‘Air-cooled flat twins worm their way into your heart’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Garage - Neil Mur­ray makes a liv­ing buy­ing & sell­ing pre-loved metal

I don’t want to harp on about BMW ‘air­heads’ just be­cause I’ve got a cou­ple of them, but that’s the thing with the old air-cooled flat twins: they sort of worm their way into your af­fec­tions, and now I’m look­ing for a third.

I’m not sure which model I want, but I’m nar­row­ing it down to an R100RS or con­ceiv­ably a black/yel­low ‘bum­ble­bee’ R100GS. A dozen years or so ago I had the Paris-dakar ver­sion and, like a fool, sold it. At that time it was worth a cou­ple of grand. You could prob­a­bly tre­ble that now. But any­way, I al­ready have an ad­ven­ture bike in the form of a mod­ern Ténéré, so the RS it is.

Tech­ni­cally, this was just the ven­er­a­ble boxer lump with big valves and 70bhp, but it had what is still one of the best sport­s­tour­ing fair­ings ever de­signed – it didn’t just keep you dry in the rain but added aero­dy­namic sta­bil­ity.

This meant you could cruise in­def­i­nitely at 100mph, in 1976.

BMW killed off the 1000cc air­heads when the Ks came along, but like Porsche with the 911, found this wasn’t easy and brought them back in the 1990s, so you can still find a 1996 model if you look hard enough. That’ll have the mono-lever rear end and bet­ter han­dling and brakes but en­vi­ron­men­tal mods mean it’ll also be 10mph slower and 10mpg thirstier than the early heavy-fly­wheel bikes, so a 197678 model is what I want.

A dealer had a truly mint ul­tralow mileage ’76 but he wanted 10 grand for it, and that’s tak­ing the pee. I’ve got four grand bud­geted and I’ll let you know how I get on.

Next week

The un­fash­ion­able Honda I can’t help but no­tice

Neil’s look­ing for an R100RS to com­plete a trio of BMW ‘air­heads’

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