No poseur machine: Tiffany Coates' R80GS, Thelma

When legendary motorcycle world traveler Tiffany Coates was in the U.S. for a speaking tour in 2010, BMW Motorrad USA offered to pay for parts and repairs on her 20-year-old R80GS, Thelma, which by then had carried her well over 150,000 miles on five continents ( 

When Tiffany told her father the good news, his response was, “Bloody hell—had they seen the bike when they offered that?” 

Indeed. A close (i.e. anything nearer than 50 feet) inspection of Thelma indicates that Tiffany pays diligent attention to the mechanical aspects of the bike, and pretty much files aesthetics under “patina.” A good third of the bumblebee yellow paint on the front guard seems to have been left in flakes in foreign countries, and various scrapes, gouges, blobs of third-world welds, and fraying wraps of duct tape attest to the drops and general wear unavoidable in the course of accumulating the spectacular CV of this motorcycle and its rider. 

Tiffany will be at the 2012 Overland Expo, teaching classes in personal safety for women, contributing to regional travel forums and experts panels, and presenting a talk and slide show on central Asia.

Meanwhile, here’s a close look at Thelma, who’s been enjoying a break parked at the Overland Expo headquarters outside Tucson. If you haven’t yet seen Tiffany’s BMW Unscripted video clip, watch it here:

A bit of road wear is apparent on the lamp guardCrash bars have some stories to tellThe modifications to Thelma are scant. Besides the much-repaired hard luggage mounts, here’s a comfortable Bill Mayer saddle, a custom Wilbers Suspension rear spring and shock, and, well . . . that’s about it. 

Running gear is virtually stockSingle non-vented disc brake in front, drum in rear

Hey, it still blinks . . .

Underside shows the effects of 200,000 overland milesWeld repairs would give a German engineer nightmaresBut Mickey seems happy to ride along . . .