All 89 entries tagged Bmw Gs

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April 25, 2011

BMW R100GS Paris–Dakar refurbishment and redesign – latest progress

Some recent updates by top expert Andrew Sexton. Including:

  • Oil sump extension;
  • New oil cooler;
  • Oil cooler relocation;
  • Oil cooler thermostat.

The parts were bought from

Andrew has also professionally rewired the electrics, making a neat job out of the Acewell speedo and a replacement rear led light. It all now seems to work perfectly. Finally, he found that it had been suffering from low oil pressure, due to a missing o-ring in the oil filter assembly (a common mistake made by a non-specialist technician). The big-end bearings had signs of damage, so were replaced. Andrew also re-seated the exhaust valves. Less smoke and more MPG have resulted.

I've added an MRA Vario screen from Motorworks, adjustable to give perfectly non-turbulent air flow. There's also a Garmin Zumo sat nav to go with the Midland BT 02 bluetooth intercom.

I've ditched the metal panniers (Ted Simon's advice). They've been replaced by a pair of Ortlieb waterproof panniers (a single pannier can carry all of my camping gear), a Hein Gericke tail bad, and a small cool bag.

Some photos:

Bike 1

Bike 2

Bike 3

July 11, 2010

Road testing my rebuilt R100GS PD

Follow-up to BMW R100GS definitely almost finished soon soon from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

On Friday evening, I got my GS Paris-Dakar back from Nu-Age Kenilworth Motorcycles (thanks to Nick, Bill and all their helpers for lots of hard work). The police-specification electrics are all working well. Only two glitches: the speedo connection from the gearbox to the Acewell digital speedo has stopped working; on my first run, after half-an-hour, the clutch started to scream - I took it back, and Bill adjusted the setting. It's now fine. No, in fact, it's absolutely magnificent - just as an Airhead Gëlande Strasse should be. A bit quicker and more responsive to the throttle than before the rebuild. And without the fairing and screen, it's much smoother, with less air turbulence. And much more fun. Naked bikes feel faster, and more "involved". I did an hour's worth of riding today, getting it up to 70mph on the A46, and testing it out thoroughly on the b-roads. I'll try to use it every day this week, and at some point take onto a green lane to see if being 20KG lighter improves it's handling on dirt.

The rebuild is complete. For a while. I'll have another look at the electrics, to tidy them up and get the speedo working. And then perhaps a bigger front disk will be the next development.

Here's a full tally of the work that i've had done:

Frame, sub-frame and various components powder coated;
Nuts and bolts replaced with a stainless kit;
Downpipes and silencer replaced with a Keihan stainless set;
Fork seals replaced;
Push-rod seals replaced, and stainless steel tubes added;
Tank, mudguards and side panels repainted (fairing removed);
Headlight replaced with twin lights;
Instruments replaced with an Acewell digital system;
Timing chain replaced;
Carbs refurbished;
Pistons and heads de-coked;
1 exhaust valve replaced;
Alternator, diode board, regulator, hall sensor all replaced with improved versions;
Cleaned and polished.

The starter motor was replaced recently with one of the "improved" Valeo starters.

So now, I hope, it will do another 85,000 miles until the next major rebuild.


July 08, 2010

BMW R100GS definitely almost finished soon soon

Follow-up to BMW R100GS refurbishment almost finished from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

It has an MOT, and some nice new Acerbis handguards (don't pay rip-off Touratech prices for them, go to an off-road shop and they are 1/3 the price). Nu-Age Kenilworth Motorcycles couldn't get the timing exactly right, so I guessed that the mechanical retard/advance mechanism in the bean can is jammed, a common fault. They have ordered a fully electronic replacement from Motorworks. The alternator is looking worn and not charging properly, so i'll be getting a new 450w police-spec generator as well, along with a police-spec regulator to match. It will be ready soon soon. Unless I decide that I might as well replace the remaining original parts too. Anyone know where I can get a new set of forks? Ohlins, WP, Marzochi USD? Even the Marzochi insert kit would be an improvement. No one seems to sell them anymore.

GS with acerbis hand guards

GS from the front

May 16, 2010

BMW R100GS refurbishment almost finished

Follow-up to BMW R100GS pistons and heads cleaned from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

My bike came back from Nu-Age racing in superb condition. I've started to add the final parts. The mudguards have been painted blue (Glossy Car Coats of Kenilworth) and the tank has been painted in BMW arctic white. I'm going to leave the side panels off. All bolts are now stainless steel. I've also fitted stainless down pipes and a silencer. It's in better condition that it was when I bought it nine years ago. I think it's the bike that BMW should have built.

R100GS from the side

I've removed the headlight fairing, replaced with just a simple and lightweight twin headlight set and an Acewell digital speedo bolted to the handlebars.

R100GS from the front

The last job is to fit the electrics. Getting the loom and a new set of coils in place was easy. However, the front section of the loom is far too long without the fairing, and so I must wrap it back on itself. It's now almost complete.

April 30, 2010

BMW R100GS pistons and heads cleaned

Follow-up to BMW R100GS frame and engine refurb from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

The guys at Nu-Age Racing have now carefully removed the carbon deposits from the engine. It's looking really good. Hopefully, it will all be back together by the weekend and I can start to reassemble the electrics.


Before After


Shiny happy engine.

April 23, 2010

BMW R100GS frame and engine refurb

My R100GS Paris Dakar is currently at the very good (and friendly) Nu-Age Racing in Kenilworth having some major refurbishment work done.

The frame has been blasted and powder coated. The result is excellent, like it has just rolled off the production line:

Powder coated GS frame

After 85,000 miles, a new timing chain has been fitted as a precautionary measure:

GS crankase

As with most old airheads, the pushrod seals are leaking. They are being replaced, and stainless steel pushrod tubes added:

Heads and barrels

Taking the engine apart has revealed quite a lot of carbon deposits on the pistons and around the valves, one of which will be replaced (an exhaust valve went a few years ago):

GS piston

The gearbox and drive shaft seem fine:

GS gearbox

I'm also having the carbs refurbished.

When that is all complete, i'll be fitting the wiring loom (re-bound) and adding new twin headlights and a small digital speedo (with the old plastic fairing removed).

December 21, 2009

Repainted R100GS Paris Dakar fuel tank

Follow-up to R100GS Paris Dakar refurbishment after 85,000 miles from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Excellent work by Glossy Car Coats of Kenilworth. The fuel tank looks like new. The mudguards and side panels were painted in blue.


R100GS Paris Dakar refurbishment after 85,000 miles

I'm currently working on a more serious refurbishment of my BMW R100GS Paris Dakar. I started to get minor electrical faults in the headlights and instruments. On the PD they the front end is wrapped in an un-necessarily big and complicated plastic fairing. It even has large metal crash bars wrapped around it. I've never liked the fairing, and when I realised that it is quite a barrier to doing repairs on the electrics, I decided to remove it. It took much effort to remove! I bought the bike because it is supposed to be easy to work on, simple and reliable. Now that the fairing is gone, it's closer to that ideal. Once it was off, I put the whole assemblage on the scales (including instruments and crash bar). It weighs 10 kilos! A substantial weight for an off road bike.

The instruments will be replaced by an all-in-one Acewell digital system. They are available, along with a speedo cable for BMW, from Boxxerparts in Germany. The headlight will be replaced with a pair of small round "streetfighter" style headlights mounted to the fork stanchions with mini-indicators.

With the fairing, fuel tank, seats and side panels off, I could see just how bad the rest of the bike is. It's covered in 85,000 miles of road grime. My earlier attempts at anti-rust-coating and painting the frame are now being surpassed by rusting. The worst aspect is the wiring harness. The fabric cover is soaked with oil, wearing through and unwrapping:

Wiring harness and rust

The only real solution is to strip the whole bike down, clean it thoroughly, restore the wiring harness, and get the frame bead-blasted and powder coated. I'm half way through that. The next step is to remove the forks, engine and transmission. I'll need some help with the engine, and will probably struggle to get the steering bearings out of the stem.

GS stripped down from front

I think i'll get the engine and forks removed by a professional, considering this article on removing steering races and bearings.

September 21, 2009

Trail riding in Wiltshire and Northamptonshire – R100GS and R1100GS

BMW R100GS PD at Barbury Castle, south of Swindon. A long section of the Ridgeway byway, legally accessible by motorcycles in the summer, starts here.

At the start of the Ridgeway

In Wiltshire the Ridgeway mostly consists of well drained gravel tracks.


The Ridgeway has some of the best wide open views to be found on an English byway. However, in some areas, deep tractor ruts require more concentrated riding.

Ridgeway views

Once that we had reached the end of the southernmost ridable section of the Ridgeway at Overton Hill, we took another byway to connect with a second stretch of Ridgeway further north. Wiltshire has many excellent byways open to bikes. This great track leads through a beech forest, with gentle hills and glades.

Forest ride

In Northamptonshire, the Banbury Track and Oxford Track are a little more challenging. This stretch, open only to motorcycles, is overgrown and rutted. On a grassier stretch, we both fell off at the same time, struggling through the thick vegetation.

Banbury track

Some of the tracks are barely used. Martin found much less grip on the grass with his Avon Distanzia dual-purpose tyres. My Continental TKC80 off-road tyres were better. We met the farmer (on a quad with his dog). He was friendly and chatted about bikes and the local routes.


March 13, 2009

Deflated – TKC80 tyres on an R100GS need inner tubes!

Follow-up to Green laning on an R100GS with Continental TKC80 tyres from Transversality - Robert O'Toole


That's what it says on the side of the Continental TKC80 tyres now fitted to my BMW R100GS Paris Dakar. One would assume that means "don't use an inner tube". I made that assumption. So did the tyre fitter. The fitment guide on the Continental web site has quite a different interpretation of the word:


The fitment info even states which tubes to use.

Perhaps this little misunderstanding explains why my tyres were completely flat this morning. It could be that TKC80s aren't sufficiently rigid at the bead to give a good enough seal. Or perhaps the first generation Akront tubeless spoked rims are a bit too leaky (Metzelers also deflate, but much more slowly).

So its back to Behind Bars in the week to get some tubes fitted.

It didn't stop me going for a ride out to Stoneleigh on the way home, with a quick bimble down a green lane. Mud, mud, glorious mud.

March 07, 2009

Green laning on an R100GS with Continental TKC80 tyres

Follow-up to Travel Report: using Metzeler Tourance tyres off–road from Transversality - Robert O'Toole

Last week my GS was serviced by the very good Behind Bars trail bike shop in Kenilworth. I also asked them to change the tyres. In the last few years I've had several sets of Metzeler Tourance tyres that have worn far too quickly. On a couple of occasions, lumps of rubber have actually peeled away from the carcass - once in the middle of a dash across France. The Continental TKC80 Twinduro tyres are now standard fitment on the R1200GS Adventurer, the modern equivalent of my R100GS Paris Dakar. They seem to be popular. If they are fine on a 105bhp modern bike with lightning fast brakes, they should be OK on my 65bhp airhead with almost no braking power.

Here's a photo of the GS with TKC80s:

TKC80 rear

Today I went for a test ride, on tarmac (not too fast until they run in) and along a green lane. As one would expect, they proved to be much better in the mud, with no sliding at all. However, surprisingly, they give better grip on the road as well. I suspect that is down to softer grippier rubber. They will last for only 3000 miles, much less than the Tourance.

Here's a close up of the front:

TKC80 front

Compare that to a Tourance front, and you can see why they are like tractor tyres off-road:

Metzeler Tourance


September 28, 2008

Les Eyzies et la vallée de la Vézère, Easter 2008

Dinner was taken at Café de la Mairie.

Café de la Mairie

Cassoulet au canard. A worthy reward at the end of a long ride across France.


Back across this eccentric bridge…

Bridge 2

For a good night’s sleep at Camping de la Rivière.


France, Easter 2008

France was empty. An over-priced currency. Inflation. Recession. A low pressure weather system drifting across from the Atlantic. Tourists absent. Saturday afternoon, petering out of a cold and wet Vacances de Pâques, giving no urgency to the light local traffic scattering along the vague peripheries of each small town and village through which we darted. Slipping past thousands of sleepy natives barely noticed, as if a pair of inconsequential swifts returning to England from their annual migration. The happy-warm South and its dusty Mediterranean air behind us.

A fast true road, occasionally lined with Napoleonic regiments of plane trees, but generally more wide open. Imperial Roman straight-line determination overlaying a sensuous rolling Gallic landscape and conquering a hundred miles in a flash: this road, through the Indre Department and up to the Loire, has a dreamlike character. The sensation was the same the first time that the old airhead and I traversed it, riding south to Barcelona in 2001: across the desertified Loire at chateau-grand Samur, launching on to the widely furrowed land. And each time since, its somniferous character has been amplified with a creeping sense of déjà vu. A sense illuminated by the unusual array of brightly painted water towers that dot and dash the landscape signalling to each other across an expanse of farm land, each one firing off a distinct point in my memory, and collectively building up to the tipping point of realisation: a familiar route revisited.

The means by which we select our roads is the same as that used to navigate the unfamiliar dishes listed upon the menus of the relais at which we would periodically stop. Random. Martin’s so-called ‘GPS’ being an in-joke: a tiny plastic clipboard bolted to the handlebar brace of his 1994 BMW R1100GS overlander, carrying small sheets of note-scrawled paper. Martin, professionally, is a microscopist. Miniaturised instructions, his notes work as a minimal roadbook. Complimenting his notes, I carry each relevant page of a dismembered road atlas, folded into the plastic window of a bag strapped across the long-range tank of my rusty trusty old R100GS Paris-Dakar – being an amateur geographer, I have the bigger picture in mind. There is madness in this method, or at least enough eccentricity to keep things interesting. With no particular agreement at any time, either the map or the road book takes the lead. At too in-frequent intervals the pair are brought together on some precarious edge of the road meeting place, and there they form the basic articles for debate and eventual agreement.

Contrary to popular misapprehension, the motorcycle is as much a machine for stopping and comprehending as it is for accelerating and escaping. Even the relatively wide GS, with its sideways protruding flat-twin cylinders may always find some small strip of tarmac, gravel or even dirt on which to perch for a contemplative pause. When confronted by two fat GS’s sat alongside each other, the friendly and tolerant drivers of rural France always give us room. Similarly, when confronted by two motorcyclists (one fat, one thin) sat opposite each other at a restaurant table, the reputedly intolerant waiters of rural France are pleasingly patient. Slow bikes, slow food.

Salade aux noix, andouillette grillée, fromage de chévre bleu s’il vous plaît.

I communicated through imprecisely accented French. The waiter-chef responded with acutely accented eyebrows. There being only two options on the menu, it was either an adventure in offal or cote de porc predictability. Martin chose the latter. Irresistibly, I went for the wildcard. Through the following five minute interlude and the fresh salad starter, occasional glances were exchanged. The waiter-chef would flit between a small kitchen for the preparation of accompaniments and a vast open fireplace upon which the meat slowly cooked. I could read his thoughts: “does the Englishman realise what he is about to eat?”. But could he read mine in return? – “does the Frenchman realise that I really do understand the extraordinarily pungent source of andouillette?”. Starters completed, and the smell of pork began to fill the banquet-sized hall in which we sat. One could easily imagine a small army of musketeers stopping by for a long lunch, perhaps interrupted by a duel, if not a rafter-swinging sword fight defending the honour of France. Serving wenches would not have been out of place, but in this age, they are sadly absent.

When it arrived, it was indeed deliciously medieval.

The waiter-chef lowered the large plate down swiftly, and swept away with efficiency. Striding off into the kitchen, he paused to attend to misaligned cutlery on one of the many un-occupied tables – merely perhaps to enable a check upon my reaction.

I think very highly of the late Capetonian comic actor Sid James. It was undoubtedly a Sid James moment.

I sliced with painful precision through the outer skin, revealing a mess of squiggly chopped-up pig internals and externals.

Andouillette smells and tastes exactly as it appears.

Martin, clearly, was disgusted.

The waiter-chef was perhaps a little bit impressed.

And my verdict?

Very good.

Not necessarily suited to everyday luncheon. But still, very good.

Can I convince you to try this magnificent cut? Perhaps for environmental reasons (eat offal, save the planet)?

Go on, you will not be disappointed.


November 25, 2007

R100GS Touratech hand guards with heated grips?

I ride my GS all year round, on road and off road. It should be able to handle all of those conditions easily. Heated grips and hand protectors help to cope with the -33 C wind chill experienced at 60mph on a freezing day. To offer any real defense when coming off in the dirt, the hand protectors must also be rigid. So I need heated grips AND rigid hand guards: not a combination that BMW envisaged when designing a bike with the Dakar in mind.

Fitting heated grips to an Airhead GS is far from simple. At the end of each grip a wire protrudes from the conductive material, extending down the inside of the handlebars to emerge from a small hole at the base. The first challenge then is to get the wires to follow that route, and to pull them out of the awkwardly small hole. The solution is to tie the wires to a semi-rigid length of gardening wire (the sort used to tie plant stems to supporting sticks). This can then be threaded down the bars, and pulled out through the hole using tweezers. Using bright coloured wire maked the job a little easier.

That’s all fine when using the standard BMW hand guards. However, the standard guards offer very little crash protection. For off road riding, where broken fingers are always a possibility, rigid guards are necessary. Acerbis offer the best of these, with a strong plastic strut attached to the bars and bolted into the ends of the bars. That’s fine, but completely incompatible with BMW heated grips. The bolt at the end of the bars leaves no space for the grips’ wiring. And so Touratech offer a modified set of Acerbis guards, each with a bolt that is flattened off to accomodate the wiring.

BMW R100GS Touratech hand guards with heater grips
Click to enlarge

That is not. however, a complete solution. It is still necessary to cut out the rubber and plastic cover at the end of the grips. The throttle side grip gives a further challenge. It must be able to rotate as the throttle is opened and closed. As the grip rotates, so does the wire. Twist the grip too far, without having the flattened bolt in exactly the correct position, and the wires are cut cleanly apart.

This has now happened to me four times. The throttle grip costs £50. An expensive way to warm my hands. When the wire does get broken, only small stubbs are left within the grip. An effective repair therefore seem impossible. Or rather seemed impossible. Fellow GS rider Martin, it transpired, is a genius with a soldering iron. Within just a few minutes he managed to re-attach the wires to the barely visible stubs. The weld seems quite strong, and now that the grips are back on the bike, it all seems to work correctly.

BMW R100GS heated grips modification
Click to enlarge

But how can I be sure that they will not break again? Getting the flattened off bolt in exactly the correct position is a good start. I have worked out a technique: put the bolt into the grips; tighten the bolt lightly, and twist the grip around so that the bolt is pushed into the perfect position by the moving wire; then tighten the bolt. It seems to be effective.

I might also refrain from winding the throttle on full; such heavy-handedness has no effect on the acceleration of the lumbering old airhead anyway.

Now I must test it in two ways: 1) ride on a cold day; 2) fall off on a dirt road.

BMW R100GS Touratech rocker cover modification

Last week I fitted new rocker covers to my GS, including a left-hand cover from Touratech, modified with an oil filler cap.

You might recognize this from the classic German war film Das Boot. This ancient BMW design would appear to have been copied from the engine room of a 1940’s U-Boat.

BMW 100GS valve rockers
Click to enlarge

On the starboard side I fitted a standard BMW cover, in plain unpainted alluminium – or so they claim. Just one of these small components seems to weigh over 1KG. Perhaps then it is true: air-head boxer engines were hewn from solid granite by an army of elves somewhere deep in the Black Forest.

And on the port side I now have the modified Touratech cover. The standard oil filler on the airhead is placed behind the carburettor. With the big 35 litre fuel tank fitted, adding oil required a funnel with a long nose; not really the kind of thing one would want to carry on an expedition. The engine sips oil steadily, and so a better solution is required. With this modification, I can add oil easily, without a funnel. The oil then quickly drains back into the sump through the push-rod tubes.

BMW R100GS Touratech rocker cover
Click to enlarge

A great idea. I’m sure that every airhead GS owner would want one. Unfortunately, Touratech UK told me that I just bought the last one to be made.