1995 BMW R100RT Classic
As a long term Honda GoldWing owner I have frequently said that if I ever give up motorcycling, I might buy a BMW! Joking aside I have actually enjoyed riding quite a few miles in the past on these bikes belonging to my life-long friend David Durham, firstly a 1980 R100RT boxer and then a 1987 four cylinder 'Flying Brick' K100RT version and we even owned a very low mileage R65 in the late 80's but the Wings have served us so well for almost 35 years and over 100,000 miles with many long Continental trips, it would be difficult to let go.
Things took an unexpected turn recently when I was asked by a friend to see if I could help him re-commission his 1995 BMW R100 RT Classic which he has owned since 1999 but had not been using for quite a number of years. As he is approaching 80 and still has a few other smaller bikes, this particular one was now becoming 'a bit of a handful' and he was thinking that perhaps now was the time when it ought to be enjoyed by its next custodian but was needing some TLC first.
Wheeled away from the wall and placed on its main stand, this was what it looked like
'What do you think it might need?' was my first response before committing myself, having only briefly seen the bike once before and even that was some years back; he outlined the usual stuff like a new battery, tyres, brakes, oils and filters and thought that the carbs would no doubt need work too, even though it had fewer than 23,000 miles on the clock. When I went to see it I agreed that his 'to do list' was about right and had arrived with a slave battery and leads, some fresh fuel and we then discussed a general list of what else might be needed prior to him selling it. The bike had been sitting for some considerable time resting on its side stand, so the left hand carburettor float chamber had a fair amount of dried gunge in the bottom - the right hand one was acceptably clean, at least for now. I removed the pilot jet on the left carb, which surprisingly was not blocked but blew it through anyway, screwed it straight back in and the briefly cleaned chamber was refitted. Then after checking the oil, winding it over on the starter with the plugs removed until the oil pressure light went out and adding some fresh fuel, it fired up on one cylinder - the right hand one of course but would run on both at higher revs, so the left hand carb was removed and I stripped it at home and give it a thorough clean in the ultrasonic tank.
We ordered basic carb kits from Motorworks in Huddersfield and got 2 new plugs and a very expensive Motobatt 32Ah gel battery. On my next visit, armed with the thoroughly cleaned and reassembled carb, once the other bits were fitted, it chimed in on both cylinders and warmed up to a nice steady tick-over sounding very sweet indeed - no mysterious rattles, ticks or rumbles. The front brake master cylinder and calipers would be next on the list for overhaul but kits are available and new pads are present if needed amongst a whole host of spares which will go with the bike.
This is a very honest unmolested 2 owner bike, still with a very low mileage travelled in its 27 year life and everything it was supplied with new is still present, certainly a real credit to its previous owners, especially John who has looked after it so well for nearly 23 years! As a two tone grey RT Classic 'run-out model', it has colour matched panniers, the standard small black top box and heated grips. All handbooks, keys and tools are still there and it has a tank cover and tank bag. The 27 year old first aid kit is still in its compartment in the rear cowl plus the security cable stored in the top frame tube. I'm not sure if it would originally have had the tubeless tyre repair kit but they are available anyway.
This is John on the bike on the Joey Dunlop memorial run over 20 years ago!
Being such a genuine bike with a known history - quite refreshing these days and now knowing that it ran without any serious issues, I asked if he might be willing to sell it to me as I would really enjoy the challenge of bringing it back to its former glory and see how I might get on with it - although I haven't yet given up motorcycling! I think he was perhaps rather hoping things might turn out that way and obviously realised it would save him having to do any more to it and remove the hassle of dealing with its eventual sale and possible transport from here in Orkney, and a very acceptable price was agreed between us so I'm eagerly looking forward to carrying out some extensive detailing and a few long trips out in the summer - who knows, it might even grow on me? Do I need yet another bike? Sometimes we get a good feeling about a bike or car and this one is no exception but I suppose the honest answer would be no, not really - time will tell!
Having made the decision to buy the bike, although I could have done some more of the remedial work in John's garage that it would still need to pass an MOT, I thought it best to clear the hydraulic bike bench of my Honda 400/4 and bring it home. It's not easy working in someone else's place and (almost) everything is to hand in my own workshop, especially when that elusive tool is suddenly needed. The other important factor was that when it comes to having new tyres fitted - which although not worn out, it definitely needs, it's much safer on the bench where it can be securely strapped and chocked to remove both wheels - it's not really safe to do those operations on just the centre stand on the bare floor. True, I could do one wheel at a time but it's a 40 mile round trip to Dr D's bike surgery in Kirkwall, where I get my tyres!
The front brake is non-existent - the lever comes up against a stop, well before it reaches the grip as though there should be a good brake but nothing happens at the wheel! It could be seized calipers, blocked flexible pipes or a duff master cylinder - no big deal whichever way, as I would like to start with new reliable parts like seals, pipes and fluid on a bike that's been unused for so long anyway. John very kindly delivered the bike to me in his van which has a special ramp installed for loading and unloading bikes and it was not too difficult to manoeuvre it on to my bench at home after I had seen to the brakes a short while following its arrival.
During its dormant years John has occasionally sprayed almost everything with ACF 50 and apart from attracting the inevitable layers of dust, this has kept everything from suffering any serious corrosion. The paintwork is near perfect under that dust and will respond well to cleaning and polishing. Other magic 'lotions and potions' will improve the power unit and cycle parts cosmetically, ready for its first trip after so many years unused - the last tax disc issued by the Isle of Man Government shows an expiry date of 2011. All other tax discs from when John bought it are also present. Following my having to jump through many HMRC and DVLA fire hoops, it was eventually issued with its original UK registration number following all of those years in Mona's Isle and a new V5c arrived with all details correct. Insurance was easy, as I just added it to my multi-bike policy with Peter James and sent pictures with a full description of the important details for the value to be agreed by their team.
The twin disc front brake calipers were surprisingly clean and free but I still stripped and cleaned them in the ultrasonic tank and re-assembled with new seals and dust covers plus the all important O ring between the caliper halves. I checked the faces for flatness on the surface plate with 'engineers blue' but all was well on both units. The master cylinder was another easy removal and rebuild - the circlip is far more accessible than those buried deep inside on the Hondas I'm more used to struggling with.
It was the lower flexible hose that was the culprit in this saga and was completely blocked and although the upper one looked compromised on the bend where it goes under the tank, that one was actually clear. I ended up with Goodridge replacements with black sleeves and although they have a smaller outside diameter, which is irritating, I'll have to live with them and realise it will be a better set up in the long run.
The rest of the bike was given the usual deep clean and polish plus all bodily fluids have been changed, together with oil and air filters which came with the bike.
My personal choice for tyres for some time has been Bridgestone and BT46 versions are available in the correct sizes. It certainly looks like this one will live to fight another day and perhaps continue to give pleasure for many years to come.
So it's nearly ready for a shakedown run and a few rides out locally. I'll probably add a bit more when I see if I can get along with it.
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