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1974 BMW R90S

Filtering by Category: Garage Update

A Reluctant Goodbye

Classic Velocity

An impending move requires some thinning of the herd, and the R90S moves on to a new home out west. The new owner is a Harley guy who has always wanted one. It is little consolation, but perhaps this will create a new convert to the church of the horizontally opposed.....

Tired Tires Retire

Classic Velocity

The tire procrastination on the R90S ended with a coupon code deal from Bike Bandit. Metzelers were hard to find, and not cheap. given the more touring nature of my setup, I opted for some dunlops with a vintage looking tread. I must say that they look a little odd on the bike after the very sporty looking metzelers, perhaps because they were practically bald ! In any case a quick trip to the local shop for mounting/balancing, and they were back on the bike with greased axles. I took the bike out for a few hours to get the slippy mold off the rubber (at least the middle parts). The tires ride well and once the whiskers are gone they will begin to look ok as well.... 


Watching Time

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The R90S had an interesting assortment of guages when it was acquired. IT included an oil pressure guage, among other guages and was missing a clock in its modified fairing. I changed the fairing back to a stock one a long time ago, but the second guage position had the oil pressure guage just holding the space. I eventually located a VDO clock and now it is in the fairing and the bike is on the trickle charger thanks to work described in the previous post. Finally, a proper looking R90S cockpit.... 

Power Pigtail

Classic Velocity

Although you can technically get to the battery terminals on the R90S without any dissassembly, the clearance for the alligator clips is a bit too close for comfort with the battery in place. Although it is an early bike with a working kickstart, keeping the battery up to snuff is important, as I rarely choose to use the kickstarter, and the bike has an ignition module. In a cool black friday sale, I got a couple of Yuasa trickle chargers for $20 each. They came with pigtails, so I decided to wire one to the R90S. It is not the 5 minute job it should be, as the ignition module is fixed in the seat pan and needs to be removed. A side benefit is that I can now connect the heated gloves or other accessories. There is now no excuse for not using the bike this winter....except for the rear tire.

A Case of the Krausers

Classic Velocity

It is well known among fans of vintage iron that the only valid motivation for getting a project completed, is an upcoming event. There are TV shows whose entire plot revolves around getting a vehicle ready for an event and burning the proverbial midnight oil to do so. And so it was with the R90S Krauser bags. I decided that it would make it to the First & Last R90S Rally with the Krausers attached. Problem was, I decided this a few days before the rally. No worries, the frames were in the basement along with the bags patiently sitting and awaiting attachment. I had some "seatbelt" attachments for the frames somewhere, so a simple job to assemble everything and mount the bags. Or not.

It turns out the frames I had did not have the seatbelt tabs, which was ok since I could not find the seatbelt attachments. Now, I did have a set of newer bags from the R100 and up family, but they just didn't look as good on the R90S, despite attaching securely with the clasp style latches. They may be destined for ebay, or kept just in case (or something).

Undeterred, and being aware of the tendency of Krausers to depart the bike at speed anyway, I hatched a plan. I would bolt the bags to the bike, just like the previous owner of the bags had apparently done. There were two small holes in each bag where they were bolted to the frame, so all I needed was some hardware. Now you would think that with all of the metric vehicles I've owned, and the crates and crates of parts and hardware, I would have the nuts, bolts, and washers I need for this simple task....and you would be right. However, putting my hands on them would possibly takes days or even years.

Muttering to myself like a 90 year old asylum escapee, I got to the hardware store at 9:54 pm, right before they closed and walked out with $5 worth of critical hardware. At 11:15pm, the bags were on the bike securely, and I retired victorious. 

The next day, the bike ran flawlessly to the rally and back (read about the event in the main blog), and the bags stayed attached during stints exceeding 90 MPH. They look great too, somewhat worn and very much in keeping with the bike itself.

Grappling with Grommets

Classic Velocity

This clearly goes down in the cheap fix category. The fairing was rattling a bit around the turn signals and it was a perfect application for a couple of rubber grommets. For 2 weeks, I had been forgetting to get the actual diameter of the openings, and I found myself once again at Lowe's. Vowing to get this resolved, I grabbed two pairs of grommets. $3.67 later, I had the only two sizes that looked close and wondered why I hadn't done this two weeks earlier. It turns out that the thicker set was about right after a few snips to remove a couple millimeters worth of material. A perfect fit, and I took a nice test ride to ensure the rattles were really gone. 

Motor Music

Classic Velocity

There was one last piece of progress needed before being ready to start the bike on a lovely weather weekend. The day dawned sunny with temperatures in the 40s. All that was needed was the reinstallation of the exhausts, and then some fuel and a quick test ride of the concentric circle variety. The first delay was the exhaust clamp. It seems the bolt in it decided to snap, and leave the semi-siezed part of itself (of course) in the clamp. After some penetrant, a trip to the vise, and some vise grips, the offending bolt vacated the clamp. I chased the threads and found another M8 bolt. With the clamp on, we were able to move on to the next delay, starting the bike. When you have taken a bike apart and put it back together, the failure to start sends your mind reeling over potential missing pieces or disconnected wiring. It turns out that I had a key ground wire connector not well.....connected. Once in place, the bike took a few minutes to start. Idle was high, and the throttle grip needed adjustment, but the motor sounded good. I went up and down the block a few times to make sure the brakes were in fine working order. The bike made it back under its own power, so a more adventurous ride was in order. I rode a few miles to put some fuel in the bike, and then took a slightly longer route home. Despite needing to go gingerly because of gravel still all over the road, the bike ran great. There are a few niggles to take care of, but I was very pleased with the results. On to the next concentric circle.....

Some Cosmetic Progress

Classic Velocity

It is always a good sign when work on the bike has progressed to the point of tackling some cosmetic items. In this case the decals are applied to the sidecovers, and the rear emblems are cleaned up or replaced. These are small things, but the net effect is a big jump in progress from a visual perspective. It is beginning to look like it will be ready to get on the road soon. However, Puxatawny Phil has seen his shadow, and the snow storms seem to be queued up back to the pacific waiting to pound us into submission. It could be a while before we are riding around....

Fiddling with Fairings

Classic Velocity

I was finally at the point where the fairing swap needed to happen. The old one had a major crack in it, and had a "touring" windshield which seemed somehow incongruent with the concept of the R90S. Not that it wasn't a great sport touring mount, it's just that touring conjures up images that are the exact opposite of bikini (which is how one would describe the R90S fairing). It distorted the lines of this iconic machine. I mean, bikini is short and skimpy, while.....but I digest.
The old came off and the new (as in new to me) went onto the bike. It has its own share of blemishes and is far from perfect, but it is consistent with the rest of the unrestored bike and looks great. The hardware needed some cleaning up on the grinding wheel, and the turn signals were returned to operating condition after some sandpapering of connections. The guages were bolted in place, but sorting out the wiring associated with them will wait for another day.
The windshield I got with the fairing is looking a lot better, but a long way from new. The little plastic hardware thingies (what is the correct name for these things?) securing the windshield were all able to be reused except for 3 of them. I'll track some down and replace them. All in all, a decent session that had the fairing looking much better.

Seat and Signals

Classic Velocity

  There were two objectives for this garage session. The first was to clean things up since the area of the garage where the R90S sat was full of scattered tools and parts and rags and chemicals. There were also many remnants of the tie-wraps used to sort out the wiring system. With the area partially cleaned up, I moved on to objective number two which was to get the seat and front turn signals back on the bike.

  The seat hardware cleaned up nicely with the wire wheel and mounted easily. The rear decal on the seat assembly was tatty, so it came off and will await a replacement. The underseat and the seat foam seem to be in fairly good condition, and the rubber bumpers are ok as well so this part is easy.

The turn signals need a little work with some metal polish and fine steel wool. The result is excellent. Both sides get reattached to the bike.

Patented Dent Removal

Classic Velocity

Progress continues on the remantling of the R90S. The holiday period allowed for some time in the garage and with the aid of a heater it was a decent place to work. The main thrust of this assault was sorting out the remainder of the electrical gremlins affecting the tail light. A continuity test revealed that there were problems somewhere between the handlebar switch and the tail light !! A slow process of testing every 6 inches or so located the problem in the seat pan area. An examination of the removed section of wiring revealed brittle and cracked shielding as if exposed to heat. Other adjacent wiring was fine, and so I replaced the wiring, shrink-wrapped the connections and put some flex shielding around the whole section for good measure.

The shocks were remounted on the bike. They seem to be fairly responsive and just needed some cleanup along with the hardware. I also decided between the 2 used fuel tanks. One had decent paint but a few dings, while the other had faded paint and few imperfections. I decided on better paint, and then used my patented dent removal system on two dents on the top of the tank. The patented system involves a selection of c-clamps and welding vise grips, an assortment of rags and cloths, various custom designed pieces of wood and plastic, and a few yoga moves. One dent is now perfectly repaired. The other is much improved and now looks like a minor dent. Lastly, I transferred the petcocks and gas cap to the chosen tank, and got it mounted on the bike.

Some Goodies Arrive

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A few parts necessary for sprucing things up arrive and get applied. The speedometer and tachometer both had trim rings which were split or damaged. The speedometer glass lens was separated from the base and needed reseating with adhesive. New emblems and a tool tray also arrive.


More mantling

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The gradual re-assembly proceeds in small spurts. Here, the components along the spine get returned to their rightful place after repair and repaint. In particular, several wiring connectors are replaced, the master cylinder is put back in place, as are the coils. The cylinder heads have also benefitted from some scuff pad and light wire wheel treatment.



Cleanup and a little mantling

Classic Velocity

Once you dismantle something and then do the fixup/cleanup routine, you must mantle it. At this point in the project, you have conceptually turned the corner and are looking forward to a revived bike, or you are posting it on craigslist as a box of parts. This bike consumes a lot of elbow grease (and some knuckle grease), but has no further surprises and is actually a solid but neglected bike.

Dismantling begets dismantling

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Both the back end and the front come apart and get cleaned, examined, replaced in some cases and generally made spiffy. There is an interesting assortment of wiring for the interesting assortment of guages in the fairing. Getting back to stock should be fun !! The fairing comes off and exposes the headlight and environs. The battery box and battery return after much cleanup and repainting. The front fender comes off for cleanup. It is amazing how much stuff gets behind the fork reflectors.


Let the dismantling commence

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Cleaning, refurbishing, replacing, can only be done well once things are taken apart IMHO. It also continues the discovery process. Best to know exactly what you have before you venture down the road. Critical tools include a sharpie and a box of ziploc bags. However, the kit also must include your favorite penetrant, and your favorite degreaser (I like purple power). I was actually pleased by the state of the frame where the brake cylinder is mounted, as I have seen compromised frames in this area due to the corrosive nature of brake fluid. The rear subframe gets cleaned up and painted.


As Arrived

Classic Velocity

Once the bike arrived home, a chance for more pics andthe beginning of the discovery process. At some point, the bike seems to have been owned by an engineer (not unusual for BMWs) who created the 4-guage cluster in the fairing, among other modifications.