The world famous Auction house Bonhams has presented a BMW powered auction event at Munich, BMW Museum on October 1st.

This single marque auction featured 23 BMW motorcycles ready to go under the hammer. One of them is the 1925 BMW R32, this fine piece of history was beautifully restored demonstrating the early BMW technical development. This bike has been estimated to sell for around  €100,000 – €120,000.

The BMW R32 was the first motorcycle produced by BMW under the BMW name. An aircraft engine manufacturer during World War I, BMW was forced to diversify after the Treaty of Versailles banned the German air force and German aircraft manufacture, initially turning to industrial engine design and manufacturing.

Launched at the Paris Show in 1923 and the first motorcycle to be sold as a BMW, the R32 featured a 494cc, twin-cylinder sidevalve engine, having horizontally opposed cylinders, and this ‘flat twin’ layout would forever be associated with the marque. As used in the Helios and supplied to other manufacturers, BMW’s M2B15 engine was a ‘flat twin’ also but one designed for installation fore-and-aft, a layout that made for a lengthy wheelbase and restricted the flow of cooling air to the rear cylinder. Turning the engine across the frame, as seen in the Granville Bradshaw-designed ABC, seemed like a much better arrangement. With the crankshaft now inline, the adoption of an integral gearbox and shaft drive was the logical choice. This new power unit went into a duplex loop frame equipped with leaf-sprung front fork. Weighing 270lb (123kg), the R32 had all of 8.5bhp on tap, which nevertheless was good for a top speed of around 60mph (97km/h).

Setting a pattern that endures to this day, BMW’s first motorcycle was relatively expensive but superbly engineered and constructed while the quality of finish was of the highest order. It was an immediate success – some 1,500 leaving the Munich factory in 1924 – and the R32 would continue production, updated with an internally expanding front brake, until 1926, at which time 3,090 had been built.

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Manu Dubey
Founder and Chief Editor at Moto Rivista. When he isn’t editing articles for Moto Rivista he is working as a User Experience Strategist. Passionate about two wheels since childhood, plans on building his own motorcycle soon!