Two GS on a reunion tour.

With the historic R 80 G/S and latest R nineT Urban G/S through the Alps.

On his R 80 G/S Paris Dakar from 1983, Daniel was on the road with his girlfriend Polly for at least 10 months from Argentina to Alaska; he knows the motorcycle like no other. He rode to Monza with an identical machine from the BMW museum to the Reunion festival. It was clear that an R nineT Urban G/S had to accompany him on the journey. A G/S reunion tour with two bikes that could hardly be more alike – if it wasn't for the 30-year development gap.

Travelling on an old motorbike means searching for that special adventure and making lots of new acquaintances along the way. It seems to develop a special charisma, because with each fuel stop it exerts a magical unseen force on motorcycling fans, who want to examine the old iron and tell their own stories about it. And with a very similar but up-to-date model standing beside it, no explanation is required. Because it is clear at first glance that two generations of the same genre are on the road here.

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Legends among themselves

Out for a coffee with Chris Pfeiffer.

Former stunt riding world champion Chris Pfeiffer with his son on the R 80 G/S Paris Dakar.

Out for a coffee with Chris Pfeiffer.

To kick off the short trip, the two G/S legends navigate winding side roads to go and see four-time stunt riding world champion Chris Pfeiffer at his home in Bavaria. The first warm-up kilometres fly by. With both bikes – old and young – built for these roads, the bends of the narrow country roads are an ideal playground. After arriving at Chris’ humble abode, the visitors didn't even have to ring at the front door, because he heard the crisp sound of the Urban G/S and came to meet them. His son Hannes receives a short history lesson in Paris-Dakar Rally and wants to test the seating of the young-timer with the big tank.

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Rain, rain, rain.

A small detour through picturesque mountain villages.

Rain, rain, rain.

After the tasty and entertaining stop in the “Café Pfiff”, they ride on, climb countless mountain passes with their boxers and throw on their rain gear that they won't take off again until the evening. In the best motorcycling weather, they than scope out the surroundings of the small town of Splügen and make their way to Bella Italia. Both machines purr purposefully up the high-Alpine road, the R 80 G/S following its younger sister as though it was pleased to finally be able to demonstrate its ability on more demanding terrain again.

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Splügen fun and Dolce Vita al Lago.

Lakeside view on the Lago di Como.

Splügen fun and Dolce Vita al Lago.

During the passing, Daniel is heavily reminded of his America trip. “As soon as you sit on a motorcycle, you are a different person”, he says, adding “you are perceived differently and get talking to people much more easily than with other vehicles”. He and Polly were on the move for 10 months on his 35 year-old BMW and got to know the strengths and weaknesses of the bike and enjoyed adventure and freedom. He merely treated his Bella Macchina to a new Öhlins spring strut prior to the journey, so that his valuable cargo could be conveyed safely and comfortably. He only needed regular oil changes, general maintenance work and several tire sets for the many kilometres; apart from that, the R 80 G/S had been an extremely reliable companion.

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Old versus new.

Rare G/S special model with Gaston Rahies’ signature on the tank.

Old versus new.

For Daniel, this short trip is a very interesting experience, because when changing to the current R nineT Urban G/S model, it impressively becomes clear upon direct comparison what has been further developed in three decades of vehicle manufacturing. Besides the memorable colour scheme of earlier rally bikes, although other elements such as the wire wheels, telescopic fork with bellows, 2-in-1 exhaust system, headlamp mask with windscreen and a high front protective plate have been revived, technical details are no longer comparable with the original model from the eighties. Most impressive are the significant advancements in the ride behaviour, not to mention the 370 cubic centimetre capacity and 60 HP more engine performance. While the special “Paris Dakar” R 80 G/S model, which was only built 2,975 times, enables a smoothly springy and relaxed journey, the Urban G/S is a highly agile fun-mobile with its directness and tight tuning.

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"
My R 80 G/S ran like clockwork on the long tour through America. It was incredible how many people Polly and I met and the hospitality with which we were received.
"

Daniel van Gijn

Reunion festival Monza

The reunion cafe racer festival and sprint races.

Daniel a.k.a. “Motorsurgicaldiaries” on Instagram.

The reunion cafe racer festival and sprint races.

After a short lunch break on lake Como, they ride on into the royal Monza park to the legendary race track, where “The Reunion” – a festival for café racer and custom bike fans – is taking place that weekend. Here too, even at the parking lot, experts approach Daniel, inspect his Bella Macchina, and talk about their experiences with similar models. He is already familiar with several of them through his Instagram profile “Motorsurgicaldiaries” (Daniel is a doctor in a cancer clinic in the English town of Oxford in real life), where he documented his journey.

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Jens vom Brauck’s R nineT Scrambler.

Daniel and Jens talking about his Scrambler custom bike.

Jens vom Brauck’s R nineT Scrambler.

At the BMW Motorrad Italy stand, Daniel meets customizer Jens vom Brauck, who is presenting his latest masterpiece to the public for the first time. Jens explains what he’s done on the R nineT Scrambler and how he his signature on the custom bike. Besides the typical JvB headlight fairing, short rear and all-terrain tyres with wheel fairings, a huge amount of energy has flowed into the tank, which is considerably shorter and slimmer, “and the bike is consequently better to ride for people of our size”, Daniel says with a grin.

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“Sultans of Sprint” drag races.

Sultans of Sprint drag races in Monza.

“Sultans of Sprint” drag races.

After the short intermezzo with Jens and a tour at the trading area of the festival, they visit the section of the circuit where the first race of the Sultans of Sprint race series takes place. Besides the Formula 1 track in Monza, tinkerers and racers from all over Europe also meet at the Café Racer Festival in Monthléry, near Paris, at the Biker’s Classics in the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps, and at the Swabian Glemseck 101 in the beginning of September. In several classes, the self-constructions, mostly tuned with turbochargers, compressors or nitrous oxide injection, compete against each other on the classic dragstrip. Aside from the racing successes, there are also points for style, creativity and curiosity.

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Boxer power with style.

Stylish appearance for the sprint race.

Boxer power with style.

Not only at the legendary Paris-Dakar Rally have riders like Gaston Rahier, Hubert Auriol, Herbert Schek and Eddy Hau had countless successes on BMW motorcycles with the air-cooled boxer engine, but also at the sprint races and other classic events, countless twin-valved BMWs are successful on the start line. The great legacy, on which motorsport fans all over the world can build, is enormous. Just think of Ernst Henne, who set consecutive world speed records as early as the thirties with the same engine concept. Just like yesterday, motorcycles with the two horizontal cylinders are a timeless concept today as well.

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New bike, new luck.

New bike, new luck.

For Daniel, the short trip on the R 80 G/S was more than just an excursion into the mountains. It gave him back the feeling of what motorcycling can mean. It shook memories awake that he and Polly had on their journey across the American continent and he made a great deal of new friends. And not only on a human level. He says maybe next time they will make their journey on an R nineT Urban G/S. At least it has all the requirements to compete against the legacy of his Paris Dakar G/S. Only the Paris Dakar labels and Rahier’s signature on the tank are missing – then the Urban G/S would already be a legend today.

 

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R nineT Urban G/S

Heritage

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