A homage to the BMW R 5

MOTORCYCLE/DESIGN: A homage to the BMW R 5.

86 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. On the occasion of its 80th birthday, BMW Motorrad honoured this icon at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este with a special model: the BMW R 5 Hommage.

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.

„At its debut, the R 5 was not only a technical masterpiece, it stood out from the crowd above all due 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 two-cylinder 500 cc 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 manner, the Hommage vehicle was rebuilt from scratch in elaborate manual work.

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

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 designed 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 a tailor-made custom dress.

Ronny and Benny Noren, two veterans of the custom bike scene, were the perfect partners for the BMW R 5 Hommage project in order 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.

The result is convincing: even from a distance, the proportions convey the timeless beauty of the consistent reduction to the essentials – in the spirit of the R 5 – and transfer it to the present day. The 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.

Photoset 1 to the article ( please click on the link )



virtualdesignmagazine Michael Hiller


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