Race to Rebuild: The BMW R90/6

In the beginning, there was a 1974 BMW R90/6, and it was not pretty. We aim to fix that in the Race to Rebuild.

| September/October 2012

  • BMW R906
    The tired Race to Rebuild BMW R90/6 will get some mechanical freshening and upgrading by the time we’re done with it.
  • BMW R906 Right Side
    We didn’t want to take a perfect BMW R90 and permanently modify it; that’d just be wrong.
  • Shock Absorber
    A classic 10-footer, our BMW looks OK from a distance, but get closer and it starts looking a little worse for wear.
  • Side Cover
    A classic 10-footer, our BMW looks OK from a distance, but get closer and it starts looking a little worse for wear.
  • Engine
    A classic 10-footer, our BMW looks OK from a distance, but get closer and it starts looking a little worse for wear.
  • Instrument Panel
    A classic 10-footer, our BMW looks OK from a distance, but get closer and it starts looking a little worse for wear.

  • BMW R906
  • BMW R906 Right Side
  • Shock Absorber
  • Side Cover
  • Engine
  • Instrument Panel

The basic concept is simple: Take a tired old classic, give it some love by way of mechanical freshening and upgrading, treat it to some custom bits and turn it into something cooler than what left the factory. The hard part comes in deciding exactly what “cooler” really looks like.

For starters, it wasn’t until recently that we even knew what our build foundation would be. We’ve been following a slightly different path with this build, one that gives readers and online fans a voice in the Motorcycle Classics/Dairyland Cycle Race to Rebuild.

As you may recall, we started this process with an announcement that we’d teamed up again with Dairyland Cycle to build another custom classic. But then we threw a little twist in by asking you to help us decide just what that classic should be.

The options we offered were all long-legged Seventies cruisers, including Harley-Davidson’s old-school Iron Head Sportster 1000, the legendary Honda CB750 Four, the T140 Bonneville 750 — the last of the “real” Triumphs — and BMW’s grand touring R90/6. We asked you to tell us which bike you wanted to see get the magic touch, and the overwhelming vote was for the BMW R90/6.



The BMW’s win was actually a bit of a surprise. Not because we don’t like the R90, quite the opposite. We think BMW’s Seventies twins are among the best everyday classics out there. Well-engineered, solid and dependable, they’re the perfect classic for the old bike fan who likes to get out on the road. Be that as it may, we really expected the nod to go to either the Honda, thanks to its status as the first true production Superbike, or the Triumph, simply because there’s no substitute for a British parallel twin when you’re talking classic motorcycles.

Our project BMW R90/6

OK, so BMW it was; next we had to find one. Fortunately, BMW made quite a few R90/6s during the model’s three-year life span — more than 21,000, in fact. And thanks to their quality build, the survival rate is high. Generally speaking, about the only way to kill an old Beemer is to run it out of oil or into a car. Suffice to say that we didn’t have any trouble locating suitable prospects.



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