Oh, to be a motorcycle historian in Europe. Such fertile ground to ply one’s trade, with rich, regional and cultural influences covering the last century and more. The name “Beemer” stands out from the crowd as one of the oldest, and most successful, of the early European manufacturers still in business today, and it is against this backdrop that BMW unveiled its R5 “Hommage” at the 2016 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. Built as a tribute piece meant to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the original BMW R5, the Hommage serves as a fairly faithful reproduction with a decidedly contemporary bent.

Continue reading for my look at the BMW R5 “Hommage.”

  • 2016 BMW R5 Hommage Custom: An Idol At The Altar Of BMW Ingenuity
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
2016 BMW R5 Hommage Custom: An Idol At The Altar Of BMW Ingenuity
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Back in the late ’30s, the R5 was the Beemer to beat with its lightweight frame design and zweizylinder boxer engine. The mill originally cranked out 24 ponies for a top end of 83 mph — a blistering speed for the time — and was a popular choice for use in [race-https://www.topspeed.com/motorcycles/racing/ke2345.html] bikes. An original, 500 cc engine was donated by Sebastian Gutsch, and the factory tapped bike-building brothers Benny and Ronny Noren to build the bike around it.

2016 BMW R5 Hommage Custom: An Idol At The Altar Of BMW Ingenuity
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First, the brothers had to repair some crash damage. A new set of valve covers and a breastplate were milled from billet aluminum, complete with the “R5 rib” for an extra historical touch. Not satisfied with the original performance, the builders added a supercharger (!) to the engine that boosts output up to 26 horsepower. They took other liberties with the design as well, but sprinkled little Easter Eggs about such as the ribbed front fork shrouds, teardrop tank and frame lines that tie it into the original. I pulled up a sales flier for the 1937 R5, and was immediately struck by how well the brothers suggested at the original design without becoming slaves to it, and the result is a bike that looks like it could have existed in the late ’30s or a bit later.

2016 BMW R5 Hommage Custom: An Idol At The Altar Of BMW Ingenuity
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Folks, this is a fun little project piece, and anyone interested in historical bikes could lose an hour or so just comparing the details, I know I certainly have, but not from a lack of clear visibility. To call this bike “clean” would be an exercise in understatement, in fact, it’s so clean it isn’t even street legal anywhere little things like brake lights and turn signals are required. Salient point is; everything is clearly visible and the bike leaves nothing at all to the imagination, just like an 80-year old race bike should look.

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