A Frankenstein airhead built for modern-day mayhem…
The BMW R100GS, introduced in 1987, was the world’s largest displacement enduro / adventure bike at the time — the next evolution in the legendary R80GS. The GS series broke with the convention that an off-road bike had to be a lightweight single, thereby creating an entire new class of motorbike: the adventure / touring bike. The 980cc airhead in the R80GS offered 60 horsepower, capable of pushing the 455-lb machine to 112 mph. While the R100GS was the king of big trailies in its day, its performance has faded by modern-day standards.
Enter Judd Blunk of Woodacre, California, whose motorcycling obsession began in the late 1960s when he was a corner worker at a motocross track his brother managed in Kansas. Since then, he’s ridden all over the continent, from the aspen forests of Colorado to the farthest northern coast of Alaska to the deserts of Nevada, where he wrecked his modern R1200GS amid a clutch of airheads. Upon returning home, he went air-cooled and never looked back.
“I eat, sleep and obsess about mid eighties BMW GS’s.”
Judd’s recently retirement from a German car company has allowed him to dedicate more time to his airhead GS hobby, outfitting his garage with more fabrication equipment and naming it “Blunk’s Garage” after the garage his grandfather and his brothers owned in Oxford, KS, in 1929. Judd doesn’t build show bikes, nor does he build them as a business. His projects are meant to be ridden, and ridden hard:
“I say my bikes are cool enough to turn heads, ugly enough to ride the crap out of and reliable enough to take anywhere.”
For this 1988 BMW R100GS restomod — nicknamed “Franky,” short for Frankenstein — Judd has updated the suspension, reinforced the frame, beefed up the charging system, and increased the engine performance. Meanwhile, he’s “added lightness,” bringing the weight down to just 365 pounds!
Below, we get the full story on the build, along with photos from Matt McCourtney.
Airhead GS Restomod: In the Builder’s Words
My motorcycle obsession started in the late 60s when my brother managed a motocross track in Pittsburg, KS. I was cheap labor and he had me flag on the corner that had the most crashes. (That’s why I wear hearing aids today :). I have ridden the woods of Colorado on a WR Husky, and a KDX Kawasaki — I rode to Prudhoe Bay Alaska and cross country (the long way) on a R1200 GS.
Two years or so ago, I retired after working 30 years for a German car company…that’s when I was able to dedicate a lot of time to my GS airhead hobby. I took over the garage, and with my last bonus (thanks to my wife) equipped it with some basic fabrication tools, welders and the like. For fun, I have called it Blunk’s Garage as my grandfather and his brothers had a Blunk’s Garage in 1929 in Oxford, KS.
About the build…
It all started with a group of guys who ride every spring in the Nevada desert. I got invited, and showed up with my 1200 GS… All these guys had airhead GS’s. I wrecked the second day on the ride, but was able to ride back to NorCal — with the insurance money, I bought my first airhead GS and was obsessed.
I call this bike “Franky,” (Frankenstein) as it has the parts from a ’95 1100 GS (rear suspension) and the WP forks off a 2005(ish) KTM.
Dry it weighs 365 lbs and handles really light. Plus it is easy to pick up when I drop it.
The frame is reinforced ala the SWT Sports guys in Germany and the suspension was all set up by Super Plush here in San Francisco. It has a big output alternator from EME, the pipe is custom from House of Fubar (Eric McCallum).
It has my desert tank (water, whisky or even fuel if you want), and it has a stainless tool box and a custom aluminum subframe.
I also mounted the BMW Navigator IV to show me the way.
Pictures BTW are by Matt McCourtney Photography.