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BMW R50/5. A service bicycle

The BMW R50/5. A service bicycle
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There has been a clear line for a long time: The BMW boxers (the two-valves) came in three flavors: A top model, a sidecar machine and a service bicycle.

When BMW experienced its miraculous resurrection, there was a sting in the story: BMW declared that no sidecars could be attached to it. That (later) that happened quite often and without problems? It will have had to do with liabilities in the US market. But the R60/5 had lost its function and was simply the middle ground between the BMW R75/5 and the R50/5.

The R50/5 was not a Bahnburner

Compared to Honda's CB500 with its 50 hp and a top speed of almost 180 km / h, you can of course say that the snail and the hare celebrate New Year on the same day. But that may be small consolation. What was true is that the smallest new Boxer walked the best compared to its relatives. We also know that 'the smallest' runs the 'best' from the Triumphs and Nortons that improved a lot in terms of displacement over time, but didn't make them run any better. A little later, when the R100 came into view, that difference in shaking compared to such a somewhat timid R50/5 was also very noticeable. Because despite the possible lack of the starter motor and the simpler carburettors, such an R50/5 was not suddenly much lighter than the R75/5.


So 32 hp from 500 cc

According to the factory, that R75 / 5 had an output of 50 DIN hp and BMW's topper was about 16 hp less muscular than the Honda CB750 OHC. The BMW R50/5 - where the starter motor was an option - delivered a quiet 498 ​​hp from 32 cc. According to the scientists, this was sufficient for machines that had to keep a whole range of officials, mainly from the police and military, on the move. The 50 hp of the R75/5 was scientifically substantiated by BMW. With a somewhat raised nose about machines with more than 50 hp, the factory reported that it had investigated how much power a motorcycle 'should' have in order not to become a (suicide) weapon.

It is clear that the R50/5s were not sales hits

The Brave Burgers they bought were budget conscious Brand Believers. BMW-worthy, long journeys were also made on those tame free-range animals. But then by people in no hurry. And that while 'hurry' in the sense of 'we drive as fast as possible for as long as possible' was somewhat the approach of that time.  

BMW drivers, then almost by definition /M, were and always have been people with respect for their steed and a sacred belief in maintenance according to the books and many cleaning hours. So the barely 150 km/h 'fast', actually under motorized R50/5's had a good life. Survivors are then often still – despite or even because of – the nowadays acclaimed 'patina' still in excellent condition, original and not encrypted. Just remember that such a block deserves a head overhaul between 100.000 and 120.000 kilometers. And take a look at the 'pyramids' on the brake pedal. If they have round tops, then the block has most likely already been around the clock.

When the /5 series became seriously classic, all eyes naturally turned to the R75/5. The R60/5 and R50/5 remained largely invisible to collectors/enthusiasts/investors. When they came into view, the price difference between the official R50/5 and the dynamic R75/5 was incredibly large for a set of engines that really only differed in detail.

In the meantime, an R50/5 has not become much more dynamic

But an R50/5 is seen nowadays. A dusty or weathered R50/5 is still clearly priced. Plus, when you buy such a free-range animal, you take the profit that BMW two-valves respond very gratefully to cleaning and polishing. In addition, the spare parts supply is new and used almost optimally.

An affordable story

And a block overhaul of such a simple, air-cooled horizontal pushrod twin is also not something that requires you to increase your mortgage. Also nice: for that maintenance, repair and overhaul work, there is a whole bunch of specialists who can give your purchase eternal value.

And that such an R50/5 “cannot be burned forward?” That's just how fast you want to be. The current traffic situation is also no longer suitable for driving like the Joe Bar Team. But of course nobody will stop you if you want to buy a brand new 200+ hp Kawa with compressor.

You can say with a giggle about ex-government officials that they have never had to work hard as civil servants. We wouldn't dare bet on that. If they are recognizable by something, it can be because of the 'deeper' fenders, a compartment in the tank, a single seat. A large, green/white tub with 'Polizei' written on it is also a possible indication. An acquaintance with humor had to explain to German agents without humor why he had put 'Polizwei' on the tub in the correct official font. He had an explanation for that. They did not understand his explanation. And had to leave his engine

We found our photo model at Dutch Lion Motors in Tubbergen

Automobilia 2022 (copy)
The BMW R50/5. A service bicycle
Bought for 450 euros. This is a neat bike made with surprisingly little effort.
The BMW R50/5. A service bicycle
For upscale office workers Tamiya's R75/5. The battle dress for the R50/5 was identical

13 Comments

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  1. Ik gen ooit begonnen met een R75/6, daarna een R80/7, toen een R80/RT, hierna een R100/7, vervolgens een K1100 RT. Deze 8 jaar geleden verkocht en sinds kort weer een R80RT aangeschaft. Deze overwintert nog bij de dealer in Laren maar in Maart 2023 ga ik weer rijden. De 2 cilinders rijden heel fijn en hebben een hoop charisma, de K1100 is weer een motor die wat hoger op de evolutie ladder staat, maar mist weer de uitstraling van de boxers.

  2. I have very bad memories of that BMW generation because of the terrible handling… if you weighed less than 75 kg.
    I had to leave the vehicle at approx. 150 km/h due to an unparalleled “speed wobble” that launched me like a rodeo onto a straight stretch of motorway.
    That Fatherbed imitation of the frame was clearly not a success and was also called the “Gummykuh” in Germany.
    A switch to a Guzzi 1000 SP brought miracles, with the brakes being of a completely different order.

  3. Polizwei…! Humor I love.
    Colleague of mine has a BMW motorcycle with those white-green Polizei colors. He has converted the text to OPZEI 🙂

  4. The only boxer experience I have is my father-in-law's ex-R80RT.
    We test drove an R45 and R65, but both felt it had to be revved too much to move forward… we missed pulling 'from the bottom up'.
    In the end, after my father-in-law's hernia and residual drop foot, the BMW turned out to be more of a stable dweller than a mount, and the thing didn't appeal to me, so I sold it.
    That was just before the hype to turn boxers into bun caferacers, so I doubt whether 'ours' is still in its original condition.

  5. Jan's story seems to be getting confirmation.
    When my Blauwtje was still a full-fledged R45, he drank just as much as when he mutated to an R65. It's even more economical now. In addition, things are now progressing much more smoothly than could ever be imagined. He now drives with a final drive of an R100. That reduces the speeds enormously and thus also a large part of its former consumption. That final drive also saves petrol, it saves the power source and it saves my nerves at high speed. That I don't always have to think: ′′ Oh oh, hopefully the valves won't break off 😰. As an R45, it did 1:17 at its most economical. Now he does 1:19. That says enough 😃

  6. funny, my slightly younger brother had a 50/5 due to budget constraints, I myself had a 75/5, on our trips our cruising speed was 140 km / h, with the 50/5 burning as much petrol as my 75/5. the poor machine always had to go full throttle everywhere, but it arrived just as quickly as the big one. BMW was right about that, 50 hp was enough. Eventually my brother switched to a 100RS, that was something else, the 50/5 has long served as my wife's starting bike.

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