DUAL-SPORT DELIGHT: NORTH EAST CUSTOM’S BMW R1100GS
Most of us are back at the grindstone by now, easing into the year ahead. But while our bodies are at our desks, our minds are elsewhere—like bumbling along a dirt track somewhere magical.
Which is exactly what this BMW R1100GS gets used for. Its owner lives in Sardinia—a stunning Italian island with no shortage of gravel roads and glorious beaches.
When his old GS started looking a little worse for wear, he shipped it over to Padua, on the mainland. There, brothers Diego and Riccardo Coppiello of North East Custom set about reviving it—making a few tasteful changes along the way.
The BMW R1100GS doesn’t hold the same iconic status as the Bavarian marque’s original R80G/S—or the genre-defining R1150GS that came later. But it does mark a few milestones in the ‘GS’ range’s history.
Revealed in 93, the R1100 was powered by BMW’s first air- and oil-cooled boxer, and utilised a new A-frame style ‘Telelever’ front suspension system. Plus, its taller profile—and distinct, beak-like nose fairing—is still echoed in today’s models.
This heritage is not lost on the Coppiello brothers. Rather than completely redesign the old GS, they decided to keep the best bits—and rework the bits that looked a little dated.
“We think that the bike has soul,” says Diego, “and we just figure out how to enhance it, and make it contemporary.”
“For people who do not know the starting point, it looks like a standard bike. All the lines have been retained, but resized and re-proportioned—making it more aggressive and dynamic.”
Diego’s not wrong—it would take a keen eye to spot the differences between this, and a fully stock R1100GS. Especially since North East decided to repaint the GS in its original lime green.
The changes they have made are both subtle and very well judged. The ‘beak’ is one of them: the guys built a complete new nose fairing from fibreglass, opting for a cleaner and more compact effect than stock. The headlight is smaller too; it’s been lifted from an old Honda XL.
Out back, North East shortened the subframe and ditched the BMW’s bulky rear rack. They then made a new, one-piece seat to finish it off.
A fair amount of work also went into restoring and repairing everything all the necessary bits to bring the rest of the bike up to par. And the guys naturally fitted a new set of Continental TKC80 tyres—to help the bike get to those secret beaches.
We would never have pegged the R1100GS as a prime candidate for a resto-mod, but North East Custom have shown us the error of our ways. Excuse us as we grab our passports, and book our tickets to Sardinia.