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BMW GS once maligned, now 1 million

June 22, 2023

The fun can’t stop at BMW Motorrad. This year marks 100 years of motorcycle production. Numerous anniversary models have already been highlighted in recent months. Now, moreover, the millionth BMW GS has rolled off the assembly line in Berlin: a BMW R 1250 GS to be exact.

BMW GS story

The GS story continues. Still this year, Sept. 28, is the unveiling of the all-new BMW R 1300 GS. Power increases from 136 to 145 hp and torque from 143 to 150 Nm. At least those are the preliminary performance values already circulating here and there online. As well as images of still camouflaged pre-production models.

BMW R 80 G/S

How different it was in 1980 when the first GS was assembled at the Berlin factory based on the example of a motorcycle that BMW had built for participation in enduro competitions. The new model entered the market as R 80 G/S (Gelände/Strasse). As the name implied, this model was intended for off-road and on-road riding and especially for long, adventurous trips.

Boxer engine of 50 hp

The boxer engine of this 80 G/S came from the R 80/7 and had an output of 50 hp. At the time, the design was quite revolutionary for conservative BMW. The long suspension travel and rather pompous and highly placed front fender did not immediately appeal to the traditional BMW rider. Well, that front fender was a precursor in design for the “beak shape” in the later GSs.

Single-sided rear suspension

A special feature was the single-sided rear suspension. The wheel was connected to the frame only through the shaft drive tunnel. It looked rather bare, but the advantage was that you could change the rear wheel quickly, which was a plus in rallying. Moreover, this single-sided suspension was lighter, and especially in the sand, you don’t want too many pounds.

Dakar success

Today, almost all BMW models have a single-wheel rear suspension. You see this in other brands as well. The R 80 G/S thus fulfilled a pioneering role in this regard. Sales success began to come through participation in Paris-Dakar. Especially after the 1984 victory of this desert rally by Gaston Rahier on a specially prepared BMW GS with a 1050cc boxer.

HS spirit out of the bottle

With its fortunate participation in Paris-Dakar, interest in the BMW GS grew, even among riders who traditionally never or rarely cared for BMW. The GS spirit came right out of the bottle with the arrival of a special Paris Dakar version of the R 80 G/S, inspired by Rahier’s competition machine.

New generation of boxer engines

Over 21,000 examples of the R 80 G/S were built until production ceased in 1987 and the R 100 GS took over. The arrival of a new generation of BMW boxer engines with 1,100 cc displacement and electronic fuel injection, in the early 1990s, also ushered in a new and very successful chapter for the GS. The R 1100 GS sold great and quickly struggled to the top of the list of best-selling motorcycles.

Heavy allroaders popular

The GS’s triumph did not go unnoticed, enticing other motorcycle manufacturers to include heavy allroaders in their ranges. Today, this genre of motorcycles is very popular. Most sales are recorded here. In fact, allroaders have pushed traditional touring motorcycles somewhat off the market.

BMW R 1300 GS

BMW continues to lead with the GS. The R 1150 GS, R 1200 GS and R 1250 GS kept the flag flying. Anno 2023 sales of the R 1250 GS are declining somewhat. It is a distorted picture, because the model is going out and making way for an all-new R 1300 GS, so coming in September. It’s logical that many enthusiasts are waiting for this, and you can count on the GS shooting full to the top of the sales charts again in 2024.