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Thread: 55-59 R50 vs 60-69 R50/2 - Why no /2 and on 55-59?

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    55-59 R50 vs 60-69 R50/2 - Why no /2 and on 55-59?

    I just purchased a 1957 R50. According to what I am reading it is not a /2. The /2 on R50s began in 1960. Why is this, why did they start using a /2 designation? I have owned a lot of 70s and 80s BMWs and I understand the designations. I just want some help understanding the above. Thanks.

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    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Same reason a /5 turned into a /6 which turned into a /7. Changes.

    As to what was changed? Look at the parts book. It will tell you which model went with which part. Example:

    11 31 0 031 027 - R50/R60 camshaft
    11 31 0 031 028 - R50-2/R60-2 camshaft

    Most parts will go with earlier and later models. Some later parts will work with earlier models.

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    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Actually, the /2 use didn't begin on these models until the 1961 model year bikes, which began to be produced in September of 1960.

    After WWII, BMW needed to get going again. They released the R24 in 1948, the successor to the prewar R23. And in 1950 they brought out the first post war twin. It was based heavily on the prewar R51, but with 10 years of advancement, they were able to do a few new things. So the new twin was called the R51/2, since it was essentially the prewar R51, brought out as a 2nd edition.

    The idea of having versions or editions was not new for BMW; in the early 30s, BMW was on a continuous improvment campaign and the R11 and R16 bikes were improved each year from 1930 through 1934. At that time, BMW called them Series I through Series V models. (There were some big changes between these yearly models, too, so collecting and keeping one of these bikes whole for the particular year it was manufacturered is difficult!)

    In 1951 BMW brought out a really revamped version of the R51/2, so they called it the R51/3. Even though the bike had an all new motor, new electrics and ignition, it only rated as a version upgrade! In the 600cc class, the R67 had been introduced as a sidecar hauler, and it went through /2 and /3 editions. Similarly, the new R25 came out and progressed through a /2 and /3 version, too. Only the R68, introduced as BMW's flagship sport bike, never had these editions... even though it did have yearly improvments.

    In 1955 BMW introduced the new R50 and R69 bikes with their modern rear swingarm (replacing the plunger rear suspension of the previous bikes) and, more famously, with their Earles type front forks. The R60 soon followed. And in the middle of the 1957 model year, there was an upgrade to these bikes, giving them improved rear brakes, stronger wheels, a bigger and brighter tail light and brake light and more. However, this upgrade didn't count for much, as it wasn't recognized with new model names or even a new version number.

    After this point, BMW was suffering terribly. Their cars weren't selling, and the motorcycle side of the business, which had been supporting the company, was shrinking as "The German Miracle" allowed families to buy cars instead of motorcycles for transportation. Many famous brands merged or went out of business at this time, and BMW managed to survive only because they had long cultivated what is now known as the authority business (selling to the police and other official agencies). BMW nearly avoided being sold to Benz in 1959, and for the next 5 or 6 years the company was solely focused on recovering its auto business.

    For the 1961 model year, BMW introduced some very minor updates to the R50 and R60 models, and did finally give them a version number upgrade: hence, the R50/2 and the R60/2. Because the market had changed, BMW tried to produce some hotter sport bikes to catch up some with British. The R69 got a new, hotter cam and much higher compression ratio, to become the R69S. It showed, too, as its horsepower rating went from 35 to 42, a 20% increase! Also, the R50S was introduced, but it had a fairly short run as it gained a reputation for having crank problems.

    After this point, there was no more money for development, and improvements were minor and sporadic. The R69S got a crank dampener. The engine cases were modified to have a removable cover over the oil pump, to ease the installation of an optional tachometer.

    By 1967 the company had recovered enough to invest some money back into the motorcycle division. A wholly new bike would be needed to catch up to, not just the rest of Europe, but also the incoming Japanese bikes. The market had changed and the new bikes would have to be focused on sport more than on basic transportation. That meant the end of the Earles forks, which provided a great, smooth ride and were designed to adapt to the load of a sidecar. Back to the hydraulically damped telescopic forks design that BMW themselves had invented with the 1935 R12.

    To test out the new forks, BMW introduced them in 1967 alongside the Earles design to the US marketplace -- only. Hence, the bikes that wore them got the US designation: R50US, R60US and R69US. Probably BMW expected to introduce a new model within a year or so, but they continued through the 1969 model year. BMW had also needed more space in their Munich works for auto production, and the West German government was offering big subsidies to companies that would locate manufacturing in Berlin. So in addition to a new model, BMW built a new plant in the Spandau district of West Berlin to produce the new bikes. All of the experience and knowledge had to be transfered to this new location, as well. In late 1969 the 1970 model year /5 bikes were introduced.

    (And no, I have no idea where the /4 went.)
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

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    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    Now, that's an explanation! Pop quiz tomorrow!!

    Check this thread:

    http://www.bmwmoa.org/forum/showthre...nd-Build-Dates

    for your model and VIN. You might be able to get a sense of when your bike was built. BMW Classic, the archive group, can provide more details they might have record about the exact build date, where it was sent, and what type of seat was installed. Usually an email to them with your VIN will suffice.
    Kurt -- Forum Administrator ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  5. #5
    BinkleyLane binkleylane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarrylRi View Post
    Actually, the /2 use didn't begin on these models until the 1961 model year bikes, which began to be produced in September of 1960.

    After WWII, BMW needed to get going again. They released the R24 in 1948, the successor to the prewar R23. And in 1950 they brought out the first post war twin. It was based heavily on the prewar R51, but with 10 years of advancement, they were able to do a few new things. So the new twin was called the R51/2, since it was essentially the prewar R51, brought out as a 2nd edition.

    The idea of having versions or editions was not new for BMW; in the early 30s, BMW was on a continuous improvment campaign and the R11 and R16 bikes were improved each year from 1930 through 1934. At that time, BMW called them Series I through Series V models. (There were some big changes between these yearly models, too, so collecting and keeping one of these bikes whole for the particular year it was manufacturered is difficult!)

    In 1951 BMW brought out a really revamped version of the R51/2, so they called it the R51/3. Even though the bike had an all new motor, new electrics and ignition, it only rated as a version upgrade! In the 600cc class, the R67 had been introduced as a sidecar hauler, and it went through /2 and /3 editions. Similarly, the new R25 came out and progressed through a /2 and /3 version, too. Only the R68, introduced as BMW's flagship sport bike, never had these editions... even though it did have yearly improvments.

    In 1955 BMW introduced the new R50 and R69 bikes with their modern rear swingarm (replacing the plunger rear suspension of the previous bikes) and, more famously, with their Earles type front forks. The R60 soon followed. And in the middle of the 1957 model year, there was an upgrade to these bikes, giving them improved rear brakes, stronger wheels, a bigger and brighter tail light and brake light and more. However, this upgrade didn't count for much, as it wasn't recognized with new model names or even a new version number.

    After this point, BMW was suffering terribly. Their cars weren't selling, and the motorcycle side of the business, which had been supporting the company, was shrinking as "The German Miracle" allowed families to buy cars instead of motorcycles for transportation. Many famous brands merged or went out of business at this time, and BMW managed to survive only because they had long cultivated what is now known as the authority business (selling to the police and other official agencies). BMW nearly avoided being sold to Benz in 1959, and for the next 5 or 6 years the company was solely focused on recovering its auto business.

    For the 1961 model year, BMW introduced some very minor updates to the R50 and R60 models, and did finally give them a version number upgrade: hence, the R50/2 and the R60/2. Because the market had changed, BMW tried to produce some hotter sport bikes to catch up some with British. The R69 got a new, hotter cam and much higher compression ratio, to become the R69S. It showed, too, as its horsepower rating went from 35 to 42, a 20% increase! Also, the R50S was introduced, but it had a fairly short run as it gained a reputation for having crank problems.

    After this point, there was no more money for development, and improvements were minor and sporadic. The R69S got a crank dampener. The engine cases were modified to have a removable cover over the oil pump, to ease the installation of an optional tachometer.

    By 1967 the company had recovered enough to invest some money back into the motorcycle division. A wholly new bike would be needed to catch up to, not just the rest of Europe, but also the incoming Japanese bikes. The market had changed and the new bikes would have to be focused on sport more than on basic transportation. That meant the end of the Earles forks, which provided a great, smooth ride and were designed to adapt to the load of a sidecar. Back to the hydraulically damped telescopic forks design that BMW themselves had invented with the 1935 R12.

    To test out the new forks, BMW introduced them in 1967 alongside the Earles design to the US marketplace -- only. Hence, the bikes that wore them got the US designation: R50US, R60US and R69US. Probably BMW expected to introduce a new model within a year or so, but they continued through the 1969 model year. BMW had also needed more space in their Munich works for auto production, and the West German government was offering big subsidies to companies that would locate manufacturing in Berlin. So in addition to a new model, BMW built a new plant in the Spandau district of West Berlin to produce the new bikes. All of the experience and knowledge had to be transfered to this new location, as well. In late 1969 the 1970 model year /5 bikes were introduced.

    (And no, I have no idea where the /4 went.)

    Great info.
    Could you point me in the right direction to get a definative history for BMW. I would really like to learn more about their business/history et al.
    Thanks
    B-est M-otorcycle (in the) W-orld
    Have Bike - Will Ride

  6. #6
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Actually, I don't know of a good, single book. I like the long out of print book, Bahnstormer, by LJK Setright. Otherwise, I have a collection of books that focus on particular ranges of BMW motorcycles (Motorr?├▒der aus M??nchen by Karl Reese, Motorcycles from Munich by BMW themselves, BMW Fotoalbum by Johann Kleine Vennekate and BMW Boxer by Andy Scwietzer).
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

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