Bike of the Month
1970 BMW R75/5
by Dale Schuett
Spring Street Vibations
It all started during my oldest daughter’s senior year at Cal, 1998. She met a guy who rode to class about 350 days a year, and eventually opened his own motorcycle shop. After about six months of riding with him, she bought a 1979 BMW R65. Eventually she said “Dad, you used to ride, didn’t you? If you had a bike, we could ride together.” That started me researching motorcycles again. It took a couple years, but I bought my 1970 BMW R75/5 in the winter of 2000. It had been painted, supposedly had the engine rebuilt, and it wasn’t black (like 90% of all BMW’s).
During my research period, my daughter let me ride her R65, and I took the new rider’s course to get my motorcycle endorsement. I took it out about three nights a week, learned how to maintain the bike, and joined the Airheads Beemer Club in the San Francisco Bay Area. I also joined the BMW Motorcycle Owners Club and the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. The Airheads was an active club, doing weekend rides and monthly dinners, and I met dozens of great people. I held an annual Tech Day for about eight years every August. The Airheads taught me a lot over the 15 years I was active in the club, and bailed me out when I did something stupid.
In 2015, I decided to upgrade the heads for unleaded fuel, including hardened valve seats, new valves, valve springs, and valve guides. The new top end forced oil past the rings, so I sought the help of a buddy who owns a shop in Redwood City, CA. A few days later, I received a call. The good news, standard size new rings, no new pistons. The bad news, the previous owner used RTV instead of BMW gaskets for sealing the cylinders to the block. In the process, he blocked an oil passage, and one of the rod bearings was down to the brass shell. So, new rings and bearings, no damage to the crankshaft, and now I have a classic bike that will outlast me by years or even decades.
One interesting story is the cable operated brakes. Once, on a ride near my old Pleasanton, CA digs, Bambi jumped onto the road about ten feet in front of me. I grabbed both brakes, locked up both wheels, and missed Bambi by inches. I have tried several times since to lock up the brakes and come away slower but not skidding. Seems that adrenaline allows extra strength after all.