The First BMW Motorcycle. Still A Design Reference.

1BMW-R322BMW-R32Did some of you noticed? A few top customs currently on the show tour feature an overall stance and a gas tank strongly inspired by the first motorcycle BMW produced in 1923, the R32 Model. A design from 1923 still inspiring today’s custom builders deserves a lot of respect. The R32 is still considered by many as the most important motorcycle ever created by BMW Motorrad. During World War I, BMW was originally an aircraft engine manufacturer. When the war ended, under the Treaty of Versailles, BMW and many other German companies were barred from continuing their activities because they could be associated with a military effort.

BMW decided to enter the motorcycle business and spent 4 years conceiving designing, prototyping their first motorcycle. The R32 debuted in 1923 in Paris and Berlin and garnered a lot of attention, not only for its flat-twin boxer engine configuration (just under 500 cc) and drive train design (adapted until 1994), but for its low weight of 269 lbs, its new aesthetics and ergonomic concerns to make the ride as fatigue free as possible, at that time a new approach for a motorcycle manufacturer. (photos @ bmw)

10 Responses to “The First BMW Motorcycle. Still A Design Reference.”

  1. 1 Boomer Sep 10th, 2015 at 8:42 am

    In so many ways; BMW was way ahead of its time in style and engineering. I still like the original design better than the newer one even with all the technical improvements.

    Big fan of the Moto-Guzzi too.

  2. 2 John J. TEXAS Sep 10th, 2015 at 9:25 am

    in looking at the last photo… makes me wonder what the daily working conditions were like??? any hammers being thrown? talk of other motorcycles? did they take breaks? a little guy with funny facial hair barking orders? neato article…

  3. 3 Brad Kelley Sep 10th, 2015 at 10:19 am

    What a great looking motorcycle. Thanks CH.

  4. 4 Rodent Sep 10th, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    BMW made great bikes ending with the /7 series.

  5. 5 nicker Sep 10th, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    They never got enough credit for their “The Brick.”
    Rode it to the VFW meeting last night.
    In 30 years and over 130K miles my motor has never had to be opened.
    Don’t own another machine like it.


  6. 6 mr dick Sep 11th, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Wonder if it was a better bike than the first HD?

  7. 7 Knucklehead Sep 11th, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Is in the last photo the brake a large disc broke? Wish your photos enlarged when clicked on Cyril

  8. 8 Dave Blevins Sep 12th, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Classic lines never go out of style, like a tuxedo… needs no “improvement”.

  9. 9 Blackmax Sep 14th, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Agree with Dave Blevins…
    Classic elements never go out of style
    & you can see stuff they are using still to this day

  10. 10 Steal Your Face Sep 17th, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I think that is the brake, although it is not a disk.
    It is a large ring/rim that the friction pads rub on when the brake is applied.
    I have seen this type of brake on some old vehicle before.
    It makes you glad to have modern brakes, doesn’t it.

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Cyril Huze