BMW Motorrad is the motorcycle division of the German multinational company BMW. BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, or Bavarian Motor Works in English, and the Bavarian-based company is one of the leading manufacturers of luxury motorcycles and automobiles in the industry. The company itself has a long and illustrious history that dates back to 1916, and threads its way through two brutal World Wars, the division of its home country, and close calls that nearly led to the company’s bankruptcy. Fortunately, thanks to a strong reputation for innovative engineering, daring design, fierce adaptability, and a unique ride experience, BMW Motorrad has managed to overcome any obstacles put in its way. Today, the company is one of the most successful motorcycle manufacturers on the planet, and the wider BMW name counts itself as the twelfth largest producer of motor vehicles in the world.
From versatile roadsters, to powerful sport bikes, and with mile-munching tourers and continent-crossing adventure bikes in the company’s line-up, there’s nothing that BMW Motorrad can’t do. With over a century of experience, BMW Motorrad has done everything in its power to hold true to the company tagline, and with a BMW in your garage it’s very easy to “Make Life A Ride.”
The History Of BMW Motorrad
BMW was first founded in 1916 and was originally known as the Rapp Motorenwerke. Rapp Motorenwerke was an aircraft engine manufacturer that worked alongside the Bayerishce Flugzeugwerke (BFw), and Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach to produce aircraft for the German air force. After numerous re-organization attempts, Rapp Motorenwerke, along with elements of the other two companies came together to be known as BMW, or Bayerische Motoren Werke (or Bavarian Motor Works, in English) in 1916. Unfortunately for BMW, the First World War did not fall in Germany’s favor, and strict sanctions written in to the Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany to keep a standing air force of manufacture aircraft. While the aviation dream of BMW might have come to an abrupt end so soon after it has begun, the company soldiered on, producing air brakes, industrial engines, and other products.
BMW began looking at other methods of transport, and hired engineer Max Friz to design a portable engine. Friz drew up the M2B15, a horizontally-opposed twin engine that quickly became popular across Germany, powering motorcycles such as the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke’s Helios motorcycle. In 1922, BMW and Bayerische Flugzeugwerke merged together, and with Bayerische Flugzeugwerke’s existing motorcycle portfolio, BMW decided to take motorcycle manufacturing seriously. A year later, the first official BMW motorcycle would arrive: the 1923 R32 was powered by a 486cc flat-twin engine mated to a shaft drive that could hit top speeds of up to 62 mph, and featured an innovative recirculating wet sump oiling system, laying the foundations for BMW motorcycles for years to come.
Over the next few years, BMW experimented with new technologies and engine configurations, trying their hands at single-cylinder engines and equipping their bikes with hydraulically damped telescopic forks, even setting a world record in the process, with Ernst Henne riding a supercharged BMW to a top speed of 173.88 mph – a record that would remain unbroken for 14 years. The success of BMW’s boxer-twins was becoming well-known, and it wasn’t long until the Soviets and the Chinese wanted a model of their own. The Russian and Ukrainian M72 and Chinese Chang Jiang models were built under license from 1938 onward.
World War II & The Aftermath
The advent of the Second World War saw an incredible demand for BMW motorcycles, and the legendary R75 would emerge from the war effort as one of the most formidable and capable war machines ever created, praised for its hardy nature, and the ability to withstand the torturous heat of the North African deserts thanks to its flat-twin cylinders, and its ability to resist sand damage thanks to its hardy shaft drive. The success of these BMW motorcycles forced the USA to consider developing shaft driven motorcycles of their own, resulting in the likes of Harley-Davidson’s XA model.
Despite the success of their models, World War II left BMW in ruins – Allied bombers had destroyed much of the company’s Munich factory and the Eisenach facility was left badly damaged. After the war, Germany was divided between East and West, and many of BMW’s most prized engineers were taken to the USA or the Soviet Union to continue working on jet engines and other applications. Germany was hit with more sanctions but BMW was allowed to resume motorcycle manufacture in 1947 in the now West German Bavaria region, unfortunately for BMW, the companies blueprints and schematics were left in Eisenach, which was now under Soviet control in East Germany. BMW was effectively forced to start again from scratch, reverse engineering many of their previous models. Despite the setbacks, BMW returned to production, producing over 17,000 units by 1950.
This geo-political division of Germany allowed for two BMW companies to rise, the Munich-based West German BMW, and another based in Eisenach, East Germany. After a law suit, the Eisenach Works was forced to change its name to EMW, or Eisenacher Motoren Werke, using a similar roundel logo to BMW, but with a red motif rather than blue. After successfully distancing themselves from EMW, BMW continued to produce successful boxer twins throughout the 1950s, with models boasting plunger rear suspension, shaft drives and other innovative features. In 1959, John Penton successfully road a BMW R69 from New York to Los Angeles in 53 hours and 11 minutes, smashing the previous record, bolstering BMW’s reputation in the USA. However, it wasn’t enough to sustain public interest. Sales began to plummet, and despite sales success in the USA, BMW was on the path to financial ruin.
Thankfully, it wasn’t the end of BMW. The company successfully sold off its aircraft manufacturing division and secured a financial bailout from German industrialist Herbert Quandt. One of the reasons BMW was close to closing was down to two reasons: the rise of automobiles, and the fact that most BMW motorcycles were still designed to accommodate a sidecar. Fortunately, BMW’s own automobile manufacturing division was moving from strength to strength. All BMW Motorrad had to do was develop sportier models for the more performance oriented motorcyclist. The end of the 60s saw the end of the classic sidecar BMW models, and the rise of sportier BMW models, including the three models imported to the USA: the R50US, R60US, and R69US
The Modernization Of BMW Motorrad
In 1970, production of BMW motorcycles was moved to Spandau in West Berlin from the Milbertshofen factory in Munich. The change of locale ushered in a new direction for BMW Motorrad, who introduced an entirely new product line in the form of the 500cc R50/5, 600cc R60/5, and 750cc R75/5 models – all boasting telescopic forks, completely redesigned engines, electric starters, and longer wheelbases. The new models quickly gave birth to bigger and better models, and by 1974, BMW now offered the the R60/6, R75/6 and the R90/6 models, in 600, 750 and 900cc variations – BMW even offered a supersport model too, the R90S. The 70s saw even greater evolution, with superior engine displacements, better handling, improved technologies, and the introduction of the world’s first full-fairing on a production motorcycle. The R100RS and R100RT would help pave the way for the modern sports bikes of today.
The 80s saw BMW experimenting with new engine configurations to help combat stricter emissions laws in Europe, such as the 987cc inline-four powered K100 model, which boasted a single sided swingarm, distinctive rear suspension, and styled itself as sporty touring bike. The K100 “Flying Brick” spawned numerous variations and became a staple member of the BMW Motorrad line-up until it was discontinued in 1992, but not before the company unveiled the most impressive member of the lineup, the sports-focused K1, which boasted a power output of 100 horsepower.
As the years rolled on, BMW was able to introduce more and more innovative and exciting models, and at the start of the 21st century (to the present day), BMW now offered more models than ever. These models included:
- R-Series: Models given the R-designation feature BMW’s legendary boxer-twin engine motorcycles, including the R1200RT, R1200GS, R1200ST, and R nineT powered motorcycles.
- K-Series: BMW’s K-Series motorcycles are powered by BMW’s inline-four or inline-six engines. These engines are given to BMW’s roadster, sports touring, and luxury touring models, such as the K1200R, K1300R, and more recently, the six-cylinder K1600GT and K1600GTL models.
- F-Series: BMW motorcycles with the F-designation serve a wide range of purposes. The F-Series used to apply to BMW’s single-cylinder offerings, but these days it applies to BMW’s parallel twin models, such as the versatile F800R roadster, adventure-capable F700 GS, and the touring focused F800GT.
- G-Series: BMW’s G-Series previously included the Aprilia developed G450X enduro motorcycle, but these days it applies to BMW’s G310 platform. The G310 platform was developed by BMW in partnership with India’s TVS, and each motorcycle in the range boasts a 310cc single-cylinder engine.
- C-Series: The C-Series is one of BMW Motorrad’s most overlooked products. Beginning with the C1, BMW have developed an advanced and sophisticated range of maxi scooters, with the C650GT, C400X, and the all-electric powered C-Evolution topping their range today.
- S-Series: Finally, there’s BMW’s S-Series of motorcycles. The S-Series are BMW’s most sports oriented motorcycles. They all come powered by the BMW 999cc inline-four engine, and the models include the popular BMW S1000RR sports bike, the S1000R roadster, the adventure-focused S1000XR, and the devastatingly advanced and track-only designated BMW HP4 Race.
Today, BMW Motorrad is one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world, and has continued to post record sales figures over the last five years, proving that the company is moving from strength to strength. While most people conjure up images of BMW’s sleek automobiles when they hear the brand name, don’t forget that it was the success of BMW motorcycles that made the company what it is today.
Are BMW Motorcycles Reliable?
Over the years, BMW has cultivated a reputation for reliability and quality engineering. The same reputation can be applied to the likes of Audi, Volkswagen, and Mercedes too, and this reputation for excellence is often built upon the often quoted mythology of German efficiency and engineering prowess. But is the German-engineering mythos true? Before continuing, it’s worth looking at the difference between excellent engineering and actual reliability. There’s no denying that BMW, along with other German automotive manufactures, work to incredibly high standards, implement outstanding designs, utilize high-quality materials, and use cutting edge construction methods in their work – in terms of engineering, it’s fair to say that the Germans take it seriously – but that makes them no better than any other European, Japanese, or American manufacturer. Reliability, however, is an entirely different metric.
In 2015, Consumer Reports published the results of a study that they had conducted that measured the reliability of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer’s products. The study gathered information from more than 11,000 motorcyclists who ranked the reliability of more than 12,000 motorcycles that had been bought and ridden between 2008 and 2014. The study participants were asked to evaluate the performance and reliability of their motorcycles over a twelve month period, and submit their findings to Consumer Reports. CR’s statisticians were then able to crunch the numbers and produce a concise reliability index that supposedly paints an accurate snapshot of the state of the industry. The index ranks motorcycle manufacturers on their overall failure rate, so those listed with a higher failure rate percentage were considered the worst performing brands, while those with the smallest percentages of failure were considered the best. Unfortunately, BMW Motorcycles did not fair particularly well, and scored an uninspiring failure rate of 40%, outperforming only one other manufacturer: Can-Am, with a 42% failure rate.
The most reliable motorcycle manufacturers were Japanese companies, with Yamaha leading the way with a failure rate as low as 11%, followed by Suzuki and Honda in joint second place with a failure rate of 12%, just ahead of Kawasaki with a failure rate of 15%. BMW Motorcycles may not have scored well, but this index takes evidence from a relatively small pool of vehicles and while the results suggest a trend, they don’t prove one brands superiority over another. That being said, BMW Motorrad have had to recall a frighteningly large quantity of vehicles over the past two decades….
Alarmingly, BMW Motorcycles have issued a total of 60 recalls in the United States since 2004. 60 is a particularly high figure compared with the low numbers of recalls called by the likes of fellow European manufacturers KTM (with 12 recalls since 2004), and Triumph (with 39 recalls since 2005) , and far more than the likes of Japanese manufacturers like Yamaha (with 35 recalls since 2002) or Suzuki (with 25 recalls since 1999). The vast majority of these recall notices were for fairly minor problems affecting small production volumes, however, there have been some huge recalls affecting a lot of models. For example, in 2013 BMW Motorrad issued a recall that affected no less than 50,184 units thanks to a faulty fuel pump flange that could cause fires in models from BMW’s HP2, R and K-series models. In 2015, BMW also issued a recall affecting 43,426 thanks to a faulty rear wheel mounting bolt. Another huge volume recall was a 2017 recall that affected 29,281 because of poor design that could affect a rider’s ability to be seen. 2017 brought another huge recall that affected an unknown number of GS adventure touring machines because of a suspension fault too.
BMW Motorrad’s high volume of recalls isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it depends on how you look at the situation: for example, a high number of recalls could indicate that a company is willing to put customer satisfaction and safety ahead of their own reputation by taking responsibility for all of their manufacturing issues. Similarly, a low number of recalls could prove a manufacturer’s unwillingness to acknowledge faults or take accountability. Either way, BMW issues recalls, and fixes the problems free of charge and in a timely manner. The high volume of recalls has had very little impact on the company’s overall sales.
Despite heavy recalls, BMW Motorrad has always had its sights firmly set on the future. The German company has been one of the biggest innovators in the motorcycle industry, inventing new technologies and implementing them as soon as possible, developing new solutions to problems, and improving customer’s ride experience time and time again. From the world’s first hydraulically dampened telescopic forks and aerodynamic fairings, to the world’s first production ABS system and intelligent BMW Can Bus wiring, BMW has been a phenomenal driving force in the evolution of the motorcycle. Over the last century, BMW has been at the forefront of motorcycle development, and the company has ambitious plans to be at the forefront for the next 100 years too. In celebration, let’s take a look at some of the most innovative BMW Motorrad innovations of the last century, the most exciting recent developments, and their incredible plans for the future.
BMW’s Technological Legacy
When BMW introduced their first motorcycle in 1923 it already broke the mold. The BMW’s R32 was completely different to most “first motorcycles” from other manufacturers: it wasn’t an engine bolted onto a bicycle frame – it was a complete, purpose built motorcycle from day one. Shortly after BMW arrived on the motorcycle scene, the implemented the first hydraulic telescopic fork arrangement, on their R17 model. By 1955, BMW Motorcycles were some of the most advanced out there, boasting the world’s first production full-swing arm chassis on their R50 and R69 models.
In 1976, BMW’s R100 RS was the first motorcycle to boast an aerodynamically optimized full fairing on a production motorcycle, which paved the way for modern sports bikes as we know them today. Three years later in 1979 BMW Motorrad delivered the world’s first heated grips – which were initially laughed at, but have since become a near essential on modern motorcycles. The 80s brought the world’s first production ABS, featured on a BMW model, followed by the first implementation of digital engine electronics on a production motorcycle, this time on BMW’s K1. BMW Can Bus electrics, the world’s first regulated catalytic converter exhaust system, sophisticated electronically controlled suspension are just a few of BMW’s most impressive innovations, but there are many, many more.
Current Tech On BMW Motorcycles
Modern BMW innovations are some of the most sophisticated in the industry. While the company has plenty of new technologies on offer, there are a few that are a cut above the rest. For example, BMW’s optional Connectivity App and TFT-Display allows you to connect your BMW motorcycle’s dash with your smartphone, which allows riders to intuitively control the display, allowing for additional dash features such as GPS and Sat Nav, or the ability to make a phone call whilst riding. Similarly, BMW’s new E-Call system can detect when a rider has been involved in an accident and automatically makes emergency calls to the relevant authorities, and puts you in direct contact with a professional who speaks your language to help you deal with your emergency.
Not all of BMW’s most recent innovations involve smart technology either. In fact, BMW’s recent flagship sports bike, the HP4 Race, is built almost entirely from carbon fiber – including the chassis and rims. This new application of carbon fiber boasts the rigidity of aluminum and the strength of steel, but in a much stronger and lighter package. And there’s more. BMW have also invested in a wide range of new systems, including riding aids like ABS Pro, and Side View Assist, and more physical aids, such as carbon fiber riding gear, and intelligent helmets.
BMW Future Technology
BMW Motorcycles recently unveiled their “Vision Next 100” plan which offers us a snapshot of the company’s plans for the next century. So far, we know that BMW are working hard on producing electric drivetrains for motorcycles, as we’ve already seen on the C-Evolution maxi scooter – but as internal combustion engines become obsolete, BMW plan to begin putting more electric-powered vehicles into production. The example concept electric machine teased featured intelligent technology, a self-balancing system, and more. While that’s off in the future, BMW have also begun developing new kinds of vehicle lighting, including an advanced laser lamp that provides incredible visibility, even through the densest of fogs and mists – this technology isn’t 100 years away, either.
BMW Featured Inventory
BMW’s ambitious plans for the future are firmly grounded in reality thanks to the amount of innovation and quality in their current range. Currently, BMW Motorcycles offer a wide range of new models from six categories: Sports, Touring, Roadster, Heritage, Adventure, and Urban Mobility.
Sport: BMW’s impressive sport bike line is led by their incredible HP4 Race motorcycle, followed by the legendary S1000RR, and sports-touring R1200RS model. The HP4 and S1000RR are infinitely more performance focused than the R1200 RS, but the R1200 RS offers the perfect balance of sports performance and practicality.
Touring: BMW’s Touring range is dominated by their six-cylinder K1600 models. The touring line-up includes the K1600B, K1600 Grand America, K1600 GT, and K1600 GTL, but also features the more conventional boxer-twin powered R1200 RT, and parallel-twin powered F800GT.
Roadster: The Roadster range from BMW offers models featuring a wide range of engine configurations, including the boxer-twin powered R1200 R, the inline-four equipped S1000R, the parallel-twin powered F800 R, and the feather-weight, single-cylinder G310 R.
Heritage: BMW Motorrad’s Heritage line-up is one of the firm’s best sellers, thanks to the all-round abilities and ultimate versatility of the R nineT base model. The R nineT is a retro-roadster powered by a 1200cc boxer-twin engine that’s the beating heart of the Heritage range. Other models include the R nineT Pure, R nineT Racer, R nineT Scrambler, and R nineT Urban G/S.
Adventure: BMW’s adventure motorcycles are some of the most famous in the business, and the sale of adventure motorcycles equates to a huge portion of BMW motorcycle sales. There are seven models in the adventure range, including the iconic boxer-twin powered R1200 GS and R1200 GS Adventure, the aggressive inline-four S1000XR, the parallel-twin powered F800 GS, F800 GS Adventure, and F700 GS models, and the small and nimble single-cylinder G310 GS machine.
Urban Mobility: While BMW Motorrad are most famous for their conventional motorcycles, they’re actually one of the most successful manufacturers of large-capacity scooters. BMW’s current maxi scooter line-up features the class leading C650 GT, middleweight C400 X, and the completely electric-powered C-Evolution.
BMW Motorcycles USA: Company Snapshot
The BMW Group is a global company that employs over 129,900 people worldwide. In the United States, BMW is operated by BMW of North America, LLC – a company that was established in 1975 as BMW’s US importer, which specializes in the import and distribution of BMW’s luxury cars. The company expanded in 1980 to assume the control of the import and distribution of BMW motorcycles too. In 1999, BMW of North America also began importing light trucks and other commercial vehicles. Based out of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, BMW is a big employer in the USA, employing around 8,800 workers directly, and many more indirectly. The BMW Group has a range of plants in the USA, but none of them manufacture or assemble BMW motorcycles.
Where Are BMW Motorcycles Made?
Unlike most other manufacturers that have a least some form of overseas assembly or manufacturing plant, all of BMW Motorrad’s models are produced at their Spandau factory in Berlin, Germany – except for one model. The Spandau factory is built on an area of around 180,000 square meters, and the facility is responsible for the production of all of BMW’s motorcycles from the Adventure, Roadster, Touring, Sport, Heritage, and Urban Mobility lines, with dedicated machine shops, paint shops, engine production, and assembly lines, as well as a dedicated logistics division that focuses on the packaging, transportation, and delivery of all BMW motorcycles.
Though all BMW motorcycles are produced at the Spandau, the newly introduced G310 platform was developed in collaboration with India’s TVS. As such, the G310 branded motorcycles are manufactured at the TVS factory in Hosur, Tamil Nadu, in India. BMW’s foray into India is part of a growing trend of European manufacturers going into partnership with Asian companies to share manufacturing ideas and costs, similar to KTM’s partnership with Bajaj, or Norton’s partnership with ZongShen.
BMW Motorrad Dealer Info
There are 168 official BMW Motorrad dealers in the United States specializing in the sale of new and used BMW motorcycles, BMW branded riding apparel and accessories, and offering comprehensive servicing for BMW riders. Authorized dealerships offer the best deals on new motorcycles, provide access to BMW-certified and approved pre-owned motorcycles, provide up to the minute details on the latest deals and promotions, supply official OEM parts and provide official BMW-qualified servicing for BMW motorcycles. While it’s not mandatory to buy a BMW motorcycle from an authorized dealership, being able to take advantage of test-rides overseen by knowledgeable sales staff, take advantage of company warranties, and enroll in interesting financing plans is well worth paying one a visit. In fact, visiting any BMW Motorrad dealership should be a pleasure, considering that they score so highly on customer satisfaction surveys…
Pied Piper Dealership Rankings
A 2017 study conducted by mystery shopper specialists Pied Piper evaluated the performance of the major motorcycle dealerships in the United States. Named the “Prospect Satisfaction Index” the survey focused on the quality of sales and service staff at different brands dealerships. BMW Motorrad was ranked the highest in the table, beating out the likes of Harley-Davidson and Ducati who ranked in second and third respectively, coming in way above the industry average. BMW Motorrad’s dealerships were found to be the most attentive to customers, and were noted as the most likely to promote the benefits of buying their products, most likely to ask for a sale, most likely to ask for a customer’s contact details, and the most likely to go out of their way to find the answers to customer’s specific questions. Ranked 1st out of 17 manufacturers, BMW Motorrad clearly has the best dealerships in the country according to the survey, with Yamaha, KTM, and Husqvarna coming in the bottom three places respectively.
BMW Motorcycles Financial Services
BMW Motorrad USA always has seasonal promotions running throughout the year to help attract potential customers. These financial deals mainly consist of low APR rates for limited contracts, or offering certain incentives such as cash rewards that are redeemable in accessory credits, on selected models. The best way to learn of BMW Motorrad’s current deals is to visit your nearest dealerships. On top of the usual low-APR deals and in-dealership accessory credit incentives, BMW Motorcycles also offer very attractive financial services for certain customers.
Special BMW Promotions
The “Motorrad Appreciation Program” is a special service from BMW that rewards special customers with exclusive offers. U.S military personnel, Emergency Service workers, BMW Car Club members, Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructors, and registered MSF students, can take advantage of these BMW promotions and special offers.
Military Members: Active military members including members of the US Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines, National Guard, Coast Guard, Veterans Administration, activated Reservists, who have recently finished active service and are in possession of a currently military ID or are associated with a key military contractor are eligible to receive discounts of up to $750 for S and K-Series motorcycles, $500 for F and R-Series motorcycles, and up to $250 discount on C and G-Series BMW motorcycles.
Emergency Service Workers: Emergency service operators that are currently employed by a recognized public authority such as a Federal, State, or Local Police Agency or Sheriff’s Department, FBI, DEA, NSA, US Border Patrol, DA, US Coast Guard, Port Authority Police, Fire Department, EMT (paid and active volunteer), US Public Health Service, NOAA, and Diplomats, are eligible for up to a $750 discount on selected BMW models, similar to that of the military discount mentioned above.
BMW Car Club Members: Existing members of the BMW Car Club of America who have been members of the association for one year or longer are eligible to access some of BMW Motorrad’s exclusive deals. Qualifying members are able to take advantage of the same offers that are extended to Military and Emergency Service personnel, with up to $750 discount on selected models.
MSF Rider Coaches: To reward the instructors responsible for teaching new riders how to ride safely, BMW has a discount program for authorized MSF Rider Coaches. To qualify, MSF Rider Coaches must provide proof of their employment, and other riding instructors affiliated with other instructor programs must provide a letter from the riding school that employs them, a copy of the company’s riding schedule, and proof that they regularly train new riders. Qualifying instructors can enjoy the same benefits as those listed above.
MSF Students: BMW Motorrad offers a special deal for riders who have decided to learn how to ride properly. Riders who complete an authorized MSF Basic Rider Course can enjoy $500 of dealership credit when they buy a new BMW motorcycle. This store-credit can be spend on BMW riding apparel and riding accessories, such as boots, gloves, jackets, and other safety equipment. To qualify, riders must prove that they have taken part in the MSF Basic Rider Course or another accredited training course within the 90 days prior to the purchase of their new BMW motorcycle.
The BMW Group
BMW Motorrad might make some of the most incredible motorcycles on the road but it is, in fact, only a small subsidiary of the larger BMW Group. Previously, BMW Motorrad had subsidiaries of its own, and was once the owner of the Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna Motorcycles, however, BMW Motorrad sold Husqvarna to KTM back in 2013 for an undisclosed sum. Though it no longer has any subsidiaries to its name, BMW Motorrad can proudly count itself among some of the more prestigious companies owned by the BMW Group.
The Bayerishe Motoren Werke (or Bavarian Motor Works in English) is the BMW Group’s defining product, and has been responsible for designing and building luxury automobiles ever since it was founded in 1916. Based out of Munich, Bavaria, BMW now has a global presence, producing vehicles in Germany, Brazil, India, China, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. By 2015, the company was ranked as the world’s twelfth largest producer of motor vehicles, having produced more than 2,250,000 units.
BMW i GmbH is a branch of the BMW Group that concerns itself with researching, designing, and building, BMW’s next generation of sustainable vehicles. The company researches new approaches to vehicle design, exploring electric drive trains, new materials, and advanced technologies that will revolutionize the automotive market. Renewable energies, recycled materials, and futuristic designs are BMW i’s prime concerns. BMW DriveNow, ChargeNow, and ParkNow are part of the BMW i umbrella.
BMW M GmbH is BMW’s racing subsidiary that focuses on the manufacture of BMW’s “M” designated vehicles. BMW M essentially develops race technology such as BMW’s EfficientDynamics system, and engineering advanced high-performance components to maximize the overall performance of BMW’s vehicles. Today, the “M” designation is awarded to BMW’s exclusive, high-end sports cars, which feature race-developed technology but can be driven on the roads. For those looking for a sports car that boasts road-driving practicality, but with motor-racing functionality and a sporty aesthetic, the BMW M have what you’re looking for.
BMW has technically been the owner of Mini since 1994, when the BMW Group acquired the Rover Group, however, BMW only took direct control of the marque in 2000. Mini is famous for its iconic range of small cars and has managed to attain cult-like status in the automotive world. Today, Mini is an important part of the BMW Group, and the Mini label sold well over 300,000 units in 2012 alone, with the United States being listed as the firm’s largest market.
MINI: John Cooper Works
Mini has its own sub-brand called the John Cooper Works. Similar to BMW’s “M” division, the John Cooper Works is responsible for taking standard Mini models and evolving them to the next level. They do this by improving performance by turbocharging the engines, upgrading the drive experience with new sports-infused components, and injecting standard Mini models with exclusive bold styling. The Mini John Cooper Works models are some of the most sought after Mini models.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited
Rolls-Royce is arguably one of the most renowned car manufacturers of all time, but the current iteration of the firm has no real relationship with the Rolls-Royce brand of the past. The modern Rolls-Royce was marque was formed after BMW was awarded the rights to the Rolls-Royce brand name and logo from Rolls-Royce plc. Soon after, BMW also managed to secure the rights to the Spirit of Ecstasy and the Rolls-Royce grill-shape trademarks from the Volkswagen Group. Armed with the all-important emblems and rights, BMW establishes a new production facility for a new generation of Rolls-Royce branded cars adjacent to the Goodwood Circuit, in Goodwood, England. The Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited began production in 2003, and continues to manufacturer the world’s most luxurious cars to this very day.
BMW has a long and illustrious history in motor racing, and from as early as 1939 the company has been outperforming their rivals across a series of racing events and championships. 1939 saw Georg Meier deliver BMW Motorrad’s first victory in the Senior Race at the Isle of Man TT, and after a brief hiatus thanks to World War II, BMW continued their winning streak – but no longer on two-wheels. Oddly, BMW’s most prolific victories occurred in the sidecar racing category, and BMW consistently dominated the competition. On two wheels, however, BMW’s success waned, and the company only managed to secure one post-war podium finish at the 1974 Production 1000cc TT. BMW retired from road racing altogether, until they triumphantly returned in 2009, entering the World Superbike Championships with their S1000RR sports bike.
After a return to the WSBK, BMW also entered into the 2014 Isle of Man TT, with entrants in the Superbike, Superstock, and Senior TT. Ride Michael Dunlop was able to secure victory in three separate racers, and win the most prestigious, the Senior TT. Dunlop repeated the feat again in 2016, setting a new record for the Snaefall Mountain Course, clocking a top speed of 130.306 mph.
As well as racing on the road, BMW have also posted some incredible results at the world-famous Dakar Rally. Over the years, BMW has managed to win the challenging Dakar Rally no less than six times, in 1981, ’83, ’84, ’85, 1999, and 2000. BMW’s recent hopes have been dashed thanks to the utter dominance of KTM.
The BMW Museum
For BMW enthusiasts that would like to celebrate BMW Motorrad’s racing legacy, or take a tour through the company’s history, BMW would like to invite you to the BMW Museum and BMW Welt experience in Munich, Germany. The Museum has been in operation since 1973 and features design prototypes and production models from BMW’s history, in motorcycle, automobile, and aircraft form. The building is designed to look like a cylinder-head, and inside it is packed full of BMW’s most impressive models from the last century. It’s such a popular exhibition, and attracts more than 250,000 visitors every year.
To compliment your BMW Museum experience, you can also visit BMW Welt, an exhibition hall, convention center, and promotional event space that serves as BMW’s public face. As well as exhibiting numerous BMW models and operating as a point-of-sale for official BMW merchandise, BMW customers can also choose to pick up their newly purchased vehicles from the BMW Welt center, learn about their new vehicle from a trained BMW specialist, and even opt in for a 3-course dinner at the space’s in-house restaurant.
The BMW Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday between the hours of 10.00 am and 6.00 pm. The entrance fee is 10 Euro per person, though concessions and group tickets are available. The BMW Welt is open seven days a week, from 7.30am to midnight from Monday to Saturday, and between 9.00am and midnight on Sundays – entrance is completely free.
5 Facts You Might Not Know About BMW Motorrad
#01. BMW motorcycles are famous for their iconic horizontally-opposed “boxer” twin engines and shaft drive systems. The original layout for this system was first penned in 1922 by an aeronautical engineer by the name of Max Friz. Friz only decided to work for BMW over other companies for one very specific reason: BMW offered him an office with a wood-burning stove in it.
#02. BMW motorcycles have featured in hundreds of movies, from the BMW R1200C that was ridden by James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies, to Ethan Hunt’s BMW S1000RR in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation but the most famous film that BMW didn’t star is The Great Escape. While BMW produced the iconic 750cc, 26 hp Wehrmacht R75 in real life, Steve McQueen’s famous getaway was actually performed riding a Triumph TR6 Trophy instead!
#03. We all know that BMW started off building aircraft engines, but the company pushed aviation to one side and focused on motorcycles and automobiles instead. However, a team of engineers recently put together a plane that could be powered by a BMW S1000RR inline-four engine instead! The functional aircraft, known as the L-39 Albatross can fly using the BMW engine, though we don’t think BMW will be getting back in the aviation game anytime soon.
#04. Benka Pulko, a female rider from Slovenia embarked on the world’s longest female solo ride (in length and duration) in 1997. The journey would take her five years to complete and she would go on to clock up a record breaking 111,856 miles through 75 countries, all on her single-cylinder BMW F650. On top of that she was the first woman to tide solo through Saudi Arabia, and the first motorcyclist to ever ride in Antarctica.
#05. BMW’s adventure touring fame doesn’t end there. In 2004, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman famously rode from London to New York the Long Way Round on board their BMW R1200 GS motorcycles. Though the pair originally wanted KTM motorcycles to do the job, the bosses at KTM were too worried about failure, so BMW swooped in and saved the day. And since then, sales of BMW’s adventure bikes have soared, with the GS models accounting for a huge portion of BMW Motorrad’s overall sales. “GS” actually stands for Gelände/Straße or “off-road/road” and not Grand Sport as many people wrongly thing.
BMW Motorrad FAQ
#01. Where Are BMW Motorcycles Made? All of BMW Motorrad’s models are built at the company’s factory in Spandau, Berlin – all except the new G310 models. The G310 models were developed in partnership with India’s TVS, so these small-capacity models are built at the TVS factory in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. The engines were completely designed in Germany, though.
#02. Are BMW Motorcycles Reliable? BMW Motorrad has a reputation for reliability, however, the company has issued an incredibly high-volume of recalls since 2004 and ranks particularly low on the current Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey. Despite the recalls and the low rankings, BMW Motorrad is still considered to be one of the most trustworthy and reliable motorcycle manufacturers in the industry.
#03. Does BMW Make Motorcycles? Yes. BMW manufacturers motorcycles under the name BMW Motorrad. BMW has been developing motorcycles ever since 1923. The first BMW motorcycle was the “R32” – a 494cc motorcycle powered by a BMW M2B33 air-cooled, flat-twin engine that produced 8.5 horsepower and reach top speeds of 59 mph.
#04. Are BMW Motorcycles Expensive To Maintain? Compared with Japanese motorcycles, BMW Motorrad users report higher maintenance costs. This is largely down to the labor costs incurred at authorized dealerships, and the higher costs of replacement parts. Owners of different models report different results, for example BMW’s parallel-twin engine motorcycles generally incur less costs than the horizontally-opposed boxer-twin engines. This evidence is purely anecdotal though.
#05. Are BMW Motorcycles Good? BMW motorcycles offer a completely different ride experience to models from other manufacturers, but whether or not they’re “good” or not is a matter of opinion. In 2010, BMW Motorrad sold a total of 98,047 globally. Over the years, that figure has steadily risen, with BMW reporting sales of 164,153 units by 2017. With sales on the rise, it’s a fair assumption that the world’s riding public would say that BMW motorcycles are pretty good.