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.".