What Is The Best Vintage BMW Motorcycle? Top Picks

In 1916, the German company Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, more commonly known as BMW, was established in Munich and started making airplane engines.

BMW was created from the merger of the businesses of Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto, who built airplane engines up until the end of World War I.

After that, they began making small industrial engines, such as a flat-twin gasoline engine utilized by numerous motorbike manufacturers. In 1923, BMW Motorrad was established, and the first motorbike sporting the BMW nameplate was built.

The Berlin Motor Show in 1923 served as the launchpad for BMW motorbikes’ success. With the BMW R 32, the producer of aero engines debuted its first motorcycle. The machine’s quality and reliability were vital to BMW’s success.

BMW stopped producing motorbikes after the war ended and focused on building bicycles instead.

German patents are stolen as war reparations, and the French business CMR (later known as Ratier) starts producing a BMW knockoff, adding insult to injury with the current affairs.

The historic German brand is so well-known for its cars that very few know it initially began with motorcycles. The R32, BMW’s first motorcycle, debuted in 1923, and the company’s current range still uses the R32’s Flat-Twin engine configuration.

Although its contemporary designs also cater to younger and faster riders, the BMW name is known for high-end motorcycles that can travel long distances with maximum comfort. And They have never failed to impress when it comes to anything they put their hands on.

The R37, a racing derivative of the R32, had a two-year production run, during which only approximately 150 units were produced.

The frame, which could fit only a seat, drivetrain, and headlamp, was stripped of its road equipment. It had 16 horsepower, almost twice as much as the R32.

The Wehrmacht R75 motorcycle combinations, which featured in multiple sequences and were provided to the German army in the early years of WWII, are well known to viewers of The Great Escape.

Still, few people outside their enthusiast following know just how amazing they were. The 750cc engines only produced 26bhp and had a 5.6:1 compression ratio, allowing them to run on the fuel of the lowest grade.

They had three changeable wheels, a driven sidecar wheel with a locking differential, eight forward gears, and two reverse gears. There were exhaust gas-heated hand and foot warmers.

Let’s see which one is the best vintage BMW motorcycle ever.

BMW R75/5

The 745cc R75 /5 was the enormous motorbike in BMW’s new range of /5 models, which also featured the 498cc R50/5 and the 599cc R60/5 when it was introduced in 1969.

The new /5s, frequently seen as more evolutionary than revolutionary, was a mix of both. The /5s were vastly improved over their older forebears, even though they kept BMW’s typical shaft final drive and boxer engine arrangement (so named because the pistons of the horizontally opposed twin appear to “box” each other while the crankshaft spins).

The new BMW /5 included Bosch electric starters, previously available exclusively on kick-start BMWs (R50 /5).

The prior magneto system was replaced with breaker points, two 6-volt coils, and a brushless alternator, rather than the generator used in earlier models, which provided charging.

Even better, the new alternator produced a whopping 180 watts, which was a 50% increase in output over the majority of other bikes present at the time.


It served as BMW’s flagship sports bike during the 1960s. Despite its top speed of 110 mph, which was still quite respectable, it was recognized for its incredibly smooth handling, dependability, build quality, and finish, and its timeless, uncluttered appearance.

BMW got the package so close to perfect that the bike was produced in 11,317 pieces from 1960 to 1969 with hardly any modifications or revisions.

The S model was BMW’s top-of-the-line vehicle when it was introduced. It included extra comforts such as a comfortable Earles fork and a steering damper. It was powered by a 594cc air-cooled boxer engine that produced 42bhp.

The R69S is still a high-end motorcycle that has been called a “wonder of mechanical art.” Many people continue to regard it as the best BMW production motorbike.


This is how the K100 got the title “brick.” BMW, however, was not deterred; its ultimate goal was to dominate the market by introducing the liquid-cooled K series and eradicating the stigma associated with outdated air-cooled engines.

Given how well the firm had used the boxer engines, it was a daring proposal,

As a result, they continued to develop the K series, and the K1 was planned for release in late 1988 or early 1989.

It had a seven-piece fairing that was entirely enclosed and covered the front wheel’s left half in part. BMW claimed that the K1 had no rivals for aerodynamic performance and had the least amount of drag of any of their vehicles.

The K1 engine pushed the limits of EU rules by producing nearly 100hp while also including a more advanced fuel injection system, anti-lock brakes, and a 16-valve head.

Brembo brakes, Marzocchi forks, a 17-inch front wheel, an 18-inch rear wheel, and the revolutionary Paralever driveshaft with the GS model were all added.

The K1 was a massive motorcycle weighing over 600 pounds when fully loaded. Still, thanks to its long wheelbase and well-balanced design, the weight was held low.


The R80 G/S frequently referred to as the original “adventure motorbike,” is the ADV bike that launched BMW’s run in the market.

The 797.5cc BMW type 247 engine, popularly known as an “airhead,” an air-cooled, flat-twin boxer engine, first appeared in the R80 in 1980.

The engine was installed into the same bare chassis as the R65. Still, it included a single-sided swingarm and driveshaft and the Monolever suspension damping system, which uses a single shock absorber to provide suspension damping. The G/S has a single 260mm disc brake up front and telescopic forks.

Following complaints of the previous Monolever suspension system, which would lift the rear end under acceleration and result in poor handling, BMW replaced the model with a new Paralever suspension system.

To address the problem and improve the connection between the swingarm and final drive, the Paralever fitted a torque rod to the outer casing. The bodywork underwent revision as well.


Between 1993 and 2001, BMW produced the sport-touring motorcycle known as the R1100RS, which was the first BMW motorcycle to employ the R259 “Oilhead” boxer engine.

BMW developed its first horizontal opposed twin engine in 1920 and debuted it with the R32 in 1923 as a production model. Since then, BMW has steadfastly supported this type of engine configuration.

Due to the engine’s natural balance, the opposing design gives an ultra-smooth performance. However, BMW’s R model lineup had fallen far behind the curve by the late 1980s. There was a need for newness. Here comes the 1990s’ updated Boxer engine.

Early in 1986, BMW started developing its new Boxer. The company’s engineers were typical Teutonic perfectionists, reworking and testing each component until it was perfect.

The new R1100S hit the mark with a bull’s eye when it was initially unveiled to the BMW faithful, the firm knew. The modified Boxer had a complete 1100cc fuel injection, four valves per cylinder, air and oil cooling, and more.

A hole costing R1100 has been created from numerous pieces. When the first R1100 RS left the assembly line, it was a momentous day in the history of BMW.

This motorcycle has undergone more than 1200 days of development, testing, optimization, and manufacture. A motorbike that represents the future debuts a new generation of flat-twin engines.

With a 1085 cc displacement, twin-cylinder, four-valve technology, a digital engine management system, 95-newton meters of torque at 5500 rpm, 66 kilowatts of power, or 90 bhp, at 725 NM at 5500 rpm, a combined air and oil cooling system, high laterally positioned camshafts, and the best environmental technology.

An additional expert is the three-way catalytic converter. This became one of the most anticipated motorcycles of all time.


The R32 was the first motorbike ever made by BMW under the BMW name, with manufacturing beginning in 1923. The R32 developed at a trying time for the business and marked a significant departure from the previous aircraft it manufactured, marking the beginning of a lengthy series of BMW motorcycles.

Not only that, but it also had a long-lasting impact on subsequent Bimmer bikes.

Legendary designer Max Friz put a lot of effort into building the blueprints for the motorcycle, going through several revisions before deciding on the final layout.

BMW was thrilled to start production on the new design in 1923 to create a motorcycle that would serve as a strong foundation for future motorcycle models and be more marketable than the Helios.

The R32 made its initial appearance at the Paris Motorcycle Salon, where its high-quality, fuel-efficient design was well-received.

The boxer-twin, shaft-drive powertrain configuration that BMW still uses today was one of the R32’s many design innovations. The R32 laid the groundwork for the business and sparked decades of successful motorcycle production.

Future bikes, including decades’ worth of Bimmer bikes, would be significantly influenced by the bike’s design and famed shaft drive. Collectors and historians highly prize the R32 for playing a significant role in the history of motorcycles.

The R32 effectively opened up a new market for BMW. It included several features that would come to be associated with the brand for years to come, given the production of motorcycles at a time that was typically difficult for manufacturers following the First World War.

The BMW R32 is a prized piece of motorcycle history that is an unquestionably worth watching at shows and among collectors.


The R80 G/S is a motorcycle that genuinely altered the motorcycle industry. Not only did it invent an entirely new motorcycle category on its own, but it also served as the backbone for a failing BMW Motorrad at a particularly trying time in its history.

In the process, it even took home a few victories at the Paris-Dakar Rally. Not bad for a bicycle that was only intended to be a temporary solution.

The G/past S’s are a little murky, but most people think that BMW test engineer Laszlo Peres was the bike’s father.

To compete in numerous events in Germany, Peres, an avid off-road rider, built himself an 800cc boxer-powered off-road motorcycle in the early 1960s. Other riders began to inquire after the vehicle after some success.

In 1964, early G/S prototypes competed in the German Off-road Championship. The project was postponed until the late 1970s when BMW Motorrad was in danger of going out of business because the company was much more interested in road bikes like the R90S.

Riders fell crazy for this new bike, and in 1981, BMW sold 6631 G/S models—Doppel the amount the firm had predicted—making up one in every five BMWs sold in that year. BMW created a Dakar copy the same year a G/S won the race.

When the R80 G/S was replaced by the R100GS (notice the lack of a slash in the title), it had already sold 21,864 copies. It established itself as a pillar of BMW Motorrad’s model lineup, a position it still holds today.

In actuality, BMW has sold more than 500,000 GS vehicles to date.

BMW R75/5

For BMW, the R75/5 represented a new direction. Building well-engineered twin-cylinder flat twins, the industry standard for motorcycle touring aficionados in the 1950s and 1960s, was how the business established its reputation.

Like other well-established motorcycle brands, BMW sought to ride the motorcycle craze that propelled numerous manufacturers in the 1960s.

By switching to a sport touring design with modern looks, telescopic forks in place of the old Earles forks, brighter lights, butterfly valve constant velocity Bing carburetors, and electric starting, they were able to accomplish this.

Long-distance riders had been drawn to BMWs for years because of their opposed twin cylinders, oil-tight casings, driveshaft, quiet operation, and comfortable rides. These features remained.

In 1969, machines with 500, 600, and 750cc displacements debuted. The 750, typically tested by a writer who vanished into the wild blue yonder and then reappeared with a smile, a bike covered in bug spatter, and a report, was disregarded mainly by American periodicals of the time.

BMW RS 255 Kompressor

A supercharged boxer twin race motorbike from the 1930s, the BMW Type 255 Kompressor, also known as the 500 Kompressor, RS 255, RS255, and Type 255 RS 500, was produced. Georg Meier won the premier 500cc Senior TT class at the 1939 Isle of Man TT while riding a BMW 255 Kompressor. 

This was the first victory for a non-British rider in this class. In 2013, the second-highest motorbike auction price ever paid was $480,000 for a comparable BMW 255 Kompressor machine.

The clutch cable is still present even though electronic ones have replaced many mechanical motorbike parts. The 1939 BMW Kompressor was the first vehicle to employ it. The clutch helps the rider transform their fears. 


We have now concluded our tour of some of BMW’s most stunningly iconic vintage motorcycles.

There isn’t one motorcycle that is the best because everyone has different wants and preferences; therefore, if you asked other individuals which BMW motorcycle they thought was the best, you would probably get various answers.

This is due to BMWs widely diverse range and perfectionist attitude regarding delivering mechanical perfection.

Given all of this, it is clear that BMW has given the world mechanical greatness from the start. Whether discussing automobiles, aircraft engines, road motorcycles, or dirt bikes, BMW has something to offer anyone looking for reliable and high-quality German engineering. 

When it comes down to the most iconic vintage bike, it’s also a question of personal preference and taste. When it comes to the best vintage BMW motorcycle?

Our opinion is the BMW R32, The first BMW motorcycle ever produced.

The speedy R90S, one of the most well-known bikes, was created in 1976 and is today regarded as a legendary machine.

BMW showed astounding inventiveness in 1980 when it entered the long-distance off-road racing market and built prototypes to compete in races.

BMW began developing a new category of motorcycles at the beginning of the 1980s because they were so pleased with what they observed from their bikes.

BMW motorbikes, originating in Germany, have made their mark on history, their motorcycles are worth a lot and are still among the most beloved motorcycle brands today.

We have looked at a variety of BMWs range kinds and variations. You can find everything in this guide: the first motorcycle ever produced, the most recognizable and game-changing motorcycle, the best vintage BMW motorcycle, and the second-most costly motorcycle sale ever. 

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