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What would eventually become the Bayerische Motoren Werke _BMW

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What would eventually become the Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) began as two sepa-
rate companies. Gustav Otto’s Flugzenmaschinenfabrik (Air Plane Factory) in Munich
merged with Karl Rapp’s Flugwerke Deutschland on March 7th, 1916 to become the
Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Airplane Works). Initially specializing it the design and
manufacture of airplane engines, the company would manufacture for Germany’s fledgling
air force, including the Baron Von Richten, better known as the Red Baron.




1917
On July 21st, 1917, under the leadership of Karl
Rapp and Max Friz the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke
renames itself Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian
Motor Works). Their logo, representing an airplane
propeller in the blue sky, would remain throughout
the company’s history. At 3,400 employees, BMW
recruited Franz Joseph Popp from Daimler to
become it’s managing director. The company’s pri-
mary output; the v12 airplane engine.

1918
BMW, in the midst of an economic boom funded by
the German air force, takes its 3500 employees and
goes public. Primarily focused on manufacturing for
the Fokker DVII – arguably one of the best aircraft of
the time – the future appears to be all blue skies for
Rapp, Friz, Popp and company.

1919
With the Treaty of Versailles (signed June 28th) end-
ing WWI, Germany is now forbidden to manufacture
airplanes. Max Friz, the head designer for BMW at
the time, reluctantly looks to motorcycle and auto-
mobile engines to sustain the company’s economic
health. A sharp turn away from the 6 and 12 cylinder
airplane engines the company was making, Friz puts
his aero-engineering knowledge to work and within
four weeks of being commissioned has blueprints for
what would become the infamous "boxer" engine.




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                                                         20
Only a few years before, Germany was a booming industrial power. But, in the aftermath of
WWI, high inflationary rates and a general lack of money for luxury items placed economic
pressure on domestic manufacturers. Fortunately, motorcycles were seen as an important
means of transportation (especially with so few cars available) and 80% of BMW’s prod-
ucts went to business clients. Even in a tight economy BMW didn’t skimp on parts or
process. The years between 1923 and 1939 would be looked back upon historically as
BMW’s heyday.



1920
Kurt Hanfland designs the "Kurier" engine, a tiny 2-
stoke, 148cc motor. Eventually it is incorporated into
a combination bicycle/motorcycle called the "Flink"
(a word ironically meaning ‘speedy’ – which the Flink
was not). The heavyish bike with its under-powered
engine requires vigorous pedaling to start. The Flink
flunks and is never sold under the BMW name.

1921
Max Friz and Martin Stolle collaborate on the M2B15
– the first "flat twin" or "boxer" engine. Based on the
British Douglas design, it is manufactured by BMW
but used in the motorcycles of other brands like
Corona, Heller, Helios and Scheid. In this same year
that BMW sells off the assets of the original Otto
Flugzenmaschinenefabrik which continues its own
manufacture of Flottweg motorcycles. BMW will buy
the works back in 1937.

1922
Rudolf Schleicher develops the first light-alloy cylin-
der head. It proves to be on of the essential
improvements that leads to the second, and ulti-
mately more successful, version of the boxer engine.
Meanwhile the M2B15 is only moderately successful
as a motorcycle engine. Some speculate this is
because BMW’s heart is still in airplanes.
Regardless, toward the end of this year Max Friz
pushes to improve on the flat twin.




heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
1923
The R32. It is Max Friz’s reluctant (his heart is still in
airplane engines) improvement on the earlier
M2B15 engine designed with Martin Stolle that
leads to BMW to its first serious motorcycle. Using
other design developments like Rudolph
Schleicher’s aluminum-alloy cylinders, Friz engi-
                                                             20
neers a motorcycle with a 486cc engine that at
8.5BHP reaches a top speed of about 60mph.
Characterized by the transversely mounted M2B32
‘flat twin’ engine, a gearbox which forms a single
unit with that engine and a driveshaft as opposed
to a chain and sprocket drive, the R32 becomes the
foundation for all future machine designs until the
introduction of the K Series in 1983. It would also
whet the appetite for racing motorcycles that would
come along in a few years.

1924
After only one year in the motorcycle business,
BMW wins it’s first German racing championship,
setting the groundwork for a history of trophy tak-
ing. Ruldolph Schleicher is named chief designer,
replacing Friz who returns to his first love, airplanes.
Because he is a racer, Schleicher brings a passion
to his designs. This passion would set the bar for
excellence which BMW would continually strive
to raise.

1925
Schelicher’s first original design, the R37, is intro-
duced this year. Very obviously a racing version of
the R32, it achieves a modest 11mph more than its
predecessor but has twice the power (500cc
with16BHP @ 4000rpm) and humorously, no
speedometer. The R37 goes on to win 100 races in
Germany. But it is an expensive machine to manu-
facture and only 152 are ever made. BMW’s first
single cylinder bike, the R39 makes its debut this
year also. And while on the subject of speed, it
should be noted that the R32 is given a much-
needed front brake this year as well.




heritage/history        www.bmwmotorcycles.com
1926
3000 R32’s have been sold by this time. Though
more expensive than competitor models, the
BMW name seems to warrant the expense in
the public’s eye. 1926 is a good year for racing
too and Rudolph Schleicher wins the
International Six Days Trial for BMW. It is
                                                     20
Germany’s first ever gold medal in the event.
Perhabhp out of jealousy, Grenville Bradshaw of
England accuses BMW of copying the ABC
engine. The claim cannot be backed up and is
more or less ignored.

1927
Another excellent year in racing for BMW. Paul
Koppen earns his first of two (and three consec-
utive for BMW) wins at the Targa Florio in Sicily.
BMW has by this point manufactured 25,000
motorcycles with its newest model, the R47 sell-
ing 1720 machines in 18 months. An extraordi-




nary pace at the time. Cheaper than the R23,
the R47 would replace it in production as well as
replacing the R37 and R39.


1928
BMW releases its first 750cc motorcycle, the
R62. Designed as a touring machine (but with
headlights costing extra!) the R62 holds BMW's
largest engine (the M5651). Reaching a top


heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
speed of 71mph, the R62 is a gas-guzzler. BMW also
begins to dab9a106 eriously in another industry
that will prov uccessful for the company in the
coming years, automobiles. By purchasing (and
renaming) the Dixi-Werke in Eisenbach for 2.2 million
Reichsmarks, BMW officially entered the car-making
business.
                                                        20
1929
Ernst Henne, riding a custom-built 750cc BMW
motorcyca10clocks a land-speed world record of
134mph. He will go on to best his own record 6
mo times during the 1930’s, earning BMW a repu -
tation for speed as well as performance. By now
BMW has grown from 2,630 to 3,860 employees in
just one year and is manufacturing bikes using a
pressed-steel "star" frame instead of the traditional
tubular frame. Abroad, Wall Street crashes sending
an economic shockwav across the world. -




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                                                         30
While America’s economic woes began to influence the German economy, BMW continued
its charge forward in the middle of its hey day years. The release of the next generation of
twins, plus a foray into smaller, fuel-efficient models sustained BMW through lean years. By
the decades’ end, with the rumblings of WWII growing louder, BMW had kicked into high-
gear, manufacturing heavily for the German war effort.




1930
Though having made a name for itself in racing,
BMW temporarily retires from competition to attend
to business needs – namely a national economic
downturn. It manufactures its smallest bike, the
198cc R2. The R2 is the first motorcycle to use a
one-piece ‘tunnel’ crankcase. Marketed as a com-
muter bike, the R2 is a very successful model for
BMW. They go on to sell 15,207 of them. Much of
the success lies in German transportation law, which
imposes no road tax or special license requirements
for small motorized vehicles.

1932
Smaller motorcycles continue to thrive in a question-
able world economic environment. In fact it is so bad
that the onslaught of the Great Depression forces
17,000 German companies to file bankruptcy. BMW
is hit hard, but manages to stay in business by
developing more economy models like the R4.
Similar in principle to the R2, it has a 398cc single-
cylinder overhead valve engine that can achieve
12BHP of power at 3500rpm.

1933
The R4 continues to sell well attracting the attention
of the growing Third Reich. BMW’s 4,720 employees
are commissioned by the German military to produce
R4’s in the army’s olive drab. Between 1932 and
1938 about 15,000 R4’s will be manufactured for mil-
itary use. This arrangement helped BMW stay in
business despite worldwide economic problems. So
does the first automobile made entirely at a BMW
facility – the 303 – which makes its first appearance
this year as well.

heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
1935
BMW introduces the R12, a motorcycle most notable
as the first production model with hydraulically
damped telescopic front forks. This advancement is
a major leap forward in motorcycle manufacturing. At
745cc the R12 achieves 20 BHP at 3,400rpm but
trades off on its power with its enormous weight of
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408lbs. Despite its bulk, the R12 can reach a top
speed of 75mph. It is the most successful model in
the inter-war years, propelling BMW to 11,113
employees and 128million Reichmarks of business
annually. This is the first year BMW produces more
than 10,000 bikes in a single year.

1936
Wiggerl Kraus brings BMW back into racing full
throttle by riding the supercharged Kompressor com-
petitively. The Kompressor goes on to win numerous
races for BMW and Germany including the renown
Senior TT at the Isle of Man. It is a variation on
Rudolph Schleicher’s new R5, itself considered by
many to be the best bike of the 1930’s. With the R5,
BMW returns to tubular frames and introduce rear-
plunger suspension. Topping out at 87mph, the R7 is
powered by a 500cc twin camshaft engine. Its styling
defines a ‘classic beauty’ that will last until the
1960’s.

1937
On 11/28 Ernst Henne again breaks the land-speed
record, this time raising it to 173mph and is named
"The Fastest Man on Two Wheels." His record will
stand for 14 more years. Also in racing, Englishmen
Jock West rides a Kompressor at BMW’s first visit to
the Isle of Man Senior TT. Again BMW’s reputation
for power and performance garners the attention of
the German military which orders 15,000 340cc R35
singles (an update of the earlier R4). The R35 is the
last single to use the pressed steel "star" frame. It
generates 14BHP of power at 4500rpm and a top
speed of 62mph.




heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
1938
                                                       30
BMW delivers its 100,000th motorcycle from the production line. By now the company has
introduced rear suspension on all production bikes beginning with the R61. BMW introduces a
total of six new models this year including the last single before the war, the R23. Other models
of note in this year were the R51 which was popular with traffic police and the R66, the most
powerful twin yet offered to the public (597cc, 30BHP at 5300pr). The R71 is also introduced
this year and is the last ever of BMW's side valve engines.




1939
The beginning of WWII finds BMW employing 27,000 workers. Many at the company have been
turned to aircraft manufacture, developing the 14 cylinder 810 radial engine that is fitted into
the Focke-Wolf 190 fighter plane. In fact, BMW’s entire corporate strategy has turned toward
military applications as have its competitors. But motorcycles still figure largely into BMW's rep-
utation and this year Georg ‘Shorsch’ Meier becomes the first foreigner on a foreign machine (a
Kompressor) to win the Isle of Man Senior TT. British teammate Jock West brings BMW a sec-
ond place finish in the same event. -




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                                                     40
With WWII raging on, there was little new development in motorcycling at BMW. In fact,
development would slow considerably until as late as 1952. BMW, like most German indus-
trial companies, was focused on outfitting the Wehrmacht (German army) in the early part
of the decade. And after Germany’s ultimate defeat BMW was faced with bombed out facil-
ities and near dismantlement by the Allied powers.




1941
BMW's primary motorcycle contribution to the war effort
was the specially designed R75. Equally efficient on and off
road it would spur numerous imitations. 18,000 R75s were
made based on Alex Von Falkenhausen’s design. With its
overhead 750cc engine it could achieve 26BHP at 4000rpm
and had a drive mechanism for the sidecar wheel as well
as hydraulically assisted breaks. The extra braking being
necessary to stop its 925lb girth. With an extra large gas
tank, two seats and a sidecar, the R75 was used for
reconaissance, communication and attack (when mounted
with a machine gun). It is also the ‘stereotypical’ WWII
motorcycle as seen in many movies on the subject.

1945
Just before the end of WWII, the German government
ordered BMW director Kurt Dornarth to destroy the Munich
production facilities. This order Dornarth promptly ignored.
A year later, the occupying American military will make the
same request. And again Dornarth will ignored it. Instead,
BMW survives by manufacturing farm equipment, bicycles,
utensils, pots and pans – supplies to help the now impov-
erished German people.

1946
The Eisenach facility, which is surrendered to the Soviets,
continues to carry out the production of Russian imitation
twin motorcycles using BMW designs. These R35’s are
branded EMW (Eisenach Motoren Werke) and are marked
with a logo similar to BMW’s, but rendered in red and
white. Forbidden by the Allies to manufacture their own
motorcycles, BMW continues to stay in business by doing
repair work on Allied military vehicles.



heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
1947
                                                     40
With the restrictions banning the manufacture of motorcycles relaxed by the
international Control Commission, BMW begins to draft blueprints for what will
eventually become the R24. The designs are composed entirely from the spare
parts left over from pre-war motorcycle manufacturing. Not ready to roll out its
own motorcycle yet, BMW keeps an adequate cash flow by making 22,000 bicy-
cles in this year.

1948
Using the R23’s running gear and powered by a modernized single cylinder,
BMW officially begins motorcycle manufacture again with the R24 – it’s first
post-war bike. Running on a 250cc engine (the maximum size allowed by the
supervising Control Commission), the R24 is equipped with centrifugal ignition
timing and ratchet-action pedal shifting for its four-speed transmission. At the
same time, BMW draws up the plans for its first foray into 2-stoke motorcycles.
It was a simpler design owing to the shortage of available materials at the time.

1949
17,000 R24s have been produced by this time and BMW is beginning to recover
from the aftermath of WWII. It is in 1949 that BMW introduces the R50/2 and
R51/2. These machines are criticized as the first evidence of compromise by the
company. Referring back to Karl Popp’s "only the best is good enough" philoso-
phy, motorcycle enthusiasts are not pleased when they discover the rear main
bearing had been moved into the crankcase instead of given its own housing. It
now requires replacement every 10,000 miles. Adding to the disappointment, the
centrifuge system’s ‘thrower plates’ are unable to handle the post-war low-
grade fuel, frequently clogging with unburnt particles and blocking oil flow. -




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                                                         50
With time, the stringent post-war restrictions on Germany were relaxed. BMW was finally
freed to continue production across all its divisions. In short time they re-established their
world reputation as a preeminent motorcycle manufacturer. The production of hand-made
sports cars also resumed. Even the airplane engine division won lucrative contracts. But
toward the end of the 50’s, with motorcycle sales slumping, the era of "Wirtschaftswunder"
(economic miracle) came to an end plunging BMW into financial worries again.




1950
BWM enters the new decade in top form. R24 pro-
duction is up to 17,000 units and the new R25 with
plunging rear suspension is poised to replace the
R24. The R23 has now become the most-produced
motorcycle in BMW's history with an astonishing
47,700 machines having rolled off the factory floor. It
is in this year too that BMW releases the R51/2, its
first twin (based on older designs) since the war. An
updated version of the R5, its 500cc overhead valve
engine musters about the same power as its prede-
cessor, achieving 24BHP at 5,800rpm.

1951
The R68, which comes to be known as the "100 mile
racer," is the first German production bike to hit
100mph. First presented at the International Bicycle
and Motorcycle Exhibition, it signals the return of
BMW to the list of top manufacturers. The R68 gen-
erates 35BHP at 7000rpm, the greatest power and
highest revs yet. BMW also introduces the R51/3 this
year. It is the first of the newly designed post-war
machines and the first ever BMW engine without any
chains in the motor. Other innovations include
Dynamo electrical generation, which produces an
astonishing 160watts (60 being the average at the
time) and a ‘tunnel casting’ crankcase which would
continue to be used until 1969. BMW is operating at
full capacity with production jumping from 9,450 to
17,100 in a single year.

1952
BMW answers the market demand for a sidecar out-
fitted motorcycle with the R67. It is BMW's first
600cc overhead valve twin and the first machine
heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
over 500cc made since the war. Twin leading shoe front-
                                                        50
brakes are introduced on this model and the bike will remain
unchanged until 1954. BMW motorcycle production continues
to grow and is now at 25,000 total units per year.

1953
Utilizing a swinging arm rear suspension system and pivot
forks with sprung struts, BMW begins development of the
Rennesport (RS) series. Front forks are improved with the
introduction of two-way damping and front fork gaiters. BMW
also updates the R25 single with the R25/3, it’s most suc-
cessful bike to date. Topping out at 73mph, the R25/3 goes
on to sell 47,000 units during its production run largely due to
the improvements in the carburetion and engine, yielding a
very efficient 98 miles per gallon fuel consumption. While
BMW has now sold its 100,000th motorcycle since the war,
demand for the heavier bikes is waning.




1954
A year after initial development, the RS series, specialized for
competitive racing, makes its production debut. BMW begins



heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
to establish a reputation in sidecar racing this year
as Wilhelm Noll and Friz Cron win the World Sidecar
Championship. BMW will go on to dominate the
World Sidecar Championship every year from 1955
until 1974.

1955
                                                        50
BMW, hampered by the high cost of automobile pro-
duction, breaks its connection with the Eisenach
facility, which becomes the Automobilwerke
Eisenach. In motorcycle manufacture, the R50
(26BHP at 5800rpm) with full swinging arm rear sus-
pension and leading link front forks replaces the
R51/3. The bike is criticized for looking dated and
combined with a growing slump in motorcycle sales,
BMW begins to face economic uncertainty. The R26,
acclaimed for its comfort and style, is also released
this year introducing Earles Type forks to the BMW
motorcycle catalog.

1956
New models released by BMW meet with meager
sales. Only 3,500 R60’s are purchased and only
1,300 of its more powerful cousin, the R69, are sold.
Feeling the economic decline, German companies
begin to downsize. BMW lays off 600 employees
shrinking motorcycle production from 23,531 in 1955
to 15,500 in ’56. With warehouse surplus for the big-
ger machines growing and the oil shortage caused
by the Suez Crises compounding matters, BMW
shifts its focus to fuel-efficient machines.

1957
Things go from bad to worse this year. Total motor-
cycle production at BMW drops yet again - from
15,000 to 5,429 this time. Rival manufacturers like
Adler, DKW and Horex all scrap motorcycle produc-
tion in general. BMW pulls back from designing new
models, focusing instead on shipping the majority of
its machines overseas to the United States or
to England.




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1958
                                                      50
The financial bubble finally bursts for BMW. With its money reserves
depleted talk of mergers and buyouts begins to circulate. Though produc-
tion is up slightly to 7,156 machines, the future of BMW is uncertain at
best. No new models are released this year or the next.

1959
Dismal sales (production is only at 8,412 machines for the year), surplus
inventory and complete depletion of financial reserves leave BMW operat-
ing in the red. Competitor Daimler-Benz eyes BMW for a buyout and
rumors begin to circulate. But Dr. Herbert Quandt, a banker of some
repute and a motorcycle enthusiast himself, backs the troubled company.
His confidence proves contagious and soon other investors fund BMW.
MAN, a well-known heavy vehicles manufacturer, buys BMW’s airplane
division in Allach and covers other debts. While this signifies the final end
of BMW's involvement in aero-engineering, the company does manage to
remain in business. -




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                                                           60
The sixties are a slow growth decade for BMW motorcycles. As they emerge from near
economic extinction a temporary shift away from motorcycle manufacture allows the com-
pany to aggressively build out its automobile offering. While BMW remains low-profile in
motorcycle racing, sales continue to rise based on an impressive competitive track record
and some timely innovations and options.




1960
This is the year of the R69S (s for ‘sport’ model).
Considered by many to be the ‘classic’ BMW motor-
cycle, the R69S is the fastest boxer to date achiev-
ing a top speed of 109mph at 42BHP/7000rpm. It
uses gear-driven cams and has bearings "every-
where". Also released this year is the R27 single with
its rubber mounted engine to cut down on vibra-
tions. It will be the last single until the F650 Funduro
but it sells a healthy 15,000 units in its seven year
production period. The R50S is another notable
release as it becomes BMW’s highest revving 500cc
engine. However its bark was worse than its bite and
the R50S never catches on, with sales at only 1,634
machines after 3 years.

1961
A big year for BMW, the R69S and competitive rac-
ing. After setting a new World 24-Hour record of
95.6mph come wins at the Barcelona 24 Hour and
Thruxton 500 mile. The year concludes with more
recording breaking at Montlhery in the 24 hour
(109.34mph) and 12 hour (109.24mph) respectively.
It’s no wonder the R69S’s reputation earns BMW
widespread acclaim. In this same year, BMW shifts
from handmade cars to assembly line models with
the release of the BMW 1500. Another ‘classic’ in the
BMW stable, the 1500 would pave the way for future
BMW automobile fame and sales in the automobile
category begin to skyrocket.




heritage/history       www.bmwmotorcycles.com
1963
                                                        60
There isn’t a lot of innovation happening in this year, but share-
holders in the company are happy nonetheless. For the first
time since WWII BMW pays its stockholders a dividend based
on a profitable year. BMW is back on the road.

1967
BMW sells its 250,000th bike since WWII. And though the
company itself is focusing more on the exploding automobile
market (up 133%), motorcycle manufacturing continues to hold
its own, if a little quietly (6000 machines produced this year).
No new models are released from 1961-1969 but special
United States export versions of the R60 and R69 (called the
R60US and R69US respectively) see BMW switch back to tele-
scoping forks from the Earles Type Fork. This change would
set the standard for the Stoke 5 series of 1969.

1969
Beginning with BMW moving its motorcycle manufacturing
operations to the Spandau suburb of Berlin, 1969 finds the
company rededicating its efforts in motorcycle innovation after
nearly a decade of relative silence. The Stoke 5 series has
more modern appearance, electric starters and car-like engi-
neering. It is the first of the light weight production 750cc
engines since 1941 and marks the most dramatic change
since the R32 rolled out in 1923. The R50/5, R60/5 and R75/5
are all released with telescoping front forks. However, the
boxer engine is ‘flipped’ with the camshaft now below the
crankshaft and the pushrods banished to tubes on the side
and below the engine. In 1969 BMW finally begins to offer
color options though initially only in the conservative black,
white and silver. Sidecar use is no longer authorized on BMW
models as the company begins to look to the future. -




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                                                         70
BMW Motorcycles would again begin to manufacture at volumes reminiscent of its hey day
period. Between 1969 and 1973 35,370 R75/5’s would be sold. Changes to the /5 series
would be minor, if at all, reflecting the BMW tradition of refining out of necessity not fash-
ionability. Investments in the tooling at the Spandau facility transform it into a full produc-
tion plant and all motorcycle parts are now being manufactured in-house. Horst Spinter
also fights a general worker shortage by hiring non-German workers, growing the BMW
motorcycle division from 850 – 1500 people.



1973
In BMW's 50th Anniversary year its 500,000th motor-
cycle is produced. But times have changed and this
is apparent by BMW's new R90S. A 900cc 67BHP
racing monster is the company’s largest and fastest
bike ever, conquering the 50-year-standing 750cc
barrier. At a glance, the full cockpit fairing and
smoked gray finish earn this machine its reputation
as "Germany’s sexiest superbike." 24,000 are pro-
duced in the next three years. The Stoke 6 series is
also launched this year in 600, 700 and 900cc guises
with 55,000 sold. The Spandau facility is now work-
ing at full capacity, cranking out 25,000 motorcycles
a year. And BMW's reputation only continues to
grow with the recognition of the Maudes Trophy at
the Isle of Man tournament that year.

1974
The /6 Series goes into mass manufacturing and for
the first time BMW offers 5 speed gearboxes on pro-
duction motorcycles. The R75/6 becomes the first
production machine to utilize a single-disc front
break. In true BMW form Helmut Dahne rides his
R75 from Munich to the Isle of Man Production TT,
finishes 3rd and rides it back home.

1975
Drilled discs are the innovation introduced to BMW
motorcycles this year, greatly improving wet braking
times. And an old motorcycle archetype, the kick-
start, is finally eliminated as a standard component
on production machines. Employee Rudiger Gutsch
builds his own private enduro motorcycle this year. It
is later used as the basis for developing the
onroad/offroad BMW offering of 1980.

heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
1976
BMW ubhp the ante again designing the Stoke 7 1000cc
R100/7. Its sporting sibling, the R100RS, is also launched.
Like the R100/7, it has a 1000cc engine generating 70BHP
of power at 7,250rpm for a top speed of 125mph. It is the
                                                             70
first production motorcycle to offer full fairing. This fairing
design will stand largely unchanged until 1993. The
R100RS is offered in a very untraditional smoked red.
Despite an onslaught of four cylinder competitors, BMW
twins hold their own as Reg Pridmore wins the ‘76 AMA
superbike title on his R90S.

1977
The R80/7 attracts the attention of police forces worldwide
as a brilliant compromise between the power of the 1000cc
engines and the sweet ride of the 750s. To some it is the
best of all the Stoke Series models. Diminishing sales of
the twin in the lucrative US market (BMW fell from 6th to
11th in popularity) send a signal to BMW and the company
responds by beginning to look at other designs.

1978
A trend-setter in luxury touring motorcycles, the R100RT
offers the rider a full touring-style fairing in 1978. While rac-
ing oriented motorcyclists balked at its bulkiness, long dis-
tance riders loved the machine for its comfort. It is offered
in the popular smoked-red and some not-so-popular colors
too: bottle green and a brown and cream combination. At
the other end of the size spectrum is the R45, BMW's
smallest twin, which also makes its first appearance this
year. A 473cc engine with a power capacity of 27BHP per
6500rpm, the R45 is a hit with insurance companies and a
dud with consumers who are hungry for power.

1979
BMW wins the German Off-Road Championship and
begins to build a reputation in the category. Meanwhile,
British sales balloon by 61% despite poor sales figures in
the US. The success of BMW in England is due largely to
the police force there which has come to prefer BMW
motorcycles. Fully 86 BMW dealerships have sprouted up
in the U.K. to meet the increased demand. -




heritage/history       www.bmwmotorcycles.com
deal of anticipation for the coming year. Simultaneously, and
unwilling to abandon the boxer, BMW produces a pure road
version of the R80G/S called an R80RT.

1983
For the first time since 1923 BMW makes a drastic departure
from the twin by introducing the K100. It is the first of the
                                                                     80
water-cooled K-series machines and quickly earns the nick-
name "flying brick." Developed by Joseph Frizenwenger who
took a longitudinally mounted in-line engine and turned it hori-
zontally, the K100 musters 90BHP at 8000rpm and reaches a
top speed of 132mph. It is the first production motorcycle with
electric ignition and fuel injection. A racing version of the four
cylinder K100, called the K100RS is also rolled out. Not to be
eclipsed by the new machine, the twin claims another Paris-
Dakkar victory under the skilled maneuvering of Hubert Auriol.

1984
Hubert Auriol continues to wrack up Paris-Dakkar victories this
time accompanied by teammate Gaston Rakier. A touring ver -
sion of the K series is released (K100RT) and BMW announces
plans to continue the manufacture of both 4 cylinder and flat
twin engines in a ratio of 60%-40% respectively. The year’s new
boxers are all equipped with a lightweight clutch and lower
powered engine giving them a characteristic pleasant, smooth
ride.

1985
BMW's designs its only three cylinder motorcycle to date, the
K75C. Using 50% common parts with it’s older brother the
K100 it has excellent fuel economy (57 miles per gallon), more
nimble handling and considerable power (75BHP at 8500rpm)
reaching a top speed of 124mph.

1986
The addition of a sports fairing and other minor modifications
turns the K75C into the K75S – BMW's only three cylinder
sports motorcycle. Boxer innovation keeps pace with the re-




heritage/history       www.bmwmotorcycles.com
launch of the limited edition R100RS now with monolever rear
suspension and a 60BHP engine. Though produced as a limited
edition machine it goes on to become very popular. BMW is
now offering motorcycles in 48, 50, 60, 70 and 90BHP options.

1987
The R100RT is re-launched this year with monolever rear sus-
                                                                     80
pension and a smaller 60BHP engine (the original was 70BHP).
BMW's double-jointed single sides swing arm Paralever system
makes its debut this year. And again, BMW continues to pro-
duce for both the twins and K-series by offering the 1000cc
K100LT luxury cruiser a 580lb behemoth generating 90BHP at
8000rpm.

1988
Known as the ‘biggest dirt bike in the world’ and weighing in at
a healthy 463lbs, the R100G/S goes into production this year.
Utilizing a stronger frame with longer forks, BMW touted the
numerous modifications on this model by claiming you can
"count the number of unchanged component on one hand."
The R80G/S also goes into production with an optional Paris-
Dakkar version complete with larger fuel tank. Continuing to
veer away from its traditional aesthetics, the new motorcycles
were offered in classic black and also yellow. BMW is the first
company to make machines with electronic/hydraulic ABS, con-
sidered motorcycling’s safety aid of the decade.

1989
Designed the year before, BMW puts the futuristic K1, their
fastest road-going machine, into production. Overseen by the
current head of design at the time, Martin Probst, the avant-
garde motorcycle comes complete with the first-ever digital
engine electronics system. With a 1000cc, 4 cylinder engine it
can generate a massive power output of 100BHP at 8000rpm
and is clocked at 143mph. The K1 alienates some BMW tradi-
tionalists with its flashy bright red finish and yellow graphics but
it garners numerous headlines throughout the year flying in the
face of the conventional perception of BMW. -




heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
                                                          90
Having charged headlong into the future of motorcycle design with the K-series the decade
before, BMW continued to innovate while still remaining true to its heritage and its clientele.
The K-series received more updates and improvements and the twins, on top of receiving
their share of engineering finesse, also saw a an ancestor from 15 years ago come back to
life.




1990
A four-valve modified version of the K100RS is
launched this year. It will go on to be named motor-
cycle of the year five years running. 35,000
K100RS’s have been sold since its first production
period in 1983. ABS is now standard on all K-series
machines, a trend not adopted by other manufactur-
ers except on their high-end machines. BMW is pro-
ducing motorcycles at a robust rate of 26,000 per
year.

1991
On March 18th 1991 the one millionth BMW motor-
cycle rolls off the factory production floor. It is a
three cylinder K75RT that is eventually donated to
the Red Cross. Since it began producing motorcy-
cles BMW has now sold 230,000 singles, 634,000
twins and 136,000 multis. And of this army of
machines, 50% are still reported to be on the road.
Not content to rest on its laurels, BMW begins outfit-
ting all its motorcycles with three-way catalytic con-
verters. It is the first company to do so. And as a
seeming tip of the hat to its heritage, BMW re-releas-
es the R100R, last seen in 1976, complete with
retro-styling. It turns out to be a popular decision
and 8,041 are be sold by 1992.

1992
BMW continues to produce machines to meet
increasing demand. 25,761 R series (twins) and
11,408 K-Series, including the new K1100LT are
sold. This in a year when worldwide motorcycle
sales are dropping. Despite initial fears of the boxers
demise during the early K-series years, the flat twin
continues to sell (and perform) well with 100,000
heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
units sold since the first K-series was released in
1983. This number is all the more impressive when
considered against the roughly 600,000 twins that
have been sold since the R32 in 1923. In fact, BMW
offers eight boxer models in this year.

1993
                                                          90
With the second generation ABS system introduced
this year a new generation boxer appears as the
R1100RS sports tourer. Powered by a fuel-injected,
8 valve, twin cylinder engine (model name R259) it
achieves 90BHP at 7250rpm. The new twin is fitted
with both Paralever rear suspension and the new
Telelever front suspension. BMW also releases the
K100RS, which sports the new ABSII. In off-road,
about 62,000 G/S and GS machines have been
bought.

1994
BMW’s production single in 30 years, designed the
year before, is the F650 Funduro. It is actually the
result of a joint effort by the new European Union.
BMW, along with Italian manufacturer Aprilia and
Austrian brand Rotax designs this 650cc, 4 valve
single with power output measuring 48BHP at
6500rpm. The R1100GS enduro is also rolled out this
year featuring an ABS breaking system which can be
turned off during off-road use. In a departure from
their current designs, BMW makes the R850R and
the R1100R twins - unique as they are the first
BMW's in years to have no form fairing.

1995
Comprehensive fairing characterizes the R100RT
touring machine that is unofficially named the most
weatherproof high speed machine ever. Aside from
including catalytic converters standard on all motor-
cycles, BMW initiates a retro-fitting program to
upgrade older models. For the first time in its history,
BMW produces over 50,000 motorcycles in one year.
However, this is also the last year that the two-valve
traditional boxer is produced.




heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
1996
With the new year, the old two-valve boxers and the
three cylinder K 75 Series are phased out of produc-
tion. This signals the end of a 70-year period of
German motorcycle history. Since 1923, 685,830 old
boxers have been sold with 467,900 of them having
                                                        90
been produced in Berlin since 1969. But while they
did away with the old, they also ushered in the new,
introducing the company’s most powerful motorcycle
to date, the 4 cylinder liquid-cooled K1200RS.

1997
In response to a drop in demand for sporting
machines, BMW markets its first-ever chopper/cruis-
er the R1200C. It is based on the stripped down
"hogs," characterized by the substitution of lighter
components and the elimination of unnecessary
paraphernalia. Dr. Walter Hasselkus, the President of
BMW since 1993 is considered the godfather of the
1200C and it is David Robb who brings the project
to production. An instant icon, the machine is fea-
tured in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.
In this same year, the R1100RS is voted the
Motorcycle of the Year in the United States, Japan
and Australia.

1998
After a 12 year absence BMW returns to the Paris
Dakkar Rally with F650 competition motorcycles pilot-
ed by four time Paris Dakkar winner Edi Orioli, 2nd
place winner Oscara Gallaro, 5th place winner Jean
Brucy and Ladies Cup Winner Andrea Meyer.-




heritage/history      www.bmwmotorcycles.com
                                                        00
When you consider how much has evolved at BMW since 1923 its easy to imagine some
incredible progress in the coming years. Already the new millennium has been kind to
BMW with continued success both in competition and the marketplace. But despite all the
changes past and to come, in the end, it still boils down to one thing: As long as there are
riders, real riders, who demand only the best, BMW will continue to up the bar and then
leap over it.




2000
Releasing a much-anticipated update of the GS
series, the R 1150 GS boosts power from 1085cc to
1130cc without compromising its 10.3:1 compres -
sion ratio. 50% of the power gain is attributed to an
improved exhaust system. Also released this year is
BMWs most powerful luxury tourer, the 100hp 4-
cylinder k 1200LT. Rounding out the new millenni-
um's offerings is BMW's most powerful motorcycle
ever, the K 1200 RT with 130 horses and 86 lb-ft
torque. All this attention to power pays off as
Richard Sainct repeats his Paris-Dakar-Cairo victory
again this year.




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