Sunday, 6 March 2011

Commuting BMW R80 Cafe Racer?

Over the last few months I have been thinking about my personal transport situation.
Every week I have a two or three day commute to customers premises of 650 to 800miles on A and B roads, for this I use my BMW GS1150..... Woh! don't turn off please, I know many thoughts of the whole BMW GS culture and I have witnessed some "attitude" for myself on the road and in some forums, but please understand that on a dark winter night, with storm debris and mud on the road, feeling cold and tired leading to the taking of all slow corners in 50p shapes like the worst motorcyclist in the world, I really can't think of many more suitable bikes.
However, I now have over 50,000 mls on the GS and she is in such dire need of an extensive suspension and brake overhaul.
The trouble is, at the current fuel prices, it will cost me a fortune to pay  fuel costs on my car and only the most modern small cars will come close to the fuel consumption of the bike. I do not have the inclination to buy a modern small car just to commute.
Well, the only thing for it would be to buy a cheap temporary commuting bike. Before long I found myself looking at "Airhead" BMW's. EBay is full of these for around £1500 to £1800, fully serviced and with relatively low mileage. And I can fix them because they are my technology!
Then I began to think (well for the last 25yrs actually) that they make a nice Cafe Racer without too much work.Perhaps I might convert one after using it as a commuter for a month or so.
So the outcome of all this is that I now have and old R80RT Airhead, Cafe Racer (bought unseen on E  Bay, from a really honest and helpful guy in Somerset and ridden home on a damp misty night with no trouble).
 I didn't quite stick to my plan as this one was already converted and the basis for a rolling "work in progress" project. Not quite suitable for 800mile commutes but I think I will be able to cope with it for a few weeks, the bars are just standard items dropped right down, so I can always use these the right way up if it gets too much. After the commute period  I will fit some proper clip ons.

The point I am leading to, is that I have just been having so much fun with this low budget bike.
On the days that I work in my own nearby workshop, I use the Cafe Racer, always taking the long route and arrive with a wide grin.You know the type of ride, extra throttle blipping to change down as you pass through the narrow "acoustic" streets. Hah! even made an old collie dog, quietly cocking his leg against a bin, jump out of his skin and leap forward, jerking his half asleep owner at the the other end of an over extended lead!
Work is really busy at the moment so I can only take an odd hour in the evenings to work on the bike.
I am only a few days away from fifty, and found myself sawing off the silencers at the joint of the megaphone section, just like a teenager! But hey, now she sounds gooood! Unless you are a collie dog.
So far I have changed the front mudguard for a small aluminium item, silencers removed and now waiting  to make some reverse cones for the end of the Mega section. Service items, removed the wheels, sort and tidy the fittings and check the brakes before painting the wheels in Satin black. I also scraped and rust treated the corrosion in the swinging arm and frame. Finally, for the moment, some general cosmetic and the addition of a flyscreen (ex number plate from my old grasstrack bike).
The next stage is to make some little alloy pegs and to paint the tank and seat in light cream with two retro black stripes bordered by deep red pinstripes.
By then we should have some better commuting weather so the GS will be off the road for about a month.
Having ridden this little 800 which seems tiny compared to the GS, I am now thinking that the GS may be replaced by one of those loved old E Bay Boxer tourers with panniers and fairing and that would pay for the Cafe Racer and allow me to keep it :)...

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