Post-listing Update: This BMW R51/2 did not meet reserve at $18,900.
Nowadays, BMW is well known for their “R” series of bikes, featuring a boxer engine (where you see opposed cylinders sticking outwards from the engine). All of those bikes can trace their heritage back to the BMW R51/2, BMW’s first post-war boxer. The Allies initially did not allow Germany to produce bikes after the war, but when the ban was lifted, BMW had to start from scratch. BMW started by basically cloning its 250cc pre-war efforts, but once it was allowed to create bigger engines, the 494cc R51/2 was introduced – only for one year of production!
Approximately 5,000 units were produced between ’50 and ’51, period reviews considered it a “Jekyll and Hyde” type bike, as Cycle magazine stated in 1950:
“Therein lies one of its attractions, because while the BMW R51/2 is well-mannered and pleasurable to ride at medium speeds, it has a top-end performance that puts it in the sports category…”
The bike weighed 396 pounds and it was capable of a top speed just over 80 mph, as the boxer engine produced 24 horsepower. Interestingly, the kick starter ran perpendicular to the bike, as opposed to the parallel format that most riders are now used to. Want to learn more? Check out Jeffrey Dean’s website, which is chock-full of information on the BMW R51/2.
This specific BMW R51/2 is in fantastic shape – this might be one of the best examples we’ve seen in a very long time. 8 years ago, a full mechanical and partial cosmetic restoratino was performed, and the bike has covered 1,900 miles since. This is a numbers matching bike, and it seems that the only non-stock item is the period-correct set of Borrani alloy rims (you’ll note that the rims look shinier than you might expect). We also adore the hoop handle on the rear seat.
Find this BMW R51/2 for sale with an opening bid of $15,000 and a BIN price of $27,500 in Hickory, North Carolina