Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments


Mon, January 18th, 2010

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1983-1984 BMW R80S/T
800cc of air-cooled boxer twin won't set the world on fire, but tractable, predictable power and smoothness helps.
The S/T was probably the best-handling BMW streetbike prior to the introduction of the paralever swingarm; in other words, it steers lightly and holds a line nicely, but shaft-jacking is significant. Limited adjustability. Longtime airhead riders think it's perfection—the rest of us, not quite so much.
Just the right mix of traditional BMW restraint, stylish sportiness, and intriguing uniqueness.
One of the most reliable designs ever made, built with quality materials and excessive attention to detail, and refined over many previous models. 1/2 point off only due to the high miles you're likely to find on any example still around. NOTE: This score was revised downward one point on 6/23/2010 in order to keep the score consistent with with later evaluations of other bikes of this era. This is strictly due to this model's age, and the convention I've developed of deducting 1 point for every full decade since the model was discontinued.
Why Americans didn't buy this bike, I don't know. Stable and solid enough to tour on, maneuverable enough to easily commute on, and a blast to ride. Not a rocket, but dramatic proof that there's more to riding than simple g-forces.
With only about 1,000 imported into the U.S., it's very rare, and a bit cheekier than other air-cooled Beemers. It's the perfect airhead.
Essentially an R80G/S with a (modified) R65 front end, this bike combined the best qualities of both in an easy to ride, stylish package.