BMW vs IMZ and KMZ: What is in a name

ER Classics Desktop 2022

In 1938, just before the country started the second world war, BMW released a whole line of new motorcycle models: the 250cc R23, the 500cc R51 with OHV engine, the 600cc R61 SV, the 600cc R66 OHV and the 750cc R71 SV. The side valves were the touring models and work donkeys, the OHVs were the more sporty models.

Two touring models

The new line series thus consisted of two touring models, the R61 and the R71. That duo succeeded the R12 together. Despite the change of guard, production of the R12 continued until 1941, mainly because the machine was used by the Wehrmacht. The R71 was mainly regarded as an excellent sidecar tractor and was also used by the army as a tricycle. 3.458 units (German figures are always nice and correct) were produced. But apparently most specimens were born their lives as good citizens. With the exception of the Wehrmachtsspann, BMW no longer built 1941cc side valves after 750. That is why the 600cc R67 / 2 OHV from 1951 is the successor to both the R61 and the R71.

So BMW made the R71 from 1938

The R 71 had the new oval tube double cradle frame that would serve well into the 200s. Completely new was the applied plunger suspension, which for the first time received a BMW rear suspension. Front and rear 750 mm drum brakes were used. The side valve was largely intended as an army motorcycle. The 20 cc, approximately 71+ strong side valves were simple and reliable. Just like the racing bikes, the R1939 got foot shift (four gears). In addition, the machine also got a short manual lever, with which it was not only possible to shift 'normally', but also - as with a car - any gear, including neutral, could be selected directly. In 71 the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact was signed, giving the 'Russians' access to German technology. There are more exciting stories about how the Russians got BMW R71s, but still. The BMW R72s remained 'the Originals'. The Soviet M100s started life as nearly 71% identical clones, but they grew away from the original in detail over the course of their production. When purchasing your R72, make sure that it is not an MXNUMX with caps.

'Of course' a BMW is worth more than a KMZ or IMZ from the Soviet Republic.

The range of those 'Russians' is still much greater than that of pre-war or 'war' BMW side valves. But the time when you had a reasonable M500 for 1.000-72 euros? It is really over. Correctly restored Russians are now at about a third of the BMW rates. There is currently a civilian or bourgeois R71 solo bike for sale that really needs more attention than a cleaning. It is not a 'reverse' IMZ or KMZ, and it seems largely original. What's wrong with it is officially and new for sale via BMW. The asking price with Dutch registration from the nineties is 16.000 euros. Without sidecar. The restoration is added to that.

A historically correct, restored IMZ or KMZ M72 currently has an asking price of up to about 7.500 euros. For that you have a machine that is not a BMW, very similar to it and that historically has at least the same 'weight' as a BMW R71. That seems like a wonderful case of choice stress.

The barn find

An R71 during working hours

An early M72. The differences were mainly in the frame. The Soviets could not weld under shielding gas.


Give a reaction
  1. Not every R71 was allowed to wear the green (ok .. Wehrmacht Grau) jacket, while EVERY IMZ produced until 1945 was guaranteed to go into military service ..
    R71s also entered other governments.
    I think an IMZ or KMZ have historically just as much value as the R71 (or XA), too bad they are a bit undervalued (because eastern block stuff).

    • I've been driving Ex Soviet for 25+ years now. Was charmed at first by the price and the underdog factor. But am now mildly addicted. But mild recognition is coming. Funny: There are also modern beard men with tattoos and pieces of lifestyle who buy one. And that, in the best case, gives a boost to their body style: They notice that they have to perform regular maintenance. They are going to like that. Or they drop out

    • @Charles. Nothing wrong with Chiang's. But of course you have to have a good one. The 12V version with E starter is pure luxury. Denying is also better for most because of the car style distributor. In terms of parts, they are not quite in line with the Russian side valves for which everything is new and used for sale. But there are plenty of parts. Motorwerk sells 'refurbished' Changs. They are 'sort of new' built on old frames. If you buy such a thing, you will still get a laundry list of 'to do' things. Good IMZ and KMZ side valves can actually be used on a daily basis. Super easy to maintain. Not highway proof. Originality was extremely scarce, but nowadays side-valves are usually delivered as neatly as possible. But you usually have the choice between 'a nice tricycle' or 'a serious museum piece. I have been doing business with Richard Busweiler in Genemuiden for a long time, also for used parts. . Jan Wassenaar (rolpa) supplies new items. A lot is offered in Germany. But the prices are higher. For an optimal market picture you should take a look at the site of Then at least you buy your first Russian from someone who knows what he is selling. And when I look on the Internet, I see that 'in the trade' regularly high asking prices are mentioned, but if three times that price is worth it to you to have a blue and white logo on the tank, then of course you can. in the BMW corner. Also try to score 'Mit Hammer und Schluessel' under the Christmas tree.

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