From Incandescent Motorcycles: R NineT inspired by the ’85 R80GS Paris Dakar…
Released in 1980, the BMW R80GS is the progenitor of the multi-cylinder, dual-purpose “adventure bikes” so popular today. Originally developed to compete in the ISDT (International Six Days Trials), the air-cooled flat-twin Airhead G/S (G for Gelände “offroad” / S for Straße “street”) would find early success in the Paris Dakar Rally, where it took home four overall victories in 1981-85 with legendary riders like Hubert Auriol and Gaston Rahier.
Today, the BMW R1250GS and forthcoming R1300GS carry on the GS heritage, featuring liquid-cooled engines, variable valve timing, adaptive headlights, heated seats, and options like electronic suspension adjustment, dynamic load leveling, automated hill starts, and more ride modes than a Playstation.
While the modern GS is an impressive piece of machinery, those seeking something a little closer to the original R80GS might consider the R nineT Urban GS, which has an old(er)-school air/oil-cooled engine and more traditional / retro design.
Enter our new friend Roy Jordan of Incandescent Motorcycles, an engineer and creative who began building bikes with his brother-in-law, David Westworth, about five years ago. They started with a faithful reproduction of Darryl’s bike from The Walking Dead (pictured below) and went from there, building several bikes that have been invited to and displayed at the Bike Shed and Kickback Custom Shows in the UK.
For this build, they wanted to turn back the clock on a modern R nineT in tribute to one of Roy’s favorite rally bikes:
“We have a passion for retro adventure style bikes, and in particular I love the 1985 BMW R80GS Paris Dakar bike in the Lac Rose orange/white Marlboro paint scheme, so I wanted to build a modern homage to that specific bike.”
Roy and David worked to incorporate as many details from the ’85 Paris Dakar bike as possible, sourcing several major parts from Italy’s Unit Garage (Dakar-style tank, seat unit, crash bars, etc.) and enlisting the help of local craftsmen for the upholstery, exhaust, and finishes (powder coat, anodizing, etc.).
Roy provides the full build sheet below, but we especially dig the quote embroidered on the saddle — the words of Paris-Dakar Rally founder Thierry Sabine, who described the race thus:
“A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.”
The bike was displayed at this year’s Bike Shed Show, and Roy says folks sometimes don’t realize it’s a modern bike:
“Whenever I’m out on it I get lots of attention and lots of questions. Many people remember the 1980s bikes and a few didn’t actually realise it was an interpretation of the 1985 bike using a modern R nineT!”
Below, we talk to Roy for the full story on the “PD85,” with more photos courtesy of Lisa at Coppice Corner Photography.
BMW Paris Dakar Tribute: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m Roy Jordan, the founder of Incandescent Motorcycles, which my brother-in-law David Westworth and I started in 2018. We’re based in Wolverhampton, England.
It’s more of a hobby than a business as we both have busy day jobs, so we build custom bikes in our spare time, as we both have a passion for custom bikes.
We thought we’d develop the “brand” so that if we ever wanted (or more specifically, could afford) to start a formal custom bike business, then our name will have already been out there on Instagram, Facebook, and the web, in one way or another for some time.
Dave and I have ridden bikes on and off for 25+ years, including every make and genre. However, we started the custom builds with a tribute to Darryl’s bike from The Walking Dead. As an engineer and a creative (I have a passion for architectural design, art, heritage, etc.), we focus on every detail of our builds no matter how small, and feedback on our WD build leads us to believe it’s one of the best reproductions of the original bikes (built by Classified Moto), in the world.
As we build bikes as a hobby, we don’t have a workshop. All of the bikes have been built in a shed in my garden! This has been challenging, especially as I have several bikes, but we’ve had no choice due to the costs of renting a fully operational workshop — we hope that this could be something for the future.
To date we’ve built several bikes, generally for ourselves, including several CB750’s, a couple of CX500s (one of which was displayed at Bike Shed Show in London in 2022). We’ve also recently been working on my two BMW R NineT’s, which have been shown at the Kickback Custom Show in the UK.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
The donor bike is a 2019 BMW R NineT Urban GS.
• Why was this bike built?
We have a passion for retro adventure style bikes and in particular I love the 1985 BMW R80GS Paris Dakar bike in the Lac Rose orange/white Marlboro paint scheme, so I wanted to build a modern homage to that specific bike.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design concept was to build a modern version of the 1985 R80GS Paris Daker bike using an R NineT Urban GS, with as many features and details included as possible from the original bike.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The bike has a significant number of modifications from the stock Urban GS, including:
- Paris Dakar tank from Unit Garage.
- Paris Dakar seat unit from Unit Garage (reupholstered with a custom cover, including an embroidered quote from Thierry Sabine).
- Top fairing and screen by Unit Garage with number board and reproduction 1985 decals
- Custom-designed laser-cut side panels.
- Custom paint scheme with the red colour matched to the original 1980’s bike using a vintage decal.
- Custom decals across the bike, including tank, screen, fenders, and forks.
- Wheels dismantled, rims anodized silver, and rebuilt to match the 1985 bike.
- Leather tail bag from Unit Garage.
- Pannier bracket with number boards from Unit Garage (with reproduction number decals as per the 1985 bike).
- 2v style cylinder heat covers, custom painted.
- Pod conversion with DNS pod filters.
- Custom handmade twin-sided exhaust system incorporating Unit Garage mufflers, all ceramic coated black.
- Motogadget glassless mirrors.
- Rizoma fuel cap.
- Rizoma indicators.
- Rizoma oil filler cap.
- Rizoma billet aluminum foot pegs.
- Crash bars by Unit Garage.
- Legend oil guard by Ex-Motorcycle.
- Legend sump guard by Ex-Motorcycle.
- Headlamp grille by Unit Garage.
- BMW hand shields with extensions and custom paint finish.
- Matching Shoei Ex Zero helmet painted to match the 1985 Arai helmet.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The size and colour scheme makes the bike stand out in a crowd. It has Michelin Anakee Wild dual sport tyres, but I’ve not taken it off-road as it’s more of a show bike than a real off-roader.
Whenever I’m out on it I get lots of attention and lots of questions. Many people remember the 1980s bikes and a few didn’t actually realise it was an interpretation of the 1985 bike using a modern R NineT!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
As with everything we do, it’s the level of detail and the quality of the finishes that makes us most proud.
We built a CX500 for a friend (which is now in the USA) and we pride ourselves on the way we listen to the owners requirements, work with them throughout the whole process, then translate their specific requirements into the final design.
I’ve found lots of excellent craftsmen local to me, including a world class paint guy, an automotive upholsterer, skilled exhaust fabricators, a custom bodywork/tank specialist, and other experts that have contributed to this and our other builds.
- Karen at www.bustleabout.co.uk / @bustleabout (Saddle)
- Lisa at www.coppicecornerphotography.co.uk (Photographs)
- Aki and Sam at www.myriadexhaust.com (Exhaust)
- Paul at SFX Wheels (Wheels, Anodising, Powder Coating)
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