High-Mileage Classics: 230,000-mile 1981 BMW R80/7

| 5/3/2011 11:49:58 AM

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bmw r80/7 
Derek Pugh's 1981 BMW R80/7 has logged more than 230,000 miles. 

After losing my fillings on a BSA, I looked around for an old Beemer and found a 1981 BMW R80/7. It had Akront wheels, an S-type fairing, a new seat and Krauser cases. As I drove away, the vendor shouted, “It’s hard to bump start.”

It wouldn’t start for two months. Firstly, the fuel was old, secondly, the battery had boiled dry. A new battery soon had it running again, but it sounded like the bike I’d just sold. After removing the drain plug, black sludge glooped out and the oil filter was a soggy pulp. Removing the sump, there was a perfect three-inch tower of gasket goo and other nasties underneath the pickup strainer.

All cleaned out, fresh 20/50 oil and filter and restart. A cacophony of noise assaulted me; most un-Beemer like. The valves were an easy place to start, but first one has to torque the head. My heart dropped when a nut pulled out its stud. Removing the cylinder, things fell onto my foot. The piston rings had long broken up, but the bore was perfect. I heli-coiled the thread, and after removing a burnt hamburger from each piston it was back together for sunny rides. Not.

With the valves quiet, a ring-clatter-ding from the front required attention. The timing chain could be folded over. A service kit solved that. Apart from a whine from the gearbox, the bike was sounding better. Assured that changing the box would take an afternoon (hah!), I obtained a good used item and set to it.

Removing the rear wheel revealed a dry bearing with a spinning outer race. The old trick of center-popping the hub and red stud lock secured the new bearing set. After taking off the gas/oil shocks for painting, I discovered they contained neither. Ho hum; a pair of Hagons sorted that one. I removed the block holding up the swing arm, but it remained horizontal; the taper bearings had given up the ghost long ago.

5/12/2011 5:08:24 PM

A few months ago, my wife read Jim Alaimo’s article offering his step-by-step process to rebuilding classic bikes on the cheap. She said “why don’t your projects turn out like that?” Then I read Derek Pugh's vivid description about restoring his old Beemer - I felt vindicated. wideload

David Seymour
5/12/2011 12:24:46 PM

Of all the bikes I've owned a 1972 BMW R75/5 was the nicest.I purchased it for $1,000 in Glendale, Arizona with 64,000 miles on the clock. You ride 12 months a year in Arizona, and every day I rode the bike it always made me think " this is a good motorcycle ". I used to do 70 mph. coming back to Phoenix at night from Flagstaff through the mountain curves of I- 17 effortlessly. 50 mph on a Japanese bike would scare the you know what out of you. I wish that I could have a great bike like that one again. MC/Dave