Saturday, February 28, 2009, 04:09 AM - Reviews

This excellent reference provides invaluable information for the vintage racer or cafe builder. It is not a shop manual, nor a maintainance guide, nor a model reference. It does not teach you how to adjust your valves, or set luggage for touring.

What is does provide is detailed discussion of each component system- brakes, clutch, forks, etc. and show how each was improved and modified over the years. This is very important if you are building a bike from pieces, or building a custom, because although there is great interchangeability over the years 1970-1989, the differences that do show up are not always along model lines.

Do you know how to tell what flywheel will mate with what crankshaft? How to determine if a cylinder will fit a particular engine block?

For the racer this is vital because not all parts are available in early and late variations, so if you must go with a later part, such as a cam with a later style seal, what other parts will have to change to fit?

This is not a book for most BMW owners, because most are starting with a relatively complete bike, and if anything they're likely to return it to original stock condition. There are some negative reviews of this book on Amazon, but it's easy to tell the reviewers were confused about what it is about. To the layman restoration might be polishing a jewel that is 99% there already, and this book is useless for that.

That's probably the only negative about the book- I'm not sure it's exactly a restoration guide, as it isn't quite a reference to exactly how each model came from the factory. Maybe it's a customizers' guide, or a racers' guide, I'm not sure. One thing for sure, anyone contemplating putting a BMW airhead together out of a basket of ebay parts needs this book to determine what will fit.

You can easily see who the intended audience is- the motorcycle restorer who works in many different brands, and wants a reference to tell him how things are in this one, just as he would with a BSA or Zundapp. Yes, it's a book that assumes your expertise is enough to know what to do with the information. Like most references like this with older stuff, there's no hand holding. But it's fortunate that we do have this information- those of us who have worked on more obscure things like a Garelli would dream of such a book as this.

Highly recommended. Sorry to be reviewing a book that's not quite easily available, but try the used sellers, it's worth it. If you're building bikes, you need this one.

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