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Christian Bynum's Classic BMW Motorcycles: 1978 R100/7
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Motorcycle Data Sheet

Model: 1977 BMW R60/7

Nickname: "Saphir"

Engine: 599cc 2-valve boxer twin upgraded to 745cc (50 HP)

Years of Production: 1977-1978

Number Produced: 11,163

Purchase Date: May 2003

Previous Location: Chatsworth, CA

Previous Owners: Unknown

Mileage at Purchase: 0 (Rebuilt)

Mileage Since Engine Rebuild: 0

Restoration Projection: A lot...

Restoration Costs to Date: $2,320


Background

I picked up this bare frame in the spring of 2003 from a friend and fellow parts-swapping Airhead enthusiast in Southern California, when I was looking for a chassis for a cafe racer conversion, using a double disc brake front end with a billet upper triple clamp and a braced rear swingarm I had acquired on eBay. Since I had abandonded my first attempt at a cafe conversion on my R75/7 and returned it to stock, I thought a "frankenbeemer" with nonmatching frame and engine numbers and parts from many motorcycles would be more suitable for experimentation than my rarest Airhead. I wanted to start with a /7 frame because in stock condition, it is better braced and has bigger strengthening gussets than the frames of the earier /5 and /6 series. I wanted to create a rigid handler.

As per my routine on previous frame-up rebuilds, I had the chassis stripped by Alternative Blasters of Marysville, Washington and powdercoated in Bengal Black 90% gloss by Powdercoating Inc. of Mukilteo, Washington. I had successfully sourced the front end and had a 1976 R60/6 complete engine ready to drop into the frame; this engine from the last year of the /6 production run was identical to the /7 block and can accept 980cc cylinders from the R100 bikes, making it suitable for a hot rod upgrade. My plans changed when my wife (then fiancée), who was just learning to ride, was finding that some of the quirkier aspects of her R60/5, like carb tickers, vintage-style control levers (without the mechanical advantage of a dogleg), and drum front brakes, were creating obstacles to her developing confidence as a rider. While I had correctly surmised that the nimble ride of the short-wheelbase /5 and shorter reach to the bars over the toaster tank would benefit a medium-sized woman's physique, I had understestimated these more subtle ergonomic considerations that had egun to plague her. While I could make modifications to the R60/5, like a /6 disc front end and modernized controls, I had little desire to move that bike further away from stock after I had spent several months restoring it to such conditon. Then one day, after getting frustrated with the little toaster, my wife doggedly hopped on my biggest motorcycle, my 1978 R100/7, and took it for a spin around the block, proof positive that she could handle herself and the long reach over the 6.3-gallon /7 sports tank if she had the levers and the brakes she preferred. I put my cafe bike on hold until its third iteration came about a few months later , and I steered this frame's rebuild toward a fully restored, middle-displacement daily riding machine.

Restoration

Right now, this bike is just a fully refurbished frameset with a single disc front end. I want to flesh out the rolling chassis and wire it up this fall, and then try to drop an engine in over the winter. Although I have a complete R60/6 engine ready to go, I want to take advantage of the large cylinder spigots on that block for a larger-displacement /2 conversion project I have in the works, so I will probably try to build up a bare /5 block with 745cc top end parts and 32mm Bing CV carbs (with a proper choke mechanism instead of ticklers!), yielding 50HP for this bike. I would like to have this motorcycle mechanically (if not cosmetically) ready for my wife to take on road trips with me in the spring of 2004.

Reconstruction Chronology

July 2003

  • Powdercoated frame and subframe
September 2003
  • Assembled chassis and installed rear swingarm
  • Installed rear brake pedal

Acknowledgments

Thanks to the following individuals for assisting in this restoration project: Barbara Bynum, DL Powers, Chris Telford, and Mick Vallantine.