The History of BMW Motorcycles

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The History of BMW Motorcycles

80 Years of BMW Motorcycles

The first BMW motorcycle – the R 32 is a big surprise. BMW, a company rooted in the production of aircraft engines, was not even two years old when the Peace Treaty of Versailles banned the production of aircraft engines in Germany in June 1919. The company was no longer permitted to produce its six-cylinder, 226 bhp, 19-litre engines and was restricted in 1920 to producing 500cc power units developing 6.5 bhp.

The horizontally-opposed cylinder layout became known as a “Boxer” and was supplied to motorcycle manufacturer, Victoria, in Nuremberg in 1921 and Bayerische Flugzeug Werke, who fitted the BMW engine and transmission into their Helios model.

BMW’s General Manager Franz-Josef Popp and his engineering colleagues decided that the best way to support and safeguard BMW’s reputation as an engine manu-facturer would be for the company to build its own motorcycles. Max Friz turns around the Boxer engine.

Max Friz (who had made a name for himself as an outstanding engineer even before the first World War) was given the task of building BMW’s first motorcycle. He had joined BMW in 1917 after having worked on Mercedes’ sensational Grand Prix winning, four-valve ohc. Friz also designed the Type IIIa aircraft engine, the most progressive power unit of its day.

While the small M 2 B 15 motorcycle engine developed by colleague Martin Stolle was no particular challenge to him, the job of building an entirely new motorcycle around the Boxer certainly gave him something to think about.

Relishing the challenge, Friz had a large drawing board and stove installed in the guest room of his house opposite the factory. By December 1922, he had produced a full-size, concept machine. His idea was to fit the engine at 90 degrees to the direction of travel, so that the crankshaft would run lengthwise on the motorcycle.

The gearbox (also with lengthwise shafts) would be driven directly by a friction clutch and a drive shaft would provide the drive train between the gearbox and the rear wheel. Although there were already several horizontally opposed engines on the mar-ket (the British ABC motorcycle featured an engine with transverse configuration, and both the Belgian FN and American Pierce motorcycle were equipped with a drive shaft) Max Friz was the first engineer to combine all these features on the BMW R 32.

Making its debut in Berlin.

BMW proudly presented its first motorcycle on 28 September 1923 at the German Motor Show in the Kaiser-damm Fair Halls in Berlin. This pitched the Munich Company against no less than 132 other motorcycle manufacturers in Germany alone. The BMW received great praise for its unique technical concept as well as the aesthetic appeal of the new machine.

The BMW R 32 entered series production before the end of 1923 and the first motorcycles were sold to customers for 2,200 reichsmarks following the end of a period of rocketing inflation in Germany. Although the R 32 was one of the most expensive motorcycles on the market, sales were positive.

Setting new standards of quality.

BMW’s new motorcycle stood out from its contemporaries not only because of the engine and gearbox configuration but also because of its frame structure. This consisting of two, fully enclosed steel tube hoops running parallel with each other. Fitted low in the machine’s frame, the Boxer engine lowered the centre of gravity and helped to significantly improve the handling and riding characteristics.

Although the front wheel fork allowed a small amount of spring travel, the use of leaf springs provided a certain inherent damping effect.

BMW riders began to reap the benefits of BMW’s experience as an aircraft engine manufacturer and because of the company’s choice of material – light alloy – which was used on the pistons for the first time. Another factor was the high standard of construction and reliability, something that had hardly ever seen before in a motorcycle. There was no chain drive between the engine and gearbox and no chain or belt leading to the rear wheel.

The valve shafts, as well as the springs, were sealed off and were dust and oil-tight at the tops on the cylinders. In conjunction with the fully enclosed lubricant circuit, this served to keep the motorcycle clean and to facilitate mainte-nance at all times. Jet-black, burnt-in paintwork and elaborate white decal lines set new standards in the quality of a motorcycle’s finish.

Success in motorsport.

Success on the racetrack is the best way to promote a new motorcycle – especially a new brand about to enter the market. Rudolf Schleich-er, a young BMW engineer was aware of this important factor. After finishing the detailed design and engineering work on the R 32, Rudolf entered the Mittenwalder Steig Hill-Climb race on 2 February 1924 and set a record time on his BM.

He also became the first winner in the long motorsport history of Bayerische Motoren Werke.

Using a machine with cast, light-alloy cylinder head designed and built by Rudolf Schleicher, with overhead valves encapsulated beneath a cover hood, three BMW works riders entered the Stuttgart Solitude race on 18 May 1924, each of them winning individual categories. Winning other signi-fi-cant races throughout Germany and with Franz Bieber bringing home the first championship, BMW becomes a leading manufacturer on the racetrack in its first year of motorcycle production. Works and private mo-tor-cycle riders from Munich were to dominate the German motorcycle racing scene in the years to come.

BMW’s unique shaft-driven Boxers also hit the headlines in Great Britain at the 1926 International Six Day Trial, causing a sensation in the country that was the home of mo-tor-cycle racing. Then, Paul Köppen and Ernst Henne won the Targa Florio in Sicily and the Italian press and public started to take a closer interest in BMW.

Continuous development and innovation.

Because of a growing demand in the market BMW soon expanded its range. Touring models – still equipped with side-valve power units – were supplemented by high performance, expensive, and exclusive sports machines that were powered by OHV engines. Despite Germany’s eco-nomic crisis, BMW successfully gained a strong foothold in the 200cc entry-level class in 1931 with the R 2. The single-cylinder model also featured shaft drive and many other components and qualities made famous by BMW’s larger models.

Development continued with stable, pressed-steel frames replacing the former tubular frame tech-nology. A 400cc single-cylinder engine was introduced into the range that also included the Boxers (now enlarged to 750cc) and the small 200cc, entry-level single-cylinder. All models benefited from regular improvements each year and BMW was the first manufacturer to produce a telescopic front wheel fork with hydraulic damping.

This was a milestone in motorcycle construction and first appeared on the R 12 and R 17 in 1935.

One year later an entirely new model entered the market – the R 5. On the new model, conically-drawn steel tubes with an elliptical cross-section were connected to each other by protective gas welding. The tele-scopic fork came complete with adjustable dampers, while the new 500cc power unit featured two camshafts and a single-piece tunnel/engine hous-ing.

The new BMW could now keep up with the fastest British bikes, yet was far superior in riding comfort, especially when the R 51, with straight-travel rear-wheel suspension, entered the market in 1938.

The German world of motorcycle construction.

Although tubular frame models served to modernise BMW’s range of machines, the police, postal office and military authorities still preferred pressed-steel frame models. This helped to maintain a great demand for the R 12 Boxer and the R 35 single-cylinder models.

BMW motorcycles were acknowledged as outstanding representatives of the “German world” of motorcycle construction and gained increasing popu-larity abroad. Particular assets were the motorcycles’ excellent quality and reliability, as well as their progressive, and in some cases quite unique, technical solu-tions.

The telescopic fork and rear-wheel suspension, fully-enclosed light-alloy cylinder heads and torsionally stiff, large brake anchor plates made of the same cast material, smooth-surface engine blocks, wide mudguards and enhanced rider comfort became increasingly significant. Other manufacturers soon followed suit.

World records and championships.

The idea came from Ernst Henne, who was also the man in the saddle for a challenge to set the world speed record for motorcycles. The story started in 1929 with a new speed record of 216.75 km/h or 134.39 mph. This involved no less than 76 world records on the way to a phenomenal 279.5 km/h or 173.29 mph on 28 November 1937.

It was a record destined to remain intact for the next 14 years and win BMW universal acclaim as a motorcycle manufacturer.

The use of compressors (superchargers) in series production ohv racing engines had already helped ensure continuous success in motorsport and in world speed record attempts. In 1935, BMW racing machines also boasted two overhead camshafts per cylinder (driven by side shafts) and were able to successfully hold their own against British and Italian competitors.

BMW’s first Grand Prix victories in 1936 and 1937 were followed by entry in the European Cham-pion-ship in 1938 – comparable to today’s world championships. Former off-road rider Schorsch Meier, made the compressor BMW almost unbeatable, winning the Senior TT in 1939 and bringing home BMW’s greatest racing victory so far – the Isle of Man TT, which was acknowledged as the greatest chall-enge in motorcycle racing.

From 1933-1935 BMW works riders won the International Six Days (the most significant reliability and off-road trial) three times. Amazed by this outstanding success, some specialists start to wax lyrical about the “best motorcycle in the world” with reference to the BMW Boxer.

A three-wheel, off-road motorcycle

Because they bought a large quantity of motorcycles, the military authorities were important customers for BMW in the Thirties. Single-cylinder R4 and R35 machines were used for training and messenger services, while the R11 and R12 served as sidecar machines for rapid transportation of soldiers or urgent supplies.

In their preparations for war, the German Wehrmacht saw the need to replace the cav-alry by sidecar motorcycles able to handle off-road conditions – effectively, motorcycle riders took the place of horse riders. The Supreme Command of the German Army specified design concepts and construction require-ments, calling for a driven sidecar wheel, a reverse gear and a reduction gearbox for off-road purposes.

Consequently, the R 75 was an all-new machine featuring a 750cc OHV power unit, a frame made of combined modules complete with a central profile segment and bolted-on tube connections, a telescopic fork with dou-ble-action hydraulic damping, and the drive technology required by the mili-tary. Even a limited-slip differential was added to the sidecar drive and with its trans-verse shaft the 420 kilo sidecar machine was able to tow a required load of more than 400 kilos or 880 lb.

Benefiting from the driven sidecar wheel, the machines set entirely new standards in off-road qualities, easily outperforming all-wheel-drive cars. From 1941–1944, BMW built more than 18,000 units of the R 75 Wehr-macht sidecar motorcycle. However, production moved in October 1942 to the BMW car plant in Eisenach.

Making a new start with one-cylinder.

Motorcycle components and production facilities were located at the Eisenach car plant, which was taken over by BMW in 1928 and became unavailable from 1947 when it was in the Soviet zone of Germany. Production continued but in Munich all the facilities were dismantled and the construction draw-ings confiscated. The individual parts and components used by Alfred Böning as specimens for developing a new motorcycle thus came from BMW dealers.

The 250cc single-cylinder R24 made its debut in 1948.

For the next six years German motorcycle manufacturers achieved unprecedented sales. In 1950, BMW reintroduced a two-cylinder Boxer but the single-cylinder models still accounted for the majority of sales. In just four years, production of the R25/3 amounted to 47,700 units. The image of the brand was further strengthened by outstanding success in racing. Hundreds of thousands watching Schorsch Meier and Walter Zeller dominate on their BMW racing machines.

In sidecar racing, BMW’s RS racing Boxers with side-shaft control and two overhead camshafts per cylinder scored an unprecedented series of victories and achieved 19 World Cham-pionships from 1945–1974, with Klaus Enders claiming the title six times.

Unique technology.

By introducing the R51/3, BMW launched a new generation of Boxer engines in 1951, placing even greater emphasis on reliability and supreme running smoothness. The R68 followed in 1952 and became BMW’s first 100 mph ma-chine when it offered a top speed of 160 km/h or 100 mph and stood out as a thoroughbred sports machine for the road. Newly developed suspension made headlines in 1955 by offering unprece-dented directional stability and suspension comfort, “full-swinging arm”

BMW suspension technology (front and rear) and established a new benchmark in motorcycle construction. Indeed, the entire model range, from the R26 single-cylinder through to the R50 and R60 touring, Boxers and high-performance R69 sports tourers now featured these technical fea-tures. Worldwide, BMW motorcycles became known as the epitome of supreme technical refinement with the emphasis on quality, handling and riding characteristics.

They are dependable, easy to service, reliable and enduring – even under the toughest conditions.

By the early Sixties, the motorcycle boom in Germany came to an end.

Continuous demand from authorities and foreign markets still justified BMW motorcycle production, albeit reduced by two-thirds. At the same time BMW car production took on great-er significance. BMW Director Helmut Werner Bönsch nevertheless stuck to the motorcycle, emphasizing that “building a motorcycle called for passion It is a particular skill for the engineer that remains young at heart”. h4Modern motorcycles for global success.

With motorcycling reaching the end of the road in Europe, as a means of transport, it was increasingly developing into a popular leisure and sports ac-tiv-ity in the USA (in the mid-Sixties). Indeed, it was for this lucrative market that new trends were seen in technology and design. To the great surprise of its contemporaries and the public, BMW launched an all-new range of mo-tor-cycles in the autumn of 1969 – motorcycles developed from scratch during the market’s worst years.

However, the timing was perfect. All major manufacturers introduced new and large-capacity machines in Britain, Italy and Japan. In Europe, BMW’s new ma-chines again met with growing interest.

Retaining the two-cylinder Boxer principle, BMW produced everything else from brand-new designs. The 500cc and 600cc models were supplemented by the top-of-the-range R 75/5, which fitted perfectly into the 750cc category that had become so popular. It was not only the engines that were new – with constant-pressure carburettors and an electrical starter on the R 75/5 – but the lighter, more advanced chassis and suspension ensured significant handling benefits.

From September 1969, BMW’s new motorcycles no longer came from Munich but were built in Berlin-Spandau at a former BMW aircraft engine plant. The move reflected the significant expansion of car production at BMW’s original plant, although BMW motorcycles were still designed, con-struct-ed and developed in Munich.

Continuous development along proven lines.

With demand for BMW motorcycles consistently increasing, more than 20,000 machines were leaving the factory in Berlin. In 1973 the company celebrated the 50th anniversary of BMW motorcycles and completed 500,000 units. In the same year the R 90 S received an upgrade in engine capacity and a significant increase in power.

The sporting character of the new machine was emphasised by the first cockpit fairing ever featured on a pro-duc-tion machine. Reg Pridmore subsequently won the US Superbike Championship in 1976 on a modified R 90 S.

The R 100 RS sports tourer launched in 1976 again boasted an even larger en-gine. More significant though, was the first full fairing on a large capacity production machine, developed as an integral part of the motorcycle and tested in a wind tunnel. Not surprisingly, the machine set new standards for long distance riding comfort and realistic road performance.

By introducing the R 45 and R 65 in 1978 the company expanded its range with the addition of the smaller Boxer models. BMW had eight motorcycles on the market with respective capacities of 473, 599, 649, 797, and 980cc.

Racing through the desert.

In 1980, the R 80 G/S production model took up the successful achieve-ments of the BMW factory team in off-road racing. The biggest endurance mo-torcycle at the time, the R 80 G/S was ideally suited for road use and for tackling rough terrain. BMW thus paved the way in an entire-ly new mar-ket segment for large-displacement touring enduros.

Its most important innovation was the BMW Monolever single swinging-arm on the rear wheel.

BMW off-road machines participated from the start in the long-distance Paris Dakar Rally – to the West African country of Senegal. In just three attempts the Boxer with its reliable cooling, low centre of gravity, and ease of maintenance offered by the shaft drive made its way to success in 1981. French desert specialist Hubert Auriol won the mo-tor-cycle category and was able to repeat the success in 1983.

The 1,000-cc twin-cylinder machines – based on the original series models – also won the title in 1984 and 1985. Former Motocross world champion Gaston Rahier of Belgium was able to leave the competition far behind. The R 80 G/S and its successor, the R 100 GS, quickly became remarkably successful machines in the BMW range.

In particular, “serious” motorcyclists the world over regularly covered global distances and preferred BMW’s enduro machines when riding through the desert terrain.

As a new symbol of the brand, the single swing-ing-arm was soon fitted to other BMW machines. Another BMW – entirely different yet typical of the brand.

In 1983 four cylinders and a liquid-cooling system were already state of the art technology for modern high-performance motorcycle engines. But just like his col-league Max Friz sixty years earlier, BMW engineer Josef Fritzenwenger suc-ceeded in creating a new technical concept using the system as a basis.

Referred to as BMW Compact Drive, the engine crankshaft was fitted lengthwise and connected directly to the gearbox by means of a counter-rotating interim shaft, with shaft drive to the rear wheel. The drive maintained BMW’s existing philosophy and at the same time set a new standard. The 987-cc straight-four power unit was fitted flat in a lengthwise arrangement – the crankshaft was on the right side, in the direction of travel, and the cylinder head with two overhead camshafts on the left.

Featuring electronic fuel-injection, the BMW K 100 entered the market with a maximum output of 90 bhp. The complete drive unit was mounted in an extra-light space frame in bridge configuration. The basic model was quickly joined by the K 100 RS sports tourer, with its innovative and highly effective fairing, and the K 100 RT touring model with an even larger fairing.

Two years after the launch of the K Series a 740cc three-cylinder version rounded off the range of in-line engine machines. The new model, the K 75, was also available in different variants, with its own range of fairings.

Safety for the rider, protection for the environment.

Ever since the Seventies, BMW had been the only motorcycle manufacturer to develop riderwear and equipment, and motorcycle helmets. In-deed, BMW helmets, with a pivoting front section, set new standards in the motorcycle world and were very popular with riders of other machines.

Safe riding, assured by good running gear and brakes, has always been one of the special merits of BMW motorcycles. A particular milestone came in 1988 with the introduction of the world’s first anti-lock brake system (ABS) on a motorcycle: This meant that, after thorough research and testing, BMW was able to pre-vent the motorcycle’s wheels from locking and also save the rider the risk of a fall. Realising that ABS was a significant improvement in safety design, serious riders took appropriate action and showed an even greater preference for BMW machines.

Various concepts for reducing exhaust emissions on BMW motorcycles proved equally popular. This kind of environmentally friendly technology was introduced throughout the entire BMW model range in 1991. The Boxer models featured SAS (Secondary Air System) exhaust gas combustion, and the K 75 and the K 100 en-tered the market with catalytic converters.

As the top model in the range, with aerodynamic bodywork including the front-wheel and rear fairing, the K 1 was the first motorcycle in the world to feature a fully controlled three-way catalytic converter. Its 16-valve four-cylinder power unit, with digitally controlled electronic engine manage-ment, provided an ideal configuration for this superior technology.

One million BMW motorcycles.

The production of motorcycles in BMW’s first full year – 1924 – amounted to slightly more than 1,500 units. By 1935 the output had increased to 10,005, and in 1939 production was double this amount. The record pro-duction volume of 29,699 units, recorded in 1954, wasd not seen again until 1977, after which production figures then fluctuate for a number of years.

Expansion of the plant with new facilities for the production of the K Series served to increase production volume in Berlin. BMW was therefore well prepared for the rapid increase in demand in the ’90s. On 18 March 1991 a K 75 RT came off the production line and was recorded as the millionth BMW motorcycle.

Then, just ten years later, production in Berlin alone reached the one million mark – the two-valve Boxer machines built from 1969–1996 accounted for the largest share at 512,644 units. But the four-valve models were quickly catching up.

The new Boxer generation.

The basic principle of the Boxer has remained unchanged – two air-cooled cylinders, horizontally opposed at the right and left, a gearbox directly connected to the en-gine, and a drive shaft leading to the rear wheel. Apart from these principles everything else was new on the BMW R 1100 RS when it was launched in 1993. There were now four valves in the cylinder heads, operated by short tappets from the camshafts, ar-ranged slightly lower down.

Digital Motor Electronics provided a maximum out-put of 90 bhp from 1,085cc and, together with a fully controlled cata-lytic converter, helped to keep the environment clean.

The drive unit formed a load-bearing element and there was no longer a frame in the conventional sense of the word. The front wheel was dependent on the Tele-lever – an innovative combination of a triangular swinging arm and a tele-scopic fork resting on the engine block – which offered advantages in terms of extra comfort and safety on the road. Safety was also ensured by the sophisticated braking system available as an option with BMW’s second-generation ABS.

The rear wheel ran on the Para-lever double-joint single swinging-arm, carried over from the K 1 and the R 100 GS, and employed a spring strut resting on a subframe at the rear of the machine. The body design of BMW’s new sports tourer, in turn, was part of the overall technical concept, placing particular emphasis on the Boxer en-gine. This acknowledgement of the traditional and still unique BMW motorcycle concept was warmly welcomed the world over.

The new model won numerous awards and quickly provided a significant increase in sales.

A new one-cylinder BMW.

BMW built single-cylinder motorcycles form 1925–1966. The “half-Boxers” had the same drive concept with a crankshaft running length-wise, a directly connected gearbox and the drive shaft leading to the rear wheel – but only one cylinder stood upright on the engine housing. Serv-ing as entry-level models they were very popular, particularly on the German market. This became clear to the decision-makers in Munich in the Nineties when considering various options for expanding the range.

This time, however, the unconventional aspect was not so much the technol-ogy used but the approach taken in development and pro-duction. Under the guidance of BMW, a European joint venture was estab-lished with Italian motorcycle manufacturer Aprilia and Austrian engine supplier Bombardier-Rotax to create the BMW F 650 Funduro.

Launched in 1993, the new single-cylinder machine was an appealing model in many respects, and helped BMW to quickly win new customer types, including many female riders. The F 650 proudly displayed the white-and-blue logo of the brand and naturally lived up to all BMW’s quality standards. This was confirmed by outstanding sales success.

Continuing success of the Boxer.

BMW quickly and successfully expanded the new R Series. In September 1993 the R 1100 GS enduro model hit the headlines at the Frankfurt Motor Show. BMW equipped the big enduro model withTelelever front-wheel suspension, a large 25-litre fuel tank and comfortable two-piece saddle.

It was a motorcycle that invited riders to enjoy the thrill of long adventures and motorcycle tours – tours that took place off the beaten track. BMW even offered a new practice area for the purpose in 1994 – the BMW Hechlingen Enduro Park, where experienced instructors provided helpful off-road safety tips and techniques.

The R 1100 R roadster, without fairing, joined the range in autumn 1994 and along with the smaller R 850 R, represented a new generation of Boxers. One year later, the R 1100 RT tourer with its all-new, comprehensive, full fairing was launched. The increase in the Boxers’ momentum was maintained with the R 1100 GS and R 1100 RT battling it out for top position and ensuring new sales records for a number of consecutive years.

Starting in spring 1995, production at BMW’s motorcycle plant in Berlin was expanded to two shifts and produced a daily output of 230 motorcycles. This was the first year in which BMW sold more than 50,000 units on the global market. In the light of its success the company had no doubts in allowing the old two-valve Boxer generation to retire a year later.

The last R 80 GS Basic was built on 19 December 1996. In the following summer, the 100,000th new Boxer, a R 850 R, was ridden on the road by a lady rider from Italy.

The four-cylinder takes on new challenges.

In summer 1996 BMW bid farewell to the three-cylinder models. This was despite sales of the K 75 variants amounting to 68,011 units in 11 years. Also in 1996 BMW launched a new four-cylinder model, the K 1200 RS with an engine that displaced 1,171cc and developed maximum output of 130 bhp.

BMW K-Series Naked

The most powerful BMW motorcycle was convincing, not only in power output, but also through its suspension and running gear. This gave the new sports tourer superior performance in most riding situations. The drive unit, which was suspended in a cast light-alloy, bridge frame, served to minimise vibrations while the front wheel employed the unique BMW Telelever for added stability.

The powerful four-cylinder machine was the first K mo–del to incorporate BMW’s innovative suspension technology – setting new standards for the sports tourer segment of the market.

Cruiser, athlete, luxury tourer

Until 1997 a large-capacity V2 power unit was regarded as the only choice for powering an authentic cruiser. But BMW tore up the blueprints and presents the motorcycle world with an entirely new and different interpretation that was based on the Boxer philosophy and proven on the highways of Arizona in the USA.

The R 1200 C combined the progressive technology of BMW motorcycles with Digital Motor Electronics, Telelever suspension, highly effective brakes featuring ABS as an option, as well as a new design language. BMW simply took the typical qualities shown by a cruiser when it was gliding along – su-preme engine torque and a relaxed seating position – and enhanced them.

The complete opposite happened with the R 1100 S in 1998. A sporting, crouched riding position with the footrests mounted not at the front but further back and higher, together with a high-performance, spontaneous power unit running on agile suspension re-presented exactly the opposite concept – precisely what the most dynamic Boxer R 1100 S had to offer. An increase in engine out-put to 98 bhp and, for the first time, a six-speed gearbox ensured superior performance on the road.

The powerful and sporting design with exhaust pipes fitted beneath the rear of the seat was typical BMW-style and it ap-pealed to the BMW customer in every way.

In September 1998 BMW launched the K 1200 LT at the Intermot Motorcycle Show in Munich. The new luxury tourer was conceived and built for optimum motorcycle safety and comfort – the same consideration also being given to passenger ergonomics. Driven by a four-cylinder engine built for supreme torque at low engine speeds, the K 1200 LT with its light-alloy frame and Telelever suspension was, by luxury cruiser standards, quick, agile and dynamic.

These were surprising characteristics because of the machine’s not-inconsiderable weight, a consequence of the number of features and diverse range of original equip-ment. On the contrary, the luxury tourer excelled because of its outstanding handing qualities.

The LT’s maximised protection from wind and adverse weather was ensured by bodywork opti-mis-ed in BMW’s wind tunnel. A reverse gear provided superior parking manoeuvrability and integrated luggage cases and a top-case afforded ample carrying capacity – all as standard. The music system, cruise control and heated seat are just some of the many options available.

Big surprises in the Paris–Dakar Rally.

The Funduro was not a serious, competitive off-road machine and this was clear following a test run through the desert in 1998. However, it did not prevent four BMW works riders from entering the 1999 Paris Dakar Rally (starting in Granada). After 18 days and 9,022 kilometres, the winner was Richard Sainct, a French rider from St Affrique riding the 75 bhp rally version of the BMW F 650.

In the year 2000, BMW again entered the rally, which was run from Dakar to Cairo in Egypt. The company entered four, further im-proved F 650 RR machines, but also sprang a big surprise with two R 900 RR models. The newly developed rally version of the 8-valve Boxer cross-ed the finishing line with Jimmy Lewis in the saddle in third place in its very first competition.

It completed the course right in the middle of a group of F 650 RR riders and ensured that BMW filled the top four places. Richard Sainct achieved a second successive victory with Oscar Gallardo in second and Jean Brucy fourth.

This one-two victory by BMW’s single-cylinder machine was the perfect prelude for the market launch of the new F 650 GS – which followed two months later. The new model retained the supreme standard of on-road riding qualities but this was supplemented by a significant improvement in the model’s off-road capability.

The 2000 “one-four” result beneath the pyramids did not repeat itself in 2001. Lady Luck deserted the riders and a series of accidents put paid to the BMW R 900 RR’s attempt at successive victories. However, Andrea Mayer – once again on an F 650 RR – did make it all the way and won the Paris Dakar Rally, Ladies’ Cup for the third time in a row.

Entering the new millennium with a new name

The year 2000 meant, not only victory in the Paris Dakar Rally, but new models and innovations right through the year. It was also a year of change for BMW’s Sparte Motorrad Motorcycle Division despite operating with increasing success from one year to the next. The motorcycle divi-sion of the BMW Group was renamed worldwide as “BMW Motorrad”.

The newly named company would offer, not only motorcycles and rider equipment, but a growing range of services, and motorcycle skills and leisure programmes for BMW enthusiasts.

The BMW C1 – a truly innovative concept

The concept was to combine the benefits of a motorised two-wheeler with all the safety features of an auto-mobile – agility, compact dimensions (on the road and when parking), carefully designed safety cell with deformation units, shoulder bars and two seat belts. It became the all-new, motorcycle philosophy of the BMW C1.

Far more than just a motorcycle with a roof, the BMW C1 is a highly developed and truly sophisticated two-wheeler with elaborate technology that allows the rider to drive without a helmet or protective clothing. The design began with the powerful 125-cc four-stroke engine featuring four-valve technology, electronic engine management with fuel injection, and a fully controlled three-way catalytic converter. The high technological approach extended to the Telelever front wheel forks, ABS braking system, frame and body safety confi-guration, and wide range of comfort features and model fitments.

The BMW C1 entered the market in the spring of 2000 and soon became an everyday sight in European cities as a means of fast urban transport and as an entry-level model for the teenage, novice motorcyclist.

Berlin operating all-out.

BMW motorcycles are more popular than ever before and production capacities are being increased all the time. Apart from the Boxers and four-cylinder machines, BMW single-cylinder models are now being produced in Berlin. The new F 650 GS entered the market in spring 2000 as successor to the BMW Funduro.

The first version of the F 650 GS achieved a production run of no less than 64,339 units. It boasted a 50 bhp single-cylinder engine with fuel-injection – which were unprecedented features in its market segment. A further unique feature, designated BMS-C is BMW’s Compact Engine Management system developed completely in-house.

A lamb-da probe oxygen sensor and G-type catalyst round off the wide range of standard equipment.

The F 650 GS has now been rede-sign-ed, not only visually but to give an even greater off-road experience. ABS has been made available as an option. In addition, there is a special Paris Dakar version with longer spring travel, off–road tyres and the same decal trim as BMW’s victorious works machines.

The F 650 GS is built in Berlin on a new assembly line. Indeed, the expansion of capacity at BMW’s motorcycle plant was made possible through close co-operation with the company’s suppliers and boosted daily pro-duction in 2001 to 440 motorcycles. BMW’s annual production, in the same year, was 90,478 machines.

All models with catalytic converter and ABS

BMW’s Boxer machines are in great demand, the various models having set new standards in their respective market segments. But even this is not sufficient for BMW’s development engineers in their commitment to create new variants and new developments over and above the regular model update process. Benefiting from an increase in engine capacity, the R 1150 GS offers an even better torque curve and the new gearbox comes with a sixth gear to reduce engine speed through its overdrive function.

The cruiser range has been supplemented by the R 850 C, with a somewhat smaller engine, and by the new R 1200 C Avant-garde and R 1200 C Independent versions. Another new model that made its appearance in 2001 was the R 1150 R “naked” bike, referred to by BMW Motor-rad as the “Roadster” because to its fresh, innovative design and “no frills” riding approach.

The touring Boxer also became the R 1150 RT by increasing engine capacity to 1130cc and incorporating a six-speed gearbox. Identical improvements were also introduced on the R 1150 RS. The robust and versatile R 1150 GS has also been complemented by the introduction of a variant called the Adventure which has been equipped with a comprehensive range of long-distance touring equipment.

And last but most cer-tainly not least, all BMW motorcycles, including the C1, came as standard with injection engines boasting a G-type catalytic converter and ABS brakes – features no other manufacturer could offer.

In 2001, BMW Motorrad introduced third generation ABS technology, called BMW Integral ABS, with two important additional functions. Firstly, it used an all-new electro-hydraulic brake servo and an integral braking system. The handbrake or footbrake lever acted simultaneously on the front and rear-wheel brakes thus ensuring adaptive brake force distribution, depending on the load the motorcycle is carrying.

The big safety benefits offered by the global innovation are the reduction of brake operating forces and an even shorter stopping distance.

BMW Motorrad BoxerCup.

The idea to stage a racing series with identical BMW R 1100 S machines originated in France. After two seasons in France and Belgium the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup became a truly international event in 2001.

30 riders from all over Europe competed in seven races alongside the motorcycle 500cc Grand Prix (now MotoGP) or at the long distance World Endurance Championship racing weekends on production-based versions of the BMW R 1100 S. Participation by famous guest riders added additional spice to the keenly fought and exciting races. Ex-Grand Prix star Randy Mamola was actually hired as the BoxerCup ambassador but also took to the saddle from time to time. Stéphane Mertens of Belgium finally claimed overall victory in the series.

An even larger number of 32 riders from ten countries enrolled for the eight races of the 2002 season, guaranteeing interest and rivalry throughout the whole of Europe. This was reflected not only in the closeness of the races, but also in results. New faces appeared on the podium time and again, with a whole series of riders maintaining their chances for overall victory up to the final race of the sea-son.

The winner’s spoils once again went to Stéphane Mertens who proudly drove home in a new BMW sports coupé.

In 2003, its third international year, the BMW Motorrad BoxerCup made its debut in the USA where the first of nine races took place at Daytona on 9 March. From there the series went to Oulton Park (GB), Le Mans (F), Mugello (I), Barcelona (E), Assen (NL), Spa-Francorchamps (B), Sachsenring (D), and finally Brno (CZ).

A bigger model range than ever before

When it launched the F 650 CS in 2002, BMW introduced a new type of road machine that followed in the footsteps of the F 650 GS Funduro but shared only the single-cylinder power unit with its sister model. The model name “Scar-ver” stands for agile handling and dynamic engine characteristics. A new technical feature is the low-maintenance, toothed belt-drive to the rear wheel.

Through its design and accessories, the Scarver intentionally makes a big departure from conventional motorcycle concepts. The range of BMW cruisers also grew. The R 1200 CL ranked as a luxury cruiser with an unmistakable front-end that featured four headlights in a new tourer fairing.

An integrated luggage system has been fitted as essential standard equipment, and excellent ergonomics are employed for same re-laxed seating posture for both rider and passenger.

Comfort was the also a primary feature on the new K 1200 GT – a developed version of the four-cylinder sports tourer with a modified fairing, a newly styled windshield and many interesting details. The BMW R 1100 S BoxerCup replica goes in another direction. The attractive road-going version of the racing machine shared a number of common fea-tures over and above the special paintwork.

Examples are the sports sus-pen-sion with longer spring struts allowing the rider to lean at a sharper angle, the wider rear wheel and of course the characteristic valve cover made of carbon-fibre.

The R 1150 R Rockster proved to be such a popular design study when it was shown at the Munich Intermot Show in September 2002, that BMW decides to enter pro-duction. The resulting model is characterised by its particularly extravagant sporting appearance. Like all other Boxers in the 2003 model year, the Rockster comes with BMW’s new (twin-spark) dual-ignition serving to further improve emission control on BMW motorcycles.

BMW Motorrad becomes the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe

BMW Motorrad has developed, in the last decade, into the largest manufacturer of motorcycles on the Continent. Motorcycle production at BMW’s Ber-lin plant in 2002 increased again, this time by 2.8 per cent. A grand total of 93,010 motorcycles clearly confirmed BMW’s top position in Europe.

The year 2002 was also a record year in sales. 92,559 units marked the 10th an-nual record in a row and brought the company close to the magic threshold of 100,000 units per year.BMW Motorrad is consistently expanding its position in all markets, achiev-ing particularly impressive growth once again in Germany, where the com-pany now ranks second overall in terms of registrations. Looking into the future, the focus remains on profitable growth with new models, ongoing investments in the expansion of the plant, and a highly efficient dealer and sales organisation.

BMW K-Series Naked
BMW K-Series Naked
BMW K-Series Naked
BMW K-Series Naked

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