Eight decades ago, a legend was born…the 1936 R 5. This classic motorcycle is revered by ardent devotees as one of the best pre-war BMW boxers. This year BMW recognises this classic motorcycle by unveiling the one-off supercharged R 5 Hommage concept motorcycle. It’s a motorcycle to honour as it’s considered one of the all-time greats.
To mark the eightieth anniversary, we are singing the BMW R 5 Hommage praises all the way to Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2016 – the most exclusive location for historic, rare and treasured vehicles. And we couldn’t think of a better way to pay tribute to a classic beauty other than showcasing the vintage design with some modern twists at this prestigious arena.
The R 5 was originally launched in 1936 and soon became the benchmark of motorcycles right up until the ‘50s. Ola Stenegard, BMW Motorrad head of vehicle design, had a dream that one day he will be able to create a concept motorcycle based on the extraordinary R 5. Stenegard is extremely passionate about custom building so it made perfect sense to have him lead this project.
Ola believed that pulling apart an iconic motorcycle would be a cardinal sin. So he sought the help of brothers Ronna and Benna Norén (who are equally enthusiastic about custom-building choppers) and together with Sebastian Gutsch, the team breathed life to the R 5 Hommage.
Stenegard was curious to see what the outcome would be when vintage and custom worlds collide. “Bringing people together from different specialties is what makes customising special,” says Ola. “It’s all about the motorcycling ‘family’ and it was great to see these specialists from polar opposites of the motorcycling spectrum sharing ideas and talking about what could be achieved.”
The original boxer had a rigid frame with a strong motor at the heart of it. It had a two-cylinder, four-stroke boxer engine that could reach a top speed of 135km/h. This made the R 5 the perfect racing motorcycle alongside its slightly faster rival, the R 17.
Creating the R 5 Hommage had to have been a balancing act – what do you keep and what elements do you take out to make sure that it’s modern but still true to its origin?
The result is impressive and true to the spirit of the original R 5. Befitting a custom-made bike, this bespoke beauty was crafted entirely by hand. When you look at the R 5 Hommage, you can tell that nothing was spared in the quest for custom perfection.
An essential element that was maintained is the oval tubing on the frame which draws your eye to the continuous line from the steering head to the rear wheel hub. To further enhance the bike’s naturally good looks, the swing arm was kept low. Many parts such as the valve cover and the breastplate of the boxer engine were made from billet aluminium which lends a dash of modern flair. The frame, fuel tank and rear fender are uniquely designed. This modified supercharger echoes the elegant drop shapes of the original but is now modern and streamlined.
A stark contrast to the original is the modern suspension and brakes, including discs with a six-pot radial calliper up front and a four-pot at the rear, as well as a rear monoshock suspension.
This drop-dead gorgeous hommage motorcycle cast a spell on us. It’s a blend of historic design nods and modern custom-building techniques. And, it is by far one of the most beautiful motorcycles in the history of BMW.