BMW’s bestselling GS range owes its popularity to the R1150GS. Sure, the R80G/S is the granddaddy of all adventure bikes and the R1100GS sold in scores—but it was the R1150GS that really took the GS brand mainstream. The thing is, it hasn’t been in production for 16 years, and that means it’s getting harder to find tidy second hand examples.
The owner of this 2003-model BMW R1150GS got lucky though; it had very little mileage when he bought it, and had been well looked after. But the plan was never to leave it stock, so it went straight to Toma Customs’ workshop in Brussels, Belgium.
Shop founder Thomas Jeukens explains that most projects kick off with an extensive courtship period, so that the team can get familiar with their client’s personality and tastes. But this client already has two Toma bikes in his garage—so the crew already knew the score.
“He likes minimalist, sober, and neat projects,” says Thomas, “and for this project we wanted to propose something really unique and with a strong identity.”
The brief was to build a solid daily runner that could also handle adventure touring, while trimming the big GS down and simplifying its lines. The tank had to stay, and the new seat had to be big enough for a passenger to squeeze on—but for the rest, Toma Customs had carte blanche. They worked closely with their client on the design anyway, simply because Thomas prefers it that way.
“The project is a cross between a scrambler and a vintage rally prep,” he says. “We are particularly sensitive to the aesthetics of old Dakar motorcycles, from which we drew our main inspiration for this project.”
This isn’t Toma Customs’ first crack at the R1150GS. Even so, customizing it was no walk in the park, and it took the crew 300 hours of work to achieve the elegant enduro you’re looking at. “Every part of the bike is designed to fit together in a unique way,” explains Thomas. “To make a balanced custom motorcycle, you have to rework virtually every position from front to rear.”
The first step was to ditch the BMW’s distinct, but bulky, front fairing. Toma replaced it with a classic round headlight, cradled by a bespoke bracket that very cleverly also holds a modified Acerbis fender. Tiny LED turn signals flank the headlight.
Just behind is a small digital speedo from Acewell, along with an all-in-one indicator light unit. Toma kept the OEM bars and switches because they work well enough, but swapped out the old grips for a pair of Biltwell Inc. Kung-Fu items.
Toma carried that classic enduro style through to the rear, by trimming the GS subframe and welding in mounts for a modified fender from a mid-70s enduro. It’s an inspired design choice, right down to the integrated dirt bike-style taillight. A pair of LED turn signals tucked away under the frame rails rounds out the tail.
The BMW’s new saddle is another home run. Toma opted for a generously padded design that tapers to the rear, made all the more classy by its two-tone upholstery and chunky logos.
Elsewhere, the team made a point of trimming stuff off that they didn’t need—and upgrading the useful stuff. The BMW’s plastic rear wheel hugger (affectionately known as the ‘poop scoop’ in GS circles) was replaced by a more svelte metal version that now holds the license plate. The passenger pegs were upgraded, but the bike still has its original center stand and helmet lock.
The condition of the donor meant there was no need to tear into the motor, and since reliability was key, the airbox was left in play too. Toma simply replaced the muffler with a burly number from Mass, that looks like it was ripped straight off a 90s Dakar bike.
Overall it’s a simple take on BMW’s mile-munching boxer, which works precisely because of its simplicity, and its perfect balance.
That stylish olive and white livery doesn’t hurt either—riding the line between retro and modern while tying the project together. As an extra touch Toma refinished the subframe in white, and the front suspension wishbone in black to make it near invisible.
With a new set of Heidenau K60 Scout tires on, Toma’s latest project went off to its owner… just in time for an off-road trip in France.
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