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reader rides | erik’s 1974 bmw r90/6

Last week Erik sent in some pics of his 1974 BMW r90/6.

Monday I posted a teaser about it with an ugly before shot and a nice sleek after shot that only revealed part of the bike. Tuesday I posted the same teaser pic on bikerMetric‘s Facebook and asked if anyone would like to see more. It got 22 Likes in 2 hours. I guess that’s a yes.

It’s now Wednesday. Time to give you what you’ve all been waiting for.

bM: How did you come to own a 1974 BMW R90/6?
Erik: The motorcycle was owned by a now 82 year old German immigrant who moved to Alaska in the 1940’s. The gentleman toured the state on this motorcycle before giving it to his son, whom I bought it from.

The great part about the seller is that he’s the retired owner of the BMW dealership in the town 10 miles from my house. When I arrived to pick up the bike I had the opportunity to walk through his 3 connex containers full of BMW motorbikes & stuff. He has several complete pre-1970s motorbikes and an authentic German sidecar rig. He despises the color I chose and what I’m doing to “perfectly good German engineering.”  We laugh about it and I tell him, “Jesus, ill trade some good engineering for a little more style!”  He and his son have been a great source if knowledge.”

bM: What was the idea behind the bike?
Erik: “I wanted the theme to be “New Vintage” where every nut, bolt and seal was replaced along the way but it still retained its vintage look. Custom tail & LED tail light give it a fresh look but then I swept the paint lines back to give it an old school race feel.”

I think he nailed it.

bM: How much did you pay for the bike? What happened with all of the extra weight it lost?
Erik: “I thought I could sell the unwanted luggage, fairing, fenders, lights, etc. to offset the $2,300 purchase price.  ****, was I wrong. I couldn’t PAY someone to get it out of my garage. The fairing became part of the kids’ tree fort at the cabin.  I didn’t plan on tearing into the bike until fall but, after 17 beers with a buddy in my garage, history was made.”

bM: Ain’t that how it always starts? Then what happened?
Erik: “We disassembled the bike during one all-night session with the help of some rap music. I parked it the beginning of June and just put it on the road last week. Approximately 13 weeks.”

bM: Tell us about airheads.
Erik: “I’ve been in love with airheads since I first rode a friend’s in 2002 when I was in college.  The opposed cylinders and perceived width was so different and eye-catching. When I saw a BMW cafe bike in a random magazine, I was hooked.”

bM: Hey, what a coincidence! We rode a lot of freshmen airheads in college too! None of them were from Alaska though. On the off chance Erik spilt the milk on the Tea Party, bikerMetric just wants to say way to go buddy! We love those Alaskan cylinders too!

Of course, there’s always the chance that these were what he meant by airheads:

Yeah… this is probably more like what he meant. Oh well.

bM: Does it have a name?
Erik: “I think I’ll name the bike Catalyst. Every slightly-overweight, late 40’s man who stops to chat about the motorcycle seems to be on the verge of their own midlife crisis. Their eyes widen and they share all kinds of ideas on what they’ve always wanted to build: hotrods, motorcycles, etc. but they have too many excuses for why they haven’t yet taken action. I hope our fun chats in front of the coffee shops give them enough motivation to begin their own projects.”

bM: How far have you come and where are you heading?
Erik: “I’ve learned a lot from my first build and I have some crazy **** on-deck for this winter… Early 1960’s /2 frame.. Drop in a 1000cc boxer engine… Add a 12 gallon Heinrich tank… Shave the fenders & lights… Add a little magic and BAM!

bM: What have you done to the r90/6 so far?
Erik: “Ground off battery box, relocated to tail & replaced with Lithium Iron battery
Removed air box & replaced with pod filters
Custom license plate bracket tapped into axle
Powder coated frame & wheels
Custom tail, integrated LED tail light & paint by Perry Cowls
Boxer Metal top plate modified by me to flush mount Acewell speedo
Terrozi rear sets & clip on bars
Ceracoated cylinder heads then I stripped the coating from the edge of each fin
Posh brand switches (found in Japan…my favorite feature)
Megaton exhaust from UK
Motor rebuilt and every gasket, seal & bearing replaced on the bike during the build

Biggest PITA was wiring a 40-year-old harness to a modern digital speedo/tach and all the functionality it offered.”

bM: Any favorite modifications on the r90/6?
Erik: “(1) the posh Japanese switches.  A major PITA to order but, luckily, I lived in Japan and spoke with the manufacturer.
(2) the flush-mount of an Acewell speedo
(3) Ceracoated Cylinder heads.  After 13 beers and a few hours of staring at the bike, I thought of what women say regarding stripes; “If you want to look taller, wear horizontal stripes.”  After coating the heads I stripped the edge of each fin to give it a layering effect.”

Erik took a 39 year old motorcycle and in 13 weeks had it looking better than new. F*** yeah!
Thanks for sharing your bavarian beauty with us.

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  1. Having owned an 84 r80st and 82 r100, I look at Eric’s creation like it would feel as comfortable to ride as a well worn shoe. I love all the cool details. The combination of old school with the modern tach/speedo and handle bars. Great job.

    • That’s a great compliment and sounds about right. What are you currently riding, David?

      • Nothing right now, but I am keeping an eye out for the right bike or project to come along. I have been really inspired by the minimalism of the bikes of Deus in Bali, and Diriitz in Indonesia. Since I live in western Washington I’m thinking of a bobber/cafe style with fenders. But I am staying open to the possibilities. Thanks for all the inspiration that you post. DAS

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