The BWM R80G/S and R65LS rally is in … wait for it … HARLEYSVILLE, PA. Yes, that’s a bit ironic.
The rally logos are similar in design to the ones used for the RS rally in 2017. I think they are well done.
After I parked Gonzo, a row of RS bikes gathered around.
And, there was a KTM 390 attending, in of all things, the Harley colors of orange and black. 🙂
There were some very interesting machines there, including a Krauser MKM 1000 with the trellis frame, Dr. Greg Fraiser’s around the world GS “Ugly Helga”, and a nice R75/5.
And, a nice collection of GS and R65 bikes ended up parking in front of Todd’s Bavarian Bike Barn. I’ll have more to say about the contents of Todd’s barn later.
Here is a slide show of general rally site pictures I took. There are later slide shows of Todd’s Bavarian Bike Barn, Han’s original design concept for the R80 G/S which was built by George Schorsch Martin, the owner of the largest BMW motorcycle dealership in Germany, some of the very cool bikes attendees brought to the rally and from Han’s R65LS presentation.
And, this slide show has pictures of bikes attendees brought to the rally.
Todd’s Bavarian Bike Barn
When Han’s arrived, Todd held a ceremonial dedication of the barn with Hans cutting the ribbon.
Todd had a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate his new barn and the collection of bikes inside. Hans cut the ribbon with a pair of scissors made in Germany, and I’m sure Todd will treasure that moment for year’s to come.
And then we all went inside to drool over the marvelous collection of motorcycles Todd has assembled over the years.Here’s a slide show of some of what’s inside.
Hans was first and on day 1 talked about how he came to design the R80 G/S bike. The motorcycle division had been spun out on it’s own and then pulled back into the BMW mother ship. The resulting confusion paralyzed the engineering and design teams. Hardy Kruger and Hans decided to come up with a project to get momentum going again.
Hans owned a Land Rover car and felt what BMW should do was design the motorcycle equivalent of a “go anywhere, anytime” vehicle. Due to constraints on BMW, the new design had to make maximum use of an existing bike. So Hans chose the R65 as the basis of the design with the goal of removing what was not needed for a rugged, go anywhere motorcycle. The G and S are for Gelände/Straße meaning off road/on road. Or, as Hans referred to it, a “Gentlemen’s Scambler”. As it turned out, he had to leave BWM after developing the design concept and was not in control of the final production.
Recently he and George Schorsch Martin, who owns the largest BMW dealership network in Germany, decided to work from Han’s original design concept and build the bike Hans conceived. And, then Schorsch brought it the rally to show us.
IMHO, I always felt the R80G/S was not a crisp design with a clear “vocabulary” as is the case with the R90S and R100RS. Now I know why I felt that way. Hans wasn’t there to shepherd it to completion.
BUT … the bike we saw today is what BMW should have built, again, IMHO.
Here is a slide show of the finally realized running R80 G/S built from Han’s original design concept.
On day 2, Hans talked about the development of the R65LS bike. The goal was to appeal to the younger rider, a demographic that was a small section of BMW motorcycle riders. The overall visual sense is one of freedom and flight. The front wedge of the headlight housing suggests a wing while the red is signifies power, aggressiveness which had been identified with many Italian cars such as Alpha Romeo and Ferrari. The headlight shell flows upward in a black cylinder for the instruments. The rear tail cowl had red grap rails integreted into it so the female passenger would feel secure and comfortable.
The white wheels are a different casting pattern. The casting looks less massive compared to the “snowflake” wheels and the white visually minimizes the mass of the wheel accentuating the overall sense of the bike being nimble, light and quick.
The black chrome exhaust visually pulls it into the mass of the frame and tires making the lower parts of the bike appear more cohesive.
Although the R65LS was not a big seller, Hans felt BMW marketing failed to create a strong story about the feeling of riding this bike that would connect with the younger riders.
Here is a slide show of the R65LS on stage and some of the R65LS bikes at the rally.
Tom Cutter did a question and answer session on day 1 and day 2 where anyone with a technical question could ask him for advice. There was a wide range of questions and Tom’s capacity to keep the details straight was in strong evidence.
Dr. Gregory Frazier talked about long distance motorcycle rides, both his six trips around the world on various motorcycles, including “Ugly Helga” his BMW GS bike and other brands. Dr. Frazier’s desire to roam the world was inspired by reading the Jules Verne novel, “Around the World in 80 Days” at the age of 15. As the saying goes, “Out of little acorns, mighty Oaks grow.”
He also talked about the early ones who road around the world, and across the United States in teens of the 20th century. His observation is those riders (and in at least one case, their new bride) were the true risk taking adventure riders. Today, with cell phones and modern roads almost everywhere, the risk is significantly smaller.
Here is a slide show of the BMW GS bike he rode around the world, Ugly Helga
Bob Hening, owner of Bob’s BMW, talked on day 1 about how to care for old bikes.
The key decision to make is whether to preserve, refurbish or restore the bike. The path chosen depends on you, and the provenance of the bike. He advocates preserving the story told by the patina of the bike. For example, Dr. Frazier’s Ugly Helga is a bike that should show all it’s scars and bruises as a testament to where it’s been. Further, what do you want and how you plan to use it can influence which option to choose. If you plan to ride the bike, then preservation maybe a dangerous option as failing rubber and unsound brakes make no sense is that’s you goal.
He pointed out being clear about your goal, or the end state, for the project is what will guide your efforts, so take the time to think that through and write down the goals you have before you spend money or start the work.
On day 2, Armond Ensanian who wrote the book, “Discovering the Motorcycle” spoke about beginnings of the motorcycle in the mid-1800’s moving from steam power eventually to the internal combustion engine powered bikes. He wove this into the beginnings of BMW and how the company evolved into a builder of motorcycles and cars. He traced the influence on BMW design by various early motorcycles including the 1919 ABC Sopwith and the British Douglas company.
[As an aside, Todd has a Douglas Dragonfly, which has an opposed cylinder engine in his collection. It seems they borrowed from the design ideas of the first BMW motorcycle, the R32, and the later post war models that used the Earls fork.]
The final speaker on Day 2 was Karl Meyers who grew up in a family of BMW mechanics. He talked about the lessons learned from fixing airheads over 40 years. The lessons he passed on about proper care, feeding and hygiene of an airhead will help all of us who have these keep them running longer with fewer costly repairs.
After an excellent dinner on Saturday night, I rode back to my hotel to prepare for the ride back to Denver on Sunday morning. I thoroughly enjoyed the rally, the background on the design of the R80G/S and R65LS from Hans. The other presenters made for a well rounded, and information rich two days. And of course, none of the magic at this marvelous gathering could have happened without the generous support of Todd Trumbore and the countless hours of planning over two years that went into this rally.
Great to meet and talk with you Brook and have a safe trip back to Denver. Very nice writeup – I’m glad someone was taking photos and notes!
Likewise. I look forward to doing a ride together with Radar one of these days.
Great ride report! I had plans to come, but family obligations won over spending a weekend in PA. Of course seeing all the those bikes, makes me wish I could have pulled it off. Oh and that GS800 with the red engine is unbelievable!
Indeed, that “800GS” was stunning. IHMO, BMW should have produced that instead of what they did with Han’s design after he left. Whenever the person with vision, passion and commitment to a design leaves before the project is done, it’s very unfortunate.
Thank you for a letting us visit this very interesting Rally! Ride safe!
Have really enjoyed your travel commentaries plus photos.
Really appreciate you taking the time to share this trip with the rest of us as with all your other posts, thank you!
I’m pleased you had fun reading along. Thanks.
Thanks for the rally pics and comments Brook, I’m not a rally guy myself but it would have been interesting to see/hear some of the items you show.
I’m similarly “allergic” to rally’s, but these two Todd hosted are far different fare than an MOA rally. It’s very cool to meet and chat with the designer of four iconic BMW motorcycles and all the other nice folks who came to this one.