What Do You Want To Know? BMW R100CS Last Edition

In Blog by AbhiLeave a Comment

I alluded to this in a post a few months ago, but I recently came in possession of a BMW R100CS Last Edition. I realized that I hadn’t gotten into this after a commenter on my Bimota Tesi 3D post asked, “how about a classic bike next?” Oops. So, here’s how it started!

I swear I ride old stuff every once in a while – like the ’68 Honda S90 I bought to teach Vy how to ride!

I’ve had a hankering for a BMW airhead for over a decade, though garage space has always been an issue. But sometimes, an opportunity presents itself and you just have to go it with it. In December, reader Gary C. (who hosted Vy and I during a road trip and again for a weekend trip to see some hot air balloons – part 1/part 2) mentioned that he had a friend who needed to sell his Last Edition, and I thought that would be a fun addition to the condition as I’ve always been amused by the history of that bike:

I’m a little embarrassed that the only photo I have of the sidecover is after I rode in the rain.

In the early 80s, BMW decided that the core of their big-bike motorcycle production would revolve around the water-cooled inline engine that became known as the “Flying Brick” as it could produce much more horsepower than the boxer motor and thus could better compete with the offerings from Japan. Who knows how long it took for them to make that decision, but it sure seemed abrupt to the public: in a letter dated March 6th, 1984, Jean-Pierre Bailby (VP at BMW North America) gave “BMW Enthusiasts” a heads up as to what was coming, though with hindsight it’s amusing to see that it ends with the line of: “This is definitely the last opportunity to own new, one (or more) of these classics 1000cc flat-twin BMWs.”

Interestingly, BMW intended these bikes to represent the end of the 1,000 cc boxer, but they planned on keeping the 650cc and 800cc bikes going. The 740 Last Edition bikes were destined exclusively for the US and were split between the R100 (75 examples), R100CS (175 examples, it was called the R100S in California), R100RS (250 examples), and R100RT (240 examples). In period advertising, BMW’s marketers kept up their usual buzzwords of reliability, handling, and torque, but for the Last Edition they obviously hammered exclusivity as well. “There’s a less romantic but equally compelling reason to visit your BMW dealer soon.: the investment value of a Last Edition BMW 1000cc. This machine’s painstaking production has always meant limited supply and high resale value. What do you imagine will happen now that production has reached zero?”

So why do I think that the letter above was amusing? Well, US riders pushed back hard. The general consensus was “duh, we know the boxer motor doesn’t make a ton of power, but we appreciate the reliability, torque, and how easy it is to work on.” A lot of boxer fans weren’t interested in the inline motor that BMW was betting their future on, and may have moved to a different manufacturer for their next bike. BMW clearly wasn’t expecting that, but they thankfully heard the complaints and decided to bring back the big boxers. Of course, people who bought Last Edition bikes did not take too kindly to this, as it ruined a good chunk of the collectability!

How did BMW decided to make it up to Last Edition owners? They offered them a free System helmet (made by Schuberth – something like this). As you can probably guess, owners did not care much for the peace offering, but they didn’t have much recourse.

As you may see in the bottom right corner of the above ad, the Last Edition of the CS was upgraded with bags as well as both the solo (sport) and dual seat. Thankfully, the seller of my bike still had both seats. It came to me with the dual seat on, and the bodywork on the solo seat is a little yellowed (presumably from decades of use). I thought about switching to the solo seat because I prefer the looks but Vy has let me know that of all the bikes I currently own, this is her favorite to be on the back of right now (thanks to the backrest) so I’m keeping it as a 2-up for the short term future.

It also came with a gigantic Don Vesco Rabid Transit fairing, and I hate that. Thankfully the seller had the OEM bikini fairing, so Part 2 of this story (which will be about making the bike “mine”) will include ditching that boat anchor and the tank cover, among other things.

One of the few photos I got from the seller before I decided to buy it.

Anyone want to buy a Rabid Transit fairing for cheap?

On to Part 2!