Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Motorcycle Throwback - The 1934 BMW R7
As outlandish as it was, the art deco style still managed to work its way into motorcycle designs even in 1934. The art deco infused motorcycles such as The 1929 Majestic and The Remodeled 1930 Henderson aren't known for their subtle style. The BMW R7, however, was inspired by the same art deco of the time but was flat out gorgeous. Leave it to BMW to take the fads of the time and make something absolutely timeless.
Designed by BMW's motorcycle engineer Alfred Boning (imagine two little dots over the "o"), the BMW R7 held the same classic BMW look that first introduced with The 1932 BMW R32but was an extremely different bike. The R7 introduced the enclosed motor style, which hid the fuel tank for the first time. And for the first time, BMW used a pressed steel bridge frame and telescopic front forks. And in case a brake light wasn't enough to tell cars behind to slow, the light actually had the word "stop" lit up in it when brakes were applied. This certainly wasn't your grandpa's bicycle with a motor slapped on to it.
And as if the changes to the chassis weren't already enough, BMW wanted this new bike to also feature a new style of engine that they thought would propel them into the future of motorcycles. Leonhard Ischinger took to making the engine an 800cc four-stroke Boxer with two cylinders that would be the first to operate off of a one-piece tunnel design with a forged single piece crankshaft.
But turning away from the traditional bike-frame with a motorcycle engine style added for some extra weight and cost. At the end of the day, the R7 had a curb weight of almost 393 pounds. Plus the cost of the upgrades wasn't cheap. Because of these two factors, BMW only expected to produce a select number of this model for sale. Unfortunately, WWII loomed on the horizon. The year following the design of the R7, Germany rejected the Versailles Treaty rocketing the country into a war economy and soon motorcycle production was taken over by the German army and ceased being made for consumer enjoyment.
So the 1934 R7 BMW ended up in a box in the archives of BMW prototypes and would never see the production line. It wasn't until 2005 that the R7 was rediscovered. While the bike was in a sad, pathetic state and not fully completed, BMW took to restoring the piece and reintroduced it to the public and placed in the BMW museum.
Though the motorcycle featured the very popular art deco aspects such as the enclosed engine and extreme curves, this motorcycle is still visually stunning. Over seventy years later, the BWM R7 is still a modern marvel that motorcycle enthusiasts dream of riding. Count us in.