Another Brick in the Wall: 1986-1992 BMW K75S

Best bets on tomorrow’s classics: 1986-1992 BMW K75S.

  • Another Brick in the Wall: 1986-1992 BMW K75S
    Image courtesy BMW
  • 1986-1990 Kawasaki ZG1000 Concours
    Image courtesy Kawasaki
  • Contenders: Moto Guzzi 1000 Le Mans
    Image courtesy Moto Guzzi

1986-1992 BMW K75S
Claimed power: 75hp @ 8,500rpm
Top speed: 115mph (period test)
Engine 740cc liquid-cooled, DOHC inline triple
Weight (dry): 504lb
Fuel consumption: 35-55mpg
Price then/now: $5,950 (1987)/$2,900-$4,800

In the late 1970s, BMW’s overhead valve boxer twins were looking rather dated alongside the feisty 4-cylinder offerings from Japan. They were also down on power, performance and sporting appeal compared to their Asian competition. What to do? BMW needed an all-new design that reflected their reputation for engineering innovation and sophistication. An inline four would give them performance and smoothness, but simply borrowing the current favorite Japanese engine layout was verboten! So in a brilliant piece of (literally) lateral thinking, BMW’s engineers took an inline four from a Peugeot 104 car, laid it on its side lengthways and hooked it up to the transmission and shaft final drive from an R80 boxer twin. It worked. The Flying Brick was born.

The 1983 production K100 engine was of BMW’s own design, though, with dual chain-driven overhead camshafts, two-valves per cylinder and liquid cooling. Fueling was by Bosch LE-Jetronic injection, while inductive electronic ignition provided the sparks. Like the boxer twins, the engine drove a dry single-plate, engine-speed clutch and 5-speed transmission through a monolever single-sided swingarm to a hypoid final drive gear in the rear hub. The drivetrain was suspended from the steel tube backbone frame as a stressed member. A single spring/shock unit, adjustable for preload, formed the rear suspension. At the front, the telescopic forks contained damping in one leg only, the other acting simply as a spring guide.

Introduced in 1986, the K75 was essentially a K100 with the front cylinder missing, and a pair of balance shafts in the engine to quell vibration from the rocking couple of the triple’s 120-degree crank. And like its liter-class brethren, what impressed testers at the time was how BMW had managed to preserve the character of their boxer twins — which Cycle magazine defined as “civility, simplicity and excellence” — in the K-series bikes.

When launched, the K75 came in three flavors: The naked K75, the touring-oriented K75C and the sporting K75S, which differed from the plain Jane and C versions by adopting the 17-inch rear wheel and disc brake from the K100 instead of an 18-inch wheel and drum brake. Inside the K75 engine went higher compression pistons than the K100 (11:1 instead of 10.2:1), which together with changes to intake and exhaust systems gave 75 horsepower compared with the K100’s 90 ponies.

So with the K75S also being 22 pounds lighter and therefore nimbler than the K100, it’s not surprising it was designated the K-range’s sport bike. And like the other K-bikes, the S got equipment that would be considered adequate even today, like a 460-watt generator and full instrumentation with an LCD clock and hazard flashers.

12/20/2019 3:08:44 PM

I rode a stock faired '92 BMW K100Rs, W/a Sargent saddle, across country in '08, starting east 2 west. It was a near perfect bike on I-80. I set the cruise control @ 90 - 100 after Illinois & AVERAGED 50.1 mpg 4 that ~ 8000 mi. trip! Actually got 56 mpg 4 the 3 days, 173 mi., commuting between the campground in Nevada while I rode back 'n forth 2 the Bonneville Salt Flats watching the LSR cars & bikes. Took the camping equipment off: tent, both stock saddle bags (TOTAL POS bags BTW) off of it. If U've never been there U ABSOLUTELY HAVE 2 GO!!! While it was a great bike 4 the Autobahn cruise it was terrible going around corners: top heavy, didn't like 2 turn in, 2 heavy overall I thought, plus way 2 much vibration, etc, etc Got back 2 Jersey & bought a '92 K75s. W/a Pichler faring. Near perfect bike: lighter virturally no vibration, turns in, RIGHT NOW 4 a sport tourer, much more supple suspension, etc. That Pichher fairing is absolutely other worldly 2 ride behind! In 1977, when the BMW R100Rs, was released, W/that vaunted frame mounted "Integral Cockpit", that covered the rider from head 2 toe, some biker mag, rounded up the top 7 - 8 fairings of the day: Avon, Bates, Vetter, Pilchler, etc. mounted them on that bike, & puy'em all in a wind tunnel & all of'em were worse than the stock fairing. Some were FAR WORSE!. . . . . . . . . . . . all except the Pichler. While it didn't have quite the same down force of the Beemer fairing it yielded BETTER MILEAGE = less drag! That combo is what I've toured on since then and it's about as good as U can get for a "collector bike". I've had it up 2 125 mph & it's rock steady. Ride it normally & it'll yield 60 mpg. Sholuld U want to ride across country it'll do 100 mph longer than U ever can. Trust me on that. It'll also strafe a corner W'the best of them. BUT ONLY the "S" model; the front suspension is completely different than the other K75 models. Sunny side up, rubber side down!

The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

Save Even More Money with our RALLY-RATE plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our RALLY-RATE automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5.00 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $29.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $34.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter