Next month, 60 riders from 15 nations will head to South America for the third annual BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy.
Every nation has its riders picked, so now it’s on to the motorcycles. Work has been going on for some time equipping all of the motorcycles that will be used for the seven days of competition.
Every rider will be using a Touratech-prepared BMW F 800 GS machine, with Trophy organizers and marshals using R 1200 GS Rallye Boxer twins and G 650 GS Sertão single-cylinder thumpers.
Overseeing the preparation of this large collection of German precision engineering is Touratech Executive Director Herbert Schwarz, who tasked his own team of mechanics with making sure that all the machines were ready for action and shipping to Chile.
In total, Herbert’s team has prepared 62 F 800 GS ‘Trophy-specification’ BMWs that will be used in the forthcoming South American adventure, as well as 20 R 1200 GS Rallye and 5 G 650 GS Sertão bikes. All have been crated up and are now in a shipping container travelling across the Atlantic Ocean bound for the port of Coronel in Chile.
Each competitor machine has had a selection of additional Touratech and BMW Motorrad original parts added, all designed to protect the motorcycle – and rider – from the tough, unforgiving conditions that they could encounter off-road in Patagonia.
Herbert Schwarz says: “A lot of the parts we’re adding are to give increased protection against the tough conditions riders will face in South America. For each F 800 GS, we’ve added a selection of special parts, including engine bars, frame guard, wider foot-pegs with additional grip, rear brake fluid reservoir guard, ABS sensor covers, pinion gear guard, foldable brake and gear change levers, folding mirrors and original BMW hand protectors made by Touratech.
“We’ve also added original BMW headlight protection made by Touratech, a special strengthener and protector against stones for the radiator, and a chain guard. Other little ‘extras’ include a kick stand support extension and a rear seat rack that a small bag attaches to. All bikes are being fitted with Metzeler Karoo off-road tires, which are perfect for the conditions participants will encounter.”
Herbert is keen to stress that there have been no engine modifications carried out on the F 800 GS machines, and that the majority of the work is only to minimize the effects of crash damage, which will happen on a regular basis due to the competitive nature of the event and the variety of riding terrain expected. Because this is the third GS Trophy he has prepared bikes for, Herbert has a good system in place.
Herbert Schwarz says: “We have a really good preparation process now, which takes around four hours to complete for each motorcycle, including fitting all the parts, changing the tires over to the Metzeler Karoos and assembling the bike in the container ready for shipping.
“Despite the fact that there are more bikes and competitors than ever before, we’ll be taking far less spare parts than the last two times, because we just didn’t use them. The parts that we fitted provided excellent protection and saved the vulnerable components from damage – after all, this is an off-road competition and people will fall down! We’ve also got two Touratech mechanics with us who both have loads of experience. Wolfgang has competed in five or six Dakar Rallies – also for BMW – and Clemens has been with us for all previous GS Trophies, so they will be making sure all the bikes are in top condition at all times.”
Apart from the Latin American competitors, for many riders who are participating, this will be their first taste of South America. With just over one month to go before the start of the third BMW Motorrad International GS Trophy, Herbert advises all those who have been chosen to represent their country, to not only prepare physically for this challenge, but also to learn as much as possible in advance about the countries they will be visiting.
Herbert Schwarz says: “With just a few weeks left, my first tip would be to avoid getting injured! That said, riders will still need to be physically fit so they should be getting as much off-road training as possible – perhaps concentrating more on trials sections and machine handling at slow speed rather than fast riding. Last, but not least, why not learn a bit of Spanish. You never know when you might need it!”
Naturally, Herbert will be making the trip to South America to provide back-up to his team ‘on the ground’ as well as making a film of the event and providing action photos. Before then, he will be fulfilling a lifetime ambition and spending four weeks exploring Madagascar with his wife and fellow adventure traveler Ramona.