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ADV NewsA BMW R80 Built For A Cross-Continental Journey Through Africa

A BMW R80 Built For A Cross-Continental Journey Through Africa

This custom classic airhead is ready to roam the vast landscapes of Africa.

Published on 01.25.2021

During his 168-day, 20,000 mile journey from New York to the tip of Argentina, Matias Corea had a lot of time to consider what modifications he would like to make to his stock BMW R80 G/S. Now, with his sights set on an even longer ride from Spain to South Africa, the Barcelona-born bike builder has taken all the lessons he learned on his first trek to build the ‘ultimate adventure airhead’ he’d envisioned.

“After 168 continuous days on the road, you really get a feel for a motorcycle. Riding 20,000 miles on all types of roads, I knew what this bike was capable of and its limitations,” says Matias.

The result, a stunning, Dakar-inspired adventure bike, dubbed ‘Myth 001’ to mark the debut of Corea’s budding custom adventure bike enterprise, that is pretty much unrecognizable from its original identity as a 1983 BMW R80ST.

BMW R80 bike build by Matias Corea


Thanks to its simplicity and ease of repair, the use of a BMW 80’s-era airhead as a platform was never in question. “Every element on this bike was vetted in regards to how easy it would be to repair or replace anywhere,” he says. “That mindset changed my perspective on what is a cool choice and what is a good choice.”

Firstly, he knew he wanted more power and torque, though not for the usual feel-good reasons. After traveling through the Americas he realized how acceleration relates to safety, especially on the chaotic Central and South American streets and highways. 

The stock flat twin was completely rebuilt resulting in a jump in capacity from 797cc to 1001cc, with output increased from 50 at the rear hub to 72 hp at the rear wheel. The heads were modified to handle new, oversized inlet and exhaust valves, while the crankshaft, rods, high compression pistons and flywheel were all rebalanced for a smooth, fast-revving throttle response. These high performance upgrades called out for larger carbs, which Matias answered by installing 40mm Bings fed via an open air box. The classically-styled exhaust is from Germany’s Siebenrock.

Because Matias was looking for better handling and stiffness from the bike he had a variety of reinforcement plates welded to the frame while rotating the subframe forward and incorporating a rear luggage rack from Hepco-Becker. A one-off swingarm that’s 4-inches longer than stock works in tandem with a custom built Wilbers shock. 

BMW R80 bike build by Matias Corea

Front suspension is handled by an open chamber WP fork that supplies a hearty 250mm (9.4 inches) of travel. The 80s-era front brake was replaced with a modern 320mm, 4-piston caliper Brembo, while the rear drum brake was preserved, but flipped vertically in an effort to protect the mechanism from errant debris. 

The front rim is a 21-inch Takasago Excel with heavy-duty stainless spokes rotating on a Talon aluminum hub.  The R80’s stock rear hub was modified so it could be laced to a matching 18-inch Excel rim. Mitas E-07 dual sport tires finish off the package. 

BMW R80 bike build by Matias Corea

Every adventure rider knows more fuel is better and Matias went full XL with a 11.3 gallon tank from HPN, the company that built the original 80’s BMW Dakar bikes he became obsessed with as a boy, watching the original Paris-Dakar Rally come through his city in Spain. As a cool touch, a sliver of the tank was left unpainted, allowing the fuel level to be checked visually. 

An Acerbis fairing houses the RS’s original gauges as well as a USB port and custom switches, including one that activates a dual curve ignition system, which can be switched on to retard timing in the event that low-quality fuel creates dangerous pinging, a very likely circumstance when you’re traveling through developing countries.  

BMW R80 bike build by Matias Corea

The tall, wide handlebar is from Magura while hand guards are Acerbis and the mirrors are classic BMW. The bike’s turn signals and brake lights are also from BMW, as are the crash guards, which are finished with Baja Design S1 LED auxiliary lights.

The luggage Matias chose for the build are the same bags he used on his first journey: real-world ready Hepco-Becker aluminum-sided Xplorer panniers and a duffle. He describes the system as robust, easy to install and remove each day and all he would ever need for overlanding. 

BMW R80 bike build by Matias Corea
BMW R80 bike build by Matias Corea

The bike’s minimalist livery was created by Robbie Nigl of Peach Pit Motorcycle Painting in New Hampshire. And yeah, it looks amazing, but the coolest thing about this one-off adventure bike is its near future. Instead of posing in some window or on a roadshow, Myth-001 is headed out on the adventure for which it was created: a 22,000 mile trip from Barcelona, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. 

On that journey Matias will put his creation to the truest test, and we’re looking forward to the outcome. Either he will return to Brooklyn with a totally new design in mind, or Myth 001 will have passed muster and you and I will have the option to own 002 and 003. Either way, the stories and photos will be worth following along. 

Follow Matias’ creations on Instagram and

Photos by Ryan Handt / Video by Johnny Puetz

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

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7 thoughts on “A BMW R80 Built For A Cross-Continental Journey Through Africa

  1. Pingback: A BMW R80 Built For A Cross-Continental Journey Through Africa - ADVENTURE & OVERLAND MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL

  2. Looks awesome. Also looks like riders with less than 36″ of inseam should not forget to bring a stepladder to get up there 🙂

  3. Pingback: A BMW R80 Built For A Cross-Continental Journey Through Africa – Bikers Connection

  4. The trend in adv bikes lately is lighter and simpler. Can’t imagine why BMW couldn’t build a lighter Euro5 compliant R800GS. Perhaps with only ABS, and without ride-by-wire and other complex (read:heavy) items. Moto Guzzi can do it….why not BMW?

  5. Pingback: Chasing Light: New REV’IT! Moto Adventure Video Series Launches | Vacation Inspiration


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