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Driving for Motorcycle

A Short History of BMW Motorcycles


(Image Source: Flickr)

The success story that is BMW Motorrad began more than ninety years ago with the creation of the flat twin “Boxer” engine, and continued to develop over the years into the innovative state of the art technology that we enjoy today. The 1923 R 32 was the first production BMW 2-wheeled motor vehicle.

It also differed from various other bikes in terms of the crankshaft, with the engine being mounted longitudinally, in line with the travel direction, instead of in a transverse direction. The R 32 had been developed with ergonomics very much in mind, with a finely padded large seat, a specially shaped handlebar enabling riding enjoyment to be free of fatigue even when travelling long distances, and secured foot panels.

The R 17

The R 17 was introduced by BMW in 1935, which integrated the brand new front suspension with telescopic forks which was particularly appropriate for the motorcycle’s sport-based design. 33 horsepower was generated at 5000 revs by the 735 cc boxer engine which allowed it to achieve a maximum speed of 140 kmh. From 1935, in conjunction with the development of new chassis technology, BMW was also started entering its new RS 500 type 255 supercharged racer into motor sport events.

The R 24

1948 saw the arrival of the first new BMW model since the end of World War 2 in the form of the R 24, which featured a new style of rack for carrying luggage, standard hand-painted decor on the rear and front mudguards as well as the fuel tank, and a new rear light. It generated 12 horsepower at 5600 revs per minute with its 247 cc engine size and 6.75:1 compression.

The R 10

Italian manufacturers started a boom in motor scooters at the start of the 1950s, triggering BMW’s decision to add this vehicle type to its development queue, with the prototype being influenced considerably by motorcycle design. A visual aesthetic close to current scooters was created by designers in 1952, and the R 10 came with a three-speed gearbox and an engine horsepower output of 10, which was a lot for its size at the time.

The R 90 S

Many more powerful BMW models came about, all coming with a crankshaft that had a stroke of 70.6. The R 90 S, released in 1973, was the highlight of these vehicles, being BMW’s fastest series-built bike to this point, with 898 cc and a 90 millimetre bore. There was a larger 38 millimetre carburettor and a 9.5 compression ratio; the bike could hit 200kph and developed 67 horsepower at 7000 revs.

The R 80 G/S

1980 saw the creation of the very popular R 80 G/S, an enduro with an 800 cc capacity boxer engine that produced 50 horsepower at 6500 rpm.

The K1

This 1988 vehicle split the world of motorcycles in two with its design, causing complete rejection by some and utter adoration by others. The excellent innovation in weather and wind protection made the bike a classic regardless.

As well as the ubiquitous GS series, BMW has continued producing many new motorcycles in the 21st century, such as the HP2 in 2006, the HP2 sport in 2007, the HP4 in 2012 and the BMW Concept Ninety in 2013.