BMW R100RS Motorcycle Collector Series Book by Bill Stermer

When it was first released in 1977, BMW’s new R100RS caused a sensation. This elegant motorcycle sported a revolutionary wedge-shaped fairing that offered the rider near total enclosure for unparalleled comfort and protection. When fitted with optional saddlebags it sang the song of the open road that BMW riders cherished: long distances at high speeds with comfort and convenience.

The first modern motorcycle with a frame-mounted fairing, it was not only the most stunning BMW model, but with its new 980cc flat-twin motor, also the most powerful. Soon, a vast aftermarket sprang up around it with all sorts of updates for its suspension, handling and power.

The R100-RS had a charmed life of sorts. Once the K-series four-cylinder line was released in Europe in 1984, BMW discontinued the R100 series twins. Enthusiasts protested, pleaded, demanded, and BMW responded by re-releasing an updated R100 series, including the RS, in 1988.

Though the R10ORS was last manufactured in 1993, it continues to live on as one of the most recognizable and ground-breaking motorcycles of our time. Long-time motorcycle journalist Bill Stermer, who has owned both versions of the MOORS, writes an insightful insider’s view of this storied machine.

The Whitehorse Press Motorcycle Collector Series covers landmark motorcycles—machines that have altered the direction of motorcycling and inspired loyalty among their owners.


When introduced for the 1977 model year, the BMW R100RS was the most exotic and expensive motorcycle sold in the United States. With its wedge-shaped fairing, driveshaft, and legendary BMW flat-twin, air-cooled engine, the bike repre­sented long distances at high speeds, elegance, class, reliability, and unruffled travel at the very pinnacle of motorcycling.

The RS was produced through 1984, then the 1,000cc air-cooled twin line was dropped as BMW turned its attention to its liquid-cooled line of 1,000cc K100 fours and 750cc K75 triples. Usually, when a model is dropped, that’s the end of the story.

But incredibly, because of popular demand, BMW refined and reintroduced the R100RS (and other R100 twins) after several model years. By the time it had run its course in 1993, the RS had come to be regarded as one of the most beautiful and functional motorcycles ever made. This is the story of where it came from, what it was like to ride, and what it meant to motorcycling.

When Dan Kennedy of Whitehorse Press men­tioned that he wanted to publish a series of books about significant motorcycles that had inspired an enduring passion among their loyal followers, I knew immediately what my first contribution had to be.

I have owned an example of both a twin-shock and a Monolever RIOORS, and today own an ex­ample of its successor, the R I 100RS that debuted in 1994. You might call me an RS fanatic.

I have been a motorcyclist since high school, and in 1978 became an associate editor of Cycle, which at the time was the largest-circulation motorcycle magazine in the world. Two years after riding an RS through Europe in 1979, I bought one and put more than 100,000 miles on my red/smoke twin-shock. I rode it all over the United States, modified it, rode it on the track at several of Reg Pridmore’s CLASS performance riding schools, commuted on it, and took weekend trips and vacations.

When I married Margery it served as our honeymoon vehicle. In 1990 I joined the staff of Ridermagazine as editorial director, a position I held four years. Later, when I knew the R10ORS was going away for good, I bought a blue 1992 Monolever and put 26,000 miles on it.

So to riders everywhere—whatever you ride—may all bikes serve as well and reliably, and deliver as much satisfaction as the RS-series BMW twins have delivered to me.

2002 BMW R100RS Motorcycle Collector Series Book by Bill Stermer available at

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