On Yer Bike: BMW R 1250 GS (Option 719)

FMM Curator Wayne looks at the world of motorcycle customising and samples a BMW with a Motorrad Option 719 pack…


I have been fortunate to be able to ride a lot of different motorcycles over the years since I started the On Yer Bike feature, and I’ve noticed in many of the stories that there is a very strong personal link with the different owners and their motorcycles. It’s almost as if the bikes become an extension of their persona, such as last month’s story of Rhonda the Honda, a motorcycle that was lovingly named by its owner. Then, of course, there is Captain America, the Harley-Davidson Chopper from the ‘Easy Rider’ movie, the legend behind its creation must be one of the most recognisable customising jobs known in the world of motorcycling. Over time even I have named bikes and customised one or two motorcycles.

In reality, motorcycles have been customised almost since the first turn of the wheel, with the first recorded special being built as early as 1902 by Harold Karslake. The machine was known as the Dreadnaught. Karslake had a need to go faster and customised his motorcycles for racing, which led to many of his ideas seen at the race tracks finding their way onto road-going motorcycles. The 1926 AJS 350 I rode  in this year’s D-J Commemorative Run was a custom creation brought into existence by Cranley Jarman in his mission to win the historic road race.

All these modifications, additions or, in some cases, deletions of parts from a standard road bike would later give us names like Cut-down, Bopper, Chopper, Café-racer and, more recently, Street Fighter – and that’s only some of the better known customisation styles, most of which you can still find being done to motorcycles to this very day. In fact, it has become a booming industry around the world, with the likes of Craig Rodsmith, Diamond Atelier and Auto Fabrica among the many top international builders. The industry has become so big that even the leading brands and OEM’s have sat up and taken notice, providing aftermarket custom parts to their clients.

BMW Motorrad has taken this concept seriously and named it ‘Option 719’. The code 719 has been used by BMW for any special or custom parts produced in-house for its clients, and has actually been in existence since 1923. This option gives the customer the opportunity to personalise his/her BMW with the confidence that the modifications will not only create a one-off, but will still carry full factory backing.

The BMW R 1250 GS (Option 719) that I was privileged to ride late last year was the 40th anniversary edition, finished in the more common black and yellow colour scheme, and in true custom style comes with the nickname ‘Bumble-bee’ #SpiritOfGS.

The R 1250 GS is still every inch a very capable adventure motorcycle with just that something different in the style department. It uses the ultra-reliable 1254cc ShiftCam boxer engine that produces 100 kW at 7 750 r/min. The billet aluminium cam boxes are stunning, finished in a high-gloss black-and-yellow paintwork with natural aluminium detail that catches the eye. The other stunning extras are gold anodized spoked rims, gold anodized handlebars, ‘GS’ yellow-stitched into the black saddle, yellow hand guards, and the unmistakable ‘40 years edition’ graphics.  Everything just looks and fits so well, which only adds to an already remarkable motorcycle.

What I did find a little over the top was the billet aluminium mirrors, but this is just my personal opinion and I totally understand that this was a press fleet motorcycle displaying just a sample of what options are available. Believe me, this GS only scratched the surface of what is in the Option 719 catalogue…


(NB: Rhonda the Honda and Captain America are both currently on display in Hall D.)