We who belong to this industry have this particular affinity towards the word ‘legend’ and can be blamed for using it much too often. But over the last century or so, the automobile industry has been filled up with such incredible events, personalities, products and their legacies that lend us the opportunity to use this term as often. Then there are legends that carry a more elevated status as they create something truly unique, a one-of-one if you may putting them in a category of their own. One such legend is the BMW GS, a name synonymous to adventure on motorcycles for over 35 years. But what made the BMW GS such a legend, and why does it continue to be so even today?
It was in 1980 when BMW brought the R80G/S to create an all new category, known as Dual-Sport. The G/S was short for Gelände/Strasse, which literally translated to Offroad/Street, the motorcycle came with longer suspension travel, upright riding position and larger front wheels compared to other BMW models. It was the first specialized dual-sport and over its seven-year production run sold a total of 21,864 units. Powered by the company’s 797.5cc airhead boxer engine designated as BMW Type 247 engine, the R80G/S had a frame borrowed in sorts from the R25 and featured Nikasil coated cylinders, electronic ignition, and a lighter flywheel.
The idea of a specialized dual-sport motorcycle originated at BMW Motorrad when Rüdiger Gutsche, an engineer and a successful competitor in the International Six Days Trial used a specially adapted R75/5 to great effect. It was Gutsche who later developed the R80G/S for BMW and as they say, rest is history.
In 1981 Hubert Aurial took a R80G/S (prepared by German company HPN Motorradtechnik) to a victory at the prestigious Paris-Dakar Rally. The same rider took another Paris-Dakar win in 1983 on a 870cc R80G/S. Then for next two consecutive years, Gaston Rahier won the Paris-Dakar rally on a R80G/S. In 1984 with he raced with a 870cc version will he had ridden a 1000cc variant in 1985. Having had established itself as the force to reckon with at Paris-Dakar Rally, the BMW GS legend was born. There was even a special Gaston signed Paris-Dakar Rally edition of the bike. This special edition featured a massive 32ltr fuel tank and dual petcocks and signed by Gaston Rahier.
With such dominance at the then Paris-Dakar Rally (which was far tougher than present iteration) BMW GS has proven itself in most gruelling of places. Till date, even after more than 35 years, BMW GS motorcycles world over continue to charter unknown territories, munching up miles after miles adding to their legacy.
Just a year after the R80G/S arrived, Triumph followed up with their own dual-sport model to match it. But, the Triumph Tiger Trail was not able to match the R80G/S achievements. However, with competition coming in, it proved that the dual sport category had something going for it. Since then, a number of manufacturers have tried to emulate the BMW GS success in this category. Over the years there have been great contenders for the crowns such as KTM 1190 Adventure R and the oldest GS rival, Triumph Tiger Explorer. However, none has been able to match the might of the BMW GS’ precise combination of various qualities that gel perfectly together. The BMW GS off-road ability, commuting, and sport riding manageability, along with a genuine cross-country comfort remain unmatched to this date.
BMW GS have been a part of iconic expeditions:
Over its last 35 years of dominance, the BMW GS has inspired uncountable adventure motorcyclists to head out and venture into the unknown. This has been made possible by the core of BMW GS ideology. Such as:
- Rock Solid German Engineering.
- Outstanding build quality that can bear anything the world can throw at it.
- Spot on and un-replicated balance of many contradicting parameters that are dealt with supreme confidence all the time.
- BMW’s relentless pursuit to keep working tirelessly on the BMW GS range has kept the bike ahead of its rivals.
- The strong brand name and pull means that the BMW GS has become the synonym of the category it created itself.
BMW GS has always brought new technologies to the category:
The Latest iteration of BMW GS series, the 2017 BMW R1200GS Adventure come equipped with the following class leading features:
1. Dynamic ESA which is a semi-active suspension system.
2. ABS Pro.
3. On Board Computer Pro with multifunctional Display.
4. LED Headlight.
5. Tyre Pressure Control.
6. BMW’s unique Telelever suspension system that has an additional swingarm that mounts to the frame and supports the spring. This enables the rake and trail to increase during braking instead of decreasing as with traditional telescopic forks.
Along with the above, the 2017 model also comply with Euro 4 emission regulations. For 2017, all BMW liquid-cooled boxer models come fitted with a judder damper on the transmission output shaft. New additions also include a revised selector drum actuator, transmission shafts and transmission shaft bearing. For helping the bike deal with Euro 4, an OBD indicator lamp in the instrument cluster has been added. The 1170cc, water cooled Boxer engine on the R1200GS Adventure makes 125bhp and a staggering 125Nm of torque.
The world has witnessed some epic expeditions that were carried out of a BMW GS motorcycle. Stories of men like Michael Martin who documented the world’s deserts riding a BMW GS to global celebrities like Ewan McGregor who undertook journey’s of a lifetime on a BMW GS motorcycle, this motorcycle for past 35 years has been the provider of a platform where legends are made.