R75/7 up near Detroit - it was in awesome shape and ran perfectly. But because I knew I was gong to be pulling a trailer, I wanted either a 900cc (what I had 25 years ago but stupidly sold) or a R100. I found the R100 in North Carolina. Was worth the trip. Looked good, and ran very good in the 1/2 hour I could look at it, but underneath, needed lots of maintenance - nothing major, but all those nagging things like bearing re-greasing, fixing this, fixing that, and changing all the oils, lubes.

    I love those old airheads, but I also think a Luftmeister fairing actually makes the ride more enjoyable (200-300 miles round trips on weekends) and in my opinion, can still be very attractive if painted correctly and clean. Though, I still like the original look of a stock /7.

  12. #12
    Monza Blue 1974 R90/6
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    This is really a subjective topic, so as you can see, lots of opinions.

    Two thoughts that might help -

    Do some searches in this forum on things like "best airhead" and you will see there are four or five really good threads in last year or two about the pros and cons of the different models and the the year groups. Tossed in will be some wisdom about buying a fixer-upper and putting money into it over time; or, paying a little more up front for a bike where somebody else has already made the fixing up investment. Also included will be the sitting positions of the various models. You might have to send a personal message to Kurt (moderator) for search tips using google as sometimes the forum search feature doesn't work well.

    All good in theory and to narrow down the possibilities.

    Second thing I would recommend is to contact the Florida Airmarshal from the Airheads Club. Find out when they are having a tech day or other get together somewhere near you. Go and visit so you can see a collection of different years, models, and configurations. That way you can sit on them and get a feel for what might work for you. I will send you a personal message with the FL Airmarshal's email.

    Regards,

    Barron

  13. #13
    Registered User ItsPhilD's Avatar
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    I had a blast on a 1999 F650 Funduro. Put many miles with even quite a few overnighters to other states. I'm 6'1" 250# with a 33" inseam. A lot depends on what your performance desires might be.

    Currently I have a C650GT and am having an absolute blast. Just did a 2 day over and back from AZ to CA last Thu and Fri and then rode both Sat and Sun. Sustained highway speeds of up to 85 and then twisty canyon roads. I had fun on all of them.

    My point, don't over think it. Buy something and go ride!

  14. #14
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    I'm 6' 5", about 230 lb, size 13 or 14 shoe. I find my R100RS to be a bit small in some ways. The fairing gets in the way of my knees sometimes...if I sit forward on the seat I have to tuck my knees in between the tank & the fairing...makes it hard to shift my body around. So, I usually find myself moving back on the seat but then I'm more bent over the bars and it can get tiresome faster. If I have the fairing lowers on (I usually don't) my feet can catch on them. And the space between the carb and the shifter and brake pedal is just barely big enough for my boot toe. I definitely don't have any problem flat-footing it, tho. I've pretty much gotten used to it so I don't have any real problems with it. I haven't done any long distance stuff on it...250 miles or so is about the max. It's OK if I stop every so often & stretch.

    I've taken my wife for a couple short rides and it's just barely big enough for the two of us & she's not especially tall (5'6" or so). Main problem is that the passenger foot pegs are too close to the driver pegs so she has to be careful where she puts her feet. That's really a problem with the bags on.

    The RS is the only BMW I've ridden so I don't have any basis for comparison. I'm not sure any bike out there would fit me (us) all that well.

    When I was in college I had a Honda CB350. I was lighter then but about the same height. It was my primary transportation and I don't remember any particular problems with it altho some people who saw me ride it said it looked kind of strange. I sometimes even rode it two up with my (then future) wife. It was a helluva lot smaller than the RS. Altho back then (1971 or so) the CB350 was a fairly large bike).
    1983 R100RS (Sold)
    2004 R1150RT
    BMW MOA 181289
    ABC 13558

  15. #15
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srq.fl View Post
    At 6'3", 220 lbs I don't think I'm likely to find an airhead that's "too big".
    You're confused by all the numbers.

    Here's the thing: when it comes to "physical size," ALL Airheads are the same. That's because they all have the same frame and wheels. They are "parts bin" bikes.

    When you see 500, 600, 750, 800, 900, or 1000, the only differences are in size of cylinders and cylinder heads, carbs, and rear drive ratios.

    Seats are all the same, foot pegs are all the same in the same locations, there are about 5 different handlebar shapes, making the only ergonometric differences. A fairing may make the bike look bigger, but it's the same bike, heavier obviously.

    Here are the VERY FEW exceptions:
    In mid 1973 the wheelbase was lengthened. Basically you should avoid the earlier versions.
    In 1985 the frame/wheels/suspension were significantly modified, but overall dimensions changed very little.
    From 1979 to ~1984 there was the R65, which indeed is a physically smaller bike. The R65 of 1985 is not.
    From 1981 to 1986, there was the R80G/S, which is different but not particularly smaller.
    The R80ST is basically the same as the R80G/S, but smaller front wheel brings it close to R65 size.
    The R100GS and R100R are a unique pair and a little longer than the G/S and ST.

    That's all there is.

    Compared to a modern BMW like for example the R1200RT, all Airheads are small. The F800s are similar in size, but have more power and significantly better fuel economy. The Airhead "soul" is still there in the R1200s, not at all in the F-models.

    PS: physical size is often psychological but the physics is real. An R100RS with its itty bitty handlebars is a heavy pig, a G/S or GS with wide handlebars seems a featherweight in comparison. That's how they comparatively handle, too.
    Kent Christensen
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    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

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