BMW R1100S


An in-line four cylinder (v-twin or v4 occasionally), lots of revs and telescopic forks; the staple ingredients for a modern sports bike. Sure you have your occasional oddity but generally all bikes built to go fast stick to a certain recipe.

The more my riding buddies don’t like a certain bike, the more I’m drawn to it. Not sure why but it’s usually what happens and the more something mechanical stands out from a crowd the more I like it. So when I was given an R1100s to sell for a family member who was overseas I took the only logical option and bought it for myself. Sure it wasn’t running and had been stored in a less than weather tight shed on the coast for a few years, but how could I resist a bike that makes you weak at the knees when you’re in the shed with it (admittedly, the only reason it made me weak at the knees was because I’d just hit them on the protruding cylinder heads but that’s beside the point). It didn’t follow the traditional sports bike mould; it was slightly exotic (in a German way) and sounded like a light aircraft when rung out to its car-like 8000rpm rev limiter.

Launched in 1999 the R1100s held the title of the fastest boxer engined BMW (which is kind of like saying you’re the smartest kid in the special maths class) until the HP2 was launched in 2007. It was fitted with BMW’s stupid indicator switches and genius, single shock Telelever front end and Paralever rear end, meaning no front end dive under braking and on-the-fly shock adjustments. The R100S had a ridiculously high seat height due to the high suspension needed to stop the carbon clad cylinder head covers dragging on the ground during cornering. Like all air-cooled flat twins, the engine had a penchant for drinking a bit of oil when used ‘spiritedly’. The up-side of this was the noise that came from the Remus exhaust system (which cost almost as much as I paid for the bike). It was a mix of Subaru WRX, light aircraft and old school single cylinder.

I never did get around to getting the R1100S on a track but it made the handling made for a laugh on some of Australia’s best riding roads (the Great Alpine Highway, Mt Beauty etc) and occasionally I regret selling the big old tractor for a newish ZX10….occasionally.


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