BMW Motorrad announces an explosion of new colors

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 29, 2010

For this year, the latest iteration of the BMW Motorrad Days celebrated three decades of success of its GS models. In fact, BMW Motorrad credited the GS for its role in shaping the brand in the past 30 years, starting in 1980. In September that year, BMW Motorrad launched the GS as a dual-purpose motorcycle design for both on- and off-road use.

This model eventually gave birth to the large travel enduro bike segment. Now, the GS remains to be the best-selling motorcycle in its class in Europe. During a press conference at the event, BMW Motorrad presented a number of famous personalities who had their part in etching GS history in the past 30 years. Hendrik von Kuenheim, General Director at BMW Motorrad, quipped that GS models did not only give the motorcycle maker a fresh growth momentum but also provided for its future.

He noted that BMW GS motorcycles have been an ultimate symbol of "freedom on two wheels," adding that while they have often been copied, they were never equaled. One of the famous personalities presented by BMW Motorrad during the press conference was Karl H. Gerlinger, who (as the company's chief in 1980) was in charge of marketing and sales at the time. He noted that at the time, there was a lot at stake at BMW Motorrad since von Kuenheim has made it clear that if the company cannot be revived, it would be sold.

Gerlinger said that the big role of BMW Motorrad's development engineer at the time, Laszlo Peres, in bringing the GS out to the market just after 18 months of being a concept. Peres, also an off-road racer at the time, remarked that he never though that the GS -- derived from a motor racing prototype – would be an astounding success.

Since the GS was then a motorcycle concept based with motor racing genes, both Gerlinger and Peres decided to field the model GS in off-road racing. Their big chance came in 1979 during the Paris-Dakar Rallye, which served as the perfect venue to showcase the GS and attract the public's attention into it.

Another famous personality presented during the conference was French racer Hubert Auriol, a Paris-Dakar Rallye motorcycle champion who had served as director of the race itself. Auriol first tasted his overall win at the Paris-Dakar Rallye in 1981, and then followed it with another win two years later in 1983.

He reminisced that winning the Paris-Dakar Rallye in 1981 using an almost serial production bike came as a surprise to everyone, most particularly because they had no experience at the desert. He noted that since they were only a small team, they had to improvise and didn't have the needed technical support.

BMW Motorrad also invited Jutta Kleinschmidt to share her memories with the GS. Riding a BMW GS, Kleinschmidt was the winner of the women's category of the Dakar Rallye in 1992. She disclosed that still has the Dakar bike given to her by BMW Motorrad at the time, adding that the GS remains the perfect machine for the desert and adventurous trips.

Also sharing his experience with the GS is British actor and author Charley Boorman, who rode a R 1150 from London to New York in 2004 with Ewan McGregor, covering a total of 115 days, and 30,395 km. Two years later, Boorman entered the Dakar Rallye. He noted that his trips on the GS changed his life.

To further celebrate the 30th year of the GS, BMW Motorrad introduced the BMW Special Models "30 Years GS." Two of them were awarded during a draw. One of the winners, Georg Opalka of Ingolstadt, received a BMW F 800 GS "30 Years GS" while Wolfgang Kracker of Salzburg got a BMW R 1200 GS "30 Years GS.".

Press Release

30 Years of GS at the BMW Motorrad Days 2010

The tenth BMW Motorrad Days very much centred on the 30-year anniversary of the BMW GS models. 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 motorcycle in its class in Europe.

At a press conference at 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."
Key personalities 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 Filleböck, 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 525,177 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 Sinnica, 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 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.

Rarities from the BMW Classic treasure trove.

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 then 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.

Topics: bmw

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