The First BMW Motorcycle, The R32 1923
Tank roundel with Serif typeface
BMW R35, built in East Germany after World War II
The first postwar West German BMW, the 1948 250 cc BMW R24 ready for sale
500 cc BMW R51/3
The end of World War II found BMW in ruins. Its plant outside of Munich was destroyed by Allied bombing. The Eisenach facility while badly damaged was not totally destroyed and tooling and machinery was safely stored nearby. Contrary to popular accounts, the facility was not dismantled by the Soviets as reparations and sent back to the Soviet Union where it was reassembled in Irbit to make IMZ-Ural motorcycles; the IMZ plant was supplied to the Soviets by BMW under license prior to the commencement of the Great Patriotic War which is know in the West as World War II after the June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union by Germany. After the war the terms of Germany's surrender forbade BMW from manufacturing motorcycles. Most of BMW's brightest engineers were taken to the US and the Soviet Union to continue their work on jet engines which BMW produced during the war.
When the ban on the production of motorcycles was lifted[when? in Allied controlled Western Germany, BMW had to start from scratch. There were no plans, blueprints, or schematic drawings because they were all in Eisenach. Company engineers had to use surviving pre-war motorcycles to copy the bikes. The first post-war BMW motorcycle in Western Germany, a 250 cc R24, was produced in 1948. The R24 was based on the pre-war R23, and was the only postwar West German BMW with no rear suspension. In 1949, BMW produced 9,200 units and by 1950 production surpassed 17,000 units.
BMW boxer twins manufactured from 1950 to 1956 included the 500 cc models R51/2 and 24 hp (18 kW) R51/3, the 600 cc models 26 hp (19 kW) R67, 28 hp (21 kW) R67/2, and R67/3, and the sporting 35 hp (26 kW) 600 cc model R68. All these models came with plunger rear suspensions, telescopic front forks, and chromed, exposed drive shafts. Except for the R68, all these twins came with "bell-bottom" front fenders and front stands.
The situation was very different in Soviet-controlled Eastern Germany where BMW's sole motorcycle plant in Eisenach was producing R35 and a handful of R75 motorcycles for reparations. This resulted in one BMW motorcycle plant existing in Eisenach between 1945 and 1948 and two motorcycle companies existing between 1948 and 1952. One was a BMW in Munich in Western Germany (later the German Federal Republic) and the other in Soviet controlled Eisenach, Eastern Germany (later the German Democratic Republic), both using the BMW name. Eventually in 1952. after the Soviets ceded control of the plant to the East German Government, and following a trademark lawsuit, this plant was renamed EMW (Eisenacher Motoren Werke). Instead of BMW's blue-and-white roundel, EMW used a very similar red-and-white roundel as its logo. No motorcycles made in East Germany after World War II were manufactured under the authority of BMW in Munich as there was no need for an occupying power to gain such authority. BMW R35 motorcycles were produced in Eisenach until 1952, when they became EMW.
In 1970, BMW introduced an entirely revamped product line of 500 cc, 600 cc and 750 cc displacement models, the R50/5, R60/5 and R75/5 respectively and came with the "US" telescopic forks noted above. The engines were a complete redesign. The roller and ball-bearings in the bottom end had been replaced by shell-type journal bearings similar to those used in modern car engines. The camshaft, which had been at the top of the engine, was placed under the crankshaft, giving better ground clearance under the cylinders while retaining the low centre of gravity of the flat-twin layout. The new engine had an electric starter, although the traditional gearbox-mounted kick starter was retained. The styling of the first models included chrome-plated side panels and a restyled tank. The /5 series was given a longer rear swingarm, resulting in a longer wheelbase. This improved the handling and allowed a larger battery to be installed.
The /5 models were short-lived, however, being replaced by another new product line in 1974. In that year the 500 cc model was deleted from the lineup and an even bigger 900 cc model was introduced, along with improvements to the electrical system and frame geometry. These models were the R60/6, R75/6 and the R90/6. In 1973 a supersport model, the BMW R90S, was introduced. In 1975, the kick starter was finally eliminated.
1994 BMW R100RT
In 1977, the product line moved on to the "/7" models. The R80/7 was added to the line. The R90 (898 cc) models, "/6" and R90S models were replaced by updated versions with a new 1,000 cc; engine, the R100/7, the R100S and the new super sport model the R100RS with a full fairing. This sleek model, designed through wind-tunnel testing, produced 70 hp (51 kW) and had a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph). The R100RS had a shorter rear end ratio to overcome the higher wind resistance of the full fairing. Many period motorcycle tests in Germany (Das Motorrad) indicated it was actually slightly slower than the R100S with only 65 hp. In 1978, the R100RT was introduced into the lineup for the 1979 model year, as BMW's first "full-dress" tourer. The RS and RT fairings were very similar in appearance; however, the RS fairing was essentially a lightweight streamlining/protective shell and windscreen with no other functions, while the RT shell was heavier and had two "glove box" lockable compartments, ventilation louvres and an adjustable windscreen. The RT fairing was widely used for police motorcycles, with radio equipment in the fairing compartments.
In 1979, the R60 was replaced with the 650 cc R65, an entry-level motorcycle with 48 hp (36 kW) that had its very own frame design. Due to its smaller size and better geometrics, front and rear 18-inch (460 mm) wheels and a very light flywheel, was an incredibly well-handling bike that could easily keep up and even run away from its larger brothers when in proper hands on sinuous roads. BMW added a variant in 1982: the R65LS, a "sportier" model with a one-fourth fairing, double front disc brakes, stiffer suspension and different carburetors that added 5 hp (4 kW).
Motorcycle Aluminum Deoxidizer Kit
In most cases, it is relatively easy to polish motorcycle un-anodized aluminum engine parts. The problem is that the oxidation returns very quickly. The Classic TrimCoat water based final coat was designed to withstand the extreme temperatures found on these surfaces.
The kit contains, cleaner, 1500 & 2000 grit wet or dry sandpaper, aluminum polish, deoxidizer coating, and instructional DVD.
This Kit is $39.95 Plus $10.00 Shipping
We offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
BMW's first motorcycle, the R32
BMW's motorcycle history began in 1921 when the company commenced manufacturing engines for other companies. Motorcycle manufacturing now operates under the BMW Motorrad brand. BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke AG) introduced the first motorcycle under its name, the R32, in 1923.
BMW began in 1916 as a reorganization of Rapp Motorenwerke, an aircraft engine manufacturer that began production before World War I. With the Armistice, the Treaty of Versailles banned the German air force and the manufacture of aircraft in Germany, so the company turned to making air brakes, industrial engines, agricultural machinery, toolboxes and office furniture and then to motorcycles and cars.
1920 Helios, made by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke with a BMW M2B15 engine
Prewar BMW R5 at Nürburgring
BMW Sahara, Poland 1944
In 1921, BMW began manufacture of its M2B15 flat-twin engine. Designed by Max Friz for use as a portable industrial engine, the M2B15 was largely used by motorcycle manufacturers, notably Victoria of Nuremberg, and Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in their Helios motorcycle. Friz was also working on car engines.
BMW merged with Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in 1922, inheriting from them the Helios motorcycle and a small two-stroke motorized bicycle called the Flink. In 1923, BMW's first "across the frame" version of the boxer engine was designed by Friz. The R32 had a 486 cc (29.7 cubic inches) engine with 8.5 hp (6.3 kW) and a top speed of 95 to 100 km/h (59 to 62 mph). The engine and gearbox formed a bolt-up single unit. At a time when many motorcycle manufacturers used total-loss oiling systems, the new BMW engine featured a recirculating wet sump oiling system with a drip feed to roller bearings. This system was used by BMW until 1969, when they adopted the "high-pressure oil" system based on shell bearings and tight clearances, still in use today.
The R32 became the foundation for all future boxer-powered BMW motorcycles. BMW oriented the boxer engine with the cylinder heads projecting out on each side for cooling as did the earlier British ABC. Other motorcycle manufacturers, including Douglas and Harley-Davidson, aligned the cylinders with the frame, one cylinder facing towards the front wheel and the other towards the back wheel.
The R32 also incorporated shaft drive. BMW has continued to use shaft drive on its motorcycles and did not produce a chain driven model until the introduction of the F650 in 1994.
In 1937, Ernst Henne rode a supercharged 500 cc (31 cubic inches) overhead camshaft BMW 173.88 mph (279.83 km/h), setting a world record that stood for 14 years.
During World War II the Wehrmacht needed as many vehicles as it could get of all types and many other German companies were asked to build motorcycles. The R75, a copy of a Zündapp KS750, performed particularly well in the harsh operating environment of the North African Campaign. Motorcycles of every style had performed acceptably well in Europe, but in the desert the protruding cylinders of the flat-twin engine performed better than other configurations which overheated in the sun, and shaft drives performed better than chain-drives which were damaged by desert grit.
So successful were the BMWs as war-machines that the U.S. Army asked Harley-Davidson, Indian and Delco to produce a motorcycle similar to the side-valve BMW R71. Harley copied the BMW engine and transmission—simply converting metric measurements to inches—and produced the shaft-drive 750 cc (46 cubic inches) 1942 Harley-Davidson XA.
250cc R27, the last BMW shaft-driven single
As the 1950s progressed, motorcycle sales plummeted. In 1957, three of BMW's major German competitors went out of business. In 1954, BMW produced 30,000 motorcycles. By 1957, that number was less than 5,500.
In 1955, BMW began introducing a new range of motorcycles with Earles forks and enclosed drive shafts. These were the 26 hp (19 kW) 500 cc R50, the 30 hp (22 kW) 600 cc R60, and the 35 hp (26 kW) sporting 600 cc R69.
On June 8, 1959, John Penton rode a BMW R69 from New York to Los Angeles in 53 hours and 11 minutes, slashing over 24 hours from the previous record of 77 hours and 53 minutes set by Earl Robinson on a 45 cubic inch (740 cc) Harley-Davidson.
Although U.S. sales of BMW motorcycles were strong, BMW was in financial trouble. Through the combination of selling off its aircraft engine division and obtaining financing with the help of Herbert Quandt, BMW was able to survive. The turnaround was thanks in part to the increasing success of BMW's automotive division. Since the beginnings of its motorcycle manufacturing, BMW periodically introduced single-cylinder models. In 1967, BMW offered the last of these, the R27. Most of BMW's offerings were still designed to be used with sidecars. By this time sidecars were no longer a consideration of most riders; people were interested in sportier motorcycles.
The 26 hp (19 kW) R50/2, 30 hp (22 kW) R60/2, and 42 hp (31 kW) R69S marked the end of sidecar-capable BMWs. Of this era, the R69S remains the most desirable example of the dubbed "/2" ("slash-two") series because of significantly greater engine power than other models, among other features unique to this design.
For the 1968 and 1969 model years only, BMW exported into the United States three "US" models. These were the R50US, the R60US, and the R69US. On these motorcycles, there were no sidecar lugs attached to the frame and the front forks were telescopic forks, which were later used worldwide on the slash-5 series of 1970 through 1973. Earles-fork models were sold simultaneously in the United States as buyers had their choice of front suspensions.