Whether you did it physically or virtually, walking the halls of this year’s EICMA trade show, it was clear that the adventure section of the market is where the big things are happening. You have to go back more than thirty years to the Dakar wars to find a time when manufacturers were pouring so much money and marketing into the adventure sector. And front and centre of the fight and claiming many scalps was the all-conquering BMW GS. So if you have a hankering for some off-road fun, but like your bikes with an incredible level of custom craftsmanship, have we got the bike for you. The boys at Stile Italiano are back with a 1991 BMW R100GS that adds a whole lot of Bauhaus to the very capable Bavarian for the ultimate ‘crossover’ machine.
The BMW GS range has evolved from a reliable dual sport motorcycle into an extraordinary piece of technology that can take you anywhere and all but serve you up your morning coffee. From Dakar wins to taking Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman up, down and around, the model range has more than earned its exceptional reputation. So for Gianluca, Cristian and the team at Stile Italiano, they felt it was worthy of its turn for one of their very special builds. Past black and gold super customs have been everything from a Norvin and Triton, to a Laverda 750SF and Moto Guzzi Le Mans 850; a group in which the GS very much belongs.
On the hunt for the right donor and the R100GS seemed like the perfect choice, being the most powerful and capable of the truly analogue models. With the BMW rolled into their Padua-based workshop, the bike was stripped back to the bare frame and absolutely every part of the bike would be rebuilt, replaced or custom created. The chassis came in for extensive modifications, with an all-new slim line subframe fabricated. The swingarm pivot points have been beefed up, the headstock modified and the rear shock mount has been engineered to cop endless punishment and still look trick as hell passing the shock unit itself through the new subframe.
To get things rolling, the suspension needed to come in for a big overhaul and the team loved the Ohlins forks that could be spec’d for the big Triumph Scrambler. So it was over to the catalogue of the big O to order a set of FG424 43mm black USD units. These are slotted through a Triumph lower clamp and a custom upper. Billet machined risers hold a set of phat bars and they’ve been kitted out with all of the best pieces from Brembo, Motogadget and Domino. The rear end is a combination of BMW’s brilliant paralever system that is controlled by an Ohlins STX shock that is designed especially for the job.
To show just how serious the guys are about the riding side of things, the hubs are rebuilt and laced to tubeless spec 21in and 17in rims, wrapped up in Pirelli Scorpion Rally rubber. Now work could begin on the incredible monocoque body that is a signature of the Italian builders and takes an enormous amount of R&D to get just right. There is so much more than looks alone to take into consideration, with fuel capacity, seat height, ergonomics and steering angle all having to be factored in. With the tank at the centre, it sculpts back to the seat unit with the flowing lines of a beautiful woman, before ending in a smoothed-out tailpiece.
Forward of the tank, things slope gently down to allow for maximum steering input, before banking up sharply to create the front number plate. It’s here that the first of the accessories help to show off just how good the metal work is, with an offset Hella light shining the way. The tail light is small and flush fit, with a machined filler cap and an integrated Motogadget Chronoclassic speedo all part of the design. Keen eyes will also notice the rear shock adjuster brilliantly on display and the seat was handmade in-house before the signature paint scheme was brilliantly laid down.
At the heart of every R series motorcycle is of course that distinctive boxer twin, but few have ever looked this damn good. The new valve covers and top cover ensure that the metal work is picture perfect and the paint and file-finished fins are absolutely stunning. But what really adds to it all is the horsepower hop-up. The under stressed factory 1000cc engine always has room for more and a set of Mikuni 40mm carbs improves both fuelling and throttle response.
The intakes are a pair of hand turned velocity stacks, with a very short runner and they are cleverly screened off with mesh; foam filters are an easy slip on. The ignition to comes in for an upgrade, with the old Bosch kit replaced with a 21st-century tuneable electronic system.
Stile always does something special with their exhaust systems and this build would be no different, with the desire to keep the mass low and centralised. To achieve this a perfectly bent-up pair of stainless headers run below the engine, protected by a bash plate, and then merge into a box muffler. The design is from close partner Virex Exhausts and exits from a side pipe on the same side as the single-sided swingarm, for perfect symmetry. Also, capturing the eye are the polished custom mounts and linkages for the Tarozzi rearsets.
This really is the ultimate crossover machine, it wouldn’t look out of place in a museum and yet has all the fruit to conquer any terrain you care to throw its way.
[ Stile Italiano ]