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CB68

20+ year old RT's reliable?

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CB68

Hi All,

 

I'm new to BMW motorcycles but have been researching the R1100RT and R1150RT and would really like to get one.  I would like to do some long range riding (for me anyway) 1500+ miles.  I do regularly see '96 to '04 for sale with 50k or less miles and most look well care for.

 

I guess my biggest question, can 25 year old bikes be reliable for long range riding?  I don't want a newer BMW nor could I afford one.  I've always had a liking for the R100RT but really starting to like the 1100 and 1150.  I've been looking at Concours too but always wanted to try a BMW.

 

Thanks

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dirtrider
51 minutes ago, CB68 said:

Hi All,

 

I'm new to BMW motorcycles but have been researching the R1100RT and R1150RT and would really like to get one.  I would like to do some long range riding (for me anyway) 1500+ miles.  I do regularly see '96 to '04 for sale with 50k or less miles and most look well care for.

 

I guess my biggest question, can 25 year old bikes be reliable for long range riding?  I don't want a newer BMW nor could I afford one.  I've always had a liking for the R100RT but really starting to like the 1100 and 1150.  I've been looking at Concours too but always wanted to try a BMW.

 

Thanks

Afternoon  CB68

 

They can be if the owner keeps up with the known problems & preventive maintenance  on the older BMW's.

 

The 1150 is probably a slightly better long distance motorcycle but SOME of the 1150 motorcycles have an inherent clutch spline failure issue. Not all but the ones that do can easily leave you stranded with very expensive & time consuming repairs. 

 

The 1100 bikes are pretty good about no spline failures/repairs but some of those did have final drive issues & most had HES (Hall Effect Sensor) failures as they got older (especially in wet riding) . The good news is that most of the older 1100 bikes that had HES or final drive problems have been repaired by now.

 

Some of the early 1100 bikes also had transmission problems with popping out of gear.   

 

Both can be darn good motorcycles but on the other hand both can be a problem child if the previous owners didn't take care of them correctly.  

 

If I (personally) bought a used 1150RT then I would plan on doing a good spline inspection before heading off cross country. 

 

On the 1100RT I would probably install a new HES (or have the current one rebuilt) if I didn't know the HES  history. I would definitely install new brake hoses on the 1100 before riding off long distance (if they haven't already been done). 

 

I might replace the brake hoses on the 1150 just for insurance.

 

 

 

   

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oilhead1100s1150rt

Hello CB68,

 

I have kept up with  2002 r1150rt with 35000 miles on it. I have routinely taken it on 1500 mile trips with no worries. As dirtrider says, take some time and research the most common issues and repairs. Expect to spend some time, money and energy, at first, but how else will you learn. After you do a few things you will have the confidence and will get familiar with the bike enough to take your ride. 

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Lowndes

CB68,

 

I have a '99 Rt and a '99 R1100S, also (and a '00 K12100RS, '06 ST1300, '04 SV650, '79 CB750F2, but we are discussing the R1100-1150 here). I believe these ('00 era BMW's) are some of the very best deals on bikes today.

 

These engines/bikes are built for longetivity.  They do have their quirks and foibles but these are well known and discussed thoroughly, incessantly, and adnauseum here.  The HES, the brake lines, the "splines", and then the extra-lean fueling (easily fixed with an AF-XieD by Night Rider) are the weak links.

 

So, get the HES rewired by GSAddict here, replace the brake lines with Spiegler or Galfer stainless braided PTFE lines (a DIY project), check the splines, and install an AF-XieD.  You should also "do the fluids", check the brake pads, battery, tires, and possibly the wheel bearings.  If the bike has over 30-40K on the clock, replacement shocks are due as well.

 

Get an aftermarket seat (Sargent, Corbin, RDL), and a Clymers manual.  Get a tire pump and plug kit and take it all on day trips, then weekend trips, then longer trips.  Your confidence, skills, knowledge, and abilities will grow. 

 

It's NOT just about the bike, either.  You will need the requisite riding gear, helmet, jacket, pants, boots, gloves, rain gear.  What to take and how to pack are individual choices that YOU will have to develop for yourself and best done by doing.  It's also at least half the fun of "riding".  When you get to the other end and look back, you will understand.

 

Or, just jump on it, ride it like you stole it, and let things sort themselves.

 

Please, post what you do, WITH PICS.  And remember this, as one of the sages here stated, "if you can't help but look back across the parking lot at it without smiling, you bought the wrong bike."!!

 

Either way, BEST OF LUCK.

 

ATGATT.

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Paul De

I still have my '99 R1100RT and it has been very reliable.  As other have stated it depends on how they are maintained and if the replacement of certain parts that fail with age (HES and brake lines).  The OEM seat looked great but was literally a pain in the butt, and if already replaced is a bonus.  I put a Throttle Meister friction stop to help mitigate the heavier spring return force on the throttle for long ride. Over the years I Installed a Kissan tail blazer, Signal Minder and last year an LED headlight bulb to sort of modernize the lighting.  One thing that my '99 and earlier RTs had was an annoying left side cam chain slap on start-up, but the good news was BMW updated the hydraulic left side cam chain tensioner on the 1150 which is backward compatible to the 1100, so I did that update (it is a very doable job for a shade tree mechanic as there is no need to tear down that cylinder, as it is a R&R job).

 

Good luck on choosing your bike

 

 

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CB68

Thanks for all the replies!

 

I have read and watched videos on some of the issues and maintenance requirements of these bikes but just the extra little boost of confidence from others helps a ton.  I think I read or heard someone say these are mechanic's bikes because of the way you have to tear half the bike down to do certain maintenance items, I'm a tinkerer so that does not seem to be a big issue with me.

 

I am definitely looking forward to finding a bike and may ask for opinions on bikes that may pop up but, really, thanks again for the replies.

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Jim Moore

If you definitely want an RT, you're looking for a 1998-2000 R1100 RT. For various reasons that's the sweet spot for that bike.

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chrisolson
29 minutes ago, Jim Moore said:

If you definitely want an RT, you're looking for a 1998-2000 R1100 RT. For various reasons that's the sweet spot for that bike.

 

Absolutely would agree ... the others are fine, but the 1100 was well sorted its final years ...still with some quirks ... but a great all around bike and great long distance touring machine.  Yes the HES wiring goes out and replacing the brake lines is a good thing and the upgraded chain tensioner is nice, but those are straightforward repairs - not complicated.  My long gone 99 is still my favorite even though I've had better handling and more powerful bikes since then. I also like the now "retro" headlight/fairing style vs the change in 2001 onward.

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Lowndes

CB68,

 

Here's a '97 for $3200 (OBO), 47K, looks to be in very decent condition with all the bags.  The seat looks like it might be OEM and maybe lowered/cut down for the altitudinally challenged.  The cold starting is easily fixed (and it will run WAAAY much better) with an AF-XiED. 

 

I'd go get this one myself but I have a '99 just like it.

 

http://tlanta.craigslist.org/eat/mcy/d/covington-1997-bmw-r1100-rt/7290953406.html

 

 

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RK Ryder

My '98 R1100RT is a little shy of 145,000 miles. Replaced or updated a number of the parts mentioned above.  It is a very reliable bike. 

 

 

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Paul De

Yup, still like my old guy a lot.   Grumble plenty removing all those screws on the R1100RT just to get a body panel off, but forget about that irritation as soon as I am riding it and appreciating some of the best air stream and engine heat management ever put on a motorcycle.

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RPG

My '04 RT is arguably running the best ever in its 110k life. After a winter of going through the front wheel bearings, fuel pump, clutch and rear paralever bushings, I'll take it anywhere.

 

And I still think it's the best looking RT they ever made. :)

 

RPG

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strataj
25 minutes ago, RPG said:

My '04 RT is arguably running the best ever in its 110k life. After a winter of going through the front wheel bearings, fuel pump, clutch and rear paralever bushings, I'll take it anywhere.

 

And I still think it's the best looking RT they ever made. :)

 

RPG

I had a Titian silver 02R1150RT for 15 years, I have to agree the R1150RT 's are the best looking ever made.  I didn't like the looks of the RT again until the Wethead. 

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JamesW

And don't forget about the paralever front suspension which, imo, is fantastic and virtually no front fork maintenance.  I also prefer the dry clutch with the transmission not integrated.  Shame on BMW for going with the wet clutch.  Forgot to mention the ease of valve adjustment with no shims and the need to remove cams to change out shims.  I regret selling my '04 R1150RT and anybody that complains about tupperware removal on the RT should try the same on an FJR.  More grrrrrr.....

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WRP

My '98 R11RT has 105K (bought it new), Ive maintained it well and installed some upgrades. If it wasn't for my physical limitations, I'd take it across the country

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Lowndes

 "... and anybody that complains about tupperware removal on the RT should try the same on an FJR.  More grrrrrr....."  JamesW

 
James,
 
The Honda ST1300 has 27 fasteners of 8 different types ON EACH SIDE.  Be thankful.   It makes BMW tupperware seem like a breeze.

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Warren Dean
On 4/8/2021 at 9:24 AM, JamesW said:

And don't forget about the paralever front suspension which, imo, is fantastic and virtually no front fork maintenance.  I also prefer the dry clutch with the transmission not integrated.  Shame on BMW for going with the wet clutch.  Forgot to mention the ease of valve adjustment with no shims and the need to remove cams to change out shims.  I regret selling my '04 R1150RT and anybody that complains about tupperware removal on the RT should try the same on an FJR.  More grrrrrr.....

With the exception of the tupperware thing, those are the reasons I settled on the '97 I have. I don't need to ever visit a BMW dealer for much of anything, except maybe a trans rebuild if that ever needs done. The Para lever is one of the great engineering feats I have ever seen on a motorcycle. It made me change the way I ride when I got my first one having driven mostly FLs. An amazingly simple but elegant design that extends to the entire bike.  Am I gushing here??  Sorry.  :)

 

I like simple.  :)

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szurszewski
On 4/6/2021 at 7:00 PM, Lowndes said:

CB68,

 

Here's a '97 for $3200 (OBO), 47K, looks to be in very decent condition with all the bags.  The seat looks like it might be OEM and maybe lowered/cut down for the altitudinally challenged.  The cold starting is easily fixed (and it will run WAAAY much better) with an AF-XiED. 

 

I'd go get this one myself but I have a '99 just like it.

 

http://tlanta.craigslist.org/eat/mcy/d/covington-1997-bmw-r1100-rt/7290953406.html

 

 

 

Your link somehow dropped the A from ATL, but this works and it does look nice:

https://atlanta.craigslist.org/eat/mcy/d/covington-1997-bmw-r1100-rt/7290953406.html

 

 

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Miguel!

I've been delinquent in replying to this thread. Apologies to the OP.

 

I have a 2001 R1100RT. Everything I've read says that the R1100RT was made through 2000 but mine is a 2001. I don't know details of how that happened but my registration show the first year of registration as 2001. It was originally bought at Bob's BMW in Maryland. I purchased it 10000 miles and 3 years ago. Except for some of the 1930s Art Deco BMW like the R7, I think the R1100RT, R1150RT  and the K bikes of that era are the best looking BMW touring bikes, personally. I love the aerodynamic styling of that era of BMW bikes. I can afford to buy a new bike but I'm smitten with the R1100RT design and visual aesthetics. I generally do pleasure riding a few times a week, typically 50-100 miles with an occasional longer ride. While I know the newer bikes are smoother, faster and have a lot of great features, the R1100RT is perfect for me. I can do a lot of the maintenance myself.

 

I have an independent, factory-trained mechanic (Ben's Motorcycle Works in Watsonville CA) that I let do some of the work because I don't have, nor want to own, any of the specialized tooling to do brake bleeds and throttle body sync. Since these are only done every 18 months, I'd rather have my Ben do it. He also looks around for problems that may be emerging. He also maintains all the local police BMWs including some of the CHP bikes. He has loads of experience with oilheads. I routinely see R1100RT/R1150RT police bikes at his shop with 180K-200K miles on them.He told me to, "Just keep up with the maintenance and make sure you have oil in it and it will last for a long time". I do the routine fluid changes, electrical upgrades (like my trio of horns that sounds like a trailer truck or train), battery, and lighting. I also let him change out the fuel filter. It's just more work than I want to do. 

 

Removing the fairing can be a PITA if you use a T-handle hex wrench. I purchased and reviewed a bunch of low-speed, low-torque electric screwdrivers to save my finger and thumb joints the wear and tear. I reviewed the screwdrivers here. In the end I purchased the Dewalt Gyroscopic Screwdriver. You need to be careful not to strip any threaded insert on the bike.  May be this will help you too. It has worked out fantastically and I use if for a lot of other things as well.

 

Hope all that helps. Cheers.

Miguel

 

Opal Blue 2001 R1100RT

2001 BMW R1100RT, small.jpg

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Miguel!

Here are some interesting visual, aesthetic design features of the R1100RT. The entire bike is aligned along three line. It give the bike visual integrity and sense of intentional integration. You don't get this by adding after market parts. The more modern bikes like the R1250RT is aligned along a lot of different lines at obviously different but close angle  and mixes with some curved elements as well as sharp edges that just doesn't work as well visually for me.  Just sayin'.

 

Cheers. 

Miguel

R1100RT Design Lines.png

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Warren Dean

Nice pic, Miguel. I read an article a while back about how certain angles and sets of angles are common in some of the most iconic cars made. But I can't seem to find it. The drawings with the groups of angles and lines was very similar to yours. 

 

And I agree that the R1100RT is the best looking bike BMW has made for a long time.  :)

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Bodag

Still have my 96 RT as a daily driver, 78K miles. Still runs strong, very reliable.

 

Bodag

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Dave P

Miguel- I love your 3 line design analysis! Never noticed that before and Im an Industrial Designer. Yes the 1100 RT IS the best looking bike on the road. But Im biased...

 

Oh, 1996 1100RT, 125k miles. Dave

C92FD9CE-D134-49F5-9522-0BDB3E2CBE43.jpeg

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Uncle Mike

I purchased a 1999 R1100RT last Oct. 31st. with 13,000 miles for $2000.00. Looks like the guy before me didn't do a lot of maintenance.  Changed out all the fluids, replaced the 10 year old tires and 21 year old brake lines. Had the HES rewired and updated the cam chain tensioner as I was told on this forum. Replaced the original fuel filter and hoses in the tank and the alternator belt. Took my first long distance ride last week to Utah with Werner who has a 96 R1100RT. 700 miles no problems. 

Left  Richfield Utah Thursday noon waiting for it to warm up a bit and it was 34 degrees. Drove through freezing rain, sleet and a bit of snow in the higher elevations. No problems. 

 

I had a 96 Honda ST1100 ABS-TCS for many years so it is very interesting to me the differences between the Honda and BMW sport tourer design philosophy. My little complaints is the usable space of the top trunk, using premium gas since I'm frugal (cheap), center stand never goes all the way back up by itself even after removing it and lubing it. Looking for the side stand every time I stop. But I'm nitpicking. The radio pocket with no radio is cavernous and have made it my toolbox. 

 

I'm very happy with the bike.  

 

 

 

 

20210414_105806_resized.jpg

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9Mary7

Congrats! You got a great bike at a good price. You'll never need another with your good care and maintenance.:18:

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Miguel!

Uncle Mike: You got a great bike for a great price presuming there's no other deferred maintenance to be done. Maybe some others will have some suggestions for you. Cheers. Miguel

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Jackson_r1100r

I bought a 1996 r1100r with 73000 miles on it Last year ,and I‘ve put ten thousand miles on it since I bought it. I did have to replaces the transmission a few months ago. Now it runs great. I take it to work damn near every day. Also I have had two clutch cables break on me. I think it was because the lever was worn out into an egg shaped causing the cable to scrape.

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Warren Dean

RT.thumb.jpg.6a158fae4ada134a9348dafecf1007bd.jpg                                   I ride my '97 every day  and I wouldn't hesitate to jump on it and ride it to Vermont. Rock solid machine.

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Bud

Twin to my first RT. Still have a soft spot in my heart for that bike.

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Rdleejr
On 4/5/2021 at 8:32 PM, Lowndes said:

CB68,

 

I have a '99 Rt and a '99 R1100S, also (and a '00 K12100RS, '06 ST1300, '04 SV650, '79 CB750F2, but we are discussing the R1100-1150 here). I believe these ('00 era BMW's) are some of the very best deals on bikes today.

 

These engines/bikes are built for longetivity.  They do have their quirks and foibles but these are well known and discussed thoroughly, incessantly, and adnauseum here.  The HES, the brake lines, the "splines", and then the extra-lean fueling (easily fixed with an AF-XieD by Night Rider) are the weak links.

 

So, get the HES rewired by GSAddict here, replace the brake lines with Spiegler or Galfer stainless braided PTFE lines (a DIY project), check the splines, and install an AF-XieD.  You should also "do the fluids", check the brake pads, battery, tires, and possibly the wheel bearings.  If the bike has over 30-40K on the clock, replacement shocks are due as well.

 

Get an aftermarket seat (Sargent, Corbin, RDL), and a Clymers manual.  Get a tire pump and plug kit and take it all on day trips, then weekend trips, then longer trips.  Your confidence, skills, knowledge, and abilities will grow. 

 

It's NOT just about the bike, either.  You will need the requisite riding gear, helmet, jacket, pants, boots, gloves, rain gear.  What to take and how to pack are individual choices that YOU will have to develop for yourself and best done by doing.  It's also at least half the fun of "riding".  When you get to the other end and look back, you will understand.

 

Or, just jump on it, ride it like you stole it, and let things sort themselves.

 

Please, post what you do, WITH PICS.  And remember this, as one of the sages here stated, "if you can't help but look back across the parking lot at it without smiling, you bought the wrong bike."!!

 

Either way, BEST OF LUCK.

 

ATGATT.

 

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Rdleejr

Would you explain what all these things are?  Like HES, for example. I don’t know what any of them are and I’m buying a 2002 1150 RT with 65k on it for $2,800 from a very nice guy who inherited it last year from his 83 year old dad but never rode it. I have a 1980 R100S which after driving the RT now feels like a Triumph!  I’m 74.  The R100S is beginning to tire me out after a couple of hours in the saddle.  

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Paul De

Simply the HES (Hall Effect Sensor) is the trigger for the spark plug to spark.  Not sure, but your 1980 R100S may have had one too, but for sure the early ‘70’s R bikes had the mechanical point arrangement to trigger the spark.

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Michaelr11
33 minutes ago, Rdleejr said:

Would you explain what all these things are?  Like HES, for example. I don’t know what any of them are and I’m buying a 2002 1150 RT with 65k on it for $2,800 from a very nice guy who inherited it last year from his 83 year old dad but never rode it.

 

If you are new to these models (1100, 1150) and have a bunch of questions, it would be best if you start your own post.  But, the HES, Hall Effect Sender, is called the Ignition Trigger.  It has two sensors that determine the crank position send impulses to the engine computer to control spark timing and fuel injection. It's mentioned a lot because the factory HES wiring on all the 1100 bikes and the early 1150 bikes (probably yours) was defective and it fails eventually.  It should either be replaced, or the wiring repaired.

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Lowndes
2 hours ago, Rdleejr said:

Would you explain what all these things are?  Like HES, for example. I don’t know what any of them are and I’m buying a 2002 1150 RT with 65k on it for $2,800 from a very nice guy who inherited it last year from his 83 year old dad but never rode it. I have a 1980 R100S which after driving the RT now feels like a Triumph!  I’m 74.  The R100S is beginning to tire me out after a couple of hours in the saddle.  

 

RDleejr,

 

The guys above explained the HES.  And, yes, you might best start a new thread for questions and such.  It's not a big deal and lots of people here would be happy to help you understand all this newfangled stuff.  It's at least half the fun of having and riding motorcycles, learning all the stuff about them AND helping others to figure it out.

 

It sounds like you got a good deal on the RT.  Not great, but good. 

 

Start a new topic where it says "Start new topic" at the top of this page so that this one doesn't get hijacked.  The same posts you have above would be perfect to start it.

 

And I'll be 74 in a couple of months myself!!  Naproxin sodium (vitimin N) is your new best friend.

 

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Norman-Kingwood
On 4/5/2021 at 2:25 PM, CB68 said:

Hi All,

 

I'm new to BMW motorcycles but have been researching the R1100RT and R1150RT and would really like to get one.  I would like to do some long range riding (for me anyway) 1500+ miles.  I do regularly see '96 to '04 for sale with 50k or less miles and most look well care for.

 

I guess my biggest question, can 25 year old bikes be reliable for long range riding?  I don't want a newer BMW nor could I afford one.  I've always had a liking for the R100RT but really starting to like the 1100 and 1150.  I've been looking at Concours too but always wanted to try a BMW.

 

Thanks

 

I just bought a (obviously used) 2000 R1100RT with 28,000 miles.

 

Been a while, OK, decades since I've ridden so starting slowly. Went today up to a Harley dealership that teaches the MSF course.

 

I have ~50 miles on it since I got it, and was practicing on the small figure-8's. Needs some work, but I was really excited to see I had retained a lot. The Motorman utube videos help lots.

 

Started buying tools, and eyeing up others.

 

The power is amazing. Scares the cr*p outta me.

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Dave P

+1 on the Hall Effect Sensor (HES).  Mine went scrambled eggs in the rain on the NY Thruway on my way to the 2019 MOA National in Tennessee. Luckily only about 30 miles from home. Had it rewired by the GS Addict in Canada. I've heard the sensors usually are ok, but the wires get all baked, brittle and messed up. Save yourself a rollback charge and get it rewired. Dave

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MT Wallet

I bought my 2000 Rt from a Texas dealer and had the bike shipped. So my one piece of advice would be go find a bike like you will buy and sit on it. I'm relatively short and found the bike was a little tall for my short legs and the handlebars were designed for someone with longer arms. If you aren't comfortable on the machine you'll enjoy it less. Just my take.

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