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Single-cylinder cult bike: BMW R26 / R27

BMW R26 / R27

In the beginning they motorized the up-and-comers of the economic miracle, later schoolchildren and students, today they delight classic car beginners. And by the way, they ensured the survival of BMW.

W.hen there is talk of BMW history, most car and motorcycle fans have large-displacement cars and boxer machines in mind. Eight-cylinder sedans like the 502 and dream motorcycles like the R 68 and R 69 S still shape the brand image today. But in the 1950s and 1960s, Bavarians could not live from the figureheads alone. On the contrary: The high development and production costs were in stark disproportion to the homeopathic sales and earnings figures.

Single-cylinder cult bike: BMW R26 / R27

BMW R26 / R27

In 1960, BMW went one step further with the R 27

By 1956, the 12 hp R 25 and its facelift derivatives R 25/2 and R 25/3 were built with an incredible 109 551 units. For comparison: of all boxer models combined, only about a third of them are created in the same period. But two things made it increasingly difficult for BMW to sell motorcycles from the mid-1950s onwards. On the one hand, the slowly looming slump in the market – more and more buyers are switching to a car or at least a scooter.

Second, the four-stroke competitor NSU, which with the 17 hp Max, has the significantly sportier model in its range, which is much more popular with younger customers. How practical that, from 1955, BMW put the boxers in a "full swing chassis". Just one year later, this superior design was adopted for the new, 15 hp R 26. By 1960 BMW had sold 30,236 copies of the comfortable and extremely stable tourer. The R 26 is at times the best-selling motorcycle in the young Federal Republic.


In comparison: BMW R 26 and Simson AWO 425 S.

Same parts – BMW R 26 and Simson AWO 425 S.

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Naked bike

On the move: BMW R 27, Honda CB 72

Class meeting

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But there are new, stronger opponents: the Japanese

In 1960, in the midst of the motorcycle crisis, BMW even went one step further with the R 27: The 2330 Mark 250 cc looks very similar to its predecessor, but the chassis and engine have received significant improvements. The engine, which has been boosted to 18 hp, is now elastically connected to the chassis at five points ("floating engine"), which once and for all eliminates the sometimes annoying shaking of the R 26. The R 27 is the best single -cylinder BMW to date and no longer has to fear the NSU Max.

But there are new, stronger opponents: the Japanese! In the last year of construction 1966, the R 27 is available for 2,670 marks. A Honda CB 250 costs only five marks more, but it has two cylinders, an overhead camshaft and makes 22 hp. After 15,364 copies of the R 27, BMW single-cylinder engines are over for 27 years. The BMW singles, which always look a bit conservative, become the typical schoolchildren and student cucumbers of the 70s and early 80s. Before the Yamaha SR 500 takes over this job, there are R 25, R 26 and R 27 for a few hundred marks on every other corner. Today the Bavarian stew is a popular old-timer and unfortunately it is also often the victim of tinkering retirees with a lot of time, who mean it far too well with merciless over-restoration.

MOTORCYCLE market: Used BMW R 26

MOTORCYCLE market: Used BMW R 27


Data (R27): Air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine, 247 cm³, 13 kW (18 PS) at 7400 / min, 18 Nm at 6000 / min, four-speed gearbox, double loop frame made of steel tubes, weight with a full tank of 162 kg, front and rear tires 3.25 x 18, tank capacity 15 liters, Top speed 130 km / h (according to BMW)

literature: "No problem screwing NSU Max / BMW single cylinder" by Ernst Leverkus, Motorbuch Verlag, 19.95 euros; "BMW one-cylinder motorcycles 1925-1967" by Hans-Lothar Stegmann, Verlag Johann Kleine Vennekate, 29 euros; "Motorcycles that made history: BMW – the single cylinder "by Andy Schwietzer, Motorbuch Verlag (only antiquarian, from approx. 25 euros)

Specialists: Ulis Motorradladen, 60327 Frankfurt am Main, Tel. 0 69/17 53 64 40,; Motorrad Stemler, 42899 Remscheid, Tel. 0 21 91/5 30 67,; Ideal – Motorrader und Seitenwagen GmbH, 10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg, Tel. 0 30/6 18 62 58,

Market situation: The second-hand range is still large, but the change from student motorcycles to old-timer favorites among older people is clearly noticeable in the price. Ready-to-drive machines in largely original condition are realistically traded for 4,000 euros. And are in any preferable case to the completely over-restored chrome orgies (“better than new”), for which dreamers sometimes charge well over 7,500 euros. Practical tip: Carefully restore yourself and preserve the patina. And if possible avoid to catch a ridden ex-authority machine. There is still enough civil material to be able to be choosy

Club / IG / Internet: (lots of information, lots of downloads, lively forum)

MOTORCYCLE market: Used BMW R 26

MOTORCYCLE market: Used BMW R 27

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