The Bike

'76 BMW in the dealer, taken the first day I saw it.

’76 BMW at the dealer, taken the first day I saw it.

In February 2014 I bought my dream bike: a 1976 BMW R75/6, for $3500. For ten years I have seen a couple different 70’s BMW R-series driving around town and thought to myself, that is a cool looking motorcycle.

I didn’t have much interest in motorcycling a large—crotch rockets, cruisers, choppers, the appeal was just beyond me. I mostly started looking into a motorcycle to give myself a way to get around that would allow me to save money on gas and repairs.

That’s changed quite a bit since I found this bike. Reading about motorcycles, watching videos, and especially just being able to get on one and ride has planted the enthusiast seed inside me. I find myself wondering how riding every bike I see would feel.

But this bike, the BMW I never thought I’d actually own, is the only bike I picture myself riding. Whether or not I buy other motorcycles or keep a car in my driveway, I plan on never letting this machine out of my grasp. Owning anything this old requires a level of continued investment—something I’ve learned from never owning a car younger than 10 years old—and I was well aware of the potential time and money required to keep the BMW running smoothly.

They have a reputation for reliability, but buying a 40-year-old cycle with 74,000 miles on the clock and knowing nothing about the previous owners means you’re taking something of a gamble with the starting condition.

Fortunately for me the most recent owner kept a vast number of his maintenance records over the ten years or so he owned the bike, as well as including a Clymer repair manual. The engine runs smoothly, the transmission finds all the gears [mostly] without fuss, the paint isn’t faded or cracked. I’ve run into some small issues and I’m sure there are larger issues hiding under the surface.

I don’t want to just cross those bridges when I come to them, I want to jump in and discover problems before they come to a head. That, however, requires a level of knowledge about both general mechanical repair and BMW’s boxer engines that I do not yet have. Coupled with guidance from the local Airhead (the name given to the old BMW air-cooled motorcycles) community and the Clymer manual I’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of the bike and all its parts: an essential skill, both to complete my trip and to maintain the bike for the rest of my time with it.


Below is a list of everything that came with the bike:

  1. The bike: 1976 BMW R75/6
  2. A helmet, which was too big for me.
  3. Clymer repair manual.
  4. A large stack of Airheads Club monthly magazines.
  5. An Airheads Club member directory from 2010.
  6. A 6v/12v motorcycle battery charger. Very handy.
  7. Two white Krauser® hard saddlebags. A bit dirty but in great shape otherwise.
  8. A folder with the past several years’ worth of maintenance receipts and email exchanges with Airheads Club members regarding do–it–yourself repairs.


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