Motorworld’s newspaper №9
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In 1922 the BMW company, which until then specialized mostly in motorcycle and aviation motors, bought out Otto company in order to start serial production of motorcycles.

The draft of BMW R 32 made by Max Fritz

Max Fritz, chief engineer of BMW, was personally involved in developing the new motorcycle. He was giving it his full attention and all of his time: he even had a drafting board in his house. Within a month, practically from scratch, Mr. Fritz created a complete design of the motorcycle in full scale, and it was ready by December 1922.

A motorcycle with R32 index, shown at the 1923 Paris Salon, proved to be a true novelty. A slightly improved horizontally opposed motor was arranged with its cylinders across the frame, which greatly improved its cooling. This is not to say that ath was a totally original solution: the ABC company was already producing such motorcycles, but no one had thought of using an axle as transmission to the rear wheel, even though this idea was obvious. In fact, from the beginning of the 20th century FN motorcycles were provided with a cardan drive of the rear wheel, while the crankshaft of the motor was arranged lengthway.

Letter from BMW confirming the production date of the motorcycle (April 16, 1926) and the date when it was shipped to a dealer in Senftenberg (April 17, 1926).

One way or another, this model got everyone’s attention. L-head engine with 494 cc capacity and engine rate of 8.5 h.p. (at 3900 rpm) had round stationary cylinder heads with characteristic finning, into which innovative finned plugs were screwed in in order to install valves. Cylinder dimensions was “square”, 68×68 mm, ratio of compression was 5:1. Innovative three-speed gear box was in the same unit with the motor, and torsion bar without U-joints, having only one flex disk designed to smooth out snatching in the transmission. Duplex tubular frame was carrying a triangular fuel tank under its upper tubes. The front fork was sprung while fork stays were simply bent pipes with a lever mechanism at its end. Both wheels had brakes, but if the front drum brake inside the center boss was a very innovative solution for 1923, the rear brake was a primitive trunnion solution, with direct link to the trunnion, from the peral on the right-hand side.

Even though the power unit seemed to be quite rugged, the total mass of the machine was only 122 kg, which made it possible to drive with a maximum speed of up to 90 km/h. This motorcycle quickly earned recognition of the general public, with its sexy and unusual look, its excellent reliability and great road performance.

From 1923 to 1926 the total of 3090 BMW R32 motorcycles was produced.

Manufacturer Bayerische Motoren Werke, AG (Germany)
Years of manufacture 1923-1926
Quantity produced, units 3 090
Price 2 200 RM
Today’s value 6390,48 $
Type Twin-cylinder, horizontally-opposed
Engine capacity, cc 494
Bore and stroke, mm 68 х 68
Engine rating 8.5 h.p. at 3900 rpm
Sparking Bosch magneto
Carburetor BMW Spezial 22 mm
Battery 6 V
Clutch Single-plate, dry
Transmission 3-speed
Frame type Duplex tubular
Front suspension Dual cantilever spring
Rear suspension Rigid
Brakes Front – drum-type, rear – side-friction
Wheel size 3,00 х 26
Length, mm
2 100
Width, mm
Height, mm
Wheelbase, mm
1 380
Ground clearance, mm
Seat height, mm
Mass, kg
Gas tank size, l
Maximum speed, km/h
Range, km

* – Data from the results of the measurement of the “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov” exhibit.