BMW R68. Lack of quality also has its price

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With the production of the BMW R68 in 1952, the motorcycle manufacturer met the international demand to build a very sporty machine again. The 67cc overhead valve engine based on the R2/600 had modified cylinder heads and delivered 35 hp. This resulted in a top speed of more than 160 kilometers per hour, which gave the R68 the nickname "Hundert-Meilen-Renner". The sleek name of the famous '100 mph' designation that the British used for their 160 km/h fast toppers and their riders, the 'Ton Up Boys'.

A BMW R68 restoration

The bike was presented on October 28, 1951 at the first post-war motor show in Germany, in Frankfurt. The BMW R68 was the star of the show. Germany again had an engine to be proud of. A motorcycle, in other words, with a top speed of more than 160 km/h…


At that top speed, it turned out that the actual pre-war plunger rear suspension really couldn't handle the violence. The handling lagged far behind the performance, a phenomenon that we also encountered on Japanese motorcycles in the early 68s. The road-holding restrictions led to some accidents and angry reports in the press. These problems have undoubtedly been the reason why so few R1954s have been made and sold. And are left. The manual ignition timing adjustment was also a throwback to the past. In 68 the R66 got full hubs and aluminum rims. Like the pre-war top model R68, the BMW R1452 was produced in modest numbers, 1454 (or 68) units in three years. That rarity now makes the motorcycles true – and expensive – collector's items. The R69 was further developed in the sporty line to the R69 and the RXNUMXS.

Originality is an asset

This early example with steel bushings instead of harmonica rubbers around the front fork legs and with half hub drum brakes, has gone through a lot of wanderings before its rebirth. But eventually the owner ended up in Vorden with his BMW R68.

Restoring a BMW is relatively easy. BMW itself supports keeping its own history instant. And there will have to be a lot of money, but the brand still delivers a lot of new parts. A lot is not everything. And to find the missing parts, a global network is needed. A network that runs outside the Internet.

The engine was disassembled

All parts of the BMW R68 were classified and the engine block and gearbox went to yet another older craftsman who also gets his days filled without any advertising. He does not want to be mentioned by name. No photos are allowed in his modest, but fully equipped workshop. In fact, he only works for pleasure. For friends.

The BMW has been reborn in perfect mint condition

In the workshop he stands with the centerstand on a piece of cloth. Because there should be no scratches on the centerstand. The engine no longer goes on the road. The owner puts it inside, in the house. As a work of art and investment. Builder Theo Terwel, a recognized BMW enthusiast, is satisfied that the BMW R68 does not steer, does not brake and has no power. And that he is very small. But at the time it was made, the average height of a Western European was also only 1,72 m.

And what is such a machine worth?

Think of something like 40.000 euros. That is quite a lot. But if you consider that for that money you also have a new GL 1800 Goldwing, then the choice is not difficult, is it?

Also read:
– How to get AMK on the bus every month with such a handy AMK subscription
- Restoration BMW R 68
- Restoration is investing in loss
- More stories about classic engines
- BMW vs IMZ and KMZ: What is in a name


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  1. Nice article, Dolph!!! Der Gummikuh is the nickname for a reason, where BMW was confronted even more in the K's. Nevertheless, the problems were solved energetically, after all, our Orange Corps, ge-gläser-de R75, R90 and .... 100's had to remain steerable with one hand at cruising speed, and that was possible. Where other brands usually failed. (Goldwing). I just don't understand why with your 1 plus you get the motivation to squeeze an R1.80, adjust it and then be disappointed because of your back, lack of power, etc. Go ahead!

  2. “The engine is no longer on the road”
    That's a shame, because I think Driving Heritage should indeed drive. So it is just an expensive piece of shiny old iron.
    About the little European of that time; I had a Zündapp DB200 for a while, and I couldn't sit well on it with my 183 centimeters.

  3. The later R65 was also not really something for tall people. It is still possible up to 1,80 m. With my 1,90m I had to make some adjustments to 'Blauwtje', the mutated R45 and similar to the R65, to properly accommodate my corpus. Not just handlebar risers, so as not to have to drive like Quasimodo, but also another shifter rod to bring the pedal decently back into reach of my instep. And yes, the aftermarket windshield was also too low and it would remain so. Unfortunately, the saddle couldn't be played much either. In the meantime, the average height of the Dutchman appears to have fallen somewhat again and that sounds a bit hopeful in that regard.

  4. True conclusion about the European's "being small"
    Almost nothing from that time fits now, without being fooled. From a cool motorcycle, family car, house to a train in the coal mine. Everyone has grown and nothing from those years is still comfortable.
    PS. I have visited the French trenches from WW1. With my 170 and a little bit of bending over, the depth and ledge fit to aim your gun with your elbows.
    My 185-year-old son: back pain when bending over for aim and a bullet through his head because he was way above it.

  5. Ever had one. Solo for a while and with a sidecar for a while. There was already a sidecar cardan on it. He was certainly reliable and I am still a boxer fan. Sometimes I wonder if my back problems started then. Plunger suspension is something like driving without suspension at all, although that was not so bad with a sidecar. Pictures, all those BMWs from back then. And that sound…

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