BMW Concept Lac Rose

Every year the resort of Biarritz revs up for a combination of cool bikes, art, surfing and partying at the Wheels and Waves. Following the unveiling of the BMW Concept Path 22 scrambler there in 2015, this year’s visitors were treated to a first look at another special BMW bike – the Concept Lac Rose – with a uniquely French heritage.

This modern interpretation of an iconic rally bike takes its inspiration from the works BMW desert racers of the mid 1980s as well as the special-edition BMW R 80 G/S series production bike of 1985, yet is based on the phenomenally successful R nineT platform, designed specifically for customization.

In celebration of a period of considerable motorsport success – where Hubert Auriol won the legendary Paris-Dakar rally in 1981 and 1983, with Gaston Rahier also victorious in 1984 and 1985 – BMW decided to produce a limited-edition R 80 G/S Paris-Dakar model.

Launched to capitalize on the string of victories in this toughest of desert rallies, it came with a huge 32-liter fuel tank with integrated knee grips, Alpine White color scheme with Paris-Dakar graphics, an orange single seat, cylinder guards, centre stand and knobbly Michelin T61 tires. Relatively few (2,975) were made and consequently they have always been incredibly sought-after machines.

This series production GS was itself inspired by the HPN-prepared, Marlboro, Elf and Playboy-branded #101 works racer that hard-charging Belgian Gaston Rahier took his second Dakar victory on in 1985. These two iconic bikes have been the inspiration for the latest BMW show bike to come hot on the heels of the R 5 Hommage that was unveiled at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on 20 May.

For BMW Motorrad Head of Design Edgar Heinrich – who was himself involved in the development of the second wave of successful works racers campaigning the Dakar Rally around the turn of the century – the two latest show bikes couldn’t be more different, but have been created with the same amount of passion, skill and enthusiasm – and also by the same core team.

“There was an incredibly high level of detail involved and a specific way of customizing a bike like the R 5 Hommage for the Villa d’Este, but there’s a much more laid-back and relaxed feel to an event like Wheels and Waves, and our latest show bike reflects this,” he says. “The Concept Lac Rose has a completely different attitude and style, it’s another way of paying homage to our motorsport heritage but without taking the obvious GS route.”

Indeed, with the latest-generation liquid-cooled series production GS bikes offering more horsepower and performance than the works racers of the mid-1980s, the Concept Lac Rose show bike (Lac Rose being the spiritual finish point of the Dakar Rally in Africa) is not about top performance or technical wizardry. Instead, it’s about the simple pleasure of going out and having fun riding with friends on a cool road bike with a suggestion of off-road potential – rather than a purpose-built rally replica, as Heinrich explains.

“While the modern liquid-cooled boxer does everything in a top performing way, this bike is more about style. It has been interesting to take a different kind of custom menu to a nineT which explores the possibility of going beyond the tarmac, but not in a hard-core way”, says Heinrich. “Off-road customization is an interesting concept to explore and with this recipe we wanted to bring together the GS and nineT people. And because the Dakar has always been such big news in France we wanted to celebrate its heritage with this definitive French theme for Wheels and Waves.”

Unlike the R 5 Hommage, which was a full customization from the ground up, the Concept Lac Rose is almost exclusively BMW original standard parts, with just slightly geared up suspension. It has a color scheme inspired by the works racer, a modified seat, an enlarged R nineT tank, a specially painted rear frame and tail with rear-mounted toolkit, a nose fairing with road book and trip counter reminiscent of the works racer, color-coded handguards, black two-into-one stubby exhaust, engine protection bars, a bash plate, a number 101 ‘race plate’ and is shod in a pair of TK80 knobblies. The cylinder ‘fins’ pay homage to the 1985 special-edition production R 80 G/S, as do the fork gaitors that are also found on the latest R nineT Scrambler.

Working alongside BMW Motorrad’s design department in the creation of the Concept Lac Rose was former BMW engineer, product tester and racer Laszlo Peres, who was heavily involved in the development of a late 1970s GS 800 competition bike (on which the first series production R 80 G/S would be based) as well as the early works Paris-Dakar rally bikes. Although only a light modification and not a seriously detailed custom build, Edgar Heinrich believes that the Concept Lac Rose will give enthusiasts an idea and appreciation of what can be achieved with imagination and passion for the brand’s rich heritage.

“The Concept Lac Rose gives the suggestion of an easy-going and cool roadster that’s stripped down to the essentials but with typical off-road features that allow you to turn off the asphalt and take a trail to somewhere new. It’s the possibility of discovery and fun with no real boundaries that makes this bike appealing – just like the Wheels and Waves festival.”

In addition to the Concept Lac Rose, the BMW Motorrad design department has also produced a commemorative BMW helmet (based on the GS series helmet) which matches the bike’s color scheme, and a jacket – also painted in the same colors as the show bike – to mark the occasion of the Concept Lac Rose’s unveiling at Wheels and Waves.

Source: BMW Motorrad

Gallery: BMW Concept Lac Rose