BMW Motorrad’s story begins at the end of world war 1, when the German company itself had been ordered on behalf of the treaty of Versailles to halt all production on airplane engines. In response to this, BMW still continued to produce smaller engines and other household items, farming equipment and railway brakes. When the release of the BMW M2B15 flat-twin petrol engine came into effect in 1921, motorcycle manufacturers then began using the machine to power their own vehicles.
In 1922, BMW moto merged with Bayerische Flugzeugwerke to eventually create what is known as the first BMW motorcycles in 1923, the BMW R32. This partnership would continue to produce a few more models before being eventually ordered into mass production for the second world war. After world war 2, BMW was a damaged company, conflicts had left multiple manufacturing plants in ruin’s but this did not deter them from starting at square one. As years progressed, BMW managed to survive financial instability throughout the 50’s and ultimately bounced back into the commercial world of motorcycles by around 1969. Introducing the 500 cc BMW R 50/5, the 600 cc BMW R 60/5 and the 750 cc BMW R 75/5 models the same year, BMW was back and ready to make its mark. The company would then proceed to introduce various new and redesigned models throughout the 70’s and 80’s. When BMW released a production version of its “travel enduro” racer, dubbed the R80 G/S in 1981. This would be the first of the now legendary GS line-up: powerful, robust, on/off-road motorcycles built for long-distance travel over any type of terrain.
By the 1990s, BMW was a very healthy motorcycle manufacturer, whose motorcycles were known about and desired all over the world. It was a good decade for BMW; they demonstrated environmental awareness by becoming the first manufacturer to fit all their models with catalytic converters, and finally broke the self-imposed 100HP barrier with the top-of-the-line sport tourer, the 130HP K1200RS. BMW closed the millennium with a bang, delivering over 65,000 machines in 1999. Into the 2000’s, BMW would continue to push itself to development multiple newer road models along with some other concept projects and has since seen great success with its HP2 Enduro, HP2 Sport, S1000RR and the K1600 models.
Love them, hate them, or just don’t quite “get” them, there’s no denying that BMW has contributed a lot to making motorcycles what they are today, and they continue to be a force to be reckoned with!