- Project Completion
- Chronological Blogs
- Project Pictures
- Rebuild Procedures Index
- On the Road to Restoration
- Start of Project Pictures
- Finished Project Pictures
- Final Project Cost
- Project Work Plan
I’ve started on a build of my wife’s 1973 BMW R75/5 which is a two owner, 97,500 mile, 40-year-old bike. It’s been stored in a barn for the past six years waiting for me to get time to work on the build.
Please be advised that there is no representation of the accuracy of any of the information presented on these web pages relative to BMW motorcycle maintenance or modification and that the material is presented for information purposes only. In no case will I be held liable for injury or damage (consequential or otherwise) resulting from or arising out of alterations you make to your motorcycle. The reader should recognize that motorcycling is a dangerous activity that can result in injury or death, and that the alterations portrayed on these web pages can and will change the behavior and performance of your motorcycle, possibly with fatal results. You are encouraged to seek qualified assistance before undertaking any of the procedures outlined here, and are here by notified that, should you decide to proceed, you do so at your own risk.
I finished the build 18 months later. The bike, named “Grover”, went for it’s first ride around the block on July 4th 2015. Happy Independence Day !!! Here is a short video of the first ride and some pictures of the final build.
I organized the project documentation chronologically via blog posts and by main component as defined in the BMW parts fiche. You can also find all the pictures in my flickr account organized into sets.
Feel free to post comments and questions at the bottom of any documents and I’ll respond.
You can find the chronologic blog postings here:
You can find the extensive pictures (over 1,300) I took here :
Rebuild Procedures Index
These are links to pages that document how I did the work organized by the main sections used in the BMW parts fiche. In each I list the parts used and resources I found helpful.
- 00 BMW R75/5 Planning the Build
- 00 BMW R75/5 General Tear Down
- 00 BMW R75/5 Grover’s First Engine Start
- 00 BMW R75/5 Final Assembly
- 00 BMW R75/5 “Grover’s” First Ride Around the Block
- 11 BMW R75/5 Measure Cylinders and Install Pistons & New Rings
- 11 BMW R75/5 Refinish Cylinders and Refinish & Rebuild Heads
- 11 BMW R75/5 Remove & Install Flywheel, Replace Rear Main Seal, Oil Pump Cover & Cover O-Ring
- 11 BMW R75/5 Replace Cam Shaft Seal
- 11 BMW R75/5 Replace Front Crankshaft Seal
- 11 BMW R75/5 Replace Oil Pan Gasket, Clean Oil Pickup
- 11 BMW R75/5 Install the Engine In the Frame
- 11 BMW R75/5 Install Engine Top End
- 13 BMW R75/5 Rebuild Bing Carburetors & Karcoma Petcocks
- 13 BMW R75/5 Install Carburetors and Cables
- 31 BMW R75/5 Rebuild Front Forks
- 31 BMW R75/5 Remove & Install New Steering Head Bearings
- 31 BMW R75/5 Install and Align Front Forks
33-Rear Axle and Suspension
- 33 BMW R75/5 Refinish Rear Drive
- 33 BMW R75/5 Refinish Rear Shocks
- 33 BMW R75/5 Remove & Install New Swing Arm Bearings
- 33 BMW R75/5 Install Swing Arm and Rear Drive
46-Frame, Fairing, Cases
- 46 BMW R75/5 Install Rear Sub-Frame, Shocks, Key Lock & Seat Latch
- 46 BMW R75/5 Repair Windjammer II Fairing, Strip Paint
- 46 BMW R75/5 Assemble Windjammer II Fairing
- 51 BMW 1973 R75/5 Refinishing Techniques
- 51 BMW 1973 R75/5 Powder Coating
- 51 BMW R75/5 Refinish Steering Damper Knob
- 51 BMW R75/5 Refinish the Header Pipes
- 51 BMW R75/5 Repair Paint on Headlight Shell and Switch Housing
- 51 BMW R75/5 Paint Engine Badge
- 51 BMW R75/5 Preparing Fenders & Tank for Painting
- 51 BMW R75/5 Setting Up A Paint Booth & Paint Equipment
- 51 BMW R75/5 Paint the Tank, Fenders, Fairing and Tail Light
- 51 BMW R75/5 Repair Clear Coat Sand Through
- 51 BMW R75/5 Paint Pinstripes
- 51 BMW R75/5 Paint Side Cover Stripes
On the Road to Restoration
Here’s a couple of pictures of moving the bike from the barn to the shop that I built earlier in the year. It is a one-car garage, 14×21 foot, heated with 100 amp sub-panel for all the power I should ever need 🙂
Start of Project Pictures
Here are some pictures of what the bike looked like when I started the project.
Pingback: Starting to Rebuild 1973 BMW R75/5 | Motorcycles & Other Musings
Dear Brook Reams,
Amazing your compilation of pictures and procedures for the R75/5 restoration. I just bought a bike like yours from 1970 and would really love do the same work. Unfortunately I do not have private garage and it`s difficult to do that work without suck facilities.
In any case would like to ask if you have the list of all Bolts and nuts for this model because would like to replace all bolts for stainless steel. I know there are kits with all parts, but would like to buy it here in Portugal to save some money.
Thanks in Advance, Best Regards
Thank you for taking a look at my write-ups. I hope they are helpful to you on your project.
Your question about a list of all the fasteners is timely; I just purchased a set of stainless steel fasteners for another project I am working on, a 1975 R75/6, that was my first build back in 2010. I bought the kit from “The Bolt Guy”, and it just arrived yesterday.
I am sorry, but I don’t have a list of all the part numbers for all the bolts, nuts and washers, nor to I have the sizes of of and the number of each.
I hope this helps.
Have had a quick look at the bolt guy’s list of s/s parts using my own bike as a guide (R75/7) am in the UK and is a guy here who also offers s/s fasteners for Beem-ers aswell, he also stocks other bits like rear bevel breather in stainless, maybe a worth having a look, he is at http://www.shawstainless.co.uk
Thanks for the reference to another supplier of SS bits and bobs.
Brook, was wondering if is any one on your side of the pond, refurbishes rev counter clocks? (R75/7) as you know when a rev counter clock is showing its age the needle jumps up and down like billy-o,
unfortunately is no one here in the UK who does this work, maybe you can point me in a direction. thanks Paul
A fellow named Terry Verla comes highly recommended. I’ve had him rebuild a couple sets of Motometer instruments from /5, /6 and /7 bikes. You can contact him at:
–> [email protected]
I hope this helps.
Brook, thank you for the contact details for Terry, unfortunately the e address just bounces my email back, probably as is USA and am UK, seems like the system security is not allowing access, but thanks for your help, appreciated, Regards – Paul
I sent you a separate email about this.
Hi Brook,have been watching the 77,build with interest as it is quite similar to my R100S,in many details,and thank you for posting,now here is the question,the starter forward mounting plate,the nut which secures the plate to the casing(hex bolt m6x16),it is said to be 10mm,my socket spins around the nut (9mm would not fit) so am i missing something? need a particular spanner? i am scratching my head. thanks Ian.
It believe it should be an M6 bolt. Typically that has a 10 mm head. It’s possible it’s been rounded or deformed by a previous owner. In that case I’d try vice grips on it with a bit of penetrating oil around the head to loosen any corrosion and then twist the bolt with the vice grips. Go easy because it would be nice not to snap the head off that bolt. If it doesn’t budge with moderate force, use a heat gun or propane torch to head the head of the bolt and then apply more penetrating oil when it cools a bit so it sucks the oil down deeper around the threads. Repeat this process as necessary.
Sometimes working on these bikes is, to paraphrase the line from Forest Gump, “… like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
I hope this helps.
Brook,Many thanks for the advice,will try,the irony is i am replacing the,diode board retainers,with solid ones,and because two of the retaining bolts are stuck i thought if i remove the starter i would,be able to get more purchase …Lol!
If it’s not one thing, it’s another 🙂 Sometimes I find I back up a long way to finally start making progress. I’m sure you will persevere.
Hi Brook just to share knowledge, i invested in a set of Irwin bolt removal sockets, and was able to remove the offending starter plate bolt, without it snapping , after following your tip of heat and plus gas for a week (I was afraid Lol!)on to the next problem.PS what are the stamped numbers inside the starter motor bay, on the right hand side? Many Thanks. IAN
I’m glad you were successful getting that bolt off. I’ve seen these from Irwin but haven’t used them, and it sounds like they were up to the task.
I believe the numbers are the casting number. Sometimes the last few digits correspond to the part#, but this is not guaranteed.
I have just completed a nut and bolt remaster of my R75/5,
Thanks for a great site it was very helpful in a number of areas of the rebuild.
I also kept a blog of my bike from the search, transport, arrival, strip and rebuild to a remastered unit.
I registered the bike 3 days ago 15/05/2017 to coincide with the anniversary of the bike it was originally delivered to the 1st owner in Germany 15/05/1973. So that makes it 44 years old. I rode it for the 1st time 16/05/2017, what a hoot rides just like old bikes did.
Check my blog https://russellsmotorcycles.wordpress.com
What a cool story and great project. I’m pleased what I’ve written was of some help to you. Getting to ride these “projects” when you are done is a great reward for the effort and investment in making them new again.
Hi Brook,Followed advice and fitted a Katdash,great piece of kit,even the turn indicator,which i have not seen light up in years,is up and running,strangely though not the Neutral light,so i tried this, checked for continuity off the gearbox,fine,as i screw it into the gearbox continuity ceases,however the gearbox is in neutral,could there be an issue with the gearbox?,i have the bike running,starts with the clutch pulled in but not road tested,IAN.
More likely the neutral switch is in need of replacement. Note that there are two different versions of the neutral switch, one that is on when the plunger is pushed in and one that is on when the plunger is extended. The shift cam in the transmission changed from a hill to a valley. If you have the opposite switch installed, the switch works backwards. But you don’t say the light stays on when in gear, so I don’t think you have the wrong switch.
You don’t mention if this failure of the neutral light happened earlier, or when you installed the katdash board in the speedometer housing.
I have found that the pins in the large rubber boot that plugs into the back of the instrument cluster get dirty and corroded so continuity can be “off and on” so to speak. I use a very small round file to clean the inside of the female pins in the plug.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for that Brook,the original switch works in the same way as the replacement,in fact i do not think i needed to change the switch,have not had a neutral light at all,except when connecting the earth battery lead to the oil pressure switch wire,i thought it was a lost earth,but do not why continuity is lost putting it in,i have tried both the original switch and the new one,so that’s got me confused.IAN
If the switch tests as “working” and the instrument light comes on when it is out of the transmission, but fails to work when you screw into the transmission, hmmmm. This really sounds like the hill and valley change to the transmission shift cam I mentioned. Other than that, I’m stumped.
Hi Brook,thanks for the input(as ever),i tested the original switch by connecting it externally to the wires and the neutral light comes on,when i depress the button it is off so if i am only losing continuity when it is fitted to the gearbox,the hill and valley seems the only logical conclusion,except in my case it was working normally before,i will wait until i can road test the gearbox for faults,and might try to source an earlier switch,if nothing changes,again many thanks.IAN
Thank you for your awesome website and references. It will be so valuable to me down the road as I’m getting my feet wet with a restore. I recently bought a original 1973 R75 /5 (toaster) from a fine gentleman who had completed about 80% of the renovation..
Your project cost was ~$7,000, how much was the bike in addition to that?
My previous owner has completely finished the major parts including, Engine, Forks, shocks, transmission, frame, speedo, and most other major/minor connecting parts. the major parts left are the tank/fender paint and striping, carburetors, wheels (tires are good), header and muffler, seat, and purchase of few various cables and electrics but most everything else is done.
It reads like you did everything yourself (paint, rebuild carburetor, polishing, etc.). Being a newbee with limited knowledge and tools I plan to have to have the tins painted, and probably need to buy new headers/pipes, I’m going to quote a carb rebuild, and have somebody do the seat. I can tackle the wheels, total reassembly (Engine, tran, forks already together) and maybe the carbs myself.
What do you think the rough cost to have this stuff done….just your ball park opinion?
Last, is it worth buying a new wiring harness and how much do you think that costs?
sorry for being all over the map and asking you to shortcut estimate the leg work I need to do
In general when it comes to cost, “Your Mileage May Vary” applies.
If you buy new parts from BMW, be aware they have been increasing part costs for classic airhead bikes steadily. There are other sources for parts, Hucky’s, Euromoto Electrics, etc., where you typically pay less.
When it comes to exhaust, you can pay $200-1,000 depending on fit, finish, quality, chrome vs. stainless. So that’s a personal choice.
I’ve found paint cost to vary by 2-3x depending on where and who does the work, if you use Glasurit or equivalent.
Do a visual inspection of the wiring harness and pay attention to if you see corrosion at the terminals, if the outer sheath is cracked and broken, if you have had flaky electrical problems, if someone has made repairs to the harness, etc. Enough of these conditions may push you to considering a new harness. Sources for them include Euromoto Electrics and Brits & Beemers Bikewerks.
Carb complete carb rebuild kits (floats, all o-rings, gaskets, diaphragm, jet needle, needle jet) will run $200-300 or so (PARTS ONLY) depending on who you buy from. In general, Bing Agency International is the most expensive source.
I usually use MAX BMW parts fiche to estimate parts costs before I start work. Another good source is RealOEM. I also check Hucky’s and Euromoto Electrics and ebay for used when that’s appropriate.
I hope that helps.
Thank you Brook, your info is very helpful.
The motor is reassembled and mounted in the frame and the frame is attached to a homemade stand.
Assuming all the pieces are ready to assemble, what order (block level) would you put the bike together that makes most sense?
thanks again, Art
So, sounds like you are making good progress on the build.
I show the order of assembly in this post about the 1977 R100RS build. Ignore the fairing procedures as you don’t have that to worry about.
–> 00 BMW 1977 R100RS Assembling The Bike From the Frame Up
In general, I try to keep the weight balanced and low in the frame so I start with the engine and transmission, then the rear drive and wheel followed by the front end. Then it’s time to route the wiring harness. As I go, I use some red duct tape on fasteners that need to be torqued or anything else that I need to finish up so I don’t forget something.
I hope that helps.
I am currently working on a 71 R75/5 that belonged to my wife’s late fathers. It has a Windjammer fairing and Wixom bags. Thank you for your detail on your build. It will most definitely be a valuable resource for this aircraft and diesel mechanic. I have the BMW manual, but your detail far surpasses it.
Thank you again,
Hi Scott. You’re welcome. It’s gratifying to hear that this material is helping keep another airhead on the road.
Hello Brook’s, I’m rebuilding my R75/6 and I’m having trouble finding torque specs for the bike, any hints where I can find good specs?
Enjoy your builds.
I use this reference from Bob Fleischer (aka “Snowbum”).
I have also used the specs in the Haynes and Clymer’s manuals, but there have been mistakes in them, so I now rely on Bob’s information.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and vast knowledge. I have found your site and videos to be particularly helpful for navigating the repair and maintenance of my BMW bikes.I especially appreciate how you have adopted the BMW numeric convention to organize your content and present in an a laconic and orderly manner.
Thank you for your kind words. It’s gratifying when this content helps others keep their airhead flying.