Fifteen years ago I bought a ’70s Honda CB750 ‘barn find’ for $200, it even came with a Haynes manual and a box of spares. But sadly those days are over, and classic motorcycles have only soared in price and desirability. So, for some, the idea of paying a fortune only to cut that bike up to build a custom doesn’t make a lot of sense. Don’t worry, it always will to us, but there is an alternative. A full factory restoration and such creations are becoming more common by the day. But there are restorations and then there is the work of BMW master craftsman Normen Senger. Born with fuel flowing through his veins, the German mechanic has rebuilt this 1981 BMW R80 G/S into a truly stunning Paris Dakar factory replica.

The same year Normen was born, 1971, his parents opened a petrol station just down the road from the enormous Frankfurt International Airport. Soon after they added mopeds like the Vespa range and by 1978, the family-run business was a Ducati dealership too. But in 1981, a decision was made to become a sole BMW dealership and for the family to dedicate themselves to their national brand. His father wanted to ensure an excellent education for both his sons, and Normen went to Opel to do his apprenticeship. But like his older brother Heiko, he returned to the family business and undertook the full suite of BMW training, from technician to master craftsman.

Business boomed and while Heiko specialised in the commercial side of the business with his parents, Normen took on the role of lead technician and would build customs and special restorations for the Motorrad dealership. As lead mechanic he won the BMW International BoxerCup with Andy Hofmann in 2003 and now with his parents having retired, the two brothers run the operation. But true connoisseurs of BMW motorcycles don’t just come for the new bikes, they seek out Normen to complete one-off restorations, and this example currently for sale through our friends at New York’s Moto Borgotaro, is simply one of the best we’ve ever seen.

The BMW R80 G/S was first launched in 1980 and just a year later the Bavarian became an icon when Hubert Auriol rode a race-prepared example to victory in the Paris Dakar. In 1984 BMW released the most desirable example offered to the public a genuine Dakar race replica, complete with the long-range fuel tank and the beautiful arctic white paint and M Sport colours. To start his creation, Normen picked up a 1981 G/S that it appears someone had converted to a Dakar special and in all honesty, it was a damn fine looking motorcycle.

But, again, there are restorations and then there is the work of a master and it wasn’t long before Normen had the bike stripped down into a million pieces. From here he would use his decades of experience, hundreds of hours and only genuine parts to build the R80 to levels that define pure perfection. Having been honoured by BMW Motorrad with “classic” certification, it also gives him access to the best NOS parts. The engine was the first major piece to undergo a rebuild and not only was the motor completely disassembled, but so was the gearbox and full driveline.

Every single part is inspected thoroughly and then it’s determined whether it simply needs cleaning, repairing or replacing with a new part. But it is not just the pieces that form this puzzle, it’s the way they are put together. The gearbox is meticulously rebuilt, with vernier calipers and a micrometre used to ensure that everything is within a Bees willy of being in spec. The clutch disc is replaced and before a new one is installed, Sachs spline-specific grease is used to pre-lube the hub and input shaft, it’s a small detail sure, but it’s also how you ensure that this engine will last a literal lifetime of abuse.

The bottom end is completely re-balanced and the entire engine is built literally better than new, no man on an assembly line had this level of skill nor dedication to perfection, and they were still bloody brilliant! Having sorted the engine, the frame and the shaft drive equipped swingarm are painted in the factory black and the rear drive is also rebuilt. One detail that really shows the quality of the build is the wheels, again, this perhaps a small detail, but the hubs look better than new, bearings are replaced, spokes are the latest and greatest and everything from the brakes to the bolts that hold them in place, look good enough to eat from.

The wiring loom looked good to me, but not to Normen, so this too is all refreshed and look at those switch blocks and the instrument cluster, forty years old and yet looking a million dollars. Which is the only way to describe the Paris Dakar bodywork. The big fuel tank gives the G/SPD its distinctive look, but those huge guards front and rear give you an idea of just how capable this machine really is on any surface you care to name. The solo seat with luggage rack keeps the rally race vibe going, and the bike is also supplied with a standard sized tank and seat, which are finished in the famous Dakar colours.

This is a motorcycle where the photos really do the talking, as Normen Senger shows us what a true first class restoration looks like. And if you love what you see, Moto Borgotaro can sell you this dream, no matter where in the world you live. As a factory motorcycle it was brilliant when new, as a classic restored by the best in the business, it’s a work of art that is sure to pull on the heartstrings of those nostalgic for the golden era of that great off-road race.

[ Moto Borgotaro ]