The Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, aka Bavarian Motor Works has been making superb BMW motorcycles, cars and engines since 1916. It actually began by making aircraft engines when its logo was a four-bladed airplane propeller. It still shows in the iconic badge with a little imagination.
The First Stirrings of the Famous BMW Motorcycle Brand
When the First World War was over, BMW turned to making motorcycles. In 1923 it released the first legendary twin boxer engine with horizontally opposed pistons. This maintains engine forces in perfect dynamic balance and contributes to the smooth rides that BMW owners rave about. Quality comes at a cost however and it shows in the price.
The 1940’s to 1970’s – A Period of Experimentation
BMW Motorcycles continued with the same engine concept, and focus on robust construction through to the end of the Second World War. It produced an interesting military variation by coupling its machines to motorised sidecars via a lockable differential. This gave it off-road capability similar to the American Jeep, and completely outperformed the conventional motorcycles used by Allied forces.
BMW took a knock from the superb new motorbikes emerging from Japan in the 1970’s. Unlike established British brands including Triumph, AJS, BSA, and Matchless the Bayerische Motoren Werke stuck to its proven recipe for success.
For a while, its sales took a dip with fewer new BMW motorcycles on the roads than before. What happened then was quite remarkable. The elderly BM’s just kept going forever, unlike the new breed of motorcycles with fussy engines forever falling out of tune. Intelligent motorcyclists realised BMW’s were better investments.
The 1980’s When BMW Bounced Back with a Bang
With its motorbike sales improving, BMW’s cash flow allowed it to innovate. It focussed on its engines. These had always been the BMW motorcycle magnet and secret of its longevity. The first K Series machines burst on the market in 1982 with water-cooled three and four cylinder motors in line from front to back.
It also started experimenting with single and parallel rotex engines adapted from the light aircraft industry. These innovations allowed BMW to steal a march on its competition. The secret sauce of the BMW motorcycles company became using the best of its past to propel it into the future.
The 1990’s and Beyond: Good Years for BMW Motorcycles
BMW continues to innovate, while maintaining its classic long-legged design and brand within a parallel world of fast city bikes and urban commuters. It has always been in the forefront of innovation. It has been the thought leader on new ideas like shaft drive, electronically adjustable suspension, duolever front forks, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes.
Is the Modern BMW a Motorcycle or an Investment?
The BMW motorcycles gracing the Procycles showroom are a bit of both. While they come at a price, the chances are they will outlast other brands comparing stamina. They cost more, but then so do the superb motorcars from the same stable. They ride well and they keep their value. Could the discerning motorcyclist ask for anything more?