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BMW Classic Motorcycles & Cafe Racers

Sunday, February 15, 2009 9:15 AM

BMW Classic Motorcycles & Cafe Racers

BMW Classic Motorcycles began as Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH, an engine manufacturing company founded by by Karl Friedrich Rapp in 1913. Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH built V12 airplane engines for Austro-Daimler through 1916, when Karl Friedrich Rapp (1882—1962) merged with Nikolaus August (Gustav) Otto (1883—1926) of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (aka: BFW or "Bavarian Aircraft Works"). The merged company was renamed Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, which is commonly known as the "Bavarian Motor Works," or "BMW."

BMW Classic Motorcycles. In 1917, Austrian industrialist Franz Josef Popp took over the company along with fellow Austrians Max Friz (1883—1966) and Italian financier Camillo Castiglioni (1879—1957), renaming it 'BMW AG' (BMW Aktiengesellschaft). Throughout 1917 and 1918 BMW AG manufactured the six-cylinder Type IIIa aircraft engine.
By 1918, Germany was loosing WWI, and an armistice was declared, leading to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Under the terms of the treaty, Germany was to abandon its Air Force, leaving manufacturers like BMW AG to build civilian, non-aviation products. BMW AG began by manufacturing agricultural machinery, office furniture and toolboxes.

BMW Classic Motorcycles. The Chief Design Engineer at BMW during this period was Max Friz, who started out as a mechanical engineer specializing in engine design for the Kuhn Steam Engine company in Cannstatt. By 1922, Friz convinced BMW to turn its attention to motorcycle engines, built for Victoria Motorcycles in NŸrnberg. The Victoria/BMW engine was a 6.5hp 494cc two-cylinder, side-valve horizontally-opposed 'flat-twin' engine that was to be a model for future BMW 'boxer' engines.
BMW's first complete motorcycle was the 1920 'Flink' which had a 148cc Kurier two-stroke engine. In 1921 BMW built the 'Helios' using an in-house M2B15 engine. Neither were great sellers, and the improved 'BMW R32' began production in 1923.

BMW R32 (1923 to 1926)
The R32 also had a flat-twin two-cylinder side-valve 'boxer' engine design. The 494cc R32 had an exposed 'cardan' driveshaft final drive, and a three-speed transmission. The chassis had a rigid tubular-frame with sprung seat, and twin-cantilever front suspension.

BMW Classic Motorcycles. The flat-twin engine's longitudinal crankshaft enabled the final drive-shaft to be driven directly from the gearbox. There was no front brake on the original R32, and the rear brake was a large friction-type ring mounted to the rear wheel, that was slowed by wooden blocks.
The R32's two-cylinder four-stroke 'boxer' engine produced 8.5 hp at 3,200 rpm, generating a top speed of 60 mph (96 km/h). A total of 3,090 units were produced in the R32's 3 year production cycle.
In 1925, BMW introduced the 250cc R39, using its first proprietary single-cylinder engine. All BMW motorcycles were manufactured at the BMW Motorradwerke's factory in MŸnchen (Munich), where over 440,000 motorcycles were built between 1922 and 1969, when the motorcycle factory was moved to Berlin.

BMW R63 (1928 to 1929)
BMW Classic Motorcycles. The BMW R63 series began in 1928, with a 735 cc flat twin M60 boxer engine, exposed driveshaft, and three-speed gearbox. The chassis had a rigid tubular-frame with 'sprung-seat' rear suspension, and six laminae plate-spring (trailing link) front suspension.
1932 was the first year that BMW used dual carburetors. By 1935, all BMW motorcycles were equipped with a rear drum brake, and by 1937, BMW introduced its first foot-controlled gearbox.
In 1939, BMW acquired the BRAMO Brandenburg Motor Works factory in Berlin, and began building military aircraft engines for the Junkers JU52 at the facility.

BMW R51, R51/2, R51/3, R6 (1938 to 1954)
BMW Classic Motorcycles. The BMW R51 series began in 1938, with a 494 cc flat twin 'boxer' engine, exposed driveshaft, plunger rear suspension, and their newly-invented telescopic oil-damped front fork suspension.

The BMW Motorcycles Gallery. Images of classic bikes and vintage motorcycles. Great photos and loads of classic bike information for all enthusiasts. At Old Classic Motorcycles

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