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BMW Motorcycles

About BMW

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 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 1931, BMW introduced the single-cylinder shaft-driven R2, which, as a 200 cc motorcycle, could be operated in Germany without a motorcycle licence at that time. The R2 headed a series of single-cylinder BMW motorcycles, including the 400 cc R4 in 1932 and the 300 cc R3 in 1936.

The BMW R12 and R17, both introduced in 1935, were the first production motorcycles with hydraulically damped telescopic forks.

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.

Construction was so good that during World War II Harley-Davidson 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.

The terms of Germany's surrender forbade BMW from manufacturing motorcycles. In 1946, when BMW received permission to restart motorcycle production from US authorities in Bavaria, BMW had to start from scratch.

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.

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.

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.

In 1995, BMW ceased production of airhead 2-valve engines and moved its boxer-engined line completely over to the 4-valve oilhead system first introduced in 1993.

Moto blog

BMW Warns of Potential Defect in 2014 R1200RT Suspension

Thu, 05 Jun 2014

BMW is issuing a warning to owners of the 2014 R1200RT with the Dynamic ESA option about a potential defect with the rear suspension. No formal recall has been announced at the moment; BMW is calling it a precautionary measure, though that may change in time or depending on the market. According to BMW, the piston rod of the rear spring strut could break.

Isle of Man TT 2014: RL360 Superstock TT Results

Tue, 03 Jun 2014

Michael Dunlop won his second race in the 2014 Isle of Man TT and ninth in his career, taking the RL360 Superstock TT on a BMW S1000RR. Dunlop also won the Superbike TT earlier, giving BMW its first two wins on the Isle of Man since 1939. Meanwhile, Supersport TT 1 winner Gary Johnson was injured in a crash on the opening lap while running second behind Dunlop.

Isle of Man TT 2014: Dainese Superbike TT Results

Mon, 02 Jun 2014

Michael Dunlop won a historic Dainese Superbike race to kick off the 2014 Isle of Man TT week. Riding the S1000RR, Dunlop secured BMW its first win on the Isle of Man since Georg Meier won on a Type 255 Kompressor in 1939. After catching early leader James Hillier of the Quattro Plant Kawasaki team on the opening lap, Dunlop continued to set an impressive first lap time of 17:11.107, which translates to a record average speed of 131.730 mph on the 37.73-mile Mountain Course.

Odwarka Replaces Blesse as VP of BMW Motorrad USA

Fri, 30 May 2014

Former Husqvarna President Kris Odwarka has been appointed the new vice president of BMW Motorrad USA, taking over from Hans Blesse who is leaving the position to head the BMW Group’s Canadian subsidiary. Odwarka (pictured on the left, above) will be in charge of BMW motorcycle sales and marketing in the U.S. starting on June 1.

BMW C650GT and C600 Sport Recalled for Faulty Timing Chain Tensioner

Tue, 27 May 2014

BMW has initiated a recall on 2012-2014 C600 Sport and C650GT scooters because of a problem with their timing chain tensioners. As of this writing, recalls have been announced in Canada and Germany but not for the U.S., though we expect the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will announce a similar recall shortly.

BMW Concept Roadster Revealed

Mon, 26 May 2014

BMW seems to be on a role lately with naked roadsters. All in the span of a year, BMW has revealed the S1000R, the R nineT. If recent spy photos offer a real indication, we also expect BMW to release a new R1200R using its new liquid-cooled boxer engine.

HeliBars Installation Service Will Be Half Price At The Americade Rally

Tue, 20 May 2014

HeliBars, one of the leaders in replacement motorcycle handlebars and riser systems, is pleased to announce that installation labor of its innovative, patented products will be just $100–half price–during the Americade rally, in Lake George, New York from June 2nd to 6th. Americade attendees will have their new HeliBars installed and custom-tailored during the rally by factory certified HeliBars installer, Sportline Power Products, in nearby Queensbury. The shop will have on hand a wide selection of Heli comfort kits, headlined by the just-released Luxury Sport Touring Horizon handlebars for Honda Goldwings and F6Bs.

Simon Andrews Dies in North West 200 Crash

Tue, 20 May 2014

British racer Simon Andrews succumbed to injuries suffered in a high-speed crash during 2014 North West 200 street race in Northern Ireland. The Penz13.com BMW racer passed away May 19 at the age of 29. “In such moments I have no words.

Seeley On Form On First Night Of North West 200

Fri, 16 May 2014

Alastair Seeley took a double in the Ballymoney Borough council Supersport and Pirtek Superstock events at the start of racing at the Vauxhall International North West 200 this evening, what many “real” road racers refer to as the precursor to the Isle Of Man TT. In the Supersport race, the ‘Wee Wizard’ survived being caught up in a first lap crash at York hairpin that left him languishing in 16th to come through and win the opening race of the night on his Mar-Train Yamaha R6. Lee Johnston was the rider who went down in the first lap crash, causing Seeley to take evasive action to avoid going down himself.

BMW Announces Trophy for Privateer Racers

Fri, 02 May 2014

BMW announced a new competition for privateer racers competing worldwide. Private road racers competing on BMW’s S1000RR or HP4 sportbikes in 15 different series worldwide will earn points based on their results, with the top privateer at the end of the year winning the BMW Motorrad Race Trophy. The trophy represents BMW’s new philosophy towards motorcycle racing which began with the official withdrawal of factory support in the World Superbike Championship.