Meccanica Serrao d’Aquino resto-mods a 90s adventure bike…
The BMW R80GS is widely known as the grandfather of the modern adventure bike. At the time of its introduction, BMW Motorrad was at risk of going the way of the dinosaurs. They needed a game-changer to rescue them from financial ruin — a bike no one else was making.
At the time, Japanese single-cylinder machines dominated the enduro market, but they weren’t very suitable for extended highway riding. But a BMW engineer and off-road enthusiast, Laszlo Peres, had created what he called the “Red Devil,” a BMW boxer modified to perform double-duty on and off the road. Thus the concept of the G/S was born — an acronym that stands for Gelände / Straße, German for “Off-road / On-road.”
Engineer Rudiger Gutsche was tasked with transforming the “Red Devil” into a production machine. He used an R80 engine and R65 twin-loop steel frame, with modifications such as a high-mount exhaust, larger air filter, Nikasil-lined cylinders (lighter), combined clutch / flywheel assembly (also lighter), electronic ignition, 5.2-gallon tank, and lower 3.31:1 gearing.
When the BMW R80GS was introduced at the 1980 Cologne Motor Show, many were left scratching their heads…until they rode the bike:
“The journalists grasped the concept, that this was an adventure motorcycle that would do the daily adventure through the city traffic, the weekend adventure out to a national park with a bit of off the beaten track thrown in, and the expedition from Cairo to the Cape.” –Silodrome
The GS quickly proved itself in competition, too, with Hubert Auriol winning the 1981 and 1983 Paris Dakar Rallies, as well as the Baja 1000.
The 1991 R80GS you see here is the work of Gianpaolo (Gp) of Milan’s Meccanica Serrao d’Aquino, who’s been working on bikes since he was 15, slowly working his way toward owning his own shop:
“I started my experience in a Ducati and Kawasaki dealership in Reggio Calabria. A few years later, I moved to Perugia and worked for a Suzuki dealer. In 2009 I moved to Milano and worked for Collezione Motociclistica Milanese restorations and more. In 2013 I opened my own workshop…”
The owner of this 1991 BMW R80GS wanted to upgrade it with better brakes and modern amenities. Many of these airheads end up stripped down into skeletal bobbers and cafe racers, so it’s nice to see one with the original silhouette largely intact, but with lots of functional upgrades.
Highlights include Yamaha Ténéré 700 forks with modern double-disc front brakes, upgraded rear shock, rebuilt engine and gearbox, K&N filters, cat-less exhaust, new seat, and a complete repaint of the frame and fairings.
The result is one of the cleanest GS builds we’ve seen — a bike that pays homage to the Paris-Dakar machines of yesteryear while promising to give the owner miles and smiles for years to come. Below, we talk to Gp for the full story on this BMW GS restomod.
BMW GS Restomod: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
BMW R80GS, 1991.
• Why was this bike built?
Customer project. He asked me for more braking power and better driveability.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The owner works for some top fashion brands, organizing events and parties for brands like Gucci and Prada. So it had to have style.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Front fork from Yamaha Ténéré 700; engine and gearbox refresh; rear monoshock, new Pirelli tyres; complete repaint of frame and fairings.
• Any idea of horsepower, weight, and/or performance numbers?
Engine is stock; just K&N air filter and exhaust with no catalytic converter.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
Very smooth riding and comfortable. Brakes much better.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The front forks, the paint scheme, and the seat.