90 years of BMW motorrad: an evolution of the motorcycle
90 years of BMW motorrad: an evolution of the motorcycle 90 years of BMW motorrad: an evolution of the motorcycle
may 29, 2013

90 years of BMW motorrad: an evolution of the motorcycle

90 years of BMW motorrad: an evolution of the motorcycleimage courtesy BMW group



in celebration of BMW motorrad’s 90th anniversary, designboom visited villa d’este in lago como during the 2013 concorso d’eleganza, where the german manufacturer showcased their most popular and iconic motorcycles from the last century. featuring the 1923 R 32 (the first ever production BMW two-wheeled motor vehicle) and other classics such as the 1973 R 90 S, the photographs overview a classic retrospective into the german company’s breakthrough bike design and inventions from the past 90 years.



90 years of BMW motorrad in 90 seconds
video courtesy bmwmotorrad

the 1923 BMW motorrad R 32 in productionimage courtesy BMW group



BMW took over the production of helios motorcycles, producing their first bike in 1923 under the BMW name. the company’s first model was the BMW R 32, a motorcycle that was distinctly different to the helios and victoria bikes with respect to the crankshaft; the engine was not mounted in a transverse direction but longitudinally, in line with the direction of travel. the R 32 was presented at the berlin motor show in september 1923.

1923 BMW motorrad R 32image courtesy BMW group



even in 1923, ergonomics played a major role in the development of the R 32. it had a large, finely-padded seat, secured foot panels and a special handlebar shape that allowed fatigue-free riding enjoyment, even over long distances.

original R 32 drawingsimage courtesy BMW group

diagram of a BMW 494cc boxer engine in 1923image courtesy BMW group

the R 32 at villa d’este during the ’90 years of BMW motorrad installation’ at concorso d’eleganzaimage © designboom



90 years of BMW motorrad: an evolution of the motorcyclevideo © designboom

classic BMW motorcycles during villa d’este during the ’90 years of BMW motorrad’ installation at concorso d’eleganzaimage © designboom

classic BMW motorcycles during villa d’este during the ’90 years of BMW motorrad’ installation at concorso d’eleganzaimage © designboom

the road to racing: a BMW R 37 at the start of the schleiz triangle race in 1926image courtesy BMW group

BMW R 16 with a royal sidecarimage courtesy BMW group



in the 1930’s BMW boxer motorcycles were common choices for sidecars fans. the most popular being the R 11 and R 16, as their compressed steel frames provided an extremely sturdy and reliable base for the often tough conditions of sidecar use. additionally, these offered high-power, strong torque boxer engines employed in conjunction with the virtually maintenance-free shaft drive to the rear wheel.

BMW R 17: the first production hydraulic telescopic forksimage courtesy BMW group



BMW introduced the R 17 in 1935, integrating a new telescopic fork front wheel suspension system, which was well suited for the sporty design of the motorcycle. the 735 cc boxer engine generated 33 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and achieved a top speed of 140 km/h. in parallel to the development of the new chassis technology, from 1935, BMW also began to enter the new ‘RS 500 type 255’ supercharged racer in motor sport events. this too was fitted with hydraulically damped telescopic forks.

BMW R 17image courtesy BMW group



BMW introduced its first model since the end of the second world war at the geneva motor show in 1948. the company continued to integrate its traditional bore-stroke ratio of 68 to 68mm, resulting in an engine size of 247 cc. with a compression ratio of 6.75:1, the motorcycle generated 12 horsepower at 5,600 rpm. visually, the R 24 incorporated a new rear lamp, newly designed luggage rack, and typical hand-drawn line decorations on the fuel tank, front and rear mudguards.

BMW R 10 b scooter sketchimage courtesy BMW group



at the beginning of the 1950’s italian manufacturers triggered a boom in motor scooters, encouraging BMW to add this type of vehicle to its development queue. the prototype of the bike was heavily influenced by motorcycle design. in 1952, developers created a visual aesthetic similar to the scooters currently on the market. the high metal panels on the central tunnel were atypical for the small motor vehicle, while the sprung saddle was more reminiscent of a motorcycle. the R 10 had a three-speed gearbox with an engine output of 10 horsepower – which at the time was plenty for its size.

mobility 1954: the R 10 scooter studyimage courtesy BMW group

motorcycle production at the BMW plant in berlin: assembly line production of the /5 seriesimage courtesy BMW group

1973 BMW R 90 Simage courtesy BMW group



based on the design of the /5 series, a number of more powerful models were produced, all of them with a crankshaft with 70.6 stroke. the highlight was the 1973  R 90 S, with a displacement of which had grown to 898 cc with a 90mm bore. thanks to the 38mm larger carburetor and a compression of 9.5, it generated 67 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, and achieved a top speed of 200 km/h. this made it the fastest series-built BMW motorrad to date.

image courtesy BMW group

the sporty character of the R 90 S is characterized by the aggressive red insignia on the engineimage courtesy BMW group

1980 BMW R 80 G/S – the original GS which laid the foundation for a new segmentimage courtesy BMW group



the R 80 G/S was introduced at the cologne motor show in september 1980. the enduro with a capacity of 800 cc and two cylinders had never existed in the form of a large-scale serial production bike. the R 80 G/S provided a boxer engine producing 50 horsepower at 6,500 rpm

1988 BMW K 1 – four valve technology in serial productionimage courtesy BMW group



when the bike first appeared, the design of the K 1 split the motorcycle world into two different reactions: rapturous enthusiasm on the one hand, off-hand rejection on the other. the bike became a classic because of its innovation in excellent wind and weather protection.

1996 BMW K 1200 RSimage courtesy BMW group

2006 BMW HP2 megamotoimage courtesy BMW group

2007 BMW HP2 sport: an exclusive high-performance sports bike with boxer engineimage courtesy BMW group

2012 BMW HP4image courtesy BMW group

2013 BMW concept ninetyimage courtesy BMW group

  • Seems like they are ashame of the c1. and I think it’s an amazing design and concept

    Juan says:

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