1974 BMW R90/6 Black

Jeff lives nearby and has a habit of buying and selling vintage motorcycles. Somehow, he recently found a treasure trove of BMW’s and came home with a trailer load of bikes and parts that had been stored outdoors for years, and somewhat the worse for wear. This R90/6 had appeal, though, because of it’s low mileage and near total originality. I decided it was time to upgrade the fleet’s aging R90 with this box stock example. Basically, I lifted the luggage rack off the red bike and slid this black beauty under it. Of course, I also had to overhaul the carbs and petcocks and replace the spokes, tires, and tubes. Then there was the extensive cosmetic work, a new seat cover, and various electrical gremlins to sort. The rotted mufflers were replaced, the master cylinder was overhauled, and the joyful process of riding and de-bugging began. In the end, the proceeds from the sale of the red R90 didn’t quite cover the purchase and repair of this black beauty, but the result is a much fresher motorcycle that perfectly represents this model as it would have existed back in its day.

It is light and nimble. The stock suspension works to soak up the bumps like a sponge. The brakes are adequate, though not as powerful as the double discs of the ‘S’ model. The standard US handlebars give a very light steering effort, while a 3-position hydraulic steering dampener is provided as well, enabling the rider to dial in the exact feel desired. The electric starter fires up the points-ignition engine instantly, thanks in part to the addition of a maintenance-free, high-output battery which eliminates one of the model’s original weak points. Customers were actually told to pour a tea kettle of hot water over the cylinders to pre-warm the motor oil before trying to electric start in very cold weather; there was a back-up kick-starter provided in case you ran out of tea. The engine is relatively smooth, and the 900cc power pulses that do come through are more soothing than bothersome. The five-speed transmission is less clunky than the old four cog box. The standard quartz headlamp is brilliant, and the horn, the flashers, the switchgear, and the alternator are all top-notch. The instrumentation is attractive and functional, though is showing signs of aging, and will need (expensive) rebuilding soon.

Above all, most riders will enjoy riding this bike. It is different from the mainstream, yet totally competent. The performance over the long haul is steady and pleasurable and should be measured not by quarter mile times, but by the rider enjoyment it gives. This R90/6 represents the best of BMW from the 1970’s; it may not excite everyone who rides it, but it will inform the rider of the Teutonic essence of motorcycling: Farfegnugen.

The German word for "Driving Pleasure."

Dieter: I need some 'me time.'
Minion: Why not take your motorcycle out for some Farfegnugen?
Dieter: Good idea.