Originally Posted by fpmlt
When I was at the Redmond Rally, I took a look at the vintage BMWs. Among them was a German military BMW. What struck me was this: it was set up for a rider, a passenger, a sidecar with machine gun mounted out front (that's 3 people), AND it was towing a 25 MM cannon.
How, in the 40's, were they able to build a motorcycle that could do all that, but in the 21st century, we're still struggling with broken shift linkages, slipping clutches, leaking seals, and failing final drives?
Granted, they did lose the war, but still....
Things that make you go HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.
Not being argumentative, just playing the devil's advocate.
The old BMWs had carburetors, points and a cable operated clutch. While the clutch on an old airhead won't be contaminated by a leaking slave cylinder, they still could be by a leaking seal in the engine or transmission - I know that has happened on airheads.
The final drive was on a conventional swing arm so the bearing was not subjected to the same kind of loading as a single sided swing arm, but the bikes rode and handled like pigs. An engineer from BMW AG a few years back said that the single sided paralever suspension was retained due to handling and ride quality as well as ease of maintenance on the rear tire. He said that trying to make a double sided swing arm with the paralever qualities not only made maintenance more difficult, but it also compromised ride quality. I know paralever equipped bikes have much better rear suspension compliance than conventional swing arms, that is one of the things I really like about BMWs. Honda even went the same route on the new GoldWing for the same reasons. I just don't understand why BMW has had so much difficulty with failures, though it is clear that there have been improvements over the last few years.
I am not sure shift linkage failures on an LT are as frequent now as they were in the first few model years and probably not nearly as frequent as a stuck float or ignition issues on the old airhead. I am also not sure the old airheads were as reliable as they were "fixable", just like the WWII Harleys. The shaft drive eliminates chain maintenance, but valve, carburettor and ignition maintenance were pretty constant.
There is no reason to cut BMW slack on real issues such as the rear drive failures, but it would be difficult to compare the ride quality, efficiency, comfort and range of your LT to a WWII BMW and not have the LT win it all.