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Sunday, June 2, 2019

BMW R7 and modern hommage

There were many interesting bikes on display at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este this year.  Among them was the one and only R7 prototype which was resurrected from boxes of parts that had languished in the basement at the BMW archive for some 70 years.

Since the R7 was debuted again to the public, an enterprising company named NMOTO has designed a kit that can transform a modern R9T into an R7 Hommage bike.   I have to say that seeing the  two bikes side by side really shows the extent to which NMOTO went to get the details right.  There's no hiding its a modern bike with disk brakes, modern shaped cylinder heads, etc.  However the overall form and major styling cues are there.  Impressive indeed.  NMOTO is still taking orders, and I'm told that the bike can be custom made to fit the owner, in terms of height, seat position, etc.




Friday, May 31, 2019

The Pre-BMW BMW

Most true BMW enthusiasts are aware that BMW had it's beginnings in the aircraft business, with BMW being formed by bringing together two separate companies, Ropp Moterenwerke and Bavarian Flugzeugwerke in 1916.  

However, many people, enthusiast or not, are unaware that motorcycle production preceded car production by several years.  Furthermore, prior to the production of the first in-house BMW motorcycle, the R32, BMW was an engine manufacturer supplying motors to companies such as Victoria, Bison and Flink.

Below is a nice example of a Victoria, outfitted with a BMW M2B15 motor.  This is from BMW's collection and was on display at the Concorso d'Eleganza this year (2019).



Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Quail Motorcycle Gathering - 2019

Another great event this year at the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, CA.  This year the event showcased Brough as well as the Honda CB 750.  Tremendous examples of each marque were on hand for enthusiasts to pour over.

For the second year in a row, an R90S took top honors in the "Other European" class.

Also on hand in the "Custom" category was the tremendously popular, and much disussed, Revival Cycles "Birdcage" bike.  A titanium trellised frame cradles the impossibly large 1800cc prototype BMW boxer motor.  An intelligently crafted design exercise, the "Birdcage" evokes the land speed record machines of the 1930's piloted by Ernst Henne.

Can't wait for BMW to be the featured Marque at the Quail.  2023 would seem an appropriate year, as this will represent 100 years of BMW motorcyles.  We'll have to wait and see.




Ernst Henne on a land speed record attempt.  Most likely on the road between Munich and Ingolstadt, a common location for record attempts at the time as the road was flat and straight. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Art imitating Life

I have to admit, I'm not much of a jewelry guy.  But every now and then a piece just speaks to you.

I subscribe to a few BMW motorcycle groups on Facebook.  The other day, a fellow on FB posted about a silversmith friend of his who was casting mens rings in the form an R68/R69S valve cover.

The castings were spot on, and I had to have one. Despite originally being made in up to a size 12, Bruce agreed to fabricate one for my fat finger in a 13.

So it's in production now.   If it looks half as good as the pics on his site, I'll be very pleased.  I opted for the oxide version as it gives a sort of aged, worn look and I liked the contrast.  Much like the valve covers on my bikes. Check them out, or order one for yourself at www.keisersterling.com

Update: My ring arrived and it's awesome!  Very cool piece that doubles as a weapon in pinch!



Saturday, March 2, 2019

Art Deco Masterpiece

Berlin 1929
Continuing the theme of BMW advertising, I present to you one the most iconic pictures I've ever seen!  As part of a recent press campaign to highlight the achievements of BMW over the last 100 years, BMW made available this historic photo.

Splendidly captured in sepia tone is a BMW salesroom in Berlin, 1929.

Lets take a closer look.  Huge glass windows really open the space up to the outside.  Minimalist lit signage letters proudly display the brand name, flanked by the classic and iconic BMW roundel.  The room is brightly lit by an enormous panel of lights.  The internal decor is sparse other than strategically placed flowers.  The emphasis here is clearly on the product. The sleek tiled walls with a classic stylized art deco motif complete the classic art deco look of the day, elegant, understated, exceptional.

Fast forward 90 years and we can see the same theme at work in your local shopping mall.  TESLA has taken what BMW did nearly a century ago, and modernized it slightly.  However you can see that the concept is nearly identical.  In 1929 you would have likely left the showroom with a nice paper brochure listing the models and specifications.  Today you simply access those details on your phone or at the wall kiosk.  Otherwise not much has changed!




Thursday, February 28, 2019

OL Special - Oscar Liebmann/Kurt Liebmann

If you have come across my blog, it's most likely because you are a fan of historic BMW sport and racing motorcycles.

I have recently created a web page as a tribute to a very interesting, and famous racing BMW from here in the US,  the OL Special.

BMW-Rennsport.com

As you'll learn from the site, the OL Special was a BMW Rennsport based racebike crafted by Oscar Liebmann of AMOL Precision in Dumont, New Jersey.  The bike was campaigned for over 3 decades by Kurt Liebmann in the US, Canada and Europe.

The website showcases from very cool period photos by Stuart Davis and Ed Cunningham.  Take a look around, and enjoy.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

BMW Enamel Advertising Signs

In todays world, companies and corporations turn to the web for advertising.  Encouraging "likes" on Facebook, flashing pics on Instagram, and employing an army of "influencers" posting endless reviews and showcasing "lifestyles" utilizing the companies brands and products seems to be the norm.

Call me old-fashioned, but I appreciated the advertising of yesteryear.  Colorful, artfully designed posters and enamel (Email in German) signs were the mainstay of advertising for many decades, well before the advent television and the subsequent digital age.  In other words, long before there was email there was "Email".

Collectors of BMW motorcycles, myself included, are always on the look out for such items as they relate to, and can enhance, a motorcycle collection.  Advertising provides context to the experience of owning, restoring and sharing the wonderful machines from Munich.  

Below are two examples of BMW enamel signs.  Both are original and in "New Old Stock" (NOS) condition.  I was lucky enough to purchase them from a defunct dealership here in the US that operated from the 1950's through the mid 1980's.  

Each sign is 60cm in diameter and of convex metal construction.  Enamel provided longevity for these signs that were often nailed or screwed to the outside of dealerships. 

The earlier of the two signs employs the older, serif, font with the lettering in yellow.  Notice also that the blue is a darker, richer hue than the later style.  I do not know the exact years of production of this version. 



Add caption

The later sign is of nearly identical construction but employs the sans-serif font, and a lighter blue.  Curiously, the mounting hole pattern is different between the two versions. 



The firm of Boos-Hahn, the maker of the later sign, was an enamel specialist in the town of Ortenberg, Baden-Wurttenberg.  Founded by Wilhelm Boos and Anton Hahn around the time of the first World War, the company specialized in the production of enamel signs for industry and advertising.  Their work, especially as it pertains advertising, is sought amongst collectors.  

I am sure that these signs came in other variations.  I have seen smaller versions of the earlier yellow, serif type sign. I have also seen the later style sign as a clock.   Of course there is no shortage of reproduction signs in the marketplace.  Original signs tend to have chips and some missing enamel.  Often discoloration related to weathering can be seen as well.   I provide the above information to educate those looking to purchase a genuine sign as an aide in evaluating its authenticity.


Sunday, September 9, 2018

Goodwood Revival 2018 - Barry Sheene Trophy Day 2

Troy Corser and Herbert Schwab did the unthinkable.  Day two saw Herbert Schwab get away cleanly at the start of the Barry Sheene trophy race  He turned in very quick laps and kept the R57 Kompressor BMW within striking distance of the leaders English and McGuinness on the Manx Norton.  After the rider change Corser put the hammer down, turning in fastest lap and whittling the lead down from 17 seconds to just over 3 seconds in a matter of only a couple laps.  Then just after the chicane, Corser eases past McGuiness, giving him a tap on the back-side.  A combination of "here I am" and "bet you didn't see this coming."  Corser went on to win day two with a comfortable lead.

Meanwhile Sebastian Gutsch and Klaus Ottlinger did a fantastic job aboard Sebastian's R5SS.  Starting from 9th position on the grid, Sebastian passed several riders on the first lap and had the bike up into third before the rider change.  Ottlinger fought hard and the duo ended up 5th on the day.  A tremendous result for a normally aspirated true 500cc pre-war bike!


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Goodwood Revival 2018 - Barry Sheene Trophy Day 1

Absolutely amazing race day1 for the Barry Sheene trophy at Goodwood Revival 2018.  The BMW R57 Kompressor, piloted by Troy Corser and Herbert Schwab, managed third step on the podium for the first of two events, even after trouble at the start.

As is seen in the video, Goodwood features a LeMans start.  Riders dash across the track and hop aboard the already running bikes.  However it appears as though there was a hiccup and the R57 was near last getting away from the pit wall.  Corser, none-the-less caught up quickly, eventually taking the lead away from the Manx Norton.

Timing and scoring lists the bike as an R5SS, but it's in fact an OHV R57 with Kompressor.  Much more primitive a chassis as compared to the R5.  While both machines are hard tails, the R57 is much less rigid and utilizes a leaf spring suspension up front, and simple coil springs under the saddle at the rear.  You can see just how squirrelly the bike is at speed from the video below.  On top of that, its HAND SHIFT, not foot shift.  You can see Corser reaching across the tank with his left hand to downshift as he makes his way into to the pit for the rider change.   A practical update on the bike is a twist throttle instead of the lever throttle as originally equipped on the road going R57.

And Corser put in fastest lap of the race, topping 130mph.  As fellow Goodwood competitor  Sebastian Gutsch said, "Corser is incredible!"



Friday, February 23, 2018

BMW Motorcycle Racing Tachometers

Like most vehicle manufacturers of the day, BMW did not produce its own tachometers for race bikes.  Rather, the task was out-sourced to premier instrument makers.

In the pre-war period, this job fell to Robert Muhle and Sohn of Glashutte, Germany. Muhle tachs were sourced for use on the BMW Type 255 Kompressor, as well as the twin cam racer R51RS.   Interestingly, the company remains in business, producing high end wrist watches.  Its no surprise then that a peak inside one of these instruments would have one believing that were viewing a ship chronometer.

R. Muhle Drezahlmesser


For the post-war Type 253 (colloquially known as the RS54), the original long stroke version was fitted with a 60mm VDO, complete with a weighted and balanced needle.


VDO 60 mm Drehzahlmesser


On the works bike, and later privateer RS54's, the more commonly found tachometer is a Smith's ATRC.  Generally considered to be the Rolls Royce of instruments, the ATRC were required to be mounted in a special vibration dampening holder. It was essentially a bezel mount connected to the instrument by means of large rubber O-ring.  

Smith ATRC Drehzahlmesser


Of interest, there was two ways to run the tach on the RS54.  Both a straight drive from the timing gear, or an angled drive from the front of the crank.  The straight drive is commonly found on solo machines, while the angle drive is more common to side cars, and the works type racer.  The works motors were occasionally fitted with a Bosch fuel injector which was driven by the timing gear shaft.  Therefore, the tach drive had to be relocated, and furthermore this allowed for clearance of the cable.

Tachometer drives for RS54