BMW R32: The History

Before The BMW R32 Was Created

BMW’s first motorbike was conceived out of necessity. After the Treaty of Versailles, which took place on June 28, 1919, Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works, or BMW) was forbidden from manufacturing aircraft engines.

Gustav OTTO (son of Nikolaus Otto) launched his aircraft plant in Munich in 1911; BMW had virtually solely been an aviation engine producer. Otto linked up with Karl Rapp, who owned manufacturing for aviation engines, in early 1916. (Bavarian Airplane Works or BFW). Franz Josef Popp joined the firm a year before the Treaty. BMW was hardly in business by the year 1921. Nevertheless, with the manufacturing of motor vehicles, agriculture equipment, and an air brake system for railway carriages, BMW managed to hold on.

BMW was a subcontractor for the motorcycle industry and built a four-stroke engine for Otto’s BFW to construct a bigger motorbike named Helios. The resultant M2B15 engine was a dual 486cc boxer with a square bore and 68mm stroke. Inspired by the British Douglas, the engine was symmetrically attached, with its two cylinders facing back and forth.

How The BMW R32 Came Into Being

The engineer Max Friz, who was ambivalent in anything other than airplanes, was essential to BMW’s technical department from the start. Friz, in the book BMW Motorcycles, “frequently described cars as ‘dumb conveyances,’ and thoughtless about motorcycles,” Darwin Holmstrom and Brian J. Nelson claimed. But Karl Popp thought that his business was capable of producing a superior engine by itself and persuaded Friz to create a better boxer engine.

Then emerged the BMW R32.

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What Made The BMW R32 Stand Out?

The R32, which was revealed in 1923 at the Paris Motorcycle Salon, turned out to be the event’s highlight. The R32 was a kind of combination of best practices at the time in the manufacturing of motorcycles. Excluding the water swamp system, its individual components were not particularly groundbreaking, but its operational sustainability and meticulous design distinguished it.

In contrast to the Helios, the R32 rotated 90 degrees and hanged the finned cylinders in the wind to solve three difficulties simultaneously: the wheelbase was longer for practical considerations, a low rear cylindrical refrigeration, and transmittal location. In addition, a three-speed drive could be connected right in line with the engine having the crankshaft positioned longitudinally to eliminate the main driving chain. The R32 also incorporated the shaft drive of BMW to change the back difference.

What Did BMW Do To Keep The R32 Maintained?

In 1924, BMW improved the R32 instantly. Only a brake is used in this rare 1923 model, operational against an efficient dummy rim by jamming a plank of wood.

The company continued using Max Friz’s basic R32 layout until 1969 when BMW launched the /5 series. More importantly, up to the F650’s debut in 1994, the shaft drive on the R32 remained the only driving mechanism across every BMW.

The History of the BMW R32

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This motorbike was shown in the 2008 New York Auto Show in April and is a part of the BMW company collection. Due to its rarities and heritage, BMW R32s are the most popular collectibles. Perfect instances like those, if you can acquire one, could go up to $100,000.


For the following 85 years, BMW has continued to improve boxer/shaft powered design, while at least half of the new BMW bikes are still in service today. This is something that must be acknowledged for being done once and being done right.

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Let us know your thoughts on the BMW R32 in the comments below. We hope you enjoyed reading this article! is your go-to resource for the latest auto news, tips, HOW-TOs, and vehicle comparisons. You can follow our social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to stay updated with news and updates. If you wish to decipher the world of automobiles, you have landed at the right place.

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