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BMW Motorbike History

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  • 01-10-2022
BMW Motorbike History

BMW Motorbike History

BMW has had a very interesting life indeed. As you may be aware the company began life creating aircraft engines. After World War 1 they were no longer allowed to build these engines and decided to follow a different path. This decision gave birth to the motorcycle part of BMW. In 1921 they began manufacturing engines for other companies.

Finally in 1923 they introduced the R32, the first motorcycle to be created by BMW Motorrad. In 1921, BMW began building its M2B15 flat-twin engine. The engine was designed by Max Friz for use as a portable industrial engine. The M2B15 was widely used by many motorcycle manufacturers of the time. Most notably Victoria of Nuremberg and Bayerische Flugzeugwerke owned their own Helios motorcycle. In 1922 BMW merged with Bayerische Flugzeugwerke inheriting their Helios motorcycle and a small two-stroke motorized bicycle called the Flink.

In 1923, BMW's first ever "across the frame” version of the boxer engine was designed by Friz and thus the R32 was born. At a time when most other companies were using total-loss oiling systems, BMW was using a new method. They used a recirculating wet sump oiling system with a drip feed to roller bearings. This same system was used right up until 1969. At this time they adopted the "high-pressure oil” system based on shell bearings and tight clearances. This is the configuration that BMW bikes still use today.

The R32 became the foundation for all future boxer powered BMW motorcycles. BMW orientated the cylinder heads projecting out on each side of the frame for cooling as did the earlier British ABC. This configuration is still largely used today to cool the engines. For this and many other reasons, BMW has cemented its legacy within the Motorbike industry.


Old BMW Motorbike


New BMW Motorbike

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