Monday, November 06, 2006

1928 BMW R63

1928 BMW R63; the top of BMWs range at the time.  Expensive then and now...
Several years ago, after I sold a Brough Superior SS100 , I had enough cash to buy a '28 BMW R63, which is a 750cc ohv machine, very rare, top of the line, and a beautiful bike. This was a German restoration, but clearly not intended for actual Riding...I've never been so disappointed! It was awful, sounded like a cement mixer, handled like a cart, had terrible brakes which dragged and howled while riding, and a gearbox which whined like a dog with attachment issues.
Leaf-spring front fork with 7" brake up front, and a band brake on the shaft drive.  Three speeds, with plenty of torque, and reliable Bosch electrics.  
This wasn't representative of BMWs from the 1920's, as I've since ridden some real peaches from the era (see this Road Test of an R16)...but after asking around for opinions on the R63, I found that although mine was mechanically suspect, they're all slightly crude compared to the R5 in 1936. It became clear to me first-hand why British machines were dominant in racing in the 20's, as my Sunbeam TT90 or Norton CS1 or Velocette KTT would run rings around this Bauhaus icon; clean lines and beautifully balanced proportions don't necessarily equate to racing prowess. When I look at the pictures, though, I wish I still had it, and could re-engineer some finesse into the thing.


robert.pfeffer said...

Hi Paul

Think the R63 had nothing at all to do with anything related to "Racing", it used to be a sturdy troublefree touring bike.
Please have a look at my friends restored R63, see, choose 'Motorrad' from the left hand yellow navigation bar and klick on 'Klassik'
The R63 restorer is a collector of old bikes and cars, a member of the Swiss 'Albis Racing Team' and a school teacher.

Robert Pfeffer

vintagent said...

Robert, thanks for your comment, but I'm afraid you're very mistaken. R63's were regularly used by the factory and private owners for racing; BMW even supercharged them for road racing and record breaking, which must have been terrifying! I'll make a post about early BMW racing efforts.

rp said...

Hi Paul

Of course you're right. Almost anything was raced in the crazy twenties. And I forgot Ernst Henne. I think it was he who asked to have it supercharged for record breaking.


Anonymous said...

Hi Paul.

I read with a chuckle your comments on your R63 Experience. I have a nicely restored R63. I have never had it running, I am close. Had to do the usual things, coat the tank fix a lever, things like that. It has a weak spark and when I push it the diff has a suspicious noise. After reading your comments, perhaps I should just keep it as a static display.

I also have a Brough. 1936 SS80, my favorite bike to ride. I rode it to Legends a few times (about 350 miles up the coast) It handles great, keeps up with modern traffic and never lets me down.

Doug McKenzie

Rod said...

Re: Your interest in women motorcyclists. I have a photograph of a relative of mine who lived in Bradford, England. The photo was taken early last century. She sits on a motorcycle with sidecar. She was known as the first woman to ride a motorcycle in Bradford. Her name was Olive.
When my wife and I were honeymooning in England in 1990, I attempted to try and find out who my grandfather's father might have been. He was born to an unwed mother and raised by two spinster Aunts. He took his mother's last name and was Ernist Priestley. If he knew who his father was, he never spoke of it.
I was introduced to another relative who was 95 years old and still working as a soliciter (lawyer) in Bradford. When I asked him if he knew my grandfather, he said he knew "of him". But he said that the person I should have spoken to when she was alive would have been a woman named Olive who rode a motorcycle with sidecar all over Bradford, was quite gegarious, and knew everything about everyone in the family. I wish I could have met her. She looks quite wild on the motorcycle.