Motorcycle Throwback - The 1923 BMW R32
 
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Motorcycle Throwback - The 1923 BMW R32


While BMW is most well known for their beautiful and extremely well crafted cars, the German company didn't start out as an automobile manufacturer. Rather than building engines for the pavement, BMW started off building engines for the sky. Grabbing a hold of the need for aircraft engines during the first world war, BMW had to quickly find a new market to tap into when Germany was forbidden to manufacture aircraft after the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919. So what did they turn to? Motorcycles!

In 1921, BMW released its very first motorcycle engine. The M2 B15 was based off of BMW's airplane engine design and was a flat-twin engine. But BMW wasn't the only company to use this engine. The B2 M15 was sold to several other companies in Germany. One of the most popular was its use in motorcycles made by Victoria of Nuremburg.

But the M2 B15 engine would lead BMW to release their better version of the motorcycle two years later. The R32 motorcycle was released by Max Friz (the famous and legendary BMW designer) at the Paris ""Salon"" and kicked of BMW's existence in the motorcycle industry. The engine of the R32 was run off of a shaft drive and could use its 8.5 horsepower hit up to 60 mph. This engine also had a few other unique design aspects such as a recirculation wet sump oiling system that had a drop feed to roller bearings. Most engines during that time were using a total-loss oiling system instead.

The engine for the R32 was based off of an engine that BMW originally made for planes.   The 1923 BMW would be the start to a long line of beautifully made and powerful motorcycles.
The engine for the R32 was based off of an engine that BMW originally made for planes.   The 1923 BMW would be the start to a long line of beautifully made and powerful motorcycles.

This motorcycle would shape the future of the rest of BMW's boxer engine powered motorcycles. While the company continued to pump out better versions of this design, it would be a long time before they would stray too far from this original 1923 BMW R32.




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