Here at Speedtracktales the uncovering of the ISDT history has very much raised the editorial opinion on the legendary brand of BMW which included some of the most beautiful works of design artistry as well as playing an important role in the sports development, no more so than the sudden unexpected blip in activity by BMW at the very end of the ISDT period with its Works bikes that led to the cult GS80 trail bike. This blog recalls the launch of the famous works team of 1979 and the bike featured in an article here
BMW In Off-Road Motorcycle Sport
In the final analysis, motor sport participation is a question of available means. In addition there are such abstract terminology concepts as “group-orientated goals” and “product philosophy” and, in the end, common sense.
Thus BMW never even debated developing a machine for Grand Prix racing from the available products. A four-stroke , two-cylinder, boxer engine could never achieve the performance of a highly developed, two-stroke engine. Laws of physics see to that.
But since there are other possibilities for getting in to motorcycle sport beside Grand Prix events, BMW simply looked around. And they could find the answer with no trouble, with in their own history. More than 40 years ago, when the supercharged BMW engine which later became legendary was developed, Munich men felt obliged to offer proof that this was more than a narrow-minded breeding of high V-horsepower for fast tracks. In those days they entered the compressor BMW in the Six Days as well. And BMW was triumphant in the battle with gravel, mud and dusty lanes from the very first.
Times have changed of course. Big machines no longer dominate the overall category of current trials. That honor falls to the super-light machines in the medium and small capacity classes. Therefore a BMW decision to get in to off-road events this year attracted wide attention. H.W. Bönsch, long-time BMW director and member of international motorsport commissions, remarked: “BMW remained faithful to its traditions and didn’t allow itself to be tempted in to giving up a principle which had been recognized as correct and proven over the decades, merely to make a sporting demonstration. BMW could only see the sense of a sporting trials effort when it would show the value of its own construction ideals under the most difficult conditions. And when they could obtain in formation from such sporting experience which could be applied directly to the firm’s production machines”.
For the technicians in Munich’s Hufelandstraße the special attraction of this self-set task, quite apart from sporting enthusiasm, was to use trials events to further systematic development of their motorcycle.
Motorcycles in the large class today weigh 220 to 310 kg (485 – 685 lb.) – with BMW building the lightest of these. They are much too heavy for off-road terrain and quite a bit too heavy for a justifiable minimum of handiness. The goal of the Bavarians was to bring their 800 cc» BMW GS 80 down to a battle weight of 150 kg (330 lb.), to avoid hopelessly overextending a rider physically. They then achieved a good 135 kg (298 lb.) and are proud that this stringent weight reduction, hardly believed possible, can be the basis for success in the “elephant” class.
The BMW Team is entering such machines in the World Championship for trial riders, the Six Days, among other events this year. Aware there is no hope o f an overall victory, they also realize they can enliven the sporting scene while gaining important new knowledge for production motorcycles to come.
BMW GS 80 Off-Road Motorcycle
Capacity: 798 cc. 2 -cylinder boxer engine
Performance: 40.5 kW ( 55 hp)
Torque: 60 Nm ( 6 kpm or 43.4 lb .- ft.)
Compression: 9.3 : 1
2 constant depression carburetors: 9.3 : 1
Exhaust, 2 in to 2, rising behind the engine
Breakerless ignition system
Single-plate, dry clutch
5-speed gearbox with kick starter
Rear wheel drive by shaft
Double loop frame with monoshock rear suspension
Front tire : 3.00 x 21″, Drum brake
Rear tire : 4.50 x 18″ or 5.00 x 17″, Drum brake
Plastic fenders, aluminium tank
Lighting and signal system meeting regulations
Weights & Measurements:
Wheelbase: 1.495 mm (58.9″)
Spring travel front/rear: 270/230 mm (10.6/9.1″)
Weight, road-ready: 138 kg (304 lb.)
Tank capacity: 10 liters (2.64 gal.)
BMW Works Enduro Team Press Pack 1979
Download pdf of the original BMW 12 page presspack including team member biogs