BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works) and has history that dates back to 1916. BMW was the purveyor of world-record altitude aircraft engines and is the basis for the white and blue “spinning propeller” that is the BMW Roundel.
BMW’s first motorcycle, the R32, introduced in 1923, immediately established BMW as a maker of high quality, innovative and practical motorcycles. With a twin-cylinder, horizontally opposed engine and shaft drive, the R32 set the standard for the BMW motorcycles that exist today.
|What Makes A BMW Different?|
Did you know that over 50% of all BMW's ever made are still running the roads, or lack thereof, around the world?
Much of what makes a BMW is not found in a marketing campaign, but under the surface, in the bike itself. Lots of power, or a race-inspired suspension may be powerful selling features for other brands, but there is no guarantee such features enhance an owner's ultimate appreciation.
In a BMW, every feature is backed by a heritage of engineering, design, quality testing and of course, fun on the Atobahnen.
Lets take a quick look.
Engine & Drivetrain
- Low Center of Gravity - a low CG is an inherent beauty of a horizontally opposed twin. It keeps the cylinders, heads and associated valve gear at the same height as the crankshaft. It also means that everything is readily accessible for easy maintenance.
- Longitudinal Engine - this engine layout adapts exceptionally well to shaft-drive, since the drivetrain makes only one right-hand turn at the rear wheel. This efficiency minimizes power loss and reduces unnecessary weight.
- Shaft Final Drive - a perfect compliment to BMW’s touring oriented line-up. It’s clean, efficient, reliable and virtually maintenance free.
- Electronic Engine Management - BMW pioneered electronic engine management systems for motorcycles back in 1983. Today, BMW’s Digital Motor Electronic system also feature adaptive control that actually compensates for engine wear. As a result, BMW motorcycle engines offer precise fuel delivery, ignition timing and emissions while being the cleanest in the world.
- Transmission – a six-speed gearbox includes closer gear spacing enabling a more consistent flow of power from one gear to the next. It also creates less noise and provides for a smoother, more precise gear selection.
Front - Telelever
BMW's history includes a tradition of innovation, especially in suspension design. In 1935, BMW became the first motorcycle manufacturer to offer a hydraulically damped telescopic fork, however widespread use belies their inherent problems; excessive brake dive, internal friction and especially fork flexing under braking. The Telelever concept differs in a variety of important aspects.
- a conventional motorcycle depends on the strength of the frame around the steering head and fork tubes to control chassis flex, however BMW's Telelever spreads these bending forces over the length of the chassis so they aren't concentrated in the fork or steering head. This explains why chassis rigidity is maintained with relatively small stanchion tubes.
Stability Under Braking - The control arm on the Telelever braces the fork, channeling the braking forces directly into the strongest part of the chassis - the engine on the Boxer-twins or the main frame on the K-bikes. This provides exceptional stability and suspension compliance even during hard braking.
Inherent Anti-Dive - the Telelever can be tuned to counteract brake dive just by changing the suspesion geometry, while other motorcycles rely on stiffer springs or harsher dampening.
Smooth Operation - the centrally mounted spring/shock unit, along with the large overlap between the inner and outer fork tubes reduces binding for smoother travel.
Low Maintenance - the spring/shock unit requires no service and the fork oil never needs changing.
Rear - Paralever
Climb on a typical shaft-driven motorcycle and one of the first things you'll notice is the pronounced rise in the rear suspension during acceleration - also known as 'jacking'.
This happens when the torque transmitted to the rear wheel under acceleration tends to rotate the rear-drive housing, and the rigidly attached swingarm, in the opposite direction. This rotation then lifts the rear of the bike.
The Paralever effectively eliminates the torque reaction by placing a second U-joint and pivot near the rear-drive housing. A parallel strut underneath the drive shaft prevents rotation and allows the rear-drive unit to 'float', much like a full-floating rear brake. It maintains full suspension compliance while allowing a full range of wheel travel even under full throttle.
Rear - Monolever
It's been more than two decades since BMW introduced the first modern, single-sided swingarm on a production motorcycle. In addition to its clean, simple looks, the Monolever single-shock suspension offered the dual advantages of lighter weight and an easily removed, automotive-styled bolt-on wheel. The Monolever offers the same clean running and ease of maintenance as the Paralever system.
Aerodynamics & Ergonomics
- Aerodynamic Bodywork - BMW's use of aerodynamic fairings can be traced back to 1937, when a land speed record of 173 mph was set with a fully enclosed, supercharged 500cc Boxer. Today, thousands of hours of painstaking wind-tunnel design work has proven that designing shapes that not only enhance rider protection but also improve handling. From the turbulence-reducing Kamm-tailed luggage on the K 1200 LT to the abbreviated pieces on the F 650 GS, BMW has shown that the science of aerodynamics involves more than mere wind deflection.
- Adjustable Airflow - The company's work with adjustable ergonomics extends even to aerodynamic aids, such as movable wind deflectors. Most of the full-fairing models feature manual or electric adjustable windshields. Some even adjust for both angle and height to accomodate short and tall riders.
- Adjustable Ergonomics - BMW engineers have spent a great deal of time designing their bikes to adapt to riders of almost every size. From multiple position brake and clutch levers for hand reach, handlebar and footpeg adjustments, adjustable seat heights and movable pillion pads to windshields that can be removed entirely.
- Switchgear - BMW's hand controls, with individual pushbuttons for right and left turnsignals and ergonomically shaped switches for the horn, high/low beam and signal cancel, are uniquely shaped for the human hand. Although markedly different from typical motorcycle switchgear, their intuitive design makes them extremely easy to use.
BMW introduced the world's first antilock brake system on a motorcycle via the 1988 K 100 RS. Over a decade later, the company has more than 200,000 ABS-equipped motorcycles worldwide and remains the only maker in the world to include ABS as either optional or standard equipment on all of its motorcycles.
Despite this industry leading position, BMW pushes braking technology a step further with the introduction of its EVOlution and Integral brake systems.
The EVO design provides significant improvements by means of reduced lever effort, improved braking power and reduced unsprung weight. Combined with EVO, is BMW's all-new linked brake system, which provides simultaneous operation of the front and rear brakes. This electro-hydraulic design differs from less-sophisticated, hydraulic only arrangements in two key areas. First, it dynamically monitors the front-to-rear wheel load to provide optimal brake balance. Secondly, its adaptive circuitry compensates for such variables as a changing fuel load or the additon of luggage and a passenger.
Comfort & Convenience
- Active Safety Systems - All safety systems tend to fall into one of two categories: active or passive.
Active systems do their best to protect you from having an accident. Such things as handling, acceleration and braking are particularly important in motorcycle design due to the vulnerability of the rider. BMW has long been an advocate of active safety, having intoduced a wide range of measures designed to keep the rider safe and accident-free while on the road. Passive systems, such as helmets and riding gear, protect you if an accident occurs. BMW also has a long standing tradition of offering top quality products for this purpose.
- Luggage - High utility has long been a hall-mark of BMW motorcycles and the company has a tradition of providing high quality, secure luggage specifically designed for each of its motorcycles. Today, that includes everything form adjustable saddlebags and removable topcases to permanently affixed luggage. As mentioned earlier, all BMW luggage systems are aerodynamically designed to have minimal effect on the bike's handling.
- Key Lock - all BMW lockable accessories, either standard or optional equipment, can be keyed to the bike's ignition key to simplify locking and unlocking. Moreover, the luggage keys on detachable bags can only be removed form the locked position, minimizing the chance of loss.
- Anti-Theft Warning - the anti-theft warning system provides audible and visual warnigns. Some models also offer remote control, with optional circuitry to cut the fuel supply even if the engine is running.
- 12-Volt Accessory Outlets - Most BMW motorcycles include a convenient, 12-volt outlet designed to accept a variety of accessories, form heated gear to halogen spotlights. The outlet is always protected from the elements by a spring-loaded cover.
BMW and the Environment
BMW's lineup demonstrates the company's dedication to a cleaner environment. Since the early nineties BMW has placed heavy emphasis on recycling in its vehicles, using recyclable products wherever possible. For example, the catalytic converters on all BMW motorcycles can be recycled and the company uses only recyclable plastics. All recyclable parts are marked as such. Furthermore, since 1993 BMW has exclusively used plastics manufactured using no ozone-depleting CFC's.
Your BMW Experience
We have only scratched the surface here, but we hope this information helps you with your decision to own a BMW or 2 or ...?
If you have any questions about specific models and their respective features, feel free to call, email or drop by the store. Any one of the staff will be happy to help.
To coin a phrase from the MSF - "The more you know, the better it gets".
Enjoy the Ride!