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Don't ever buy an Oilhead !!

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Richard W
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2546
Member
Topic starter
 

Soon after I got my '79 Airhead, my brother also wanted to get back into riding and went and bought a '99 R1100S. Both bikes have low mileage and so we both understood there would be some issues working out the kinks associated with long term storage. While the problems have been similar between the 2 bikes (stale fuel, old brake fluid, failed brake hoses, etc) I can state without a doubt that the same issues on the Oilhead take 2-3 times longer to resolve.

Our Oilhead issues have chiefly been associated with the battery. On the '99 R1100S, the battery lives under the fuel tank, which lives under 10 pounds of colored, "Tupperware" plastic pieces. Although the battery can be easily reached from the RH side, the full set of LH side plastic pieces must come off before the RH side can be removed. A full 20 minutes consumed just trying to get to the suspect part. Then another 20 minutes to remount all these pieces.

Also under the fuel tank is the ABS and the associated bleed screws. Although the brake master cylinder and calipers are exposed and easy to get to, any brake work (especially hose replacement) requires bleeding the ABS pump, so the same ritual with the plastic is in order.

And every other maintenance task on this bike has been as exasperatingly complex. I can't imagine trying to do this on the side of the road. What were those Germans thinking ?

My reason for saying all this is to simply point out 2 things:
1) Airheads are simpler to maintain. Not always a "joy", but less expensive and several times easier in every respect over the Oilheads.
2) If you enjoy your BMW and start to believe life might be better with a newer model, then immediately save yourself the ulcer and go kill yourself. It just ain't worth the aggravation !

πŸ˜†

Owning an old Airhead is easy.
Keeping an old Airhead running great is the true test.

 
Posted : 07/11/2016 11:34
Robert Whigham
(@1872)
Posts: 126
Estimable Member
 

My RT required 19 screws removed to pull the left side fairing to even see the battery. It was great going down the interstate, but it was heavy. Has your starter self-destr4ucted yet?

Bob

 
Posted : 07/11/2016 13:19
Mark Bogart
(@11190)
Posts: 30
Eminent Member Admin Registered
 

I actually really like my 1150GS.

...That said, they are aggravating beasts !
They must have gotten a deal on a fastener assortment as they seem to use every different one available.
Everything that is simple on the airhead is more complicated on the oilhead.
Also it seems that you can never quite get free of the low rev surging that can run from noticeable to terrifying.
The valves are more difficult to get just right... and they HAVE to be just right to run right. Not much fudge factor.
If you are fortunate enough to have the Brembo's instead of the BMW brakes you are in luck.
The battery is practically unreachable without removing the gas tank and if you haven't bought the aftermarket fuel couplings, what a mess that is when gas goes everywhere.

...but it's a nice ride .... B)

 
Posted : 07/12/2016 19:42
Brian Kowalik
(@10136)
Posts: 1
New Member
 

oooh, I dunno B) , I've had an R1100S for three and half years and put 95,000 k's :woohoo: on it, and although the covers are 20 minutes :S each side, it's a good motorcycle, and it's reliable.
But that said, I realise that my R100 is reliable too, but MUCH easier to work on, especially below the tank and seat! Airheads are simpler to maintain. But Oilheads are fun too!

 
Posted : 07/14/2016 02:08
Richard W
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2546
Member
Topic starter
 

Well, of course my comments were 1/2 in jest and the other 3/4 in frustration !! πŸ˜†

The thing is zippy fast and very smooth, but I am REALLY not looking forward to the next round of updates and repairs.

His '99 is one of the years that needed the cam chain tensioner update. Apparently, those early oilhead cam chain tensioners give up at about 50K miles with great regularity. A well-known fact, but still not covered under any type warranty. BMW, is magnanimous and allows you to buy the repair kit for several coins.

What's so wrong with push rods ? πŸ˜›

Owning an old Airhead is easy.
Keeping an old Airhead running great is the true test.

 
Posted : 07/17/2016 16:55
Mark Bogart
(@11190)
Posts: 30
Eminent Member Admin Registered
 

That's actually a pretty easy job!

 
Posted : 07/19/2016 20:32
Bradley Barrus
(@895)
Posts: 34
Eminent Member
 

I have both an R75/5 and a 1996 R1100RS. The Oilhead is twice as powerful as the Airhead, its handling is better and it gets better fuel economy. It's also 100 lbs. heavier.
Routine maintenance on the Airhead is pretty simple and doesn't really require much in the way of special tools. It's also a naked bike so there is no Tupperware to get in the way.
The R1100RS battery is accessible from the left side after removing the left fairing lower. This is easy enough to do. The brakes and valves are likewise easy to service. Oil and filter changes on either bike are similar difficulty.

Fuel filter replacement on an R1100RS is a pain in the a_ _. The entire fuel tank needs to be removed then the fuel pump is removed. The alternator belt replacement is another fairly involved procedure but it's not done too often. I updated the left side cam chain tensioner with a part from the R1150 Oilhead and the engine no longer makes a lot of cam chain noise during cold engine starts.

I also have a 1996 Honda Gold Wing GL1500SE and it is a genuine pain to service. Replacing 6 spark plugs took me 4 hours. Rear wheel removal and replacement is an all day adventure in maintenance. I replaced the cam timing belts which was very time consuming.

 
Posted : 07/21/2016 15:25
Dugald Stermer
(@surfdad1060)
Posts: 2
New Member
 

Oilheads actually have pushrods,very short push rods. Wait till you find out what you have to do to change the fuel filter.

 
Posted : 08/03/2016 20:53
Phil Yasuhara
(@phil_y)
Posts: 42
Eminent Member
 

Agree 100%. Taking off the tupperware from my 04 1100S is a major project, just to get to the tank. Then, because there are no petcocks, removing the tank is a beast of a job, unless you've added quick release connectors. My 77 100s is so much more accessible, even though it has half the zip and is connected to a Velorex. The ride and power, however, make up for all the oilhead's maintenance hassle, IMHO.

 
Posted : 08/20/2016 02:56
Richard W
(@wobbly)
Posts: 2546
Member
Topic starter
 

I also have a 1996 Honda Gold Wing GL1500SE and it is a genuine pain to service. Replacing 6 spark plugs took me 4 hours. Rear wheel removal and replacement is an all day adventure in maintenance. I replaced the cam timing belts which was very time consuming.

I went to the first Honda Gold Wing training school in Atlanta the year they came out. I could see right off that was going to be a pain. And those were only 4 cylinder engines! That's when I quit and went back to college. There were much easier ways to make a living !!

πŸ˜›

Owning an old Airhead is easy.
Keeping an old Airhead running great is the true test.

 
Posted : 08/21/2016 13:13

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