Category: Automakers

Prince Who Loves Dirt

2023
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Prince Who Loves Dirt
Prince Who Loves Dirt
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Will the alpine rock come to cry on the shoulder to the Ural mountain? Will one great nation ever understand the soul of another great nation? We have a step from the asphalt - already black soil, turned off the avenue - a swamp … Do we understand the inevitable craving of the Germans for dirt? Try to live in a country where every blade of grass is registered, a passport is issued for each hare, paths in the forest are asphalted and marked, and for a discarded cigarette butt - three years of severe execution. Only the desire to slip in the Russian mud and African sand moved more than fifty years ago Guderian and Rommel guys. They didn’t understand them, they didn’t let them in, they pressed me on the neck. (In this place we start a mean tear, but just in case we check whether the weapon is removed from the fuse.)

Does it need to be reminded that BMW motorcycles were also a faithful companion of Hitler’s warriors during these off-road voyages? For its rare endurance and cross-country army model R75 even earned the nickname "Sahara." And although the conquerors were pushed back onto the dull concrete of their desert autobahns, the Germans' craving for dirt did not cease. That's what it means - hunting is more than captivity! It would seem that for off-road there is no worse motorcycle-loner than the opposition! The heavy, clumsy cylinders get in the way … But in every herd there is a black sheep who will still manage to find a juicy plot. In the camp of BMW ministers, such a sheep was Laszlo Perez, a test driver. Not only that, he dared in his own time to build an off-road motorcycle weighing only 142 kg - this is with an 800-cubic meter something! So he also managed to take it second place in the 1978 German championship!

Here the top of the concern could not stand it and showed that it would always find a worthy answer to the machinations of individual upstarts! A year later, a whole factory team rushed to the German off-road tracks - all on motorcycles built on the model of the Peresovsky samopal. Opponents, whom the German onslaught caught by surprise, could not resist - and the BMW team took in its class all the gold medals, not only locally, but also in the international “six-day”.

I must say that all these mud-mixing games didn’t take place at the best times for the Bavarians. At the end of the 70s, the brand exchange rate sharply went up against the dollar - and the American market, the main one for BMW motorcycles, began to lose interest, and therefore profits were instantly replaced by losses. What would we do with a sports team in such circumstances? That's right, they would have dispersed the riders with the technicians to a hairdryer, the motorcycles would have been cut (give the scrap metal to the country!), Or they would have put someone to be witty for squandering public funds … For some reason, the Germans didn’t go along such a simple path (cutting hens, bringing golden eggs - this is apparently our exclusive national fun). On the contrary, the new leaders of the concern (they still dispersed the old ones - for the sake of fear) seized on the off-road idea and, moreover, laid it at the basis of the future production car.

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I take off my hat - the solution was amazingly correct! But then it seemed suicidal to many. Indeed, in the 70s the canon of a dual-use motorcycle was already formed: good off-road abilities, mediocre road manners, minimal weight, the width of a greyhound dog and a complete neglect of comfort. It would seem that the opposition is unable to fulfill any of these conditions (well, if you try very hard, then comfort, of course, can be ruined …). But studies conducted by BMW have shown that a typical dual-purpose motorcycle driver travels only 2% of the way in real off-road conditions, and 98% on roads. And that there is an acute shortage of a motorcycle on the market for those who like to travel long distances and do not really care what degree of lousiness is the coating under the wheels.

The first concept withstood the test in January 1980: by riding two prototypes, BMW spokesman Kali Hufstadt and journalist Hans-Peter Layht made a 2, 000-kilometer throw across Ecuador - from the Amazon jungle to mountain passes 5, 000 m high. People and cars survived ! Now it was possible to show the novelty to the public.

… Journalists who gathered on September 1, 1980 in the French city of Avignon, were ready for a sensation. But not the same! They saw motorcycles impossible simply by definition - large, well, very large enduros. Two cylinders! 800 sms! As much as 55 hp Where so much? And a monstrous mass for an SUV of those times: 167 kg! However, when journalists got to the helm, skepticism instantly evaporated and gave way to euphoria: yes, this BMW R80G / S lives up to its index - Gelande und Strasse (“off-road and road”)!

The recognition was complete and unconditional. Conquered by obedience, rare for the big motorcycle of those times and unprecedented comfort for enduro, many magazines called the new BMW the best motorcycle of the year. Buyers did not disappoint either: in the first year they purchased 6, 630 cars - twice as much as was planned.

Surprisingly, the novelty was managed to be created by minimal means. The main units - the engine and the frame - the designers, having slightly altered, were taken from serial road motorcycles. The main technical innovation was the Monolever rear suspension - with a one-way pendulum, which served as a casing for the driveshaft and cantilevered wheel mounting. This solution saved 2 kg of weight and greatly facilitated the replacement of the rear wheel. And how journalists were sophisticated! For them, it was a matter of honor to issue some kind of heading like “One-legged Pathfinder”.

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Another unusual innovation of the BMW R80G / S is the disc front brake unprecedented in off-road vehicles. It was believed that dirt would instantly stick to the disc and turn into grease. Fears were exaggerated: the perforation of the disc leveled the threat of the mud film.

For the sake of a red word, we could write that this is such and such a veteran of the army of Rommel, entrenched in the BMW test department, inspired the chefs on an African adventure. But to those who invented the hydra of writing, we will reveal the unsightly truth: the Germans … overslept. Other unrequited off-road lovers burst forth - the French. Hubert Oriol, who is from BMW France, stormed the Sahara sands on a self-made dog remade from a regular BMW road. The off-road novelty brought him fame: in 1981, Oriol drove to Dakar the first of motorcyclists. A year later, he again caught luck by the tail - already as part of the factory team. And in 1983 and 1984, the first at the finish in Dakar was another BMW recruit - the world champion in motocross Belgian Gaston Raye.

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