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The BMW R80G/S in 1980: the first motorcycle featuring the ‘monolever’

The BMW R80G/S (German for ‘Gelände/Strasse’) came on the market in 1980. It was the first motorcycle to feature the monolever system, with the cardan shaft tunnel also acting as a one-sided ‘chain’ stay.

This tunnel had a box profile, which allowed BMW to claim that the torsional stiffness was even greater than with a double rear fork. Further advantages of this monolever were lower weight and easy rear wheel change. This would have been a big advantage in the enduro motorcycle sport, but it had not yet been applied.


The R80G/S was absolutely not intended as a competition machine. In the field the machine could not compare with real Enduros or even off-road bikes. But this motorcycle did made it possible to participate in the famous Paris-Dakar rally. BMW drove the rally on modified standard machines, which initially had 800 cc, but were later replaced by engines of nearly 1000 cc.

BMW R80G/S offroad
Get your poster of the R80G/S in the shop.

‘Reise Enduro’

BMW positioned the R80 G/S machine as ‘Reise enduro’ (Travel enduro), a heavy all-road motorcycle with excellent travel qualities. This was proved by this motorcycle, because despite the more heavily profiled tires, it quickly became known as one of the best steering BMW’s ever.
The R80 G/S was made from 1980 to 1987. In that period, 21,864 pieces were produced.
The G/S was available in two versions: the ‘Alpineweiß’ with a white tank, white side shields and a red saddle, and a blue version with a blue tank and side shields and a black saddle; the ‘Dunkelblau’.

The machine actually had two successors: initially the R80 GS (without the ‘slash’) and at the request of various armed forces (including the Danish and Dutch) a lighter model was made, the BMW R65G/S.

R80 G/S Paris-Dakar

After Gaston Rahier’s victory in the 1984 Dakar rally, BMW released a ‘Dakar’ version in the same year; the BMW R80 G/S Paris-Dakar. This motorcycle had a larger tank (32 liter), a single seat, with a luggage rack and Paris-Dakar decals. The tires were Michelin T-61 off-road tires which had a heavier profile than the ones commonly used. At the same time, a conversion kit was also supplied, so any existing R80G/S could be converted to this ‘P-D’ version. ◁

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