The tenth BMW Motorrad Days very much centred on the 30-year anniversary of the BMW GS motorcycles. There is virtually no other motorcycle that has shaped the character of the brand BMW Motorrad like the "GS".
In September 1980, BMW Motorrad entered entirely new territory with this model which founded the segment of the large travel enduro bikes. The bold venture certainly paid off: the GS now is the top-selling motorbike in its class in Europe.
At a press conference at the BMW Motorrad Days, BMW Motorrad took a look back at this success story of the last three decades and presented famous personalities, each of whom has written their very own chapter of GS history.
"At a difficult time, the GS models not only gave BMW Motorrad fresh growth momentum but above all a future," said Hendrik von Kuenheim, General Director BMW Motorrad in his welcome speech. "BMW GS motorcycles have since become the ultimate symbol of ‘freedom on two wheels’ – an integral part of our model range… Our concept has often been copied, but never equalled."
Motorcyclists tell of their experiences.
As Karl H. Gerlinger reminisced, Head of BMW Motorrad GmbH in 1980 and responsible for marketing and sales at the time: "There was a lot at stake for us, because Eberhard von Kuenheim had given us the clear brief either to get BMW Motorrad back on track for success or else sell it. Thanks to the efforts of our development engineer at the time, Laszlo Peres, we were able to bring out the G/S in just 18 months – and it was a motorcycle concept which was absolutely crazy for that time."
Laszlo Peres, former technician in the BMW testing department – not only an engineer but also an off-road racer himself at the time, added: "I would never have thought that this machine, based on a motor racing prototype, would be so successful. But I’m still proud of it to this day!" So the GS has a lot of motor racing in its genes. For this reason, Gerlinger and Peres were bold enough to enter the GS in off-road racing, too. The Paris-Dakar Rallye, first held in 1979, was a perfect opportunity to draw attention to the new motorcycle concept.
Frenchman Hubert Auriol clinched his first overall victory as early as 1981, going on to repeat the triumph in 1983. Auriol reminisced: "The first Dakar victory on an almost serial production bike was a surprise for everyone, especially since none of us had any experience of the desert. We were a small team, we had to improvise a lot and we didn’t have the technical support there is today. In those days it was pure adventure!"
Jutta Kleinschmidt, who won the women’s category of the Dakar Rallye on a GS in 1992, also recalled her experiences. She still owns the Dakar bike she was given by BMW Motorrad at the time and was keen to point out that the GS is still the perfect machine for the desert and adventurous trips.
British actor and author Charley Boorman also associates the Dakar Rallye and adventure trips with the GS. In 2004 he rode a R 1150 from London to New York with Ewan McGregor in 115 days, covering a total of 30,395 km. In 2006 he entered the Dakar Rallye. "For me it was a dream comes true. These trips on the GS changed my life!" he said.
Right on time for the anniversary, BMW Motorrad also presented the BMW Special Models "30 Years GS".
A draw was held for two of these machines: Georg Opalka from Ingolstadt won a BMW F 800 GS "30 Years GS" on Friday evening, while Wolfgang Kracker from Salzburg was pleased to receive a BMW R 1200 GS "30 Years GS" on Saturday evening.
Award ceremony for outstanding GS models.
The event program of the tenth BMW Motorrad Days included a competition in three classes organised by BMW Motorrad. Awards went to the oldest GS, the GS with the highest mileage and the most impressive GS creation involving visual or technical changes.
The three winners in each category received a cup and vouchers for BMW Motorrad Rider’s Equipment worth 500 EUR, 250 EUR and 100 EUR. The cup for the oldest GS in its original state went to Johann Filleboeck, owner of the 431st serial production BMW R 80 G/S. The runner-up was Simon Bender, whose BMW R 80 G/S with the chassis number 1348 dates back to 1980. Stefan Emslander won third prize for his 1981 BMW R 80 G/S.
A woman was one step ahead among the bikes with the highest mileage. Over a period of 13 years, Heidi Lupko has covered a record-breaking 525,174 kilometres on her BMW R 80 GS Basic. She has travelled through virtually all countries in Europe and South America – and was never once let down by her motorcycle. Second place in this class went to Carlo De Simine, who has managed a remarkable 357,405 kilometres on his BMW R 80 G/S. Daniel Zimmermann finished third: the speedometer of his BMW R 80 G/S showed an impressive 286,016 kilometres.
Choosing the most unusual GS creation was more difficult. Celebrity jury members Hubert Auriol, Charley Boorman, Karl H. Gerlinger, Jutta Kleinschmidt and Laszlo Peres finally awarded first prize to Ulrich Beppler’s GS, which was upgraded with exquisite components such as carbon parts. The second and third prizes went to Ralf Fillemann and Manfred Paul.
BMW Classic treasure trove of motorcycles.
BMW Classic put on a special exhibition in the exhibition area featuring milestones from three decades of GS which traced the success story of the at that time new concept of the large travel enduro.
What is more, a special magazine entitled "BMW Classic live SPECIAL – 30 Years of GS" was published, providing 64 pages of information on the background and historical development of this pioneering bike. It is available in German, English, French, Italian and Japanese from authorised BMW Motorrad dealers and costs five EUR in Germany.