BMW R90S Vintage Motorcycles

2 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on BMW R90S Vintage Motorcycles

1977 Harley Davidson XLCR

It’s that time of year that I start searching for, working on and writing about ‘winter projects’. Here in Southern California winter is all about having to switch from shorts to long pants and maybe a long sleeve t-shirt. OK…I said that just to make all of you that live in colder climates a bit jealous but the truth is, it does get cold here for us motorcyclists and though we may not have heated basements to build bikes in, my journalistic hero Peter Egan has the best, but we do have to warm up the garage at night to work on bikes.

It’s no secret that I love the Harley Davidson XLCR, it really is one of the few Harley’s that I really do lust after…note here…Santa (wife) are you listening. The XLCR was not one of ‘The Motor Company’s’ shining moments, at the time, but it has become quite a cult classic. XLCR models in beautiful condition are selling for upwards of five times their original selling price.

Honestly, Harley dealers were selling them at ‘fire sale’ prices two years after they quit making them. A little less than 2000 of the CR models were made and as I have said before they went over like a fart in church. It’s too bad to because a number of the features that went into XLCR ended up helping make the standard Sportster a much better motorcycle.

Willie G. Davidson penned this bike from the ground up. He went after the BMW R90S and the Ducati SS. The XLCR was the quickest and fastest of the Sportsters. THe CR was 5hp up on the basic Sporty, it was under 500LB’s (which the BMW was not) and had a top speed over somewhere a bit north 110mph (which in itself was really not that big a deal at that time). Willie G. pulled some of the chassis design straight off Harley’s own flat track dominating XR750.

But, to the faithful, it was not a real Harley. Yes, there were the AMF quality issues with the bike but all told, the XLCR was a good bike. Harley tried the Sportbike market again decades later with Buell but again pulled the plug.

Harley knows their market.

Back to winter projects, I found an XLCR on ebay this morning, that if you’re brave enough, will be a great winter project. It’s pretty rough, it’s not a basket case but, it is rough. This is a bike that is going to need a lot of love and elbow grease.

The seller is very honest about what has and hasn’t been done to/for the bike, what parts he has, the condition of said parts and what he wants to keep off the bike for his collection and what goes with it. Some of the stuff is good, some is questionable but all in all if you want a good winter project, this is pretty good choice. The bike is a runner so that in itself gives you a good starting point.

With this XLCR you have a really have an easy choice to make…clean it all up (but leave it a little ratty), piece it back together and ride it. Or…go the full restoration route and invest a whole lot of money, that you will never get back if you want to sell it, and it will be a really cool motorcycle for a collection. And with a little work, it could end looking like this one…

Click on the pics below for a lot more info and more pictures.

1977 Harley Davidson XLCR

1978 Ducati Darmah

I have been riding, fixing, and building Vintage Motorcycles since before they were ‘Vintage’. I love the soul sounds old bikes make… I love the shakes that come up through the seat, foot pegs and handlebars that let you know the motorcycle is alive. And so are you.

An old motorcycle may/ will . require more attention on your part, but if your willing to put in that time, the payback is well worth it.

Recently I sold off my last ‘really classic’ motorcycle, a 1976 BMW R90S. I still have a small fleet of ‘classic’ Honda 350′s, a Honda Hawk and parts that fit something or another, but unique classics…well, the barn is looking a bit empty.

One of the bikes I sold a while back was my Ducati SD900 Darmah. This was a bike I had lusted after for more than 30 years. A Readers Digest version of the story is I saw one. a new one, in 1981 on a dealership floor in New Mexico.

It was the most beautiful motorcycle I had ever seen.

Fast forward to 1995…while picking up a suspension part at a racing friends shop I spotted a Darmah, a black and gold Darmah, (the one I have dreamed about for all those years) sitting off in a corner covered in dust and shop grime. Two days later I was riding it home. The sound and the feel of that Italian twin was better than any drug you can imagine. I rode that beautiful Darmah almost every day. It was featured in a Ducati Museum show at Laguna Seca during the MotoGP race.

The Darmah is a really great sport touring type motorcycle of the era.

I sold the Darmah because garage space was getting smaller (too many bikes…wait, you can’t have too many bikes…can you??) and I found another classic I really wanted. Anyway, I really do miss my Ducati.

I found a beauty on ebay today. This 1978 Duck has only 15,000 miles and has been well taken care of. The seller put on a 2 into 1 Conti exhaust and pod filters…the bike has to be breathing a lot better now.

This is a sweet bike. The beauty of the SD900 is that it is comfortable, reliable, stable at speed and handles like it is on rails. The Darmah is a wonderful, confidence inspiring motorcycle.

For someone looking for a bike that you won’t see coming around every corner, this Darmah would be a great choice. Click on the pics below for more pictures and more info.

Oh and one more thing, if you buy this bike or any other classic Ducati Bevel Head, you’re going to need, want parts…contact my friend Steve Allen @ Steve is the best guy you will find for classic Ducati parts..and his knowledge in invaluable.

1978 Ducati Darmah

1976 BMW R90S

Well, the time has come to sell my R90S. I love this bike but I think that somebody may love it a bit more.

I bought the bike a few years ago from my son’s father in law. It had been sitting for seventeen years under some boxes of vintage radios, a piece of old carpet and a couple of blankets and I wanted it. We struck a deal and I brought it home.

A good tune up, new tires and off I went to see my friend Bill Stermer (who wrote the book on airhead BMW’s and is a writer for Rider Magazine). We rode our favorite road and at the end of the ride he gave the bike the ‘two thumbs up’ and I was happy. Since that time, my wife and I have traveled California and the Southwest US on the BMW and it has never let us down. It is a great motorcycle.

But, like most of us motorcyclists, we always lust for something else…new, old, or just different from what we have now. That is where I am at now.

So, here’s the deal. The bike is a 1976 R90S with 36,572 miles on the clock. It has a 1977 R100RS fairing, makes for very comfortable riding.

I put new shocks on it from Bobs BMW on it about 10k miles ago and replaced the fork springs. The carbs were rebuilt and full tune up done about 2K miles ago. All the fluids have just been changed (engine oil and filter,trans,drive shaft and differential,front brake fluid).

New throttle and clutch cables.

I put a ‘Brown’s’ sidestand on it because the stock BMW sidestand is a nightmare. The bike has the full complete BMW tool kit plus more tools and ignition parts, a spare throttle cable and a genuine BMW tank cover. Factory BMW saddle bags (Krauser) and the small luggage rack in place of the simple grab handle, the chrome grab handle comes with it too.

I have a set of fork boots that I didn’t install that go with the bike.

What the bike needs is a new rear tire and the fairing needs a paint job, and the windscreen is cracked…that’s all.

It’s a great bike, runs perfectly and can be yours for $6000. R90S models with twice the mileage sell for more, this is a good deal. I will deliver within 100 miles of zip code 93015 for an additional $100.

If you want the bike shipped I can help your shipper but all arrangements are up to you.

If you have any questions or would like more pictures just send me an e-mail

This R90 has been a great friend and now it needs to be a great friend to someone else.

1975 BMW R90S

This bike is so easy to write about because I have an R90S and absolutely love it! And, my S model has a similar story. When I found mine it had been buried underneath a mountain of boxes full of vintage radio parts for about seventeen years.

I was there to buy an old radio but I noticed some old motorcycles being rolled out of the garage and into a truck and a van. “What’s going on?” I asked. “My wife told me to start cleaning out the garage” said Mr. Radio. I stood there slack jawed watching a Vincent Black Shadow roll into the back of an old Ford Econoline, a Norton International roll into a U-Haul trailer and an old sidevalve K model Harley sitting in the driveway waiting for its new owner.

Mr. Radio, proceeded to show me a couple more motorcycles that had been buried for decades and one of them happened to be an R90s that he had fitted an R100RS fairing to, but no fuel tank. “Where’s the tank?” he pointed up into the rafters and there sat a beautifully painted ‘Smoke Grey’ tank. We worked out the price and the BMW went home with me that day. I think the radio is still in his garage.

The BMW R90s is the first AMA Superbike Champion motorcycle. Granted, it is not the basic 58HP R90s but the regular R90s is an incredible motorcycle. I believe that it is the ‘Superbike that will do everything’.

I have put thousands of miles on it across the western US and it is my daily commuter (when I’m not riding my son’s Honda Hawk…which I confiscated from him when he wasn’t looking…).

I found this really nice ’75 model on ebay today, it has only 19K miles on it, has been gone through front to back…new tires,battery,shocks, etc. This is a really great bike. It is the beautiful ‘Daytona Orange’, which, I wish mine was.

The current ebay price of the bike is about right considering the low mileage. This is definitely a ‘buy, fly, ride home’ bike.

Click on the pictures below for more pics and more info. Honestly, this is a great bike to have and ride

1975 BMW R90S

1971 Norton Commando

I remember the first time I saw a Norton motorcycle up close and in person. A good friend of my step dads came over to pick him up and go for a ride…I had to go to school. The thing that struck me the most was  watching the front wheel shaking up and down and the rest of the bike was dead steady.

My first exposure to Norton’s Isolastic engine mounting system. The other thing that stood out was the exhaust pulse, the Norton long stroke motor puts out a very distinctive feel and sound, much different from the Triumph and BSA sounds I was used to.

A couple of days later I got the opportunity to ride Stanley’s Norton. Stanley had removed the stock reverse megaphone mufflers in favor of the Dunstall silencers because he liked the look better…I liked the sound. But still what struck me was the smoothness of the motorbike while sitting on it. The Isloastic engine mounting system really worked, from the saddle I could still see the front wheel bouncing around but I didn’t feel a thing….almost.

It was a great ride and I fell in love with Norton motorcycles. I have raced Norton’s over the years but still have never owned one. What is wrong with that picture?

Today while cruising ebay looking for ‘after Christmas gifts for myself’, I found an interesting Norton with a history very similar to my BMW R90S’.  This particular Norton had been buried in this gentleman’s garage and was found by two guys actually looking for something else. My BMW’s story is somewhat the same, I was looking to buy an antique radio and left with a motorcycle that had been buried for almost two decades.

The Norton history is well documented on the sellers page and it is a great story, even if you don’t buy the bike (which you should), it’s good read.

The ’71 Norton featured is a great bike to start a restoration project with. For one, it’s all there, all you need to do is put in a good amount of elbow grease a few basic parts…all the rubber bits (including tyres), a battery and a proper paint job. The guys that bought it have kept in its ‘found’ condition and you get to do all the work…perfect!  This motorcycle has so much potential in so many ways, it is a perfect winter project.

Bring it back to stock, turn it into the Cafe Racer I’ve  (I mean, you’ve…) always wanted, whatever you do it is a wonderful winter project and a bike that will keep you smiling and working on for years.

Click on the pics below for more pictures and a really good story.

’82 Yamaha XV920RJ bobber

Years back, 1981 to be exact, I was looking for a new motorcycle. I don’t remember why, but I was looking. I strolled into my local Yamaha dealer, this was decades before the ‘Motorcycle Superstores’ that we’re so used to now, and staring at me was this big 8″ headlight. It was the new Yamaha XV920RH.

Good looking V-Twin motor hanging in the chassis,a nicely sculpted gas tank, comfy looking seat, a kind of ugly rear fender though, and an enclosed chain final drive. It was a beautiful red, very European styling, and all I wanted to do was ride it. I didn’t care if it was a good motorcycle or a piece of junk, I wanted it.

The dealer hadn’t serviced it yet, he thought someone might be coming to buy it and he didn’t want to send it on a test ride unless he was sure I was going to buy it, yada ,yada, yada. UM, Ok.

Fast forward a couple of years and I meet a guy that had bought one and he let me ride it. I was riding a 1980 Honda CB750F at the time and this guy was thinking about a new bike for himself, “hey let’s swap bikes and go for a ride?!”. We took off on a day long ride that convinced me I still wanted an XV920RH.

Now remember, this was not the ‘cruiser’ Virago style, it was almost like a factory cafe racer. Yeah, it had its flaws but none of those were flaws that I couldn’t live with. The engine had good power, the right feel and, the right sound.

The chassis was adequate at best, my Honda handled much better, the rear tire was a bit on the skinny side both aesthetically and functionally, and the rear end of the bike was still ugly. I didn’t care. Sadly by that time Yamaha had stopped selling the Euro Style XV and was focusing on the Virago and the new friend I made that had one didn’t want to sell it.

Now, fast forward about oh, I don’t know…thirty five years…and, I find one for sale. Low miles, great condition and better than that, a really great price. Sadly, by time I was getting ready to go look at it and more than likely buy it, it was sold.

Sometimes things work out the way they are supposed to because, not too long after that I found my new two wheeled love, a 1976 BMW R90S, another bike I had been secretly lusting after for many years.

That whole story brings us to the bike I found on ebay. a 1982 Yamaha XV920RJ (the difference between the H model and the J model? The year.) However, this XV is not the Euro style sport touring bike I thought I couldn’t live without, but it’s a pretty cool bike. It’s been ‘bobbed’.

Now, some bob jobs ( no, this doesn’t require a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon ) come out not so good, but this Yamaha looks pretty good bobbed. It still needs a few details, but it works. The owner has swapped out the stock tire sizes for an 18″ in the front and a 16″ rear, stuck on a different gas tank (looks good) and put a classic solo seat on it. It still has, what looks to me, the stock exhaust system on it painted black…for the true look, it needs a different set of pipes.

Here’s the good thing about this bike, it also comes with the original Euro style body work (well, most of it) as part of the deal. Sweet. This is an interesting bike that if you’re looking for something of a winter project that doesn’t require massive amounts of time and $$$ or maybe you just want to change your image…this could be a good bike for you.

Click on the pics below for a bit (not much) more info. One more thing..the Yamaha XV920 motor is a rock solid piece and with the right pipes sounds bitchen.

’82 Yamaha XV920

’77 Honda Gold Wing

The first time I saw and rode a Gold Wing I was living in Las Cruces New Mexico working for the local newspaper. The dealer, Las Cruces was a small down and had only one Honda dealer, was having a big coming out party for the new Honda and I was there to write a story about it. Honda was touting the bike as a tourer but at the same time…maybe sporty?

They, Honda, weren’t really sure where the ‘Wing’ would really land.

It was kind of lined up against the BMW R90/6 and, at the same time, Kawasaki’s King Kong…The Mighty Z1. The Gold Wing was BIG …somewhere around 100 pounds bigger than the Z1 but, still had pretty respectable performance numbers in comparison tests. Comparing it to the BMW was a lot easier. Give it a big smooth comfortable ride that could easily eat up hundreds of miles a day and have you wanting to keep going and be late for dinner.

Honda was also looking at the Harley Davidson Electra Glide, the touring bike of choice at the time here in the states.

When I was at the Gold Wing debut, the Honda rep started the bike then balanced a quarter on its edge, on the engine, to prove how smooth the engine was. We were all pretty impressed. Maybe not as much as watching David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear, but nonetheless, impressed.

The bike was quiet, thanks to a boatload of engineering…and liquid cooling, but still had a distinctive sound and feel. I didn’t care about the quarter balancing act, I just wanted to ride the bike…I was there to do a job. Well that, and I just love riding new motorcycles.

The Honda rep was a little reluctant to turn me loose on his new bike, especially after he saw my cafe’d out Kawasaki 750 sitting the parking lot, but, after a bit of convincing him (lying to him…) that I would treat his new toy carefully (he actually fell for it…), we arranged a ride the next morning. The clincher was when I promised to buy him breakfast.

My first ride on the GL1000 was quite an eye opener. The bike had gobs of power all over the place but was eerily quiet and way too smooth for a guy used to British twins and a raucous two stroke triple. But I really liked it. The roads around Las Cruces aren’t what you would call over challenging or even entertaining but, we made the best of them long enough that I had to call the newspaper and make up some story that would keep them from sending out the search party or worse…firing me.

For a 600 plus pound motorcycle, the new Gold Wing was surprisingly agile and fun to ride. The sales rep was a riding the dealers own CB750 that had been tweaked a bit and still had a hard time keeping up with me, not because I was a better rider ( I was…but thats beside the point…kind of) but the Gold Wing really worked well and was easy to push around the roads of Southern New Mexico. We did get home in time for dinner.

First generation Gold Wings are great motorcycles in so many ways. The obvious is as a tourer, hauling around a sidecar is easy for a GL1000 and a few brave souls have turned their big Honda into Cafe’ Wings…my favorite. I found this really nice GL1000 on ebay and looks to be a great deal for someone looking for a classic bike that can almost anything.

This Gold Wing has only 20,000 miles, barely broken in for this bike, the owner put in a new clutch, timing belts, water pump, hoses, rebuilt the carbs…I would imagine just because it has sat for a long time. This is a great classic that can be the platform for so much…a great naked tourer or find a Vetter Windjammer on ebay and travel across the country, get a cool sidecar from my friends at Sidestrider and take the dog for a ride. This is a good bike for a good price.

There is only one thing I’m not sure I like about this particular bike, the owner replaced the cool aluminum spoked wheels with later model Comstar mags, which isn’t a bad thing, I just like the original wheels better. Click on the pics below for more info about this nice Gold Wing.

’77 Honda Gold Wing

’76 BMW R90/6

The best of the vintage sport tourers. Stone reliable, comfortable, plenty fast enough, sort of sporty handling…actually excellent for its time, and quite good looking, in a Teutonic sort of way. The R90 was the natural outgrowth of the legendary R75 and was a needed upgrade for BMW.

The Honda CB750 was faster and stopped better, thanks to the front disc brake, than the R75 and…Kawasaki had just upped the ante big time with the King Kong of them all…the mighty Z1.

I found a nice 1976 R90/6 on ebay today, not too many miles and looks to be in good condition overall. What I really like about this motorcycle is the Hannigan Sport Touring fairing. These fairings have a very distinctive look and feel to them. My friend Bill Stermer, author and journalist ( he wrote the definitive book on these bikes and is a contributing editor to Rider magazine ) has one on his R90 and just loves it. I have ridden the bike and understand why.

This bike has the stock BMW saddle bags which are very nice, but I do recommend that you also add a safety strap to the bags as they are known to, at the worst time, pop open and leave your stuff spread across the landscape. I do have one big question about the bike though, it has a new front wheel, why? Was the bike crashed? did it hit a big pothole on the road? if there was some damage, how are the forks?

But, maybe it got a new front wheel just because the old one was corroded and looking a bit ugly? Anyway, that is the only question I would ask, otherwise this looks to be a great bike at a good price that will last anyone years and years. Plus, that Hannigan fairing is so cool. The more I look at this bike, I wonder if it might a better bike for me than my R90 with RS fairing? Hmmm.

Click on the pics below for more info. And, if you call now, you get a free tank bag. Don’t wait.


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