A nice failure: the BMW R65 LS

ER Classics Desktop 2022

It was in 1982 when BMW attempted to upgrade the image of the BMW R65. And Hans Muth was responsible for the looks that made the slim boxer an absolute top seller. That was the same Hans who was hired to transform the perfect, but so boring, Suzuki four-cylinder into the razor-sharply styled Katanas. Those were not salesmen either, but they did wonders for Suzuki's image.

It must not have been due to the looks

The BMW had to become an affordable, sporty motorcycle when there were enough young people who had decided that motorcycling was fun. The BMW R65 LS had a sharp, wind-splitting profile. The protection that that windshield gave, opinions were divided on that. It was more like a 'design thingy'. Nothing wrong with that, by the way, because the design was the approach. Still, BMW was pleased to announce that the tub reduced the lift at the front by 30%.

Too modern for old skool enthusiasts

Old Skool BMW drivers thought the tub looked something like Star Trooper-like from Star Wars. The buddy styling was taken over by later BMWs. The BMW was not as confrontational as the Katanas, but BMW's clientele was just about as keen on wild changes as the global crowd of Harley drivers and the elders of an Article 31 community. So there were quite a few BMW drivers who turned away from the LS in horror. The LS was available in the colors Hennarot and Polaris. Many parts that were chrome-plated on 'normal' BMWs were black on the LS.

Technically, the LS was identical to the regular BMW R65

The short stroke boxer with a bore x stroke of 82 x 61,5 mm, a compression of 8,2: 1 built narrower because of its shorter stroke and offered space for larger valves due to its larger bore. So far everything was pretty good. The entire bicycle part was also identical to the BMW R65. The only functional difference was the fact that the sportiness of the BMW R65 LS was emphasized by the extra brake disc in the front wheel. And with that double disc with Brembo claws, the BMW still has a couple of great anchors on board.

The 650 cc twin was of course not a Bahnburner

With his active forward-facing sitting position, he was very sporty. On the other hand, the moderate knee angle made long journeys possible, just like the tank capacity. The MS has a preference for smooth trotting on secondary roads. The fact that this BMW has not become a top seller is evident from the total production. Because BMW is a German brand, those production figures are known right up to the last made engine. Where the Italians would happily report "between the 4.000 and 10.000 units", the seriously looking Germans inform us that 6.389 BMW LSsen were made. And we know from the market that significantly fewer of them survived in good condition than, for example, the R90Ss.

These LS

René Rooke is a perfectionist. He says it himself. But a perfectionist with sparkles in his eyes with a flexible mind. Moreover, he is a man with a lot of motor experience. A while ago he thought that a lighter engine suited him better in his current phase of life. He did research and research and found, with his mild preference for BMWs, that his next engine should be a BMW R65 LS. Finding such a machine was not that easy.

An ex lesson engine

This LS came to him after he was employed as a 'driving motor for women' by a driving school owner. He had not had an easy life. And he didn't look. Moreover, René found Polaris blue silver a color of nothing. Technically, the engine also turned out to be less fresh than hoped. René is still aware that he, the famous in Boxerkringen, bumped into Jan Gol. What also pleased him was the enthusiastic help of the Hobbyist to get fresh exhaust bends.

Almost 'Original'

The LS was supposed to be henna rot, but René was unhappy about the black area at the bottom of the tank. That was omitted. The side covers also became 'Hennarot' because there is no dispute about taste. The henna red snout must actually be white lettered. But those stickers are no longer available. The blue stickers belong on the Polaris, but look great. René didn't like white wheels and of course the BMW got modern brake lines.

And the steering damper? That's a joke

Furthermore, some bolts and screws have been replaced by stainless steel copies and René has done monk work by cutting tiny BMW emblems and filing out ... BMW paper clips. The result is a very fresh, super-fine and meanwhile quite rare BMW R65 LS that can be made 'factory original' with minimal effort.

Why the BMW R65 LS was not a success?

That of course remains unclear. But the indication is that he looked too fierce for the BMW drivers and that he had too little power for the sporty target group. And he was on the prize.


Give a reaction
  1. There is more than what meets the eye simply applies to this small BMW
    For example, in the article you do not state a distinction between the wheels between the LS and the normal version, so the front rim 750g lighter and the rear wheel is no less than 1300g lighter in this dual-compound version
    Also, the rear brake of a larger diameter is 220 versus 200 mm, so also adapted brake shoes
    The steering angle is smaller in the LS than in the normal R
    Also engine wise the crankcase was improved from the LS to provide better lubrication, the cylinders obtained a nikasil lining and the flywheel became a lighter version to provide a better shifting character
    And if we go deeper into the evolution from the heavier to the lighter boxers, there are more differences than the crankshaft and the shorter connecting rods, the control of the valve lifters is different, smaller stop angle, longer valve lifters (actually thanks to Helmuth Dahne ),….

    • Hello Patrick, Thank you for this addition. Here on the site we share free texts that do not claim to be Complete History in terms of length and content. But we always go for the positive approach. And additions are highly valued there. In my view, the motor on the photo had 1 a disadvantage: It was not in my shed. And in terms of Helmut D: Theo Terwel from Vorden is commissioned to build a Helmut D replica R90S. Costs something, but then you also have something :-)

Give an answer

The email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 8 MB. you can upload: image. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here

Now in store

View the 40-page preview via or a click on the cover.

The August issue, containing:

  • Fiat 127 from 1972
  • Heemskerk V-twin, the best motorcycle BSA has never built
  • Restoration Mini Traveler 1963
  • Peugeot 104, a party
  • Volkswagen Golf Country was too far ahead of its genre
  • Driving with a Yamaha R5 (1971-1972)
  • Report Wemeldinge Classic Races
  • Duplicate type designations - Part XVI
cover 8 2022 300

The perfect reading material for an evening or more of undisturbed dreaming. It is now in stores. A subscription is of course better, because then you will no longer miss a number and you are also € 27 cheaper. Not bad in these expensive times.

Classic station wagon gets the lead role at Bremen Classic Motor Show 2019

The Bottrop Blues: Environmental sticker and the environmental zones