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1954 BMW R25/3

Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) began manufacturing motorcycle engines in 1921 and produced its first motorcycle, the R32, in 1923. Having first built aircraft engines prior to and during WWI, BMW was not allowed to do so after the war because of industrial restrictions placed against Germany. In order to survive as a business, BMW started producing motorcycles as a way to create a new revenue stream. Once Europe found itself in the grips of another war, BMW stopped producing motorcycles from 1938-1948, to once again manufacture airplane engines for the German war effort.


Following Germany’s defeat at the end of WWII, BMW started making motorcycles again, but only with engines less than 250cc displacement because of more industrial restrictions placed on German businesses. BMW’s first post-war motorcycle, the R24, was released in December of 1948. The bike shared many parts with the ones the company made a decade earlier, before the outbreak of WWII. Eighteen months later, in 1950, BMW made numerous technological leaps with the new R25. The frame was now welded together instead of bolted, as it had been done before. The R25 also featured an all new, plunger-style suspension, both front and back, that replaced the springer-style suspension that had been industry standard since motorcycles were invented at the beginning of the 20th century. BMW was the first motorcycle manufacturer to use and mass produce a plunger-style suspension, which is still used today in many applications.


The R25/3 single cylinder engine, seen in this bike, is the third generation of the R25 engine after WWII. Debuting in 1953, the R25/3 has a redesigned gas tank, built-in lockable toolbox, larger carburetor, and more power. The rims were changed from steel to alloy and shrank an inch to 18” wheels. Making one more horsepower than its predecessor, the R25/3 makes 13 hp at 5,800 rpm and has a top speed of 75 mph. Around half of the number of R25/3 produced were sold into service work (police, post office, etc.). Those motorcycles that were sold to the general public garnered a reputation as “becoming more of a gentleman’s small motorcycle,” – a reputation BMW motorcycles still carry into the 21st century.