A legend was born 35 years ago this month when BMW tested its first prototype production GS model in Ecuador in January 1980.
The German manufacturer chose Ecuador due to its huge diversity of terrains, road types, climates and altitudes in a relatively small geographical area.
The trip was inspired by the motto “from the rainforest to the endless ice” and the bikes had to prove their ability in extreme climate and road conditions – the route took the riders from the hot and humid Amazon basin up to 5000m above sea level to the glaciers of the Andes, with the icy, thin air. Both the men and their machines survived this massive tour with just minor bumps and bruises.
The BMW engineers’ development work had paid off. By that autumn, just 21 months after the initial approval of the concept, BMW’s first production enduro was ready to be released to the public. The bike combined parts from the R80 road bike with a lighter rear end and larger front wheel for off-road performance.