1988 - 1995 1000cc
BMW R100GS

by Jeff Dean
Today is

The 798cc BMW R80G/S (photo below) was revolutionary motorcycle that started the entire “adventure touring” phenomenon. now enjoined by other manufacturers. It was a motorcycle manufactured in Berlin, Germany, by BMW Motorrad from 1980 to 1987. Production totaled 21,864 bikes. It was the first in the BMW GS family of specialized dual-sport bikes. of which over 500,000 have been produced. The designation G/S is an acronym of the German words Gelände/Straße. which mean offroad/road — highlighting the bike's dual sport design. G/S and GS motorcycles can be distinguished from other BMW models by their longer travel suspension, an upright riding position, and larger front wheels.

The 980cc BMW R100GS replaced the R80G/S in 1987 and was produced until model year 1994. Those motorcycles came with a rear paralever swingarm, stainless-steel exhaust, oil cooler, and cross-spoked tubless tires. The R100GS weighed 426 pounds without fuel and 462 pounds with a full tank. The R100GS-PD, for Paris-Dakar, a heavier version of this motorcycle, weighs in at 520 pounds fueled and was produced from 1988 to 1995.

Click here to read the specifications of the 1987-1996 R100GS.

The photos below shows my customized fuel tank with slash-2 style pinstripes and small fairing of a 1988 R100GS.

1988 BMW R100GS

Above: Here I am on the back side of Mt. Lemmon, Tucson, with my R100GS on the right.

Photo above: Here is the R100GS in Tucson with a full moon overhead.

The photos below shows two fuel tanks. The left photo, on a 1967 R69S, shows my inspiration for the design. I think my R100GS will be the only one with that “retro” tank design. The GS's tank is Alpine white, while the R69S's tank is Dover white.

Should all R100GS tanks have been painted this way with BMW's classic two-width pinstripes? That is not for me to say.

The photo below shows the cockpit, with optional tachometer on the right, and a front view.

The 1988-1990 R80GS and R100GS

An upgraded bike arrives with a new rear suspension, the Monolever. A change also for the name. the most visible is that the '/' between the G and the S disappears, but also the meaning of the letters changes. The "S" is for Sport (in place of Strasse, "street" in German).

Two engines were available, a 798 cm³ for the R80GS (not available in all markets) and a 980 cm³ for the R100GS.

The major differences between the two bikes are :

  • the oil-cooler on the R100GS (placed on the right engine protection bar);
  • a small windshield on the R100GS;
  • the engines
    • R80GS: 798 cm³. 84.8mm x 70.6mm. 50 hp (37 kW DIN) at 6500 rpm. 61 Nm at 3750 rpm. compression: 8.2:1. 32mm Bing CV carburators
    • R100GS: 980 cm³. 94mm x 70.6mm. 60 hp (44 kW DIN) at 6500 rpm. 76 Nm (56 ft-lb) at 3750 rpm. compression: 8.5:1. 40mm Bing CV carburators (32mm for US)

The differences from the previous generation are:

  • Paralever rear suspension
  • Rear subframe with small rack
  • 40mm Marzocchi fork with 225mm travel
  • 40mm Brembo dual-piston front brake (not better, unfortunately)
  • New centerstand design (pedals curved out)
  • The wheels (rear 17'' diameter vs: 18'') with rim-mounted spokes (to permit a tubeless tire)
  • the small external tachometer and clock on the outer sides of the plastic dashboard
  • 24 liter (6.2 gal.) tank with two petcocks (was 19.5 liters/5.1 gal.) and the vent tube on the cap goes horizontally
  • Tool box under the seat
  • Styling (side panels, rounded tank with knee depressions, the mirror and the seat goes on the tank)
  • Stainless steel exhaust with a black cover plate (smaller than the R80G/S PD and the R 80 ST)
  • 12v/25Ah-30Ah battery in place of a 12v/16Ah
  • More weight : 210 kg (462 lb) up from 191.
  • No kickstarter (but available as an add-on).

Model year differences

In 1988

  • All models were equipped with the high fender only. In the US, a rectangular fender brace was produced to allow the high fender to be mounted low.
  • Intruduction of the Valeo starter instead of Bosch.

In 1989

  • The optional low fender appeared with a modified curved fork brace (used on all models)
  • The attachment of the rear fender to the battery tray was modified
  • A Gore-Tex insert was used on the instrument cluster to help prevent fogging
  • Softer spring for rear suspension
  • Change to lower left mounting of side cover
  • New clutch throwout bearings (all BMW models)

At the 1988 IFMA (Internationalen Fahrrad- und Motorradausstellung) in Munich, a new R100GS Paris-Dakar was on the BMW stand. First, it was only available as a kit made for the GS. The complete GS-PD bike was on the market in September 1989 with a new look and a lot of differences regarding the "nude" GS:

  • a nylon tank (35 liters/9.3 gal.) with a handy locking compartment
  • a big oilpan bash plate (in three parts : a fiberglass in front of the engine and the exhaust pipe, a metal one under the engine and another one on the centerstand)
  • a dash board with the speedometer, the control lights of the previous version and small tachometer and clock on it
  • a solo seat with rack
  • the weight : 236 kg
  • new styling with integrated rectangular headlight, "rounded" windshield and with roo-bars

During this period (87-90), the first G/S version continues with a smaller engine (650 cm³. 82mm x 61.5mm. 27 hp (20 kW DIN) at 5500 rpm. 43 Nm at 3500 rpm. Compression: 8.4:1. 2 Bing carburators 26mm. 5 speeds). it's the R65GS. It is exactly like the R80G/S except for the chrome exhaust, the GS mirror, the battery (12v/20Ah vs: 12v/16Ah), and the weight: 198 kg.

After 1990 the R100GS received further modifications and continued in production through 1995.

Click here for BMW R100GS specifications.

Click here for The History of the BMW GS-Series

Click here for the January 2006 Motorcycle Classics article on the R100GS