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  I feel a bit here in the camp of the enemy ;-), because at heart I'm
an Airhead. Alas, I brought my trusty old '88 R80RT to the grave this
week because a valve crashed the engine beyond economical repair, and
at the moment I have neither time nor the space to pick the engine
apart myself, so I traded her for an '99 R1100RT I'm about to pick up.

Maybe we wuz the enemy befo, but we ain't the enemy no mo!

Sorry to say so, folks, but the test ride on the R1100RT was nice,
comfortable, it's nice to toy with an electric windscreen, but
somewhere the big fun factor of the old airheads is missing.

Cees, it takes a year to learn to really ride an R1100RT and get everything
out of it that it offers.   Once you get a feel for what it wants from you in
the way of rider input, you'll start to "get it" and you'll have some real fun
on the bike.   It's much more capable than you think.     Sure, you get some
extra comfort and power, but there's more to it than that.

there's a lot on the bike to make up for it, and as I get to know it
better I will probably appreciate it more (and maybe it was a dumb
move to rent an R1200GS first ;-)).

I also have experienced the R12GS and I must say, it's an amazing bike to
ride.   Only takes a few days to learn to fling with gusto because it's so

The R1100RT takes a lot of TLC to get the most out of it.  It's a great bike
for tinkerers because it can be improved a lot with a few additions and some
careful tuning.   Lots to learn on it.    My first Oilhead was a '99RT.  I put
100,000 Km on it, took it apart many times, serviced it, improved it etc.
I've since had an 1150RT and am now riding a 1200RT.   Each was a better bike,
but the 1100RT really has a feel and texture that I miss sometimes.

Suggested resource is www.ibmwr.org .  They have a great Oilhead Tech section
that covers your bike very well and explains a lot of the principles of the
fuel injection system and other magical black box things.    Also be sure to
check the classified ads in there.  They are among the most active and there's
a special Oilheads section with a lot of the stuff I'm recommending below.

Anyway, here I am, boxer lover, oilhead newbie, planning not to wrench
too much - the BMW dealership is not even half a mile from my house
and I need the bike to commute, it's my only transport - but still
craving for knowledge about the new machine.

How far is your commute?   Will you tour with this bike?   Do you notice any
low speed surging with the engine?   Since it is a European model, it may be
set up properly and may not have all the problems that we've had to engineer
around here in the States.

If you're going to ride it fast over long stretches of road, an Aeroflow
windscreen or a Cee Baileys Type 3 windscreen are strongly encouraged.

A more comfortable seat is also a good idea, but costs some money.   It may be
possible to find a used one.  A Sargent seat is recommended because it's not
custom made so you don't have to worry about having the same body type as the
previous owner.   They also look great.  The Rick Mayer and Russell saddles
are great, but not if they don't fit you.

A cheaper alternative is to "shim" the front of the seat about 10 to 13 mm.
This is an easy job.   You take off the seat and find the front
bracket...adjustable.   There are 4 allen screws holding it to the frame.  You
remove those screws, find some longer ones of the same thread size and put
some sort of shim arrangement under the bracket.

I used stacks of flat metal washers taped together with black electrical tape.
Just thread the longer screws throught the bracket and the washer stacks.

You'll have a seat that's more "flat" and doesn't give you a "wedgie" as it
pulls your crotch steadily towards the tank as you ride.

If you do score a new seat, also get "bar-baks"  These move the handlebars up
and towards you a bit.   This is very good for the replacement seats because
you sit a bit farther back on the bike with the aftermarket seats.

With the new windscreen, seat and bar-baks, the bike will be transformed.
Riding position will be more comfortable, wind will no longer be a factor (you
can ride at 100mph with two fingers on the handlebars!!!) and life will be

If the profile of the back tires on your bike look squared off, well, it's not
going to handle as well as it should.

When you buy new tires, I suggest only two possibilities.  Perhaps the best
all-round tire for this bike is the Bridgestone BT-020.   It's great in wet or
dry conditions, has great stick in the corners, lasts a long time and doesn't
seem to react as much to being squared off in the back as some others.

My favorite RT tire is the Metzler Roadtec Z6.   It sticks like velcro in
turns and is quite good in all other conditions, but it will start to degrade
in handling a bit more than the Bridgestone if the back tire gets square from
a lot of high speed, straight line riding.   Because of the rear tread
pattern, it's difficult to tell how badly it's worn because there's no tread
in the middle of this rear tire.

So, if you're a fan of canyon (or Alps) twisties, the Metzler is the tire, but
if you're commuting and riding a lot of highway miles, the Bridgestone is
probably the better choice...it's no slouch in the twisties either, but it
doesn't have quite the stick of the Z6.   Bridgestones are generally 10 to 15%
cheaper for the same tire size, at least here in the States.  Both tires will
give decent life.

I also like to put GS intake tubes on 1100RTs.   They give the bike smoother
running and better torque at low and mid RPMs with a slight sacrifice of
ultimate horsepower and high RPM power.  They make the bike much more useable
in normal riding.  These are available from the BMW dealer's parts counter for
around 30 Euros, I think.   They are the black tubes that run from the air
cleaner box under the seat to the throttle bodies on each side of the bike.
The RT/RS tubes are short and wider.  The GS tubes are narrow and
longer...part of their length fits inside the airbox.

You need to make sure that the markings on the tubes line up with the markings
on the throttle bodies on both sides.

You need to balance the throttle bodies after the new tubes are installed.

Bosch 4418 spark plugs work better in these bikes than the stock plugs.   They
are a common spark plug that is used in many European engines.   They are
platinum and have 4 conductors.   Work well with the GS tubes.

Cees, these are just a few of the more useful things you can do with your bike
to make it more fun to ride. RTs are terrific bikes and will handle a wide
variety of riding needs.  They have the right combination of strengths for my
situation here in the US.  I hope you find your bike equally as fun.

Good luck with your new bike and welcome to the list.

- -TB

Greetings from the Netherlands,