What led to the design of the BackRest?
When we rode the ‘89 R100RT it had a Reynolds backrest, which allowed Judy to lean back, smell the roses, and enjoy the scenery. Her comfort was important to me, since it was clear that if SHE was comfortable, I got to ride more often.
When we purchased the R11GS we found that Judy quickly became fatigued without a backrest. She always felt she was about to fall off the back. To counter this she consciously leaned forward throughout the ride and by the end of the day she was exhausted. We explored the various options available (rear box, luggage roll, etc.) and found that there really wasn’t anything on the market that would provide the comfort and adjustable support she required.
Being a designer/draftsman by trade, and having some experience in metal fabrication, I went to the workshop and soon I had a prototype for the backrest. It was a simple affair but laid the groundwork for things to come. Within a short time I designed another model. It had several features that allowed limited adjustment so that we could find the most comfortable riding position for Judy. In conjunction with the backrest, I also designed a larger luggage rest so that we could carry all our camping gear.
We used this second prototype backrest and luggage rest on several trips and it worked quite well. During that time I received several requests to manufacture backrests for others but I never had the time or desire to take the project any further.
Later, when I planned a solo motorcycling adventure to Australia, I naturally made arrangements to do it aboard a GS. As I organized my gear I thought how nice it would be to use Judy’s backrest. Into the workshop I went and a week later I had the prototype for a rider’s backrest. The beauty of the new design was that I could move the backrest to accommodate the rider OR the passenger, depending on who was aboard. I made the parts compact and collapsible and carried them in my suitcase aboard the plane. When I arrived in Australia I bolted them directly onto my rental GS and away I went to the Outback. The Australian adventure went wonderfully well, and the comments I received led to a decision to manufacture the backrest and luggage rest on a commercial basis for other GS riders. After all, why should I keep a good thing to myself?