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BMW Motorcycles - Company History

We may sell a good range of BMW motorcycle batteries, however, we understandably don't stock any of their first motorcycles such as the M2B15 which dates back to 1921. Interestingly it is reported that their motorcycle was a copy of the British Douglas design even though they actually manufactured it for the Victoria motorcycle company.

Following their first machine, the Helios, there was a 486cc engine which produced 8.5hp and a top speed of 60mph and used the wet sump oiling system which was their method of choice until 1969 when they adopted the "high-pressure oil" system which they still use today.

The Helios was a world away from the supercharged 600cc which Ernst Henne rode to the world speed record of 173.88 mph in 1937. After this date BMW was forced to build the R75 which was used in the North African campaign in the Second World War. The R75 and the R71 were particularly suited to the harsh desert conditions which forced the U.S. armed forces to request that Harley Davidson to produce a similar version for their own war efforts.

It is much documented that the Second World War left BMW and many of its factories in ruins. However, it is alleged that the Eisenach facility was only dismantled by the Russian forces and then reassembled in Irbit to make their own IMZ-Ural motorcycle under license from BMW. Part of the surrender agreement BMW was forbidden from manufacturing motorcycles and many of their "bright sparks" left Germany to work in the US and USSR.

Under Allied control BMW was permitted again to produce motorcycles in West Germany, however, they had no blueprints and had to resort to building out-dated motorbikes for many months afterward. As BMW was also manufacturing in the Eisenach factory which was just inside the East German border there were two BMW companies between 1948 and 1952.

BMW nearly collapsed in the mid-1950's as motorcycle sales plummeted and survived, due in part, to the success of their automotive division.

In 1970 BMW completely revamped their product line with a range of 500 cc, 600 cc and 750 cc displacement models, the R50/5, R60/5 and R75/5 and then a long wheel base version which was nicknamed the "toaster".

In 1974 these models were replaced and a larger 900 cc version created: R60/6, R75/6 and the R90/6 and then in 1975 the BMW R90/S was introduced.

In 1983 BMW brought the K100 with a water-cooled engine and a single-sided arm to the market and then in 1986 they created an updated version in the K100LT and then the F650 and its variants.

Since 2004 there have been a number of modifications and additions to the range of BMW motorcycles including the K120 S, the R1200GS, the F800GS and the G650. Whilst the S1000RR is just a monster:

BMW (UK) Limited - Address

Ellesfield Avenue,
RG12 8TA

BMW (UK) Limited - Financial Information

After making pre-tax profits of 236m and 271m in 2006 and 2007 they made a loss of 26.49m in 2008 and had lost about 12% of the number of employees over the past two years. The company is ultimately owned by Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft in Germany.

BMW Motorcycles - Useful Resources

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