BMW R7 Motorcycle by Alfred Boning – Review

21 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on BMW R7 Motorcycle by Alfred Boning – Review

BMW R7 – A Forgotten Engineering Miracle

That happened more than 75 years ago. BMW company created new sports-luxury motorcycle prototype with simple name – BMW R7 . This machine was created and developed by talented german engineer – Alfred Böning .

First and only prototype was introduced in 1934. Shortly after, project was closed, and BMW R7 never saw mass production. Plans and parts of motorcycle were sealed and kept in a box for over 70 years. And finally in 2005, engineering plans and parts that remained from motorcycle were used, and BMW R7 was recreated.

 But for now let’s get back to history.

Boning wanted to invent something totally unusual and unseen before. He planned to show design and engineering capabilities of BMW at its best.

It was risky and radical decision – Boning intended to change standard motorcycle design of the 1930’s completely. He didn’t know if public could accept extravagant design of R7, but he was persistent and his project came true, despite several financial problems.

It was the glorious motorcycle, with enclosed bodywork (probably for first time) and pressed steel bridge frame. For the first time ever telescopic front forks were used, they were installed on every motorcycle in Germany after 1935, however for R7 it was an exception, and forks were used even before they came to mass production.

Frame itself was made from steel, but there were some parts made with monocoque method, which was used exceptionally rare for motorcycles and cars. Every single detail and part was carefully designed; even mudguards were stylish and innovative. Also extensive use of chrome added a lot to bikes design, it looked futuristic and powerful.

It was motorcycle like no other and the world never seen anything like that before (even by modern standards R7 still looks exceptionally great). And it wasn’t only looks. Comfort and technical parameters were ahead of their time as well.

Heart of this monster was extremely well crafted M205/1 motor. It was 800cc (790) boxer engine, 2 valves per cylinder; which produced 34.94bhp (25.7kW) at 5000rpm! And that was in 1934.

Again, for the first time in a European motorcycle, the engine was crafted in one-piece tunnel design. Crankshaft was forged in a single piece too. Cylinder and its head was a monoblock unit, which eliminated possible problems with head gasket. And such problems were pretty common at that time. Aside of that combustion chamber was hemispherical, and with several other innovations like separated con-rod ends, performance was amazing.

Many of those features were not available for BMW motorcycles until /5 Series was introduced, in 1969! Not surprisingly project was led by Alfred Böning.

Gearbox was 4-speed with dry, single plate, cable operated clutch. While hand gear change was common at that time, no motorcycle had such easy, functional form of gear changing. It was similar to car’s gearbox actually.

Gear ratios were pretty wide, and even with that BMW R7 had maximum speed of 145km/h!

Person driving that bike would sit on the sprung saddle, gripping the side covers (that could be opened to reveal the electrics) with his knees. His feet were greatly protected on the steel footboards. Speedometer was functional and very different; it was similar to speedometers that were used for prestige cars of the era.

This motorcycle has been aimed at the truly successful people, because it was very expensive and rare.

All was functioning and looking in perfect synergy. Even exhaust pipe was uniquely shaped, and I need to say it was fantastic! Aside of that, taillight was sculptured in the interesting shape, and it even had the word “Stop” illuminated in the lens. Also motor hung in original position from the pressed steel frame.


Again, it was so different, comparing to usual motorcycles from 1930’s.

Without any doubt BMW M7 was a glorious motorcycle, but it was too expensive and hard to build. Company decided to produce inexpensive sporty motorcycles, which were quite affordable to general public. Strangely, R7 was never seen on any motorcycle shows at that time, so almost no one has heard about it. As war approached, motorcycle was put in a box, along with construction plans.

Some parts were stripped and used for other motorcycles.

When box with R7 was finally opened (In June 2005), bike was in quite bad condition. While motorcycle was 70% complete, many parts were damaged by rust. And on top of that electric battery caused serious corrosion of steel.

It was expensive long-term project, but BMW wasn’t giving up.

Various specialists from BMW started to work on this project. Bodywork was handed to Hans Keckeisen, and another specialist in vintage boxer engines (Armin Frey) was working on the priceless motor. Gearbox, transmission and engine needed to be replaced, and while several missing parts were not hard to find from other vintage models, some needed to be re-created again.

Luckily original construction plans from 1930’s were found in the BMW archives, and re-creation process became easier.

Finally, in late 2007, all parts were found, re-built and put together. Motorcycle was painted with BMW signature black paint; later white pin-stripes were added. Over 70 years passed, and motorcycle was kicked into life again.

Now it’s just not for static display in the BMW museum, it will be seen on the road classic events and shows throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Many bike fans were very lucky when they saw this miracle at the BMW Motorrad.

Thanks to the BMW team, now we can see this terrific motorcycle on photos. And they give us idea how well R7 was developed, and how much it was ahead of its time!

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