BMW K100


There have been a few modernish bikes that have acquired popular nicknames over the years  -  think Fizzy and Kettle, and some that are not so positive - like the Plastic Maggot and the Flying Brick.

Flying Brick...it doesn't indicate affection really, but is a fair name for a bike that goes well and is of solid construction. And the engine looks a bit like a brick. Flying Breeze Block would be better, but I wasn't in charge of that.

The first thing every BMW owner will say to you is -

"It's a bit quirky, you have to get used to it, you have to give it a while, they're not like other bikes" etc.

All with a faint air of apology. Or superiority, depending on the flavour of humanoid. This was always true of the boxers, and even though BMW tried to make this a more "normal" bike, they just couldn't quite manage it. It's almost a car, in many ways, and that's a sort of good thing - huge mileage engines, refined engineering, shaft drive, liquid cooling etc.


Made during the Thatcher years, the K100 looks brutish, boring and ugly at the same time. Nobody thought much about them then, and they still aren't famous for anything. Teenage boys don't, and never did, want a poster of one. Consequently you can get a whole load of motorcycle for very little money.

They did 137mph, had 90hp, 5 gears, all about right for the time.

If it's decent, then it'll be ok

BMW buyers and owners are not known for thrashing their bikes, or bodging them up, or ignoring service schedules- so buying one secondhand may not be as much of a gamble as it is with other marques. Although they will all have gone round the clock umpteen times so you never know what the actual mileage is. Anyway it doesn't matter, it's one of those bikes. If it's decent, then it'll be ok. The K75 (3 cylinders) and K100 were the first new generation bikes by BMW, and borrowed from their car expertise, with an unusual layout of the four cylinders laid down with the crankshaft running along the centreline of the bike.

Firstly with 2 valve heads, (later models had 4) full stainless exhaust, fuel injection, alloy tank, watercooling and shaft drive, they promised to be a smooth and reliable workhorse, which they were. Some complained of secondary vibration (absent on the K75 with it's balancer), but it was considered a good entry into the world of post 1930s motorcycles (if a touch late). In German there is a compound word "Uberkleineschaftechniczeitung" which can be roughly translated as "Catching up with technology panic".

BMW K100 1984

Styling was, as the polite would say, a matter of taste.. clearly styled by a committee, it shows all the hallmarks of wanting to be radical and daring, and not having the bottle to do it. Maybe it was the zeitgeist...

Models were:

No fairing really
Smallish fairing
Barn door fairing
Or, officially
K100, with no fairing
K100RS, with sports fixed fairing and lower bars
K100RT, with full fairing for 'road touring'
K100LT, with a higher screen and additional equipment as standard for 'Luxury Touring'


It weighed the same as a GS1000 with roughly the same performance, so it wasn't exactly a leap forward as far as that goes. It did however (later) feature anti-lock brakes, a safety feature that has become pretty common since. At the time there was a lot of hand wringing and furrowing of brows about this development. The old die-hards regarded it as almost cheating- the idea of not stacking your bike on a winter roundabout just didn't seem right. Would newer riders never develop our awesome levels of skill and control? Was the youth going to hell in a hand cart? Were BMW trying to make real bikers as lame as car drivers? The (mass) debate droned on while we all got used to it, and liked it.

Another point of interest here is that the K100 has something in common with other disregarded bikes of that time - they make a cheap and easily available basis for a special! Cue pics!

K100 racer


So if you see a rider of above average height with leather trousers and a mullet, don't judge them. Or you can if you want.

All in all then, a bargain buy, if you are not a slave to fashion. Just make sure you get one with a new air filter, because when you need to change it, you will commit suicide over one of the clips... the toolbox doesn't include one of those radio aerials with a little magnet on the end...German design isn't faultless.

Love 'em or hate 'em? Incensed by Jerry's description or wholeheartedly agree? Let us know what you think - email us at: news@wemoto.com
Posted by Jerry Rulf
for Wemoto News on 04 December 2014 in Features

Edited By: Daisy Cordell



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