Touratech Portrait

Text: Toni Sacher • Photography: Toni Sacher

Touratech combines touring and technology of course, and rallies and racing into a very successful young company - one with a lot to offer, whether your tour takes you across the county or the continent.

If you follow the roots of the Touratech company all the way back, you'll find a bicycle speedometer. In the mid-eighties, Herbert Schwarz mounted one on his R80 G/S for an Africa tour. A trained electronics engineer, he had soon given it an illuminated housing and otherwise improved and refined it. Reiner Frach programmed the functions Herbert was looking for - total distance traveled, distance traveled per day for each day, averages, engine temperature, ambient temperature - all sorts of things a conventional cockpit doesn't offer. It was intended for personal use; but after friends expressed interest, one thing led to another, and by 1990, the first 100 units of the IMO-200T motorcycle computer had been produced. Herbert and Reiner decided the time was right to offer the IMO to the motorcycling world, and that year formed the Touratech Motorcycle Equipment company in the Black Forest village of Niedereschach in southwestern Germany.

Based on their experiences on many trips, rallies and road-book tours, and from talking with people at globetrotter meets, they soon developed the Chala12HD rechargeable battery lamp, Zega aluminum cases and the IMO-100R Tripmaster. These items and the IMO-200T formed the core of the Touratech product range.

In 1995, Reiner pulled out of the business for personal reasons and Jochen Schanz, one of Touratech's first customers, stepped in as a partner. Herbert continued to travel as a tour guide and photographer, and tested his products thoroughly at rallies and on road trips. That year the first catalog came out, with just 12 pages.

Their close contacts with the rally scene led to the development of pannier racks, road book holders and satellite navigation instruments. Early on, in 1993, Jutta Kleinschmidt and Michael Griep used an IMO-100R on the Paris-Dakar Rally, and in 2002, Touratech entered its own team with a BMW F650 Rallye.

By the late 90s, growth took off and the company went public in 1999. Currently Touratech employs 60 people at its production and display facility in the Black Forest, and exports its quality products to Austria, Italy, France, the U.S., Poland, Great Britain, Spain, Greece, Holland, Switzerland, and Russia. The 2004 catalog has 580 pages and went through printings in five languages.

Touratech's first products were designed to meet the needs of its founders and first employees, all passionate riders. Today, the company also caters to a wider range of customers and even other companies, with many useful products and accessories developed for enduro touring that original motorcycle manufacturers just don't offer. And it's not just for adventure trips or rallies any more. Regular vacation riders will find the catalog a gold mine of practical gear - cases, seats, crash bars, hand protectors, fenders, camera backpacks, panniers and GPS units - to name just a few. Most products are manufactured in Niedereschach, with only a few selected accessories like tents, sleeping bags, and helmets sourced elsewhere.

The two Touratech motorcycle kits are also very interesting. The TB 652 Oryx is a light bike based on the BMW F650 GS that comes in Enduro and Supermoto versions. Top quality components and reduction to the essentials add up to biking excitement weighing just 340 pounds (dry). Several conversion stages allow customers to create their own individual Oryx, from the basic kit ($ 5,250) to the full-blown version ($ 10,990).

The latest kit is the ReVamp. For $ 3,949 it offers a technical and aesthetic makeover for the BMW R1100 or 1150 GS (including the Adventure), with room left for individual upgrades. We'll take a detailed look at this bike in the next issue.

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