|2017 BMW R1200C
BMW motorcycles are named according to a three-part code:
<engine type> <approximate engine volume> <style information>
F SERIES SINGLES
The F series singles are built around a 4-stroke, single cylinder Rotax
engine. These bikes tend to be light, economical and durable.
F SERIES TWINS
The R series are built around a horizontally opposed flat-twin (or boxer)
engine. As the engine is mounted transversally across the bike, and the
heads protrude well beyond the frame of the bike, R series motorcycles are
quite visually distinctive. Originally R series bikes had air-cooled heads
("air heads"), but are now produced only with oil-cooled heads.
The K series are built around liquid cooled, inline engines with three (K75)
or four (K100, K1100, K1200) cylinders. Unusually for motorcycles, the
engine is longitudinal: the crankshaft is in line with the direction of motion.
Also, the cylinders are banked over, parallel to the ground. This causes
some to incorrectly call the configuration a Flat-4.
Engine volume, as specified in the model number, is approximate.
C - cruiser /S - sport /T - touring /R - road /G - offroad-adventure
Additionally, a bike may have zero or more of the following modifiers in its
L - Luxury /P - Police
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|In 1916, two companies, Gustav Otto's Flugzenmaschinenfabrik
(Airplane Factory) and Karl Rapp's Flugwerke Deutschland, merged
to form the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Airplane Works).
Initially this company designed and manufactured airplane
engines.The Bayerische Flugzeugwerke was renamed the
Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works, BMW) in 1917 by
Karl Rapp and Max Friz. Their new logo, a roundel representing an
airplane propeller in the blue sky, is still used today on all BMW
motorcycles and automobiles. A former Daimler employee, Joseph
Popp became BMW's managing director. Airplane engines, especially
a V-12 model, was BMW's primary output.
|With funding from the German air force, BMW began manufacturing
the Fokker DV II one of the best aircraft of that time. However the
fortune of the company turned in 1919 with the end of WWI and the
signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was forbidden to
manufacture airplanes. Reluctantly Max Friz, BMW's head designer,
turned to motorcycle and automobile engines to sustain the
company. Withing four weeks, Friz designed the now legendary
horizontally opposed twin cylinder engine known today as the
The first 'boxer' engine, M2B15, was based on a British Douglas
design. The M2B15 proves to be moderately successful, but with the
development of the first light alloy cylinder head, a second more
successful version of the boxer engine evolves. In 1923, the first BMW
motorcycle, the R32, is produced. Using the new aluminum alloy
cylinder heads, Friz designs a 486cc engine with 8.5 hp and a top
speed of 60 mph. The engine and gear box form a single unit. The
new engine featured a recirculating wet-sump oiling system which
was very advanced for 1923, as many motorcycle manufacturers still
used a total-loss oiling. BMW used this type of recirculating oiling
system until 1969, showing the advanced design of the times.
|The R32 became the foundation for all furture boxer powered BMW
motorcycles. BMW oriented the boxer engine with the cylinder heads
sticking out on each side for cooling. Other motorcycle manufacturers
aligned the cylinders with the frame, one cylinder facing towards the
front wheel and the other towards the back wheel. For example,
Harley-Davidison introduced the model W, a flat twin orientated fore
and aft design, in 1919 and built them through 1923.
Also the R32 incorporated a shaft drive. BMW continued to use shaft
drives in all their motorcycles until the introduction of the F650 in
1994. The F650 series is the only model BMW that does not use shaft
In 1935, BMW introduced the first production motorcycle to use
telescopic forks. Also, by this time the benefits of overhead cams
were known. Higher revs could be obtained before the onset of valve
float. However, the basic boxer design did not lend itself to overhead
cams. To obtain the benefits of
overhead cams without overly increasing the engine width, BMW
incorporated a system that was so adavnced for its racing bikes that it
resurrected it many decades later in the R1100RS oilhead. The system
was two cams in the head operating short push rods via rocker arms.
In 1937, Ernst Hene rode a supercharged 500cc overhead cam BMW
173.88 MPH, setting a world record that stood for 14 years. Ernst Hene
died at the age of 100 in 2005.
|The end of World War II found BMW in ruins. Its plant outside of
Munich was destroyed by allied bombing. An entire assembly line in
the Eisenach facility was dismantled by the Soviets as war booty and
sent it back to Russia where it was resassembled in Irbit, Russia to
make Ural motorcycles. After the war the terms of Germany's
surrender forbid BMW from manufacturing motorcycles. Most of
BMW's brightest engineers were taken to the US and Russia to
continue their work on jet engines which BMW produced during
When the ban on the production of motorcycles was lifted, BMW had
to start from scratch. There were no plans, blueprints, or schematic
drawings. Company engineers had to use surviving prewar
motorcycles to create new plans. The first postwar BMW motorcycle
was produced in 1948. In 1949, BMW produced 9,200 units. By 1950
production surpassed 17,000 units.
|World War II - 1960
|In 1951, BMW introduced the first sporting motorcycle, the R68. It was
a 594cc single cam engine with 7.5:1 compression ratio and venturi
throat sizes of 26mm and larger valves. As the 1950's progressed,
motorcycle sales plummeted. In 1957, three of BMW's major German
competitors went out of business.
In 1954, BMW produced 30,000 motorcycles. By 1957, that number
was less than 5,500. However, by the late 50's, BMW exported 85% of
its boxer twin powered motorcycles to the United States. At that time,
Butler & Smith, Inc. was the exclusive U.S. importer of BMW.
On June 8, 1959, John Penton rode a BMW R69 from New York to Los
Angeles in 53 hrs. 11 min. setting a record. The previous record of 77
hrs. 53 min. was set by Earl Robinson on a 45 cubic inch
1960 - 1984
Although U.S. sales of BMW motorcycles were strong, BMW was in
financial trouble. The combination ofselling off its aircraft engine
division and obtaining financing with the help of Herbert Quandt,
BMW was able to survive. Part of the turn around in the company's
fortunes was BMW's increasing success of it automotive division.
Since the beginning of the motorcycle manufacturing, BMW
periodically introduced single-cylinder models. In 1960, BMW offered
the last of these, the R27. Most of BMW's offerings were still
designed to be used with sidecars. By this time sidecars were no
longer a consideration of most riders, people were interested in more
|In the earily 1983 BMW introduced an 1000cc, in-line 4 cylinder, water
cooled engine to the European market, the K100. In 1984, those
models were introduced to the US market. It was assumed that this
new engine would not only be the basis for a new models, it would be
the replacement for the aging boxer flat twin engine. However,
demand for the boxer did not wane with the introduction of this new
engine and associated models. And the demand of the new engine
models was much less than BMW anticipated.
Therefore, BMW continued to produce boxer models.
In 1985 BMW produced a 750cc, three cylinder version of the new 4
cylinder water cooled engine. The 750cc was counterblanced,
therefore smoother. The R100RT, boxer powered sport touring bike
with a monolever rear suspension was reintroducted in 1987. BMW
introduced new rear suspension on the K bikes, a double joined
single sided swing arm. In 1989, BMW introduced their version of a full
faring sport bike, the K1. It was based upon the K100 engine with 4
valves per cylinder. Output was near 100 bhp. Also in 1988, BMW
introduced ABS on their motorcycles. A first in the motorcycle
industry. ABS became standard
on all BMW K models.
All BMW Motorrad's motorcycle production, now takes place at its
plant in Berlin, Germany, although some engines are manufactured in
Austria, China, and Taiwan. BMW Motorrad produced 82,631
motorcycles in 2009, compared with 104,220 in 2008, a fall of 20.7%
The most popular model is the R1200GS and its sibling R1200GS
Adventure, which sold 24,467 units – accounting for 28% of BMW's
annual production. Current production includes a variety of shaft,
chain, and belt driven models, with engines from 450 cc to
1,649 cc; and models designed for off-road, dual-purpose, sport, and
touring activities.In 2008, BMW introduced the DOHC Boxer HP2
Sport, and entered the serious off-road competition motorcycle market
with the release of the BMW G450X motorcycle.
Today, BMW seems to be searching for a niche, since their "Boxer"
Engines, proved unadaptable to double overhead cam technology.
The balance of the machine seems a bit unwieldy, horizontally
opposed engine and all, for a dirt bike. BMW has now decided a slant
6 is a better fit for their cruisers. BMW had been leaning towards 2, 4
and 6 cylinder parallel engines, similar to honda, for the last couple
years. Hey, shit happens and you adapt! And adapt they did! Sales
were up 9.3 % for 2016.