BMW R80 G/S - The details
The G/S changed substantially during the rebuild process. Most notable are the custom rear rack and the new gas tank. Many more changes are as important but not immediately visible.
Rear rack and bags
A known weak spot on the G/S's is the rear sub-frame and rack. Traveling with a lot of weight for a long time will ensure failure of the stock setup. Mostly the frame tubes tend to crack when the bike tips over when fully loaded. With this knowledge, the best solution is to get a custom rear rack and bags designed. A number of after-market providers exist, but they all make a compromise somewhere in terms of cost or fabrication. I set out to design a rear frame and rack taking into account all the issues encountered by other people. I got in touch with Ernie, owner of Overland-Solutions in the UK to help with the design and construction. The result is exactly what I was after. The right bag has 12V power to the bag, so that I can charge a laptop and batteries while on the road.
Dealing with Ernie exceeded my expectations. A little while after I got the bags from Ernie, some of the powder coating started peeling off. A few phone calls later and the problem was tracked down to a faulty run at the powder coater. In no time I had a new set of bags shipped to Canada at no cost to me.
I opted for a Works shock. Built to spec (spring and valving), this should last through a lot of abuse. At slow speed, the shock is very soft. As speed increases, it firms up a lot to enhance road contact on rougher roads. During the first test run on heavily rutted logging roads it became clear this was a good investment. Made by Works Performance.
The old exhaust system on the G/S was replaced with a shiny new Staintune system. There's not much to be said for it, except that it is probably the last thing that will break on the bike and will most certainly outlive all humans alive today. It's made out of high grade stainless and a tad deeper in sound than the stock setup.
The frame and all sundry black bits were powder coated during the rebuild process. As well, a few frame reinforcements were made. I'm not sure if it will make a difference in realty, but since it was all apart, why not try. Two of the changes are shown below. A bit of support is added to the top of the shock mount. As well, two pieces were welded between the upper and lower front tubes.
In August of 2005, I became aware of a new option to the regular stock electrical system. It's made by Euromoto Electrics and puts out 450 Watts and 32 Amps. Although I don't need all that power, it has a major advantage in that it uses a contact-less solid rotor versus a wound rotor with contact brushes. As well, there is no longer a need for a diode board and voltage regulator. Those are replaced with a rectifier. Reliability is the main key here. It's also a bit lighter, although that was not a concern. At pretty much all speeds, I get 14.2 volts of output, which is crucial in keeping the battery charged, especially if I'm going to be riding leisurely through a lot of small villages and over bad roads.
Here are some pictures from another install.
The rotor in a GS.
Three rotors available today (BMW, Enduralast and Motorrad Electric)
Power in the bag
To charge a laptop, AA and AAA batteries and a shaver, I routed power into the right hand bag. This allows me to charge while I ride.
The gas tank is one of the defining features of the bike. More than once people have rolled down their window to inquire about the capacity. It's 11.43 US gallons, or 43.27 liters.
The engine that was in the bike when I bought it died an untimely death. In all probability this was due to a spun bearing race at the cam, blocking the oil path and seizing the engine. Since this causes too much damage to repair without extensive time commitment, I ordered a rebuilt engine from Matt Beekers (BMW Boxertoko). All the usual bits were rebuilt. The crankshaft and timing chain were installed by Matt Beekers. The rest was installed by yours truly.
The front brake was replaced some time before I got the bike with a MAP Engineering carrier and disk. It provides tremendous braking power. During the rebuild, I upgraded to a stainless braided hose as well. It makes a small difference in that the handlebar lever travel is reduced and possibly reduces brake fading. Before the trip I had the disc replaced, which to my surprise came with a completely new carbon mounting piece.
One of the last jobs was to get the wheels rebuilt. A new set of rims and bigger than stock spokes compete the picture for the wheels. Not a cheap piece of work and aside from the engine and custom rear frame, the most expensive. The result, as with the other changes, is worth it.
The previous owner mounted a BMW K75 headlight in place of the stock shell. This is a big improvement, as the stock light is about half the diameter. This mounting will not rattle as the original tends to do. The dash lights (LEDs) are incorporated in the headlight shell.
Bike updates (post-2006/07 trip)
After my trip in 2006/07, I made a few changes to the bike. The biggest of these is a new set of bags and the recoating of the rear rack, side stand, center stand and crash bars. Mostly because these items had sustained cosmetic damage from a number of minor crashes. The rear rack needed some work after my crash in the Netherlands and I never quite got around to fixing it right back in Europe. I spent a good day measuring and hammering sundry bits to get it all square again, prior to having it powder coated.
Some minor changes include the removal of the Fiamm horns (the tabs kept self-destructing on rough roads), upgrading the electrical wiring inside the headlight bucket and cleaning out the petcocks. Aside from the bags, everything else was in perfect shape.
The bags I used for the trip, from Touratech, are complete junk in my opinion. The bottoms are not welded but riveted on, so any small dents will cause leaks around the bottom. Also, since the lid seam is a press fit without an overhang, water collects in the seam and gets sucked in when you go through hot and cold cycles, such as during a rainstorm. I never got those bags to seal, even when they were new.
The new bags were designed and built by RMS in Germany. I saw a set of these bags in Pakistan when I met a German couple. They are superior to anything I've seen so far and I was able to custom order the sizes I needed, as well as making some small modifications based on experience. They turned out better than expected.