The Airheads Beemer Club is a non-profit club reclaiming the 'Legendary Motorcycles of Germany'

Topic-icon Shipping a bike question / Introduction

11 months 2 weeks ago - 8 months 2 weeks ago #4960 by 12771
Hi everyone. I’m in a bit of a conundrum and hoping to get some sage advice. I joined ABC in 2015, a few years after I bought my r80/7 - but marriage, moving to NYC, and then my wife coming down with cancer and passing away on me sort of took me out of the loop for a while.

My bike has been stored in my brother’s barn in Downingtown, PA for six or seven years, and hasn’t been started in at least five. (We ran it dry, and it’s primarily been on the center stand, so I hope there isn’t gunk in the carburetors.)

Since my wife passed, I’ve moved out to Utah so my stepdaughter can be with family (that’s where we’re from originally). When we got ready to move everything from NYC to Utah, after my wife passed, I turned my attention back to my bike, and renewed my membership here.

Visually, everything seems to be as it was on my bike, but the front brake caliper seized last fall and today we had issues getting it into and out of neutral. I know I need to follow the “What to do with a new-to-you bike” thread on here, since it’s been sitting so long, and I will as soon as I can, to make sure everything is in order before I fire it up.

I’m in PA this weekend, but heading back to Utah tomorrow. I want to get my bike out to Utah so I can work on it, but I don’t know how feasible this is in its current condition. Does anyone have experience with shipping a bike cross-country? Any recommendations on a shipper? Could it be shipped with the front caliper seized as it is? I haven’t found any airhead-specific guide to unsticking calipers online, but I assume it’s something I could do on my own.

Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. I’ve considered having Hermy’s in Port Clinton come fetch my bike and look it over, but they couldn’t guarantee a vintage ride like mine would even get a look before summer is over. So, I think I’d rather have it near-to-hand in Utah if that’s at all possible.

Many thanks in advance for any thoughts and suggestions. Glad to be back as part of the community.

[Mods changed title to aid future searches]
Last edit: 8 months 2 weeks ago by Wobbly.

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11 months 2 weeks ago #4961 by 8166
Replied by 8166 on topic Shipping a bike question / Introduction
First, you have my sincerest condolences on the loss of your wife. I think you're on the right track wanting to get your R80 running again, using it as a diversion or a bit of therapy.

I've moved your message here to the "My Airhead Needs Help" area in hopes it will get more views.

My familiarity with the R80/7 isn't great, but it looks like it has the under tank master cylinder and front disc brake. If that's the case, the cause of the sticking could be either in the lever/cable mechanism to the master cylinder, the master cylinder itself, the brake line, or the caliper. If I was there, I'd push the bike off the center stand and see if I could force it to roll, even a little. If it does, it means that the pads aren't stuck to the caliper.

If it won't roll at all, I'd put it back on the center stand and pull the tank off first and make sure that the lever and cable are working properly and that the lever on the master cylinder is moving freely.

Then I'd put a container under the caliper to catch brake fluid, wrap a rag around the caliper for the same reason, and use a wrench to break open the bleeder on the caliper to release any pressure that might be applied to the pads. If you have one, put a piece of hose over the nipple on the bleeder and put the other end in the container under the caliper to catch the fluid. If brake fluid spurts out, when you open the bleeder, you've probably found a way to let the wheel turn and it'll be a lot easier to ship if the bike will roll.

If not, it could be that the pads are stuck to the rotor. If the pads move back and forth in the caliper as you try to rotate the front wheel after you've opened the bleeder, the pads are stuck. Proceed cautiously, as you risk bending the rotor and ruining it, or damaging the cylinder bores in the caliper and ruining it. I found this page which describes removing the pads from the caliper, and rebuilding the caliper:

Somewhere in that procedure you should be able to free the pads from the rotor and restore motion to the wheel. That article also describes rebuilding the master cylinder, and if you do everything described, the bike will roll AND stop, which will decrease the chance that the shipper will have an accident while they're moving the bike. Unfortunately, the photos that usually accompany an article like that don't appear to be working, perhaps you can find a better article. But I encourage you to take a closer look at what's going on with that front brake first, then let us know what you find. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me can help fill in the details on the ATE caliper. I also urge you to look over the knowledge base of tech articles (AirLore->Tech Tips in the menu bar at the top of the page) to see if there's anything on the ATE brakes.

Shipper wise, I have a friend that highly recommends JC Motors: )

I've also heard good things about Federal (Allied) and Forward Air ( ). Again, Google is your friend; use it to check references and locate contact info for a reputable shipper.

Good luck with the bike, and let us know what you find, OK?

8166 Scot Marburger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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11 months 2 weeks ago - 11 months 2 weeks ago #4963 by Wobbly
Replied by Wobbly on topic Shipping a bike question / Introduction
First, allow me to echo Scot's sentiments on the loss of your spouse. That is indeed sad. My sincerest condolences both to you and your family.

There are many reasons the front hydraulic brake might seize on the brake rotor, making it impossible to roll the bike. However....
• The most common reason is the internal collapse of the flexible brake hose. Absolutely no outward visible signs are given when this happens. The hose cannot be repaired.

(This type failure is one of the big reasons to replace all flexible hoses with "stainless steel brake hoses", because the inner PTFE ("Teflon") hose is not susceptible to DOT4 brake fluid, which is a VERY caustic substance. There are numerous vendors for the newer style hose, Spiegler is probably the most popular. )

You can diagnose the hose failure 95% of the time by simply cracking open the 11mm (7/16 inch) bleeder nipple on the caliper. If the pressure is relieved and the bike miraculously start rolling, then it's most likely a hose failure. If everything is fine until the brake lever is pulled again, then the failed hose is acting as a one-way valve and that's the final part of the diagnosis.

Two warnings when you do this: 1) Use a box-end spanner to open the nipple. 2) The DOT4 fluid that comes out is VERY caustic and will eat the paint off anything it touches. Wash it off of everything with hot soapy water.

• The distant second place reason is that the brake fluid has solidified inside the hydraulic system and a complete disassembly of every part is required. This strange property of DOT4 is why BMW wants you to install new fluid once a year.

If this is the case, then you can hopefully separate the pucks far enough to get the bike to roll with pry bars or some such.

► I have used Forward Air and it was a 3 of 10 experience. You have to take the bike to their warehouse at a time they choose, where you unload the bike and strap it inside a special motorcycle container with your straps and then seal the container with your padlocks. When the bike arrives at their facility, you go down to their facility and reverse the process. They do not assist in any way, other than point to the container. You have to get the bike back on your trailer by yourself. Additionally, Forward Air does not have facilities in every city, so you may end up driving 75+ miles to both depots. That's a lot of work. They may also assign you a drop off or pickup time in a part of town you most definitely don't want to visit at 11:30PM. But my bike arrived in perfect condition.

Their are also independent drivers that come to your home and load the bike, then deliver it to your destination. I'd ask around for one of those guys. It's totally worth an extra $200 to get this door-to-door delivery.

Hope this helps.

Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!
Last edit: 11 months 2 weeks ago by Wobbly.

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11 months 6 days ago #5002 by 12771
Replied by 12771 on topic Shipping a bike question / Introduction
Hi Wobbly and Scot,

Thank you very much for your kind words and your advice. I appreciate both very much.

My brother and I were able to get the front wheel loose before I left last week - so it isn't stuck pads, which is good. We were also able to get it started and keep it running for a while. Gas leaked out of either the fuel lines or the carbs on both sides, though, so I know I'm in for some work there.

I opted to go with a company called AA Motorcycle Shipping - they had mixed reviews, but were able to schedule a pick up before my brother left on vacation last week. The others needed at least 10 days. My bike is somewhere west of Ohio as of right now, and headed my way. I get a little jolt of excitement every time I think of it - like a little kid anticipating Christmas. Love that bike and can't wait to get it road-worthy again.

Will post more when I get the bike here and start fixing the brakes and looking over everything else.

Thanks again. Very much appreciated.



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10 months 3 weeks ago #5041 by 12771
Replied by 12771 on topic Shipping a bike question / Introduction
My bike arrived safe and sound, and I ordered some new brake cables. Will keep updating as things progress. Thanks again.

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10 months 3 weeks ago #5046 by Wobbly
Replied by Wobbly on topic Shipping a bike question / Introduction
Congratulations "kid at Christmas" !!

May the feeling never end !

Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!

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