You have not known engineering perfection till the time you have your first encounter with a German automobile. Relentless in their approach to create the best-engineered machines, there is little humor found within the walls of their manufacturing units for any errors, either human or machine made. This approach leaves them with some pretty solid results - fast, powerful and precise machines that are the equivalent to the tools of surgery, making them perfect for the corporate folk and any sane headed enthusiast.
Although, for someone who is looking out for something more than a mere tickle, the Germans manufacturers fall slightly towards the ‘meh’ and boring category. While Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi have their own ways of cheering these blokes by offering them higher-performance variants and limited editions of their existing lineup, BMW has been the only one for almost a century to take on the madness form a completely different perspective. Established in 1932, BMW Motorrad has been in the business of producing some of the best motorcycles the world has ever seen. While some of them struck terror in the hearts of their competition, others invented new segments for the rest of the world to follow. Here is a selection of BMW’s most iconic motorcycles that ever came into production.
BMW R12 -
Commissioned to serve the military in the Second World War, the R12 was designed to be as reliable as a tank, yet handle with the sophistication of a proper dual-purpose machine under difficult terrains. Probably one of the machines that taught the German maker a lot of about reliability back in the day. To overcome gruelling terrain conditions, the R12 was fitted with telescopic forks, a first in the motorcycling industry. This innovation helped in reducing unsprung weight of the front end, aiding in better handling and overall rigidity to the fork assembly.
BMW R69 -
Like most automobile manufacturers, BMW was also going through a fragile era post WWII and it needed a new product in their line-up that was good enough to capture international attention and sales. The BMW R69 enabled BMW in strengthening their stronghold amongst the enthusiasts around the world. Deemed as on of the fastest and most comfortable motorcycles of it’s time, it was the very machine behind the 1959 U.S. Transcontinental Motorcycle record won by the legend Racer, entrepreneur and Motorcycle industry evangelist John Penton. The R69 was BMW Motorcycle’s come back into the international markets that it was missing out of after the gruesome war. It was also one of the first motorcycles to feature a fully adjustable rear suspension setup that gave it the flexibility to fine tune the chassis according to various road conditions.
BMW R80 G/S -
There is no other important motorcycle that BMW has made in its history than the R80 G/S. The motorcycle that marked BMW’s foray into the dual-sport segment, the R80 G/S was aimed at adventure riders who wanted to travel cross country and cross continents. The R80 G/S was the stepping-stone for what in later years developed to be the R1200 GS, BMW’s highest selling motorcycle. The R80 G/S was also the motorcycle to bring the manufacturer its first Paris-Dakar victory in 1981 while being ridden by Hubert Auriol.
BMW K1 -
This was BMW’s frankenstein. Developed with the sole purpose of creating an aerodynamic motorcycle, the K1 shape was a direct result of mathematical equations derived from the day’s wind tunnel testing. While there was or is no other motorcycle that looked quite as outlandish as the K1 during its production days, it was never designed flat out and as fast as others could, but rather a machine that could consistently cruise at high-speeds. Becoming most capable high-speed cruisers of its time, capable of constant speeds above 200kmph on the German Autobahn, it had the lowest drag co-efficient of .38. However, flaws overcame engineering finesse as overheating issues, weight and extra long wheelbase resulted in its short 5 years production run. Nevertheless, the K1 was the motorcycle that led BMW in their understanding and development of the next generation sport-tourers like the K1300 and K1600
BMW RS 255 Kompressor -
Built for racing, the RS39 just like the current S1000RR was very capable but unfortunately not at the top of its game and at the mercy of its arch-rival – The Norton Manx. Unable to outperform the Manx in handling, the R39 was fitted with a supercharger that boosted the engine power to 60bhp - the RS 255. With the aid of its newfound power, Georg Meierbecame the first “outsider”, “non-British” competitor to win the Tourist Trophy in 1939. It is said that he maxed out the machine at 225kmph, a truly heroic speed considering the machinery back in the days.
BMW F650 -
The first motorcycle ever to go against BMW’s signature product ideologies, the F650 was the first motorcycle in the company’s 70-year history to have chain drive. For the first time ever there was a single-cylinder BMW motorcycle, which had its engine developed and manufactured unconventionally outside the BMW plant by Austrian engine maker Rotax. Even with a single-piston displacing 650cc, the motorcycle was no slouch. Torque was instant and at any given gear and the handling was dexterous enough to leave its competitors biting the dust.