1978-1995: The BMW R80RT and R100RT

The RT is the station wagon of motorcycles, and it remained popular for the long-distance touring set for an incredible 17-year run.

Previously offered in a twin-shock variation from 1978-1984, this monoshock successor lasted in the line for 11 years, through the end of the Airhead era in 1995. 

Based on the ground-breaking RS model, the RT (Reise Tourer, roughly translates to “travel touring”) errs more towards the “Touring” side and less towards the “Sport” side of the Sport-Touring continuum.

Offered in 800 and 1000cc variations, it’ll keep a rider neat and dry when blasting through rain and puddles, with a fairing so comprehensive it’s got vents that can/must be manually opened to let air in on hot days. Plus, it’s got two glove boxes, and was favored by some police departments for its ability to hold a CB radio and still have an extra compartment for lunch—not to mention the integrated side cases and top box these bikes came with from the factory.

Compared to the RS, the RT got taller handlebars, a taller windscreen, and a slightly wider (also see: heavier) fairing with extended coverage down around the legs—basically offering as much of a bubble as one could hope for without getting into a car.

So scorned by the latest millennial crop of motorcycle builders that if there were an endangered species list for motorcycles these old RT’s would top the chart.

It’s like a White Rhino, but in reverse. Rather than leave the animal for dead after stealing the tusk, the café poachers discard the 50-pound fairing and carve the carcass into their grand vision of something better. In many cases builder can succeed in making the RT a better bike; in others this once noble cruise ship has been left looking like a shaved cat.

One day the full fairing might come full circle, back into vogue.  One day.

Owners: Andrew David Watson, 1985 Red R80RT; Brendan O’Neill, 1995 Gray R100RT.

Click Here to go back to the Main Menu of the interactive BMW Airhead Show, or follow the links below to the other bikes in the collection.


1970-1973: The BMW /5
1974-1976: The BMW /6

1974-1976: The BMW R90S
1977-1992: The BMW R100RS
1978-1995: The BMW R80RT and R100RT
1979-1987: The BMW R65
1983-1985: The BMW R65LS
1980–1986: The R80 G/S
1982-1984: The BMW R80ST
1987-1995: The R100GS
1992-1995: The BMW R100R