Brake Fluid Maintenance

Copyright © 1999 by Oak Okleshen. Used with permission. All Rights Reserved. May not be distributed in any form without prior written permission from the author.

Most of the technical inquiries sent to my mailbox from airhead members relate to problems why their machine won’t go, or go properly, or may relate to a desire to make them go faster. Inquiries why they may not stop or questions related to brake and safety maintenance are woefully sparse. And in reviewing the technical index I put together for AIRTECH material published in the past, I find very little on the subject of brake fluid maintenance. Thus the question arises–is it really that important or is the subject embellished with a sales pitch for brake fluid and service at your local dealer?? Before you jump to any conclusions, let me cite a very real incident where I had a direct participation in brake system maintenance.

Locally, (not an airhead member…) a gentleman acquaintance called me late in the year (several years ago…) and asked if I would help him get his 1982 R100RT in running order. He stated the machine was not ridden in over 2 years and was in storage in his aircraft hangar. The battery was dead, and the windshield cracked as something had fallen on it. So he requested generic repairs and a full 10,000 mile maintenance schedule to be performed. I wasn’t fond of working on it just then but he insisted and not running at the time, trailered it out for work. I knew the machine well, as it had been in pristine condition prior to his ownership when purchased from another acquaintance locally…

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Thinking about purchasing an Airhead? Beginning Wrenching/Maintenance

Are you thinking of purchasing a BMW Airhead motorcycle?? … have little or no or experience with them?  Want some straight talk?

Motorcycles, no matter the age, all have a certain and specific feel to them.

For very modern bikes, a description may include high competence, plastic marvels, electronic marvels, …but not always having any special ‘character’.  Special knowledge, & often special equipment, are often needed to analyze and repair them. It can cost $$$ at a dealership to do analysis & repairs. Those dealerships may be necessary for you when something ‘interesting’ happens; granted, the bike may …be more reliable over-all, depending on how you describe ‘reliability’. With a BMW Airhead, you can do most repairs yourself. Over-all, normal necessary scheduled simple maintenance is probably done more often with an Airhead. It is likely to be much easier to do …and there are vast amounts of history & knowledge easily available on the Internet, Mailing Lists & Forums, Club documents, etc. This is not so with the latest and greatest; nor, even motorcycles that are just a few years old.

Help is always available for Airheads from numerous informed sources. The Airheads were in production for a very long time (1970-1995); yet there are less than a handful of places, in all models, all years, that are well-known problem areas. Except for a few, all problems are fixable by YOU!  The Airheads will require modestly more regular maintenance of certain things, but most often these things take little time nor cost. More modern machines might require less often maintenance, but the maintenance then required can be involved and often expensive. These are all big generalities, yes, but there is a lot of truth here.

The Airheads will not give you some things the much more modern bikes will, such as very easy starting in any conditions (due to modern bikes having electronic fuel injection), super brakes (modifications will, however), fancy suspension and ride controls, and probably more horsepower than you should have. But, there is no other motorcycle, of any brand nor type, that has the over-all character of a BMW Airhead, and most riders fall in love with them. The reverence with which some have for these bikes is legendary, and good condition examples of any Airhead model are fetching higher and higher prices. 

The rest of this SECTION 1 was originally written by Greg Feeler on 07/07/2015, & posted to the Airheads LIST. The original Subject Title was “1971 R75 purchase questions”. I have Greg’s permission to add-to & edit freely, & I have done so. Because of the editing and additions, I have not put quotation marks in it.

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