BMW R 18 Custom


MOBILITY/MOTORBIKES/CUSTOM: 80 years ago, BMW presented the BMW R 5 to the world public, an exciting new technical development that was to have a lasting influence on motorbike construction until the 1950s. Angelehnt an die 500 ccm Werksrennmaschine, war sie eines der wegweisenden Sportmotorräder der späten 1930er Jahre. Anlässlich ihres 80. Geburtstages ehrt BMW Motorrad diese Ikone auf dem Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este mit einem besonderen Modell: der BMW R 5 Hommage.

Munich/Cernobbio. 80 years ago, BMW presented the BMW R 5 to the world public, an exciting new technical development that was to have a lasting influence on motorbike construction until the 1950s. Based on the 500 cc factory racing machine of 1935, it was one of the pioneering sports motorbikes of the late 1930s with its newly designed, lightweight frame. To mark its 80th birthday, BMW Motorrad is honouring this icon at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este with a special model: the BMW R 5 Homage.


The BMW R 5 Homage transfers the essence of motorcycling into the present day and combines the world of historic motorbike construction with the modern custom world.

„The R 5 was not only a technical masterpiece at its debut, it also stood out from the crowd thanks to the clarity of its lines and the elegance of its proportions. For me, the R 5 is still one of the most beautiful motorbikes in BMW history,“ says Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design BMW Motorrad. „For me, its fascinating and unique beauty lies in its simplicity,“ continues Ola Stenegard, Head of Vehicle Design and Creative Director Heritage BMW Motorrad. „It is easy to make a motorbike complicated, but more complex to make it simple. The BMW R 5 is the essence of a motorbike. This clarity and its elegant aesthetics, we wanted to transport into today. In a respectful combination of old-school and high-tech and a pinch of high-performance.“


Custom meets heritage.

The BMW R 5 Homage shows how well the historic motorbike world and the custom scene harmonise. At its heart is an original 500 cc two-cylinder engine from the collection of motorbike enthusiast Sebastian Gutsch. The boxer engine, damaged in a race, provided the starting point for the creation of the BMW R 5 Hommage.


In the best custom style, the Hommage vehicle was painstakingly rebuilt by hand from scratch.

The brothers Ronny and Benny Noren, who have been building custom bikes for over 30 years, were commissioned to manufacture the parts according to the specifications of the BMW Design Team.

Historic core…
The two-cylinder, four-stroke boxer engine of the R 5 was a new design at the time and produced 24 hp at 5500 rpm. The valve train was provided by two camshafts driven by a timing chain. Thanks to the newly constructed frame made of electrically welded oval tubes, the lightweight R 5 reached a top speed of 135 km/h and was thus almost as fast as the 33 hp 750 R 17 – not least the reason why it was often and gladly used for races. Just like the engine selected for the BMW R 5 Hommage, which was damaged in a race. For the Hommage vehicle, numerous components such as the valve covers or even the breast plate of the boxer engine were therefore milled from the solid based on sketches and give the historic core a modern flair.

…in tailor-made custom dress.

Ronny and Benny Noren, two veterans of the custom bike scene, found the perfect partners for the BMW R 5 homage project to give the historic core an appropriate appearance and to manufacture the missing parts for the engine and transmission. Based on the sketches of the BMW Motorrad Design Team, the remaining parts of the vehicle took shape in their workshop. All parts, such as the frame, tank, mudguards and wheel guides, are intricately handcrafted and individually manufactured – a true custom bike. The top priority: the newly manufactured parts clearly convey the original, pure character of the R 5.


Timelessly elegant: the proportions.

The result is convincing: even from a distance, the proportions convey the timeless beauty of consistent reduction to the essentials – in the spirit of the R 5 – and transfer it to the present day. Frame and tank quote the elegant teardrop shape of the original, but present it in a streamlined, more modern interpretation. The steering head, for example, was given a little more tilt to give the Gestik R 5 homage more presence and expression and to underline its affiliation with the world of custom bikes. For the frame, the focus was on the oval tubes that made the original so distinctive. Together, the frame and tank draw a continuous line from the steering head to the rear wheel hub and give the side view an elegant touch. The rear wheel cover, handcrafted from steel, continues the minimalist lines.

Historical details in a modern interpretation.

Particularly defining for the appearance of the R 5 was the telescopic fork, which was new at the time and whose characteristic triple clamp was aerodynamically shaped at the height of the headlight. The BMW R 5 Homage takes up this element and interprets it in a modern form on the newly developed front fork. The front of the dip tubes quotes the „crease“ on the breast plate and valve covers with an implied interpretation of the typical „R 5 rib“. The externally operated brake and clutch lever solutions also combine the past with the current state of the art: the custom-made products combine the look of the inner cable levers based on historical models with the adjustment options of modern controls.

Finest custom work: compressor, tailpipe and suspension.

Within the minimalist proportions rests the heart of the BMW R 5 Hommage – the reworked original engine. The technical highlight of the engine is the specially developed supercharger, which gives the original 500 cc unit with its original 26 hp in the BMW R 5 Hommage significantly more power in a historically correct manner. A completely new stainless steel exhaust system makes the increased power heard. Further contemporary accents are set by the new rear suspension, the modern piston brake system and the elaborately designed front and rear wheel hub. The latter combines the brake system and spoke mountings in a single formal unit and transfers the minimalist idea of the

BMW R 5 Homage down to the last detail.

The colour: classic BMW and yet a true custom bike.

In terms of colour, the BMW R 5 Homage is classic. The basic theme is typical BMW black with white, hand-drawn lines – also interpreted in a contemporary way, of course. In addition to the opaque painted surfaces, the so-called smoke finish on the tank and on the wheel covers allows the underlying steel to partially shine through. The white of the hand-lining, as well as the black paintwork on the tank and rear wheel cover, is accentuated in the best custom manner by metallic pigments and a slight flake effect. The engine block and gearbox made of glass-bead blasted aluminium provide an excellent stage for the polished aluminium parts such as the newly milled breast plate or the valve covers with „crease“. Above all, the soft sheen of the polished aluminium is reminiscent of the originals of the BMW R 5 era. An embroidered individual leather seat with high-quality embossing blends perfectly into the overall picture.


virtualdesignmagazine Michael Hiller



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