BMW R80GS ‘Dirt Island’ by Blitz Motorcycles
Blitz Motorcycles are a great custom outfit based in France; we haven’t got around to covering any of their awesome machines recently, so we were really happy to see this little beauty appear on our radar. It’s a BMW R80GS and it’s been tailored down for a more extreme type of off-roading than it’s donor counterpart could offer. The original R80GS was a perfect dual sport machine in it’s day but this little number, known as the ‘Dirt Island’ has taken the concept a step further.
Although many a custom garage are quick to use the term ‘vintage’, Blitz use the word to describe their builds faithfully by going the extra mile to source proper ‘vintage’ bits and pieces. Wherever possible, they locate and use original parts and machinery, the kind that comes with an irreplaceable and incomparable patina that’s impossible to replicate. This build doesn’t carry the usual battle scars that many Blitz bikes do but we like it all the same.
This donor for this build was a 1984 BMW R80GS and it came all the way from Tahiti to the boy’s garage in Paris, France and it arrived in a sorry state. After a quick assessment – something along the lines of ‘the previous owner must’ve thrashed this to death off-roading around the archipelago!’ – the guys decided to give the R80GS a classic dirt track look, but with a touch of toned down sophistication and class. This is how it panned out.
Like most custom builds, Blitz began with a full tear down and a thorough clean before getting started. The engine was in need of a lot of work, especially because the client wanted the R80GS to be a kick-start only kind of bike, so while they were fully reconditioning the engine (the piston, rings, valves and gaskets) they added in a new TCI AC/CDI ignition system and removed the battery. With the battery removed, the guys also simplified the bike’s electrical wiring and wired in a few of their own garage-made gadgets and mini switches. While the engine was apart, the guys also worked on overhauling the Bing carburetors, finishing them off with K&N air filters and tuning them up nicely.
The frame underwent some minor surgery and was fitted with a new, handmade rear loop that houses a bespoke LED tail light and supports the all new seat, which sits on top. The fabrication didn’t end their though; they guys also handcrafted two new beautiful stainless steel exhaust pipes, tipped with another set of gorgeous, handmade mufflers. The last major change that the R80GS endured was a front wheel swap, which took its rim size down a peg from 21 to 18 inches; both the front and rear are shod with Dunlop K81 tires.
With the engine and frame sorted, Blitz then moved on to do what they do best: add classic parts and make the whole thing look pretty. They began by swapping out the original BMW bars for a set of vintage Triumph bars for better off-road handling, tipping them with a set of pure white grips from Posh. Next, they sourced and mounted a vintage yellow headlight from an old rally car at the front and exchanged the original tank for a slightly more weathered looking tank from a Yamaha DT. In true Blitz style, they mounted the tank as they found it, rather than give it a fresh lick of paint – it’s kind of their signature move that has since been copied a thousand fold but no one ever pulls it off quite like they do.
All that was left to do was give the engine a coating with a high temperature matte black paint and send the frame, forks, engine covers, pegs and all the other bits and pieces off to the powder coaters for a dip in a black gloss finish.
Now, I must confess, I’m a bit of a Blitz fan boy and a sucker for the R80GS, so expect to see a few more of their builds being covered in the future!