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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

I am new to riding but I have recently taken a motorcycle course and passed my licensing exam (yay!). I love cafe racer racer style bikes but I cant decide if I should buy a used bike (1981 BMW R100 RT) or buy a new 2015 or 2016 Triumph Thruxton. I found a seller online who has restored and customized a 1981 BMW R100 RT (some specs are listed below) and the asking price is $7000 Canadian. I have also attached link to the BMW bike here:

R100 RT Transformation (Cafe Racer) | Adventure Rider

Apparently the BMW is in great shape apart from the fact that the speedometer doesn't read accurately at speeds over 100 km/h. He says the bike rides great and that the only reason he is getting rid of it is because he has recently purchased a new bike and has no room in his garage for this one. The seller is also the one who has made the restorations and modifications and it is his first attempt at undertaking such a project.

My biggest concerns are any safety, or maintenance, or reliability issues given that this bike is from 1981 despite it being rebuilt. Im not sure if I should spend a bit more'money and get a new Thruxton or save a few bucks and get this bike. I can tell you guys that I love the look of this bike and the Thruxton.

I would love to hear everyone's expert opinions if you would all be so kind :).

The seller has indicated the following upgrades on the motorcycle:

1981 BMW R100 custom built / restored 2 years ago
- 1000cc - 70hp - 60ft/lbs torque - almost 50% more than some new replicas like Moto Guzzi and Triumph
- Custom paint (BMW carbon black metallic)
- Custom built stainless steel brake lines
- Brand new lithium battery, hidden install (5-10lbs lighter)
- Custom made cowhide leather seat
- K&N cone air filters and covers
- All fluids freshly changed at end of last season including drive shaft, gear box, brakes, oil
- New tires last season (Heidenau scout)
Looks and rides like a brand new bike.
Well over $10,000 invested
Cafe racer / Scrambler
Odometer reads 30,000km however there are aprox 60,000km on the bike

Thanks a lot in advance!

Jake
 

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I'd take the Thruxton for sure. The 2016 Thruxton is a lot more powerful than the 2015 model, so a "new" 2015 Thruxton may be a better choice for a new rider (and it will be cheaper, too).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'd take the Thruxton for sure. The 2016 Thruxton is a lot more powerful than the 2015 model, so a "new" 2015 Thruxton may be a better choice for a new rider (and it will be cheaper, too).
So the Thruxon is about 3-4K more. Would it be cheaper because of a possible ongoing maintenance issues with the BMW?
 

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Thanks for the reply. Why would a used one make a terrible bike?
Not a used one...an old one.

A lot of us on the board got into riding when bikes from the 60's and 70's were just 10-20 year old used bikes in the market. for you that would be bikes from the 90's and early 2000s. In that range entropy had not set in yet so the bikes did not require full rebuilds, just a healthy service to keep running. We weren't as distracted by breakdowns, major overhauls, etc.... Also this idea of "classic" bikes had not set in either so things like old bmws, nortons, and honda cbs were almost worthless. Old bikes for us were 40's-60's harleys, ducatis, brits, and beemers and they were all unreliable because entropy and deferred maintenance. For a new rider, it pays to minimize the distractions, and having to replace parts every weekend and live with flat tires, boiled batteries, blown fuses, constantly is a distraction. I'm not saying that you'll have all these problems with that beemer, but you are going to have some and if you are not already a good motorcycle mechanic you are going to miss out on a lot of good riding days. Plus you can't really ride a lot of miles on a bike that is breaking down and you want to rack up miles as a new rider. You want to go to bike nights, you want to tour with it, you want to impress pretty girls (or boys) with it and have fun, and the more you ride an old bike the more it is going to keep you from doing that.

The reason I don't like the bike you posted, is that it is all cosmetic. It's nice work, but it doesn't have rearsets, it doesn't have speed parts, it's just a stock bike with a seat, some bars, and a cut fender. Hardly a proper cafe racer. It has a riding position that will be uncomfortable and promote bad habits, and it will require more spending to fix. Something tells me he's asking a premium for it too. If you already had an everyday bike I would say sure, go ahead. but you don't.

I'm sure they covered this in your msf course but it's easy to ride a bike, it's slightly harder to not get killed on one. the only way to do that is to practice. So buy a new bike with a warranty and all the gear, and then rack up miles. Lots of miles. try to get 10K per year. Discover what you really like about the activity of riding, not what actually looks good curbside. you want to have a long relationship with your first bike because you want the hook to set. you don't want it to drive you out of the hobby because it is needy and requries constant attention. You want to get on and go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Not a used one...an old one.

A lot of us on the board got into riding when bikes from the 60's and 70's were just 10-20 year old used bikes in the market. for you that would be bikes from the 90's and early 2000s. In that range entropy had not set in yet so the bikes did not require full rebuilds, just a healthy service to keep running. We weren't as distracted by breakdowns, major overhauls, etc.... Also this idea of "classic" bikes had not set in either so things like old bmws, nortons, and honda cbs were almost worthless. Old bikes for us were 40's-60's harleys, ducatis, brits, and beemers and they were all unreliable because entropy and deferred maintenance. For a new rider, it pays to minimize the distractions, and having to replace parts every weekend and live with flat tires, boiled batteries, blown fuses, constantly is a distraction. I'm not saying that you'll have all these problems with that beemer, but you are going to have some and if you are not already a good motorcycle mechanic you are going to miss out on a lot of good riding days. Plus you can't really ride a lot of miles on a bike that is breaking down and you want to rack up miles as a new rider. You want to go to bike nights, you want to tour with it, you want to impress pretty girls (or boys) with it and have fun, and the more you ride an old bike the more it is going to keep you from doing that.

The reason I don't like the bike you posted, is that it is all cosmetic. It's nice work, but it doesn't have rearsets, it doesn't have speed parts, it's just a stock bike with a seat, some bars, and a cut fender. Hardly a proper cafe racer. It has a riding position that will be uncomfortable and promote bad habits, and it will require more spending to fix. Something tells me he's asking a premium for it too. If you already had an everyday bike I would say sure, go ahead. but you don't.

I'm sure they covered this in your msf course but it's easy to ride a bike, it's slightly harder to not get killed on one. the only way to do that is to practice. So buy a new bike with a warranty and all the gear, and then rack up miles. Lots of miles. try to get 10K per year. Discover what you really like about the activity of riding, not what actually looks good curbside. you want to have a long relationship with your first bike because you want the hook to set. you don't want it to drive you out of the hobby because it is needy and requries constant attention. You want to get on and go.
That was extremely helpful advise. My gut feeling was that the BMW was mostly cosmetic and that is why i was so skeptical. I have not even discussed or negotiated the cost for the beemer but i did intuitively feel it was rather high. In fact a few people have expressed that to me as well. Do you think the thruxton is a good entry cafe racer?
 

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you are a new rider. buy the new bike. Old bikes make great second bikes, terrible first ones.
Agreed. When first learning to ride, you want to spend your time riding, learning how to be a better rider. Hence a new bike is better because it will not really need any maintenance any time soon. So downtime is limited. With older bikes, yes they look great and are a lot of fun, but they require a little more love. As a new rider it would be frustrating to try and fiddle with a choke to get it started, or knowing when is the right time to shift. New bikes are mostly all EFI, so they start up a lot better. Also there are a lot of new bikes out there that have shift lights to help you learn when to shift. Plus there is always that moment of cringe when you do something wrong on an old bike, knowing if you messed something up it might be a pain in the ass to find a replacement part.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Agreed. When first learning to ride, you want to spend your time riding, learning how to be a better rider. Hence a new bike is better because it will not really need any maintenance any time soon. So downtime is limited. With older bikes, yes they look great and are a lot of fun, but they require a little more love. As a new rider it would be frustrating to try and fiddle with a choke to get it started, or knowing when is the right time to shift. New bikes are mostly all EFI, so they start up a lot better. Also there are a lot of new bikes out there that have shift lights to help you learn when to shift. Plus there is always that moment of cringe when you do something wrong on an old bike, knowing if you messed something up it might be a pain in the ass to find a replacement part.
Hi Ews,

What do you think of the sellers modifications and upgrades? Does it make the bike "newer" or more reliable? Im assuming the engine itself or transmission would still be stock and thus 35 years old. How does that effect the engine?
 

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I'm just bummed that that kickass original fade paint had to be destroyed for someone's "vision" of a café racer.
I would have loved to have had the bmw in the before pictures.
 

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7k will buy some pretty nice BMW's here in the great white north.
7k also buys a lot more in the states, too. That bike is way overpriced.

On the other hand, you are spending at least 2x that on a new thruxton. Add tax and fees for a new bike, with insurance and it gets expensive quickly.

BMW made that boxer for another 10 years. I would get a later year with single sided swingarm, fancy rear suspension and better front brakes.

Engine remains the same almost agricultural 60-70hp unit throughout its run.

Performance on those earlier bikes is a loosely applied term. The rear frame(where the rear shock mounts) on my r75/5 is bolted on the main frame for christ's sake.
 

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67 Triumph T120R, 04 BMW 1200 GS
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That was extremely helpful advise. My gut feeling was that the BMW was mostly cosmetic and that is why i was so skeptical. I have not even discussed or negotiated the cost for the beemer but i did intuitively feel it was rather high. In fact a few people have expressed that to me as well. Do you think the thruxton is a good entry cafe racer?
Both of my older brothers are riding newer Triumphs and they love'm. They've been riding a life time and wouldn't consider them "entry" level machines. The Thruxton is plenty of bike. One thing to keep in mind, they did find that Triumph shops are few and far between here so if it needs work they can't do it's a bit of a hassle to get it done. Also there are allot of quality bikes on the market for that kind of cash made by other manufacturers. Ride a few first and see what floats yer boat and don't rush into it. As for old bikes, the lads are right. It can be a love/hate relationship. I'm still riding a bike I purchased 30+ years ago and it was old then and if you don't like wrenching or plan on long trouble free rides they are far from ideal. That all said I'm a big triumph fan and if that's the bike that puts that "my bike" smile on your face then go for it. Look forward to seeing what you end up with.
 

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Since you asked for advice, here's mine:

1. Forget the 2016 Thruxton. Too much money and too much bike for a new rider. Don't be offended!
2. Everyone that rides has dropped their bike. The last thing you want to do is drop a new bike and scratch up that brand new paint job or bust a turn signal or worse.
3. Never finance more than 50% of the cost of a new bike. See #2, and sooner rather than later you'll think you need more bike. You don't want to be upside down when you trade it in or sell it.
4. You should probably not buy a café bike. I know, you love them, we all do. But it is not the most comfortable riding position and you want to ride a lot of miles to get experience.
5. If you just have to have a new Triumph then buy the new Speed Twin. See #3, I've ridden one and they are a blast to ride. And you can turn it into a café later if you want to.
6. If you feel better having a new bike and want something that is more like a café then take a look at the Honda CB500F. Cheap, reliable, and fun to ride. Again, see #3.
7. If you'd rather spend less money and still have a fun bike then I would suggest you look at a clean, unmolested late model Suzuki SV650 ( not the S model). They are everywhere and you can pick up a good one for 3K. See #2.

I was a motorcycle salesman for 7 years and I've seen a lot of guys make huge mistakes when buying their first bike. I gave all of them the same advice I'm giving you.
Look at it this way, as a new rider your first bike is your education in riding and owning a motorcycle. It is just as important to learn how to own it as it is to ride it. Learning the basics of motorcycle maintenance
will be invaluable to your riding. And education isn't free. Remember, if you didn't know how to swim you wouldn't jump in the deep end of the pool.
 

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forgot to add: Fill out your bio.

Honestly, if there is a guzzi dealer in your town then go look at V7 Scrambler. It's a much more approachable bike than the thruxton. Hornet is right, forget the cafe racer thing for a first timer, you want a good solid all arounder.

Moto Guzzi USA - Motorcycles - V7 II Scrambler

get the blue one.

If you have the money for a new bike, nothing wrong in buying a new bike. A lot of guys say get a used bike first but to be honest I wish my first motorcycle had been a new bike. So much less hassle.
 
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