Vintage BMW Motorcycle Owners




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Snowbum's BMW Motorcycle Repair & Information Website

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Service Manuals; Literature;
Service Sources; Descriptions; etc.
© Copyright 2020, R. Fleischer

This article is meant to be used with these:

Various manuals, service manuals, owner's manuals, etc. ....This is a source that you can enter your make and model number into. NOT just BMW!    Covers Bikes, cars, ETC.

John Lacko's website.  Contains a LOT of old bulletins, literature, etc.  BMW's dating back to the 1930's.   Some service information, sales literature, etc.   If you have an 1960's or earlier BMW motorcycle you will want to spend a lot of time on this website:
His site may become part of the Vintage Owners Club in 2021,

Carl Salter's website.  Vast collection of service manuals, etc., for ALL SORTS OF MOTORCYCLE BRANDS, including BMW:

SERVICE MANUALS, Schematics, etc (For all sorts of BMW vehicles):

***NOTE:  I have removed a number of dead links from this article.  For a variety of reasons, factory service manuals, etc., come and go on the Internet.  Trying the links is all that I can suggest.
A copy of the entire BMW-produced K1100LT, K1100RS repair manual, dated 5/1999.   You could copy it to a thumb drive and take it to a printer and have them print the entire manual.  With paper you can pencil-in your own notes.

R1100 and R850 factory repair CD:  01-790-023-065.  There may be updates to that February 2000 disc.

The BMW factory has a website for the POLICE (Authorities) models (R1100, R850, R1150, etc).  That website page has a lot of information, including a TECHNICAL information tab, that you can click on, for such as tech bulletins, wiring diagrams, etc. can even download the complete SERVICE MANUALS!     The website address is:  Click on technical information on the left side.

Manuals, including Service manuals, Modifications, Jetronic and Motronic diagrams!, and MUCH more.  Some are in Italian, some are in English!   RARE and hard to find technical information:

Website with schematic diagrams for the R bikes:
If you find these too small to view in enough detail on your computer screen, right click on the one you are interested in, and save it to, perhaps, your 'desktop'.   Reopen from the desktop into whatever imaging program you have (the images are .gif's) and zoom in on it.   NOTE that wiring is "schaltpläne"

I have just about every electrical schematic diagram for every BMW motorcycle, even the C-1 'scooter', and for electrical accessories, for those made between late 1969 (when the /5 came out) and 1992+.  Some of these are e-mailable, but are large files in general.  Please don't ask unless you have a truly immediate need!  Please check my technical articles list article to see if your motorcycle or a close relative is listed for a schematic, etc.  In the electrical section of the Technical Articles List page on this website (link is bottom of the article you are reading), is information on what diagrams are already on this site that might apply to YOUR bike!

W6REC.COM   is Duane Ausherman's website; and he has some early schematics there.

1.  Your BMW dealership can provide a lot of factory literature.  This includes Factory Service Manuals and Factory wiring schematic diagrams, which are usually not part of the Service Manual, except in instances, sometimes, of accessories.  SO...Don't forget that your BMW dealer can obtain manuals, including wiring diagrams, for any BMW bike!   BMW factory wiring booklets (large fold-out format) are truly EXCELLENT!

2.  Don't forget the Chitech Electrics Manual excellent source for electrical information, although the schematics are printed poorly. Much more information on this manual, and how to obtain it, is considerably later, below.

3.  Haynes and Clymers publish popular repair manuals, but there are numerous errors in them, but the manuals are quite useful, if you are careful.  The schematics leave much to be desired; and I recommend against their usage.

4.  Various mailing LISTs, upon inquiry, can often produce URL's for free downloads of various literature.

5.  A really friendly BMW dealership might be willing to give you their out of date microfiche and maybe CD discs for parts & service.

6.  There are Internet sources for parts diagrams and parts numbers, prices, etc.  None of them are exactly the same as far as how their websites operate.   They may give different amounts of information on a diagram or part number.  Information may be wrong.  Be careful! Many of the sketches and parts information can be quite faulty ...or, easy to misinterpret!  Be especially cautious about how sketches show assembly order. Ask on the Airheads mailing list; or, wherever, for confirmation, if the slightest question arises in your mind!  I often use this site.
This REALOEM site works by serial or model, month, year ...and can go back to 1948 if you use the "archive" function.  This site is useful, but is so-so if you only have the part number to look up for price or whatever.  I find the site useful at times, but use the maxbmw site, above, much more often.

7.  Parts numbers:  when you enter BMW parts numbers into an on-line fiche search, such as in the above BMW dealership websites, DO NOT use hyphens!  Delete the hyphens.  Some of the sites will accept spaces where you might have used hyphens, but to avoid problems, just eliminate hyphens and spaces in your query.

8.  Parts coding on sites:  BMW has used their standard codings on/in some of their literature, at times, for some parts.   These codings may also be on the ETK parts disc.  They are used in the old printed SNABB Katalogs.   In general, the on-line fiche does not use these, or, hardly.

A  or  a     means interchangeable with the next line number.
E     means the part is no longer available.
W     means to use with a nearby number, which could be a previous or following number that also has a W.
V     means front.
H     means rear.
N     means that a note is available by pressing or clicking on the N.
SI     means that a Service Information page is available on this part; Press S or click on S.

There are more codings.  If you want to see the short article on all of them:

9.  Here is a source for a lot of literature.  Normally I would not list them, nor any specific BMW dealerships, as any dealership can order factory service manuals and electrical manuals and even the fuel injection and engine management manuals.  However, Capital Cycle is ...or was... also selling such as Haynes, Clymer, and MICROFICHE (which BMW used to send to its dealers).   The last time I checked their website, they were selling '77-84 BMW Snabb Katalog's for $60, as part number 01-01-9-796-621.  This is a book of parts sketches and information. I use my older one A LOT.   This particular -621 version covers 1977 through 1984 models.   They had other books/literature.  Capital Cycle may well be a worthwhile source for a lot of literature.  Please provide me, Snowbum, with feedback on them, because they change their website and content method, etc., now and then.

10.  German website, tons of information:

11.  Service manuals for a lot of makes, not just BMW:
Here is his site for just BMW:

REPEATED sure to review these, as they are designed to be used WITH the manuals article you are reading:

The BMW factory SERVICE manuals tend to ASSUME that you have been to factory training.  They are not nearly as useful as you may think.   However, the later years of these manuals are detailed enough that you USUALLY, but NOT always, can get enough information without having been to the factory schools.   They are pricey, & they have supplements to get, etc.  They may or may not contain wiring schematics, some do have them, many more DO NOT.     You may have to purchase the factory wiring diagrams separately.  Some factory manuals are only for accessory items. BMW has all of these things available for sale.  LOTS of $$$ for a full set for your bike.  I do suggest that you purchase the wiring schematics for a Classic K bike if  you intend to do electrical problem tracing on a Classic K bike, and understand schematics.

The Clymer's manuals are generally bigger and much more detailed than the Haynes manuals.  Both have errors, but can be very useful.  These manuals show electrical diagrams/schematics in ways that are helpful to some, and an abomination to others (like ME).

Some folks have all the manuals.  Some have just a Clymer's or Haynes.  Some have only the Owners Booklet (especially good to own.  Some have nothing.  Some very few of us have literature that you probably never heard about; and, we can't even breathe a word about what we have nor how we got them ...but we, well, ME .....WILL provide nearly 100% of every bit of information, one way or the other.

The original owner's booklet/manual is almost always a MUST, particularly for the beginner.   Back in the Good Old Days, those manuals were rather detailed.  As lawyers (probably) got into the game, the owner's manuals became less filled with useful service details, and had more cautionary notes.   I'm surprised I haven't seen a note that one should not drink the gasoline.  STILL, they are GOOD for AIRHEADS and Classic K bikes, and it is my belief that every owner, no matter how experienced, should have the Owner's manual for their motorcycle.

Many of the jobs such as setting valves, adjusting carburetors, setting timing, are in the old owner's manual, and quite a bit more.  The earlier the date of those manuals, generally the more detailed the information.  Not always.   Be ESPECIALLY CAREFUL TO DISREGARD pulling spark plug wires/caps off the spark plugs when engines are running (or, ignition is ON) on ANY BMW built from 12/1969 onwards!

Haynes is a mixed bag, as is Clymer's.   You can usually see these at a TechDay, and you can look at them and then decide. Watch out for serious errors!!  What manual you get, if any, somewhat depends on what jobs you intend to take on.  If you are going to dig deep, into rear ends, transmissions, and engine lower ends, that will influence what you purchase.  You will STILL need the Airheads or K bike LIST, or other Internet mailing LIST, no matter what you get ...even if you have EVERY piece of  literature available.   The LISTs are THE source for the best advice.

I have mixed feelings about all the manuals, as well as 'sources' for information.     I think that probably one should at least have the owner's booklet/manual, and access to the appropriate mailing LIST and other Internet sources, such as being a Member of the Airheads Beemer Club; the airheads Club's website,  ...((or other club website such as Kbmw)); and maybe,,,, own website, that you are reading this on; a minimum.     There are a few other websites with detailed information...most are listed on this website as references, in various places; many are listed here:   Be very cautious about comments on such as Adventure Riders, and many many Facebook groups, ETC., as advice is often wrong.  Many folks are on these venues for social reasons, and not technical advice reasons, and offer-up wild ideas, not just wrong ideas.  Many bits and pieces of advice may be applicable to other models, and not your model.  Just be really cautious! You are often better-served by listening to advice from those who have BMW bike repair/service businesses ...but, even with them, they might have $$ reasons to advise some particular brand/item of part(s).

If one obtains the Clymer's/Haynes/whatever, keep a nice sharp pencil around to annotate them here and there, as you use them.   There is not one place, that I know of, that has many or all of the various manual errors corrections shown (this is particularly so for Clymers and Haynes).   Generally, the later the version of the Clymers (or Haynes) is the more accurate, and often much more detailed. I have reviewed the last versions of Clymers manuals for the Airheads and Classic K bikes, and found a LOT of errors.

To give you some idea of errors in the manuals (BMW has errors in some of  its own literature too!):  At least one version of Clymer's manual will tell you, for your Airhead with the clamshell air cleaner, to start your bike with your 'choke' lever horizontal, and ride with it full-on (full down), exactly the reverse of proper operation.   I saw that wrong bit when someone asked me about hard starting and awful running on an 79 Airhead.  Much more seriously, in both Haynes and Clymers there are plenty of errors in the CRITICAL area of the Airheads oil filter canister; AND, in torque values, many carried-over BMW's own errors, long ago corrected!

BMW made some mathematics errors in some of their old literature, in converting Nm to footpounds.   Haynes and Clymer's manuals least some that I have looked at ....KEPT BMW's errors!   BMW's Nm figures are accurate, if sometimes a bit too high in MY estimation.  I put information in my articles where pertinent.   DO NOT USE BMW FIGURES FOR FOOT-POUNDS; use MY figures in my torque settings article, or, if you must, convert BMW's Nm to Ftlbs yourself.  You will probably find my own two articles to be of much more value:

Sometimes the Clymers and Haynes manuals simply come up with their own gross errors. Gross enough to show engine removal for things that hardly require it.  LOTS of wrong things for forks, top ends, transmissions, etc.

I have two Haynes manuals, one very old, one much later, that I use primarily to look at what folks are quoting out of them, when there seems to be some sort of conflict, etc.  I have them pretty well marked up and falling apart from such use.   I have Clymers manuals too (courtesy of the publisher, who wanted me to critique them....).

My small printed BMW Parts Book (the silver one, with sketches), called the SNABB Katalog, is VERY heavily marked up, and has been in use by me for decades, and probably has its weight noticeably increased from all my notes.  It has its own confusing illustrations, such as on the oil filter canister area ....which Haynes copied and further confused.    Rather often, interpreting BMW's own literature takes some prior knowledge (this is where an internet mailing LIST or forum is particularly helpful).   All-in-all, you probably cannot hope to know everything about a machine.   BUT....we all have to, or had to, start someplace.

The Chicago Region BMW Owners Association has published and printed certain manuals; or, call them large booklets, for MANY years.  One of their manuals occupies a particular place of honor ...the "BMW Electric School Manual".  It covers the various BMW models of singles and airhead twins, from 1955 to the end of production (well, my copy says copyright 1993, and SAYS it covers only to 1990).  That manual, which is quite extensive, covers basic electricity and how things work, to details, even some modifications, all schematics (not all accessories).  It was based on nearly a dozen articles published in BMW NEWS (now called BMW MOA-ON) in the late seventies, and those were, in turn, based on the BMW Electrics School. It was updated some over the early years.  Chitech's other manuals are somewhat worthwhile.  Guess whose hands are mostly responsible for these manuals ....yep, Airheads own "OAK" ...did a whole bunch of them, one way or the other.   A page by page critique of the electrics manual is on this website at: Use that article to update YOUR copy of the manual.  This is one of the few pieces of literature that I suggest you get right away (besides the BMW-published owners manual).

Here is the URL for the Chicago Region BMW Club's website.  Here you can find the CHITECH repair manuals.  I recommend the booklets, particularly the electrics manual.

That Electrics manual, priced at $30,  is simply THE best single electrics manual for Airheads, and Oak was primarily responsible for that manual.   Some of the bike schematics are messy and hard to read, or impossible to get finer details from ...but I have the very detailed and clear schematics you need, many of which are clickable from:

So, what to get?  Depends on what work you are going to do; your 'havingness' level, your budget, etc.   FOR SURE get an owner's manual.  Worried about electrics?  Get the Chitech Electrics manual.   After that one, ...???
You might want to let your better half know what you might want for birthdays and Christmas.  If you are more of a minimalist, or perhaps you have a tight budget, find a good used Haynes or Clymers or both.     The truth is that you can get nearly everything you probably will need off the website (and its links) you are reading right now.  I STRONGLY suggest you at least have an Owners Booklet, as originally shipped with your bike ...IT WILL form the foundation for your knowledge.

initial release 03/01/2005
01/07/2008:  Combine all previous updates and update Chitech & realoem's URL's.
01/29/2009:  Add link for Carl Salter
01/23/2010:  MAJOR rework of entire page.  Combine all the separate manuals information from the Technical Index Page onto this page.
02/19/2010:  Minor updates.
04/18/2010:  Major updates on links.
04/19/2010:  Eliminate several dead links.
12/16/2010:  Remove many dead Russian links, and other cleanup.
01/15/2011:  Remove references to Buchanan and Thunderchild, as I have the information now on my trbleshootalt.htm page, in detail.
02/27/2011:  Update some URL's.
06/28/2011:  Remove carlsalter  a dead link; fix one other URL, remove one.
08/26/2012:  Minor updates, remove a bad link, etc.
05/19/2013:  Minor updates.
06/08/2013:  Major update.
03/06/2016:  Update meta-codes.  Layout.
09/03/2016:  Minor updating of metacode, scripts, layout.  
09/05/2016:  Add more information, and part number of Snabb, to info on Capital Cycle.
12/08/2016:  Add link and information for entire K1100LT and K1100RS service manual.
02/18/2017:  Change article number to 78B.
02/28/2017:  Add, which was inadvertently left off, long ago!
08/14/2017:  Add notes for beemergarage.
02/18/2018:  Major overhaul of article.  Reduce html, colors, fonts.  Fix hyperlinks.  Better layout.  Improve explanations.
11/06/2020:  Chicago Club hyperlink to their manuals.

© copyright 2020, R. Fleischer

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Last check/edit: Tuesday, January 04, 2022