Originality - good or who cares? - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 29th, 2015, 1:25 am Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Johnstown, PA, USA
Posts: 2
Originality - good or who cares?

Hello everyone. I'm new to the forum but an old rider - started way back in '65 on a Honda 150 Dream. Current ride is an '03 R1150RT in beautiful shape. I'm retired, but as a hobby I help out a friend who restores antique cars for a living. In that world, originality is everything and great care is taken to restore the cars we work on to as close to absolutely OEM as possible - right down to the kind of caps on the tire valves. I've found a very solid '85 K100, 24K documented original miles, mechanically sound, pretty much all there, but in need of some TLC. The paint's a little dodgy, and there's a cracked lens on one corner along with the to-be-expected wear here and there. But, altogether, a nice, solid project bike for a reasonable price. So - my question is: What does the community think about originality? By that I mean is it a major no-no to polish an aluminum piece that originally had a matte finish, or put a first class paint job on but use a non-factory or not-for-that-year color? In short, is a quality, but not 100% original, restoration acceptable, or am I going to have somebody checking to see if those are 1985 valve caps on the rims? Your input is appreciated - thank you!
12VoltMan is offline  
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 29th, 2015, 5:05 am
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: , , UK
Posts: 3,750
I suppose it depends on whether you want to just keep the bike in a barn for showing in 'concourse' condition, or if you want to ride and maintain it, or just like working on machines purely for restoration and exhibition.

My K1200RS is 1997. But when I got it I decided I wanted to keep maintenance and running costs to a minimum as I have plenty of other things to do. First job was replacing most of the rusty steel fasteners with stainless steel. I wash the bike and that's all. I then swapped out the old oem ali muffler sleeve for newer shiny stainless. Then I had gel pads fitted and the seat re-covered, plus added HID lighting. None of this would satisfy the restoration aficionados, but I have a bike I enjoy riding which is still mostly stock 'with improvements'.

If I had to replace a part or do a paint job I would ask myself 'what went wrong with the original and can I do better'? For example, an oem part painted black will probably be poor and I might consider powder coating as a better alternative.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 29th, 2015, 11:30 am
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Anaheim, CA, USA
Posts: 1,397
What a great question! I think the answer depends on who you ask.

I view motorcycles as transportation. I ride them. I do not care whether they have original parts and look original as long as they are reliable.

There are others (I know a few) who are very finicky about restoration. They are very active in the restoration community and enter their motorcycles in competitions. My local dealer has enough restored BMW motorcycles that he could have his own museum. He regularly enters and wins major competitions. His opinion might differ.

I think you must decide what is right for you.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 29th, 2015, 8:22 pm
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: El Paso, TX, USA
Posts: 41
I know that I'm sounding like a "Johnny one-note" but again I'd recommend raising this issue as well on motobrick.com where the K100/K75/K1100 bikes are the focus.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 30th, 2015, 10:35 am
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada
Posts: 77
I can appreciate both styles. If you look at the museums, you will see both types displayed, so I would say neither is wrong.

The meticulously restored examples of cars, bikes etc. are amazing to see. The attention to details is something I would never have the determination to do nor to maintain once done. Quite often it seems that some of these are taken far beyond original quality in the quest for perfection too.

On the other hand a machine that has survived a long life, well maintained with a few adaptations is a pleasure to view. I tend to enjoy this type more as it shows the truth of the machines entire life, not just its origin. I would think that a bike in this category would be much less stressful to take out for a ride, knowing it might show some signs of wear or imperfection as a result. After all, they were made to be used.

Ed Miller,
Calgary, AB, Canada
2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
mcmxcivrs is offline  
post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 30th, 2015, 7:34 pm Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Johnstown, PA, USA
Posts: 2
Thanks to all for your thoughtful answers and your insight. Believe me, I've been back and forth many times on this one, trying to decide whether to jump in the deep end of the pool or just take my towel and go home. On one hand, this K is a mechanically sound machine and a perfect candidate for a complete going-over. On the other, it's so very easy to underestimate time and expense, and overestimate the end value, both monetarily and in terms of personal satisfaction, of your end product.

And, MCMXCIVRS's comment on overreaching is quite valid. Some years ago we had a shop customer who wanted a flawless Model T. We explained several times that Ford never built a flawless Model T - they were put together on an assembly line by men in a hurry who did on the fly fitments and body adjustments with leather mallets, crowbars, and hammers! Of course there were dents and body squiggles and doors that didn't line up exactly - they fixed all that with black paint! But, the customer wanted a flawless T, and that's what he got - at multiple multiple multiples of what an original T cost.

I guess my biggest problem is that I _really like_ this particular K100. For some reason it struck a chord in me when I took it for a test spin, and I can easily envision what it would look like all done up like it was factory fresh.

Ah, those lovely sirens out there on the rocks are calling...

Thanks again to all.
12VoltMan is offline  
post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2016, 10:13 pm
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Westbrook, Me, USA
Posts: 1
I too am new to this group. I would think the degree of originally would depend on where you plan to ride it or sell it once you are done. Determine your target group and proceed accordingly.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old Aug 24th, 2016, 4:55 pm
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK
Posts: 10
I reckon that the world needs only one totally original example of any vehicle, but if you too want an original bike, then go for it. If you want different paint colours, polished parts, better lighting, louder horn, more comfortable seat, radial tyres, etc., then why not have that?

My own ride is a 1998 K1200RS that has lots of polished stainless fasteners, fender extender, hugger, higher screen, bar risers, lowered footpegs, HID lighting, Remus exhaust, and quite a few other modifications. For me, these changes make it easier to look after, more comfortable to ride, and most importantly mine.

I get a lot of pleasure from going to bike meets, looking at how riders have changed and improved their machines, and talking to them about their bikes. I wouldn't get much pleasure from a row of identical bikes, but that's just me.

Just do what makes you happy...

Owning and riding a 1998 BMW K1200RS with 84,000 miles on the clock. Owning and restoring an ex-Police 1992 BMW K1100LT.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old Apr 7th, 2017, 7:14 am
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 16
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
helmetride is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old Nov 11th, 2017, 5:05 pm
Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 7
I'm new, but keep it original. It just seems more fitting.
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