From Ormotors: A Modern Tribute to Gaston Rahier’s Dakar-winning BMW…
In 1985, Belgian rider Gaston Rahier campaigned the Paris Dakar Rally on a massive factory-built BMW R80GS sponsored by Marlboro and Playboy — a bike that seemed the size of a Clydesdale beside the 5’4″ Rahier.
“When friends and new motorcyclists complain about stratospheric seat height, I gently point them to the incredible story of Gaston Rahier’s 1985 Dakar win. Rahier was so tiny that he mounted his rally prepped BMW R80G/S by walking alongside it, and then dropping the clutch. He’d step aboard with one foot, then casually arc the other over the seat and ride away. It was, and still is, impossibly cool.” –El Solitario
Rahier had won the ’84 Dakar in a long battle with another rally legend, Hubert Auriol, but his 1985 race effort started off quite inauspiciously when he managed to wreck his bike during a pre-race media appearance.
“BMW and the HPN team that built the bike didn’t have a spare chassis, so they had to cobble the wrecked one back together as best they could…it would leave two tire tracks in the sand instead of one.” –Jalopnik
Despite the skewed frame, Rahier not only finished the world’s most grueling off-road race, but won for the second year in a row. That makes Gaston’s 1985 victory one of the most impressive in Paris Dakar history, and his BMW’s Marlboro / Playboy livery stands as one of the most iconic of all time.
Fast forward to Wheels and Waves 2022, where Orion Porta of Ormotors and his Royal Enfield district manager, Maxime (@max_wingerter), got to see an authentic Paris Dakar BMW GS in the metal. The vintage rally bike had a big impact on both of them, and Maxime took immediate action:
“He sold his bike and bought an 1150 with only 5000 km to make a custom bike.”
Orion already had the vision for a modern(-ish) version of Gaston Rahier’s Marlboro / Playboy machine. He enlisted his friends at Blackpines to create a front light support and work with PIAA France to supply the rally lights. These were matched with a Ducati Desert X windshield, new dashboard, crashbars with PIAA foglights, new mudguards and luggage rack, and much more.
Meanwhile, Marc Kustom Color handled the retro-inspired livery…twice, actually, as the original tank was lost in the mail!
Despite the challenges, all the work was worth it. Maxime now has one beast of a BMW adventure bike that harks back to the 80s glory of the Paris Dakar Rally:
“Maxime bought this bike to have a stylish ride he could travel on. It’s a very, very good bike to do that…It’s unusual to have a custom bike this stylish and easy to ride.”
Below, we talk to Orion for the details on the build, with more photos courtesy of @v_brations.
Playboy / Marlboro BMW GSA: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
It’s a BMW 1150 GS Adventure, year 2000.
• Why was this bike built?
My Royal Enfield district manager, Maxime, a vintage motorcycle fan, had an 1100 GS. When we were in Biarritz for Wheels and Waves last year, we saw a vintage Paris Dakar BMW GS.
He sold his bike and bought an 1150 with only 5000 km to make a custom bike.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I’ve had the design idea for a long time. I love the off-road vintage racing bikes. Because we like to collaborate with others, we contacted Blackpines to make a deal with PIAA, and build the front mask.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Blackpines built the whole structure to support the PIAA lighthouse and the Ducati Desert X windshield.
We modified the rear part with the seat, the rear mudguard, and the luggage rack. We transformed the dashboard, installed a crashbar with the new PIAA lighthouse, new indicators, new R nine T front mudgard, new tyres, and more.
Our friend Marc Kustom Color did the crazy paint.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
GS Gaston Rahier Replica, or GS Marlboro Playboy ????
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
Maxime bought this bike to have a stylish ride he could travel on. It’s a very, very good bike to do that. It runs like a modern bike and you have very good protection and riding position. It’s unusual to have a custom bike this stylish and easy to ride.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
A terrible thing happened to us. The French post office lost the first tank, completely done and painted. We had to buy a new tank and redo the paint.
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