There aren’t many companies out there that represent the longevity and prestige the BMW brand does. But, many people aren’t aware that the famous manufacturer actually had its start producing aircraft engines in the early part of the 20th century! They’ve come through World War I and World War II at the top of their game, creating innovations in both automobiles and motorcycles.
For those avid bikers who are looking for a new ride or the novice that wants to get into the game, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to the BMW brand. Whether you see yourself on the back of a cruising bike or in the expertly powerful BMW GS series, there’s a model for every rider. Learn about the backstory of this formidable company for an even more remarkable experience before you buy.
All about BMW
BMW is a force in the motorcycle arena and has been making waves for nearly a century. Incorporated as Bayerische Motoren Werke in 1913, the company has come a long way from its beginnings producing aircraft engines for the Prussian Army. But, World War I changed all of that for the legendary automaker. Germany was no longer allowed to make airplane engines due to the Treaty of Versailles. As a result, the company shifted its focus towards the art of the two-wheeled vehicle, the motorcycle.
In 1920, the company developed the 2-stroke 148cc Kurier motor using their experience with aircraft engines. The M2 B15 was developed in 1921 which incorporated the company’s designs from their early years of the invention.
It was in 1923 that the pieces of the puzzle began to fall in place and the company came out with its first motorcycle design. The 486cc R 32 was created by the famous designer Max Friz, which was a vast improvement over the M2 B15. However, it didn’t take long for the manufacturer to best itself again. In 1925, the R 32 model was released as a racing bike known as the R 37. The R 39 and the R 47 followed soon after as improvements to their original bike model.
BMW released a pretty solid stream of models during the 1920s, but nothing was to be as big as their 1928 release, the 750cc R 62. The R 62 tapped out at 71 miles per hour and could beat out the best of them! In 1929, Ernst Henne set a record of 134 miles per hour on a supercharged version of the bike, proving the power of the model.
The 1930s were an economically difficult time in Germany, and much like the company had reinvented itself a decade earlier, it was time to revamp again. They produced the 198cc R 2 at the decade’s turn, a smaller bike model that was more economically viable and did not require a licence. In 1932, the R4 featuring a 398cc engine followed. Though the Great Depression made it difficult for BMW to stay in business, its contract with the German Army for the R4 motorcycle enabled the company to sustain itself through the hard years.
The company shifted back to producing airplanes with the arrival of World War II. However, that didn’t mean they didn’t continue to produce motorcycles. In fact, the release of the R 75 motorcycle in 1941 represents a dark part of the company’s famed history. The bike came in at a whopping 925 pounds and was designed for war, so much so that it could even be fitted with a machine gun. It was such a good model that the United States brought the bike back so that American motorcycle manufacturers could copy their design! However, the bikes would never see the light of day even though many prototypes were created.
BMW was barred from producing motorcycles after the war as a result of its assistance to Germany in World War II. Instead, the company turned to making bicycles because patents for their bike models were taken over and redesigned by other manufacturers. Fortunately, the turn away from motorcycles didn’t last long. In 1948, the company got back into the motorcycle manufacturing business. It started with the R 24 featuring the largest engine that could be produced at the time, a 250cc.
While the company released many new models in the 1950s, there were no new models between 1961 and 1968. In 1969, the /5 Series changed all that with the release of its bikes featuring electric starters. BMW celebrated its 50th anniversary in the 1970s and introduced the /7 Series as well as the R100RT, one of the best touring bikes around. The company continued to win competitions throughout this time and innovated with the appearance of the water-cooled K Series on the market. The K Series featured an electric ignition and fuel injection and clocked in at 132 miles per hour.
In 1985, BMW motorcycles designed the K75, is the first three-cylinder motorcycle that consumed less fuel and possessed improved agility. The company also relaunched a variety of popular bikes including the R100RS and the R100RT. Soon after, in 1988, the R100G/S was released and became known as the biggest dirt bike in the world at a whopping 463 pounds. 1989 gave birth to the K1 featuring a digital engine electronics system that was modern at the time. However, the bike didn’t take with their customer base and was discontinued after only a few years.
BMW bikes celebrated the production of its 1,000,000th bike with models including the R1100RS and the F650 Funduro in 1991. While the early 2000s changed a lot for them, with the motorcycle manufacturer going head to head with some of the world’s most famous bike purveyors, it has stayed at the top of its game with its inventive ideas. Luckily, there’s bound to be more in store for the avid fan of BMW, a company that’s been around for over a century.
Determine your needs
When it comes to buying your ideal bike, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in a machine. There are many bike options out there built for a variety of different purposes so choosing the best bike is key.
· Cruiser – A BMW road bike can be the perfect place to begin if you’re starting out in the world of motorcycling. While you’ll be able to sit low in the bike and develop a sense of control, it also offers a smooth ride. Most people don’t invest in cruisers if they have the need for speed. But, you may want to consider investing in a power cruiser which will give you a little bit more power. For the relatively leisured Sunday driver, the standard cruiser is the way to go.
· Sport – Whether you’re entirely new to motorcycling or you’re thinking of switching to a little off-roading, a sport motorcycle is going to give you bang for your buck. Sport motorcycles are all about speed so this is the bike style you’ll want to turn to if you’re raring to go. This bike will also offer beginner options that will work for the newbie too. Instead of going for something over the top, spring for a 300cc to the 500cc engine to manage your needs. When you’ve mastered the small bike, you can move on to something that offers a little more power.
· Touring – A touring bike is perfect if you’re looking for the kind of bike that you can rely on for road adventures. These bikes are meant to keep your comfort in mind and can offer everything from stereos and GPS to heated seats and automatic transmission. But it’s important to keep in mind that since these bikes are meant for the long haul, they’re heavy and powerful. As a result, they may not be the best fit for the inexperienced rider. Instead of investing in this kind of machine up front, you may want to try out a standard bike and see if you want to go the long haul.
· Dirt – Everyone is familiar with the agility and speed of dirt bikes that go zooming over the hills in packs. And, for those who are seriously interested in off-roading, they’ll want to set their sights on a bike that is speedy, light and agile. You may want to test out something in the 200cc to the 350cc range if you’re just starting out on a dirt bike. But keep in mind that these bikes aren’t often street legal, so you’ll want to make sure you have another mode of transportation to get you to the backwoods.
Must-have Accessories for your BMW bike
It might seem like a basic motorcycle is enough on its own when it comes to your BMW bike. But the following accessories can make the thrill ride even better.
· Watertight Adventure Side Cases – You’ll definitely need some motorcycle luggage if you’re long hauling, but it can be a good idea for anyone who gets out on the road. Side cases are necessary when it comes to storing your valuables, extra clothing and gear for rain or snow in case it’s needed. If you’re looking for the kind of side cases that will be both durable and flexible, spring for the SW-MOTECH TraX Adventure Alu-Box cases which work with the BMW R 1200 GS.
· Auxiliary Lighting – The unfavourable road conditions can be a bit of a deterrent for those who like to take their bike out at night. Fortunately, auxiliary lighting can help to provide the lighting you need to test out your skills after the sun goes down. You may want to try out Twisted Throttle’s Denali DX Xtreme Spot Dual Intensity LED light or the D4 Flood & Spot Kit. These light kits can also be beneficial in the event that you’re hit with surprise storms or flash floods.
· Wind Deflector – BMW Australia may be one of the best motorcycle manufacturers out there, but that doesn’t mean that their bikes are without weaknesses. One of the biggest complaints about these machines is the lack of adjustability for the motorcycle windscreen which can cause turbulence and noise. Luckily, the Wunderlich Wind Deflector is available in three different sizes and can provide for a smooth, easy-going ride.
Top Models – 2019
· 2019 BMW R 1250 GS – The 1250 GS is your go-to when it comes to adventure biking. The GS series takes it to the next level when it comes to quality and performance. In addition to a 1254cc engine, 135 horsepower and a variable camshaft control system, there’s also a TFT display with navigation, phone, music and vehicle information. The rider that’s looking for streamlined power will find everything they need in this high-performing machine.
· 2019 BMW S1000 RR – For those who are looking for the kind of sport bike that offers powerful performance, the S1000 RR is where it’s at. In addition to Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) which offers greater safety on the road, this machine is made to go one second faster than the previous model. This motorcycle also features ABS, Hill Start Control, an LED lighting system and a TFT screen so you’ll always know what’s going on.
· 2019 BMW R nine T – The retro-style of this standard bike is still capturing the attention of riders even though it was originally introduced in 2014. Fortunately, one of the best parts about the R nine T is how easy this bike is to customize! Given that there are a separate engine and chassis wiring, and there are few bolts on the subframe, the avid rider can do just about anything they want with this model.
BMW motorcycles Australia and the world over make some of the most popular bikes out there and are one of the biggest names in the game. Whether you’re looking to ride a BMW F800GS, a BMW R nine T or are simply looking for the best BMW parts Australia offers, there’s something for every kind of sporting enthusiast! If you’re in Australia and considering off-roading through the outback on the back of a bike, you may want to head to BMW Ballarat to let our experts show you the options.