Today’s BMW R90S is the quintessential German sportbike: fast, stable, and reliable, but just a little bit uptight and unassuming. Or it would be unassuming, if not for that very vivid 70s paint job… By the 1970s, a major shift was well underway in the motorcycling world. Postwar shortages in many markets meant that, throughout the period immediately following World War II, cars were simply too expensive for many people to afford and motorcycles were often used as basic transportation in their place. But by the 1960s, the tide had begun to change and, more and more, motorcycles were seen as luxury items or toys, especially here in the US.
Generally stodgy image aside, BMWs had always been involved in racing but, by the 1970s, they felt they needed reach customers outside the lucrative, but steadily aging “old man” demographic. BMW’s traditional customers were aging out, and BMW wanted to reach out to a new crop of riders who were looking for something like a Ducati, but maybe with some comfort thrown in. The Germans may have been trying to create their own SuperSport with the R90S, but that practical Teutonic DNA comes through pretty strongly in both the form and the function.
That dose of practicality in no way diminishes the performance available and the bike was very competitive in AMA racing immediately after it was introduced. High-compression pistons and performance carburetors meant that the proven pushrod engine, here bumped to 898cc, made 67 very flexible horses that could take the R90S all the way to 125mph, although braking power was never much to write home about.
Today’s example looks terrific and appears to be quite the labor of love. From the original eBay listing: 1975 BMW R90S for Sale
This is a perfect restored numbers-matching BMW R90S. Many collectors like a bike in original condition unrestored. This is perfect for somebody who put it in his man cave and enjoy looking at the bike or showing it to somebody. But after 40 years it would not be fun to drive it. All the rubber, bowden and seals and much more thinks getting dry brittle leaking and brake. This one is ready to drive and it is as new as it can be.
I am a 60 year old German engineer and be working on BMW’s my whole life as my hobby and for fun. I am selling this one because I have too many toys and I am downsizing for my retirement. This one is restored to perfection. Look at all the pictures it tells the story. I was working over 2 years on this bike and one thing lead in to another because as a perfectionist nothing is good enough.
Here is a list of what I have done. I am sure this list is not complete but you getting the idea:
- Frame powder coated.
- Wheels polished hubs bead blasted new stainless spokes.
- Every screw on the bike is new and stainless.
- All the rubber and I mean all what has any rubber in it or on it is new tires, seals, bowden, seat, footpegs and so on.
- Wheel bearings and brakes are new
- Every aluminum part on engine, gearbox and final drive is bead-blasted and assembled with new seals
- Cylinder heads with lead-free valves
- New pistons and oil rings
- New clutch complete with spring plate
- Carbs are overhauled and sealed for over $500
- New seat complete with pan from Germany
- Instrument cluster overhauled for over $600 and set to 0 miles
- This was a low millage bike to begin with and in a very good shape
- New paint and pin striped by a pro for over $2000.
- New petcocks and fuel cap.
- New exhaust system complete.
- And so on…
- It comes with the original toolkit, shop rag, metal air pump and manual
- And I have a box full of receipts what I be afraid off to add up.
- There is a lot of money in this bike.
Bidding is very active on this bike and already north of $12,000, with plenty of time still left on the auction and the Reserve Not Met. That’s certainly premium money for an old BMW, but it sounds like you’re getting about as close to a brand-new R90S as is possible, barring a lifetime of tracking down NOS parts and building one from scratch. Certainly, the seller makes a great point: an unrestored, barn-find bike would likely require a ton of work to make it run correctly, or would require constant attention as the little bits mentioned deteriorate and fail. This bike is virtually perfect and ready-to-roll. If you have the cash to spend and want an R90S, this looks like a good choice!