BMW has been trying new things over the past decade or so. We’ve got the new maxi-scooters, the S1000 RR superbike, and the company is getting ready for an electric future. Meanwhile, the company’s meat-and-potatoes is the GS series, from the mini 310 to the big R1250.
That means attention has slowly been drawn away from BMW’s sport tourers. It’s too bad, because the current R1250 RT and R1250RS are excellent motorcycles, packed with technology and lots of real-world usability. In particular, the RS model is heir to generations of BMW’s reputation for building sporty bikes also capable of long miles—bikes like this 2004 BMW R1100S, for sale in Utah.
A sporty oilhead
The R1100S hit BMW’s lineup in 1998, a few years after the R1100RS was introduced. The R1100RS was aimed squarely at touring, but the new S model had more sporting intentions. There was a fairing on the upper half of the bike; not exactly a full fairing, the flat twin cylinders made that difficult. However, it was more aggressive than anything else in BMW’s lineup at that time, even if it didn’t look like a Ninja.
It didn’t rev like a Ninja, either. The R1100R used BMW’s fuel-injected R259 engine with oil-cooled cylinder heads (hence the “oilhead” nickname). Hydraulic clutch came standard, and a six-speed gearbox. Max output was 98 horsepower at 8,400 rpm. That’s more than the R1100GS and RS models made; higher-compression pistons and other trickery set the S apart as the sportiest of this lot.
Still, it’s roughly 40 horsepower less than a contemporary Kawasaki ZX-9. The R1100R was indeed used at racetracks, but it was destined for spec class or ‘Twins” racing, not open-class superbike wars. Even a 600 would show the R1100R its heels on-track.
That was fine, though. Not everyone wants a peaky litrebike, with grabby power on the street, even if they do want a sporty machine. For some riders, real-world usability is always king. A healthy 72 pound-feet of torque meant you had the grunt necessary for back-road blasting, or even fun on a twisty track.
Like its progenitor, the R1100RS, the S model had Telelever front suspension (rebound-adjustable) and Paralever rear suspension (preload-adjustable, rebound-adjustable), another nod towards real-world usability. This suspension was derived from the GS series, but lightened and tuned for street use.
The Telelever was supposed to reduce front end dive, which theoretically resulted in more efficient cornering. The system has its fans and detractors, for sure, just like the Paralever, which was intended to reduce rear-end squat under acceleration.
The R1100S had an unusual engine for a sportbike, and an unusual suspension. The braking was quite sensible, with dual discs up front and Brembo four-pot calipers. BMW was happy to stick with what works (single disc in rear, of course). ABS was an option, which was still noteworthy back in the mid-1990s.
The R1100S was most notably distinguished from the RS model by its bodywork, and its riding position. The S model had clip-on handlebars, the first BMW ever equipped that way from the factory. It was intended to be capable of both all-day touring as well as aggressive hoonery, and testers of the day seemed to think it worked. The R1100S had a reasonable seven-year run in the BMW lineup, eventually scrapped for the R1200S. BMW liked the machine enough that it also built the R1100S Sport and BoxerCup Replika variants, aimed more towards track action.
Twenty-five years later
Roughly a quarter-century since its debut, the R1100S is a bit of a historical anomaly now. The mid-’90s had the Honda VFR800, Suzuki RF900R, Ducati ST2 and a few other bikes in the “sporty sport-touring” range. That market sub-segment has basically been eliminated in favour of adventure bikes; Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000 might be the closest equivalent today.
The basic idea behind these machines was good, though. If you want a reliable classic bike, a used R1100S could be a great bet—especially if it’s been carefully set up for touring.
This 2004 model, for sale in ADVrider’s Flea Market sub-forum, seems to qualify. It only has 28,000 miles on the odometer, and it sounds like it’s led a relatively easy life as a vacation bike in Germany. Now shipped back to the US, the owner (inmate @Tuff Tunica, founder of MotoSkiveez) has gone over the bike carefully before sale. As per the ad:
Since I got the bike back home I have changed the oil, (Liquid Moly 10W-60) transmission fluid, rear drive fluid, (RedLine lightweight shock proof) bled the brakes (yes both systems for the servo assist brakes) and the clutch. (Pentosin DOT4), adjusted the valves and upgraded the fuel injectors. The bike runs like a Swiss clock. Tires are Michelin Pilot Road 5 with about 50% life left.
The ad also has a long list of add-on accessories: Ohlins front and rear suspension, Remus race exhaust, Kaoko throttle controller, R&D bar risers, Suburban Machinery lowered pegs, OEM hard cases keyed to the ignition, a 46-litre GIVI top case, BMW Touring windscreen with MRA wind deflector, heated grips and more. This bike was built to pound out long miles, and by the looks of the odometer reading, it’s got plenty of life left in it. Remember, these oilheads will run forever if taken care of.
Asking price is $5,500 US. See the ad here, and pm the owner if you need more info.
Photos: @Tuff Tunica