BMW must have been trying to reassociate their brand acronym with the phrase “Best Motorcycle in the World” when they released the R32 in 1923.
Post WWI Confusion
As a result of the treaty that ended World War I, Germans were no longer allowed to control a standing army larger than a simple peace-keeping force. This drastically reduced the demand for warplanes, leaving BMW with no client base.
Searching for purpose, BMW made a few minor alterations to its factories and began work on automobiles instead of aeronautics. Soon after, the R32 was released with a design that has forever changed the motorcycling world.
Brand New BMW Design Specs
In 1923, the first BMW R32 drove out of the factory and onto the open road with a BMW M2B33 494cc, side-valve, air-cooled, flat-twin engine capable speed up to 59 miles per hour.
More of a cruiser than a supersport speedster, the relatively lightweight (296 pounds wet) rendered the miniscule 8.5 horsepower at 3200rpm subtle more effective, especially when combined with BMW’s leading-link front suspension with cantilever spring and free-standing rear end.
The First of Its Kind
Only one generation of the R32 was ever produced, beginning in 1923 and continuing until 1926, at which point the R32 model was replaced in production by the more advanced and more powerful BMW R42 and BMW R47.
- BMW R32 (1923-1926)
The engine used in the BMW R32 (the BMW M2B33) was initially invented specifically for use in the R32 line of motorcycles and was among the first motor vehicle engines produced by BMW that wasn’t designed for airplanes.
Still more unique, however, is the bicycle-seat style throne completely lacking a pillion or sidecar of any kind. The seat, instead, resembles a single-person bicycle mount. Moreover, the silhouette of the vehicle makes one wonder if BMW didn’t simply slap a bit of steel around an actual bicycle to make the R32.
News of the R32
Since BMW removed its R32 from production almost 100 years ago, very little news has been stirred up any time recently surrounding the R32. However, its legacy is still somewhat newsworthy.
Not only is the boxer engine still in use today, but the new DC Roadster from BMW even contains the same cooling ribs and ventilators as the R32.
The BMW R32 never really had its 15-seconds of Hollywood fame. There aren’t any major productions on which R32s saw use on a film’s set and few–if any–celebrities ever openly endorsed or even rode a BMW R32.
Finding a social group or even a forum for the BMW R32 might just be one of the most difficult research tasks anybody can accomplish. Unfortunately, the best option for bikers to chat about the R32 or other BMW classics would be to follow the BMW Group Classic page on Facebook.
The BMW R32 – The Father of BMW Design
Many of the design standards that went into construction of the BMW R32 are still the standard today. Despite the R32’s limited success during its time and its minimal production length, the effect that it has had on the world of motorcycling has lasted nearly an entire century, forever changing the way we ride!