BMW’s first motorcycle was produced in 1923. This R32’s engine was the M2B33 with a displacement of 494 cc. It had a cast-iron side valve cylinder unit and produced 8.5 hp, which shot the R32 to a max speed of 59mph. BMW Engineer Max Friz created the boxer layout, which is where the crankshaft is longitudinal with two opposed cylinders. Shaft drives were used in all of BMW’s motorcycles until 1994 when the F650 was produced. It is still used on their boxer-twin motorcycles.
Henderson Excelsior Streamline
This 1929 gem was the streamline model of Henderson motorcycles, commonly called “KJ.” This bike featured an improved IOE valve configuration and a five main bearing crankshaft. It reached a max speed of 100 mph and had a design that was advanced for its time, having features of leading-link forks and an illuminated speedometer displayed on the fuel tank.
This well known brand created WLA in 1940 and was mass produced when the U.S. went into WWII. Commonly seen in a camo green, this army bike can be quickly identified as a military motorcycle. This symbolic bike became extremely popular to young veterans of the war which lead to its post-war consumption and brand recognition. The WLA reached a max speed of 65mph on paved roads and could travel up to 120 miles on a full tank. Its purpose was to move messengers quickly and to be able to travel on narrow routes.
Moto Guzzi V8
The Moto Guzzi Grand Prix racing team had Giulio Cesare Carcano as their designer for the eye catching Moto Guzzi V8, a.k.a., the “Otto” motorcyle, during their 1955 to 1957 seasons. The Moto Guzzi was a breakthrough in engine engineering. It had horizontal singles, parallel twins, V-twins in transverse and in-line layouts, three and four cylinders in horizontal and in-line form.
The British made Velocette Viper was the first motorcycle to have fiber enclosed panels which extended from the front of the engine, level with the top of the crankcase and extending to the rear pillion footrests. The vipper has a 349cc engine and reaches a max speed of around 100mph. The engine has a light alloy cylinder head, a cast iron liner, and a high compression piston. It was usual to see this bike in black or a willow green with a lot of chrome plating. It’s fuel capacity is 3.5 gallons with power at 28 bhp at 7,000 rpm.
BMW produced this 1973 sport motorcycle with designer Hans Muth who designed the bike to be less mundane and more visually appealing than those it has created before. It had a bikini fairing and new tail, sporting distinctive two-tone paintwork, and became the flagship of the boxer engine. It hits a max speed of 124mph and accelerated from 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds, redlining at 7,200 rpm. The seat had a “ducktail” fairing which conveniently provided small storage with items such as a toolkit, a hand pump, a first aid kit, and a BMW embroidered towel. The small bikini fairing allowed for a speedometer, tachometer, clock, and voltmeter.
The Honda Rebel’s design is a classic cruiser-style motorcycle. Having a max speed of 70 mph, this bike averages around 52-62 mpg giving it the best fuel economy of its time. It has a 234 cubic centimeter straight-twin engine and is part of the CM series of cruisers. This bike is commonly seen being driven at the motorcycle safety courses and previously by police. The slick cruiser style was made with a second seat with a back to it, implying a bike for two, though this bike was said to not have been marketed to women at the time that is not so much the case now.