BMW R65LS (1982 - 1984) FAQ

by Noemi Berry (
Last update: August 9, 1995

Webwork: Dave Thompson

Frequently Asked Questions Index:


The R65LS was made from '82 - '84. Functionally it is the same as an R65 (except for the brakes), with the following features: (* unique to R65LS)

The R65LS was designed by Hans Muth (of Suzuki Katana fame) and has a distinctive, sporty look that garner reactions from "the only BMW I ever liked" to "the weirdest BMW I've ever seen." Its cosmetic design in many ways leads to form-over-function results, very unlike BMW.



The original R65LS cost $400 more than the R65 in 1982, at $3995. Used prices depend heavily on location. In San Francisco, a high-priced area where R65LSs are popular, a nice one with low miles will go for over $3000. With medium to high miles, $2500 is typical. R65LSs can sometimes be had for less than $2000 in winter climate areas.



The LS "fairing" (cowling) has a nice look, but makes it difficult to add real wind protection. Parabellum now makes a windscreen for R65LSs for $99, and those who have them report a great improvement.

If you change the cowling, for instance to convert the bike to a non-LS R65 instrument pod, to, you'll need an R65 (non-LS) headlight/instrument/turn signal bracket. You will also need an R65 instrument pod/cover, or will have to cut off the long part of the LS's black plastic intrument cover. The LS handlebars may not work with the non-LS R65 instrument cover.

BMW claims the cowling reduces front-end lift by 30%, though anyone who's ridden an R65 will find that puzzling. A solution looking for a problem -- keeping the front wheel of an R65 on the ground is not a difficult task.

The black plastic instrument cover piece is a pain to take off. It has only tiny tabs to hold it down, which are easily broken. That piece is no longer available from BMW. The black plastic inserts on either side of the LS fairing that go around the fork tubes are also no longer available from BMW.



The long tailsection with passenger grabhandles looks nice, but the R65 luggage rack won't fit over it. To put a luggage rack on an R65LS, you'll have to custom-make one. Reynolds makes one, but you'll have to buy their bag mounts also.

The LS seat is shorter and harder than R65 seats, with a sleeker look. I prefer the R65 seat for long days, and ride with a grotesque-looking but very comfortable seat from a '79 R65.



The black pipes rust more easily than the R65 pipes, and since they are LS-unique, used ones are tough to find. New ones cost over $700 to replace from BMW. Aftermarket exhausts are available for less, but are shiny and don't look quite the same.

Mike Young on aftermarket mufflers:

Mufflers--I bought some Mac mufflers through my dealer (Lone Star BMW). They had to special order them and said they were the last ones in the warehouse. I'll give you the part number and maybe you can track them down. There balck and look real good on the bike although they are shaped a little different from the original one. But I can't afford the BMW price and their just as good. (MAC9060213, they cost me $185 for the set)



The low and narrow LS handlebars are sporty, but for smaller riders (who make up a significant segment of R65 owners), they make for a long reach to the bars over the long R65 gas tank. They also reduce max steering lock.

Kari Prager from California BMW reports:

Steve in Reno is correct. R 65 LS's were delivered ex-factory with either high or low handlebars. The high bars were intended primarily for the American market, I believe, and looked odd with the LS bodywork. Regards, Kari Prager @ California BMW Triumph - Mountain View, CA

Bar modifications:

Non-LS R65 bars (same shape as R100R bars) need longer cables (stock R65LS cables are too short), but no fairing changes.

K100RS bars are an easy swap with no cable changes and only minor cuts from under the black plastic instrument cover.

At 5'1", KRS bars were too low for me and R65 bars were too upright. I settled on K75C bars, but had to make cutouts in the LS fairing for the cables.



There is no such thing as an R65LS heated grip kit. There is one for R65s, but the curved switch only fits into the R65 instrument pod. R65LSs have only flat rectangular cutouts (don't lose the inserts that fit in there, they're not replaceable!).

To put heated grips on an R65LS, get an R100RS heated grip kit. It has a rectangular 4-way flasher switch that fits into the R65LS dash cutouts. Then you need to separately buy the R65 wiring harness that goes in series with the brakelight switch. The LS bars don't have holes in the handlebars for the heated grips either, you'll need to drill them (luckily for me, my K75C bars already had those holes).



The very earliest R65LSs had the same dual ATE calipers as the 1981 R65s.

The dual Brembo front disk brakes are one of the R65LS's best features. However, they require twice as much maintenance as a single disk, and I notice little appreciable increase in braking power over the single-disk R65s. New rotors cost $180 each, and I had to replace both (due to severe grooving) at 53K miles. I've switched from Ferodo pads to stock BMW pads and from now on, cleaning brake pads is a regular maintenance item to prevent early grooving.



The LS wheels are a cast alloy and look great, but are unique to LSs and hard to find used. The LS wheels are easier to clean than the R65's snowflake wheels.



If you want an all-purpose R65, the LS model does not support touring features as easily (rack, fairing, heated grips, seat), and leans more toward the sport side of motorcycling, despite its dearth of power. Its unique parts and lack of engine performance are the two major gripes of R65LS naysayers. However, most motorcyclists seem to like this oddball beemer. The unique, sporty look of an R65LS has a very real appeal, and for a fun twisties bike, a nice R65LS is a delight.


End of R65LS FAQ

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