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The first branded BMW bike, made in Germany was in production from 1923 to 1926. The BMW R32 has an air cooled, side valve flat-twin 486 cc engine with a top speed of 59 mph (95km/h).
After WWI the aircraft engine maker BMW was forced to diversify after the Treaty of Versailles banned them from manufacturing German aircraft parts. In 1919 BMW released the flat-twin M2B15 engine, originally intended to be a portable industrial engine. The engine found its main use however in Victoria motorcycles, and later the Helios motorcycle built by Bayerisch Flugzeug (which later merged to form BMW AG).
After the merger the General Director and Designer of BMW assessed the Helios, they hated its Douglas style crankshaft layout, and suggested it should be dumped in the nearest lake. After much consideration they decided to redesign the Helios to make it more saleable. This new design was the BMW R32, the first branded BMW motorcycle ever made.
The M2B33 engine in the R32 had a displacement of 486 cc and aluminium alloy cylinders with a light alloy cylinder head. The engine produced 8.5 hp, and featured a re-circulating wet sump oiling system at a time when most motorcycle manufacturers used a total-loss oiling system.It was so efficient that BMW used this type of re-circulating oiling system until 1969. To counter the cooling problems encountered with the Helios, BMW oriented the R32's M2B33 boxer engine with the cylinder heads projecting out on each side for cooling,as used in earlier British-manufactured bikes. The R32 became the blueprint for all future BMW made bikes.
The R32 established the boxer-twin, shaft-drive power train layout that BMW would use until the present. BMW used shaft drives in all of its motorcycles until the introduction of the F650 in 1994 and continues to use it on all their boxer-twin motorcycles.
On May 14th 2011 a rare 1925 BMW R32 sold at Bonhams sale of Collectors' Motorcycles and Related Memorabilia Auction. The R32 was one of sixty made in 1925 and had a rare Norris speedometer and higher output magneto, it sold for $139,000, a new record for the BMW R32.
BMW produced 3,090 R32 in its production run; its success laid the foundation for the ultimate success of BMW.