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New Barn Finds Project! BMW R90/6 Motorcycle Shop Find

I recently had the chance to embark on a project with my uncle who is a long-time motorcycle builder and rider. It was in a recent conversation about one of his long-term projects – a desirable BMW R90/6 – that we agreed it would make for a terrific ongoing series here on Barn Finds. The bike was purchased as a complete project in 1985, and after years of various attempts at restoring it, the BMW was stored in pieces in heated storage until just recently. We’ll document the rebuild process over the next few months, starting with organizing the various components needed to re-assemble it, including the original engine that still turns freely by hand.

The R90/6 didn’t look entirely different from the one on the cover of the Clymer manual on the right of the photo, with a full Windjammer fairing, factory hard bags, and multi-spoke wheels. At this time, the fairing does have a crack in it and is missing its mounting brackets, and the rear wheel will need to be rebuilt or replaced. The bike does retain its original fenders and seat, along with the bags. One carburetor has been rebuilt and the other one is lying in wait. The transmission is intact but will need to be evaluated as part of the initial assessments that will be carried out.

The BMW also comes with its gas tank and complete frame, but there are some missing parts that need to be sourced. The charging system is missing a key component, and the fork lock is missing. The front forks are disassembled and will need some work before final reassembly. In addition, the rear end has an oil drain that has damaged threads and needs to be disassembled to be fixed properly. None of this is insurmountable, but it always takes a bit of time to become re-acquainted with a long-dormant project. Check out the photo gallery below for a full assortment of snapshots of the parts as they are currently stored.

The original plans prior to disassembly had been to hot rod the bike a bit. A rear disc brake conversion, additional bracing on the rear fork, and an engine with dual plugged heads, higher compression, Dellorto carbs, new pistons, and electronic ignition were all on the original build menu. For now, however, we’re going to focus on simply rebuilding the bike back to factory specs, make any improvements where needed, and assess after it’s back to running condition if additional modifications are needed. Be sure to follow Barn Finds for upcoming posts as this original BMW R90/6 comes back together!



  1. Avatar photo 370zpp Member

    Looks like a great project.

    Like 3
  2. Avatar photo Derek

    For a rear disc you might have to graft paralever stuff into it. Worth investigation but maybe not worth doing? On yiz go an’ find out!

    Like 1
  3. Avatar photo SMS

    If you have never before restored a bike I have a word of warning. It can become addictive. A lift puts everything at a good height. No crawling around on the ground. Most everything can be handled by one person. Your back wont ache from bending over for hours. You can take it apart to paint. The most addictive part is that you can fit four bikes in the space of one car. Think about it. You could have an cream run bike, a cruiser, a dirt bike, and a sport bike all in the space of a car for what ever mood you had.

    As to the 90/6 it is such a nice starting point for a restoration. They are simple in a lot of ways. Don’t be lulled into thinking simple means unskilled. Almost anyone can put together a BMW motor. To get the most trouble free miles takes patience. I learned that lesson by rebuilding one and then rebuilding it again soon after with a BMW tech giving me advice.

    Like 6
    • Avatar photo Frank

      That’s true! I did a 59 Triumph and a 61HD Sportster. Motorcycles are great projects if you live in the northeast in the winter time.

      Like 2
  4. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    While I never rip on someones project, personally, of all the bikes I’ve driven, the BMW was my least favorite. A close friend had a R90S. Looked similar, except no lower fairings, when I had my ’75 GoldWing. While the bikes were of similar nature( flat motor, shaft drive) I just couldn’t get used to the handling quirks of the BMW. Maybe they were present in the GW, just not near as pronounced. The new BMW’s, especially the dual-sports I’ve seen, are remarkable machines, but the older ones, I feel, had a lot to be desired. In 15 minutes, I was tired of riding it. The GW was a little better, but neither could compare to the cruising ability of my HD, and not because it’s from my hometown, but NOTHING beats an HD. I’d love to have another and if I stay in Colorado, and there’s every indication I might, I just might trade the ol’ squarebody even up for one. HD’s are a dime a dozen out here, and it could happen. Wouldn’t THAT be something, get a 15 year old ElectraGlide for what I paid for the truck( $1400 bucks) THAT’S how you do it today,,,apparently.

    Like 4
  5. Avatar photo Scott

    I’m going to politely disagree with Howard. I’ve driven a couple of HDs, early goldwings and older BMWs. The only bad handling one of the bunch was the BMW with a blown front shock. All the BMWs with fresh suspensions were great, no matter the size. The bar position could be improved, but that’s personal choice. Goldwings were fine. A tad heavy and bit soft riding, but not bad, I could easily spend a comfortable day on one. ALL the HDs I’ve ridden have been tanks. They have only been the big cc machines, but all of them felt VERY heavy for the displacement and vibrated the eyeballs out of my head…even on the ones that had a soft tail and rubber mounts. My hands would go numb from the handlebars vibrating and on the one I rode with a springer fork and hard tail and hard engine mounts, I honestly was done at about 3 miles. My vision was so blurred from the vibration, I couldn’t see well, this made it flat-out dangerous. Modern Harleys may be much better and have heard they are, but haven’t been able to ride one. The only one I really liked riding was a ’76 police special. It was low, fat, comfortable and fun, so I’m sure others are good too.
    It may be that I somehow only have ridden the crap-cans of HD.
    I’m sure you’ll like your BMW, if not, it will be worth a mint when done and you can sell it and get whatever you want with the money.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo SMS

      This is why I love riding and restoring bikes and I hope BFs shows more bikes. There are so many bikes and so many butts. You can even own multiple bikes and ride what your butt feels like that day.

      My favorite bike was a ‘56 Matchless G80, wasn’t particularly comfortable, or fast, or reliable. Was the best for me to travel back roads and enjoy. Most people liked the looks but not the ride.

      Currently looking for a second gen R100RS to restore. Keep up the good work

      Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Patrick Gill

    I am currently working on a few Matchless motorcycles, a 1930 Silver Hawk, a 1911 OHV JAP engined Matchless TT model, a 1921 H2, yes it is adictive, I have more projects than years left!
    I will be at the NEC with a few of my machines this weekend, the Classic Motor Show, on the FBHVC stand, look for my Matchless car and three bikes.
    I once had a BMW R90s, very heavy, rode very well, thought it was four speed until one day it went into 5th, never came out of 5th, fitted a late /6 ribbed gearbox.

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Steve Cota

    In the summer of 1979 I purchased a brand new BMW R-100/7 with a Vetter fairing and BMW bags. A few years later when the K bikes had just been introduced, I got all foamy at the mouth and set off to the dealer to trade. I test rode a brand new K-100, then a R-80 RS, then a Moto Guzzi, and decided that the most fun I had that day was the ride up on my R-100. I got back on it and rode home and haven’t thought about trading it since. I am still riding it every summer, and it has never been apart.

    Like 4

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