R90S tricks

Old Bike Australasia - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

I reg­u­larly buy OBA, and bought a copy of your lat­est Con­ti­nen­tal Clas­sics is­sue a few days ago as I have an abid­ing ap­pre­ci­a­tion for BMW air­heads and a par­tic­u­lar fond­ness for the /5 and /6 mod­els. While read­ing the ar­ti­cle about the R90S, I was pleas­antly sur­prised to see that you had used a photo on page 80 which was taken of my own R90S while at the Pukekohe Clas­sic Fes­ti­val in 2007. The red pinstripes are fairly dis­tinc­tive! I then fig­ured that you may ap­pre­ci­ate some back­ground on the bike. It was pur­chased as a worn out bas­ket case in 2003, and I got se­ri­ous about com­plet­ing the restora­tion in 2006. The bike had been back on the road just over 6 months be­fore you took the photo, and it had only cov­ered a few thou­sand kilo­me­ters by then. With a well equipped home work­shop and a trade back­ground, the restora­tion was a com­plete nut, bolt and rivet af­fair. I did the en­gine ma­chin­ing, gear­box and bevel over­haul, carb re­build, wiring, frame paint­ing etc my­self, with only the body­work, chroming and wheel tru­ing con­tracted out. The bike has now clocked up about 30,000km and has proved to be very re­li­able. I com­pletely agree with your com­ments about the heavy clutch, soggy front sus­pen­sion and the av­er­age brakes. You could also add the clunky gear­box to the list. It is pos­si­ble how­ever to elim­i­nate, or at least mit­i­gate these char­ac­ter­is­tics by us­ing se­lected com­po­nents from the later air­heads, since much of the later driv­e­train can be retro-fit­ted if one does some re­search. Items such as the later fly­wheel, clutch, gear­box in­ter­nals and drive­shaft can trans­form the clutch ac­tion, lever ef­fort and gearchange qual­ity. Like­wise, a later swingarm, good qual­ity shocks, heavy duty fork springs and good qual­ity fork oil can im­prove han­dling. For the brakes, the use of a smaller di­am­e­ter mas­ter cylin­der, braided lines, good qual­ity pads and cast iron discs will make a dra­matic dif­fer­ence to the ATE setup. All of the above are im­prove­ments which have been made to my bike, and most are quite dis­creet. The re­sult is a bike which han­dles, stops and rides like a much more mod­ern ma­chine while re­tain­ing the vis­ual ap­pear­ance, char­ac­ter and per­for­mance of an R90S. It is much more pleas­ant to ride in traf­fic too. So far, three guys who have rid­den it have sub­se­quently bought an R90S each, and a fourth guy has bought an R100CS! I’ve also taken the lib­erty of at­tach­ing a more re­cent photo (above).

Nick Ploeg New Zealand

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