Motorworld’s newspaper №54

The story of how this motorcycle originated reflects, as in a clear drop of water, the incredible rise of German identity at the start of 1940s and the wish of the Germans to show the whole world that they as Arians are a superior nation in everything on this planet, from battlefields to technical innovation. This resulted, however, in a break with reality and, following that, no practical results were achieved.

Let us relate the story in its proper order. Let us get immersed in the atmosphere of those years. Let us look in the soul of a German philistine. He was not a “Young Werther” anymore for whom the great Goethe was pleading “to feel love and respect for his mind and his heart, and to shed a tear over his fate”. In the 1930s the Germans, quite of their own volition, by democratic majority chose their fate when they put their frotune in the hands of the Nazis. Hitler, this super-lucky adventurer, risked it all and took the scoop… Czechoslovakia, Poland, France etc. fell, one by one. Practically-minded Germans were suddenly swamped with philistine luck, so that, from then on, their daily potato soup was generously flavored with gifts from all around Europe. (I tasted this soup made in Svabia after a traditional recipe. Well, no comments…) The French Issue that had been a stumbling block for centuries was solved overnight. Fast Heinz (as general Guderian was nicknamed) cut through the panicky “frog-eaters” as a hot knife though butter. The British could barely escape by the skin of their teeth from Dunkirk. And the Germans roared in delight of adoration for their raging Fuehrer and … lost their minds.

This is very apparent when following the history of how their technical wonder, the BMW R 75, was created. After the Polish campaign (let us acknowledge that Poland did not have a single chance to survive because England and France betrayed it and Stalin hit it from the rear), but especially after the blitzkrieg of the summer of 1940, it had become clear that the outline of contemporary battle changed drastically. Motors became new war gods. Germans got plentiful war trophies, and samples of all-terrain vehicles from Belgium and France were among them.

BMW R75

In 1940 Wehrmacht’s Ordering Department announced a tender for developing a heavy motorcycle with a side car, the 3×2 axle configuration, capable of towing a light artillery gun or a munition trailer. By the end of the year the Bayerische Motoren Werke, AG developed one of the best military motorcycles ever, the BMW R 75. It was a feast of technical innovation, and its many new solutions were untilized in batch production for the first time (they were, first and foremost, the front telescopic fork, compensation gear in the wheel drive, hydraulic brake drive).

Technical characteristics of this superior machine are available at our site for any interested reader (and let us confess, in all sincerity, that the Germans beat everyone else in this case). In fact, this is a motorcycle that is very nice to drive even today! It did not, however, fulfill its intended function as a transportation vehicle. More so, it could never have fulfilled it. Germans made a rather big mistake here!

Non-repairable motorcycles of different brands are dumped along the road somewhere on the coast of France. Motorcycle with a sidecar – BMW R75.

The backside of this motorcycle’s technical superiority was its price. As a result, the production rate was limited. What are 16 thousand motorcyles for a theater of war spanning from North Africa to the Volga River? Right: a drop in the bucket. To compare: Americans manufactured 380 thousand Willys Jeeps during the war years! How could one even consider mechanic maneuverability when the army of the adversary had a ten-fold superiority in terms of comparable hardware?

We also are of the opinion that the Germans made a huge mistake focusing on a motorcycle with a sidecar. This was, of course, the result of owning the best motorcycle industry in Europe. And the way the war unfolded showed clearly that this was a mistake. What we mean is that there are considerable advantages of a four-wheel jeep over a motorcycle, while the production price is of basically the same order.

Internal Engine Arrangement of BMW R75

Drive System Concept of BMW R75

Very much unclear is why, despite the existing opinion to the contrary, was there so little commonality in parts with the other heavy motorcycle model of the Wehrmacht, the Zündapp KS 750. Only non-critical details were exchangeable! During the war, however, there are, somehow, no small, unimportant details…

Zündapp KS 750, “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov” collection

Let us say a few words about the main intended use for this model: transporting three people under tough road conditions with an attached trailer. We drove several thousand kilometers on our motorcycles of this kind in order to … have fun and enjoy it. The resulting opinion: under the conditions of Central Russia in spring, in the fall and in winter it was possible to ride these “war dogs” only over hard-surface roads. These motorcycles would not “make it” on unsurfaced, “dirt” roads or across black soil, for even a small ascent required the riders to leave the vehicle. Attempts to ride across terrain (never mind if it’s regular grassland or agricultural fields) where it is always more dry than on unmade roads resulted immediately in “stuff” sticking to all wheels so that it was necessary to clean them every 50-100 meters. I am convinced that it was simply not possible to tug a gun under such conditions. But if a motorcycle can only ride over surfaced roads why have such a drive? It is both expensive and difficult.

Manufacturer Bayerische Motoren Werke, AG, Munich (Germany)
Years of manufacture 1940 – 1944
Quantity produced, units 16 510
Price 1 595 RМ
Today’s value 10 309, 6 $
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
Type twin-cylinder, OHV, with horizontally opposed cylinders, 4-stroke type
Engine capacity, cc 746
Bore and stroke, mm 78 х 78
Engine rating 26 h.p. at 4000 rpm
Sparking Magneto generator, left-side kickstarter arrangement
Carburetor 2 units: Graetzin Sa 24 / 1 type and Sa 24
Battery 6 V
Clutch Single dry plate
Transmission 4-speed + reverse gear
FRAME AND WHEELBASE
Frame type Tubular welded
Front suspension Telescopic
Rear suspension Rigid
Brakes Drum type with hydraulic drive, including the sidecar wheel
Wheel size 4,50 х 16 (3 wheels)
DIMENSIONS
Length, mm
2 400
Width, mm
1 730
Height, mm
1 000
Wheelbase, mm
1 444
Ground clearance, mm
   150
Seat height, mm
   780*
Mass, kg
   420
Gas tank size, l
     24
Maximum speed, km/h
     92
Range, km
   360

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


Books:

PDF

Instandsetzungsanleitung zur Arbaitspreisliste fur BMW Kraftrad 270/275 (Bisherige Bezeichnung R 75)