THE BMW R NINET Urban G/S is a tough pill to swallow. From a styling standpoint, we totally get it; the original BMW R80G/S was iconic, and one of the few motorcycles to ever truly pull off a red seat. Many riders give it credit for kickstarting the entire adventure riding genre—and while there’s some debate to be had there, there’s no denying the street cred of an original Paris Dakar G/S.
Unfortunately, the modern BMW R nineT Urban G/S is a G/S in name only. Its 19” front wheel helps—but it has about as much business off pavement as any other 500 pound street bike with extremely limited (and soft) suspension. And that’s a shame, because, as any BMW boxer fan will tell you, it’s built around one of the most enjoyable engines in the history of motorcycling.
The folks at Monduke Moto understand this better than most. As the custom build division of the production company, Monduke Productions, they’ve already converted four Urban G/Ses into off-road-worthy scramblers. Their latest is dubbed ‘Sweet Caroline,’ and it’s the sweetest one to date.
“I traveled to Africa on a motorcycle for the first time back in 2003,” say founding partner, Dani Rodriguez. “It was a group of seven friends, all riding these huge BMW R1150GSes, and we covered nearly 2,000 km in the Atlas and Sahara. On that trip I fell in love with the Atlas mountain tracks, the silence and light of the desert, and how agile and versatile those huge and heavy BMWs can be.”
In the years that followed, Dani’s obsession with Africa only festered. He joined Fuel Motorcycles on eight consecutive runs of their ‘Scram Africa’ trip—an adventure tour for modern scramblers and custom builds only. With each trip he learned more about what made for a functional off-road custom, and how to turn a heavy factory ‘scrambler’ into a proper tool for the open desert.
Then in 2019, lightning struck. Dani found himself with the opportunity to create his own adventure trip through the Sahara, and along with the project came commissions to build five off-road bikes for customers on the ride. Of those five bikes, two of the donors happened to be BMW’s R nineT Urban G/S—and thus Monduke Moto’s unique niche was born.
They’ve developed a winning formula for the platform at this point; swap out the lackluster front end for a set of long travel forks, rework the factory Sachs rear shock, and lace up a set of proper 21F/18R enduro wheels that can take a beating off-road.
This particular build uses a set of inverted Marzocchi forks, custom tuned by the folks at TNT Suspensiones out of Barcelona. They more than double the original suspension travel to a whopping 11” of fully-adjustable bliss. The wheels are also particularly interesting—Monduke retained the original BMW cross-spoke hubs, but laced them up to a set of traditional Excel Takasago wheels.
This allowed the bike to retain its factory ABS, but also gave ol’ Caroline a proper selection of off-road rubber to choose from—including the MotoZ Tractionator Adventure tires (and heavy duty Michelin tubes) currently on the bike.
From there, this off-road build truly took on a life of its own, with Monduke doubling down on the Urban G/S’s retro roots.
The 24 liter [6,34 gallon] tank, for instance, was pulled from an R75/5 police bike and modified to fit the nineT frame. You’ll notice it still wears its tank-mounted utility box, which Monduke says is fully functional, and still uses the original square key.
Interestingly enough, Monduke also kept the original dual petcock setup on the fuel tank intact. This meant painstakingly relocating the factory fuel pump and filter to outside the tank—but considering how well the vintage metal pulls this build together, we’re glad they put the extra work in. (That extra fuel also comes in handy for long stretches of desert.)
The bright red seat was replaced with a chunkier arrangement, with white leather and tan Alcantara upholstery. An elastomeric gel topper was added as well, for long days in the saddle. Additional creature comforts include 40 mm bar risers from Wunderlich, much-improved High Sider Montana mirrors, and Rallye low foot pegs.
If you follow Monduke’s team on social media, you’ll also know that they don’t just build these bikes for off-road use, they actually take them out and get them dirty. To that end, Monduke added an extra touch of protection as well via an SW Motech skid plate, folding gear levers, and a set of crash guards from Unit Garage.
They also replaced the Urban G/S’s factory air box with a custom made unit fashioned after the original R80G/S. Dani says that accessing the OEM filter requires disassembling half of the bike, which doesn’t bode well for the frequent cleanings required of desert rigs. This new unit simply requires removing two clips, which can be done easily by hand without any tools.
Finishing touches here include a set of Motogadget Blaze turn signals (cleverly tucked into the radiator shrouds), custom made fenders and fender supports, and a vintage NOS OSSA tail tidy, complete with a license plate holder and taillight assembly.
And, because no boxer would be complete without that trademark ‘angry chainsaw’ soundtrack, a full titanium Akrapovič exhaust system was bolted up as well. It’s been through a few heat cycles already and it looks utterly magnificent—as does Sweet Caroline’s white and orange livery.
A BMW R nineT Urban G/S built for the Sahara desert… the irony is just too good. Who says you can’t teach a new dog old tricks?