The first of its kind, the BMW R32 set the stage for an entire era of innovation and design.
Arguably the founding father of motorcycles, the BMW R32 pioneered the transition from automobiles and motorized bicycles to the world of motorcycles, superbikes, and scooters we know today.
BMW first began producing motorcycles under the name BMW Motorrad in 1923, seven years after being founded. With the end of the first World War resulting in total chaos for the German economy, BMW was effectively crippled.
With that first motorcycle hitting the market, that was all about to change. While things did not turn around for all of Germany for another 10 or 20 years, the introduction of the BMW R32 in 1923 brought much-needed change for the better to BMW.
The First of Its Kind
The BMW R32 ushered in a new era of motor vehicle design, particularly for BMW, which had never produced a motorcycle prior thereto. Of course, this motorcycle today would be much more likely to be mistaken for a bicycle than a motorcycle.
The BMW R32’s frame and bicycle-style seat might appear similar in aesthetic to bicycles, but the frame is actually a twin-loop, steel tubular frame. The seat, however, actually is a modified bicycle seat.
One Generation that Impacted All Those to Come
Only one generation of the BMW R32 was ever produced, however, it pioneered a design that would be used for the entire history of BMW.
BMW R32 (1923-1926)
BMW Motorrad’s first ever motorcycle was powered by a four-stroke, two-cylinder, horizontally-opposed Boxer, pushrod-actuated, four-valve engine with a 494cc displacement, and an incredibly mild 5.0:1 compression ratio.
The design of the BMW R32’s engine was so revolutionary for the time that certain parts of its technology would go on to be used in every other BMW motorcycle until the introduction of the F650 series in 1994. In fact, this design is still in use in all of BMW’s boxer engines today.
The Legacy Continues
As of 2019, the legacy of the BMW’s twin-cylinder boxer engine continues in the frames of countless R-series motorcycles on the market.
The Center of Attention
The BMW R32, either directly or indirectly, has been the center of attention in motorcycle history for almost 100 years. It has even gotten its own documentary!
There aren’t very many R32s left in existence, let alone cruising the open roads (thanks to modern admissions standards). Not to mention, why would somebody risk damage to a collector’s bike like the R32?
BMW R32 – The First BMW Motorrad
BMW Motorrad has been producing high-quality motorcycles now for almost 100 years and the legacy continues. Even after BMW stops using the boxer engines they invented for the R32, the legacy will continue.