We challenged our friend and mechanical genius Max Vanoni to work his magic on an ex-demo BMW G 310 GS, and we think the result is exquisite. A motorcycle transformed from a commuter based, small capacity adventure bike to a retro off-road machine fit for the Dakar – or at least some green laning.
Max was inspired by the MX bikes from the 80’s, when he started riding motocross in northern Italy and the works of HPN who built historic rally bikes which BMW raced in the Paris Dakar.
This is Max’s take on how he feels HPN would have transformed a 310 in that era.
Take it away Max…
“I got my first motorcycle aged six, a little Malaguti 50cc, so I’ve been into bikes for quite a long time. I came through motocross and enduro in the very late 80’s, early 90’s and I didn’t get into road bikes until I was 18-19. Although I had my licence at that point I was still more interested in off-road.
That’s why this build with Devitt is going back to my roots a little bit!
Customising for me has always been there.
Growing up we always had bikes, scooters, little mopeds and what not, and to some extent they were all tricked. When I first really got into customising was when I bought a Ducati Monster because for me it was a bike that was made for that.
This was back in the late 90s. It begun with few bolt-ons, and then I started making the bits for it and it just snowballed from there. And I haven’t stopped since.
Every time I see a bike I’m always tempted to do something with it, whether its cosmetic, make it handle better or to make more power. I’m always fettling with the things. It’s been the bane of my life!
When I was working at Death Machines of London, Tom Warsop from Devitt asked to borrow a couple of motorcycles for one of the shows at the Ally Pally, and whilst I was there dropping them off, my friend Giovanni organised a meeting with Peter Boast who was running the sprint event at the show.
Me and Boastie were talking about racing a Flat Track bike in the Dirt Track Riders Association and I asked Tom if he wanted to get involved. We already had a good relationship at that point, and he thought it sounded like a great project to be involved with.
Devitt Insurance have now been supporting us since 2018 so we’re now coming up to the fifth anniversary of working together. During that time we’ve managed to win two Flat Track championships together and I hope we do them really proud.
I love the approach Devitt have got to bikes. They are genuinely interested in the culture, bike racing, and custom bikes. It’s not just a box ticking exercise, they love the scene and the approach we share towards racing.
We’d been talking about a build together for some time and this is the result. Devitt have a relationship with BMW as one of their key insurance partners, so it made sense to create a custom BMW.
The 310 GS might not be the top of every custom builder’s list, but the idea was to build something that was light, and to keep the silhouette as narrow as possible. We also wanted a machine that would be appealing to the people with an A2 licence and be easy to throw around.
The target was to build something that could be billed as full custom but with costs totalling the price of the bike plus 50%. That’s why we haven’t changed a lot in terms of chassis or engine because that was never the plan.
We concentrated on the aesthetics of the bike, as opposed to turning it into something that is not. In a way it’s easier to start with £15,000 machine and then put another 15 grand on top, but you’re then making it a bike out of reach for most people, certainly someone that just got their license.
How long did that take? In reality it took me longer to decide how I wanted to look than it took doing! Building it was about six-eight weeks work. Deciding how it looks like however….. that always takes me forever because I’m always trying to make something different, something not yet seen.
So, the decision on how to design the look took about 12 months, maybe more. but then only a couple of months in my workshop to create everything and complete the build!
The blue is reminiscent of earlier BMWs and sometimes that’s just how things happen. The colour is also very close to one of the Devitt colours, the HPN BMW used a blue in the Paris Dakar, and some of the early GS models were white and blue. It just looked right.
Apart from the bodywork, some of the other key changes were the spoked wheels with the gold rims, to give it a style from the early 90s. We redesigned the exhaust and changed a few bits and pieces here and there including bigger brakes.
Much of the belly of the beast remains stock, with a removed airbox and a custom DNA air filter. The forks remain stock with 3D printed fork guards and the final design has changed the way you sit on the bike.
I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. Because it’s always difficult when you build a bike to not get caught in your own hype: you’re in the process, and so you keep on seeing the bike, every day.
It is more when you see the other people’s reactions that you will realise if the job was a good one or not.”
- Started life as a stock BMW 310 GS
- Fibreglass one piece bodywork
- Custom aluminium fuel tank
- Relocated speedo
- Custom DNA air filter pod
- 3D printed parts
- custom exhaust system
- Seat by Hawg House
- Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres
- 30kgs removed from stock bike
- bike is fully road legal
For anyone who wants to see the BMW 310 GX in the metal, they can take a closer look during the Devitt Insurance Motorcycle News Festival in Peterborough in mid-May where we will also be racing with Devitt Insurance X Vanoni Moto DTRA race team.
And the bike will also feature in the 2023 Bike Shed London Show held at Tobacco Dock (27-29 May)
Check out www.vanoni.co.uk for more of Max’s services.