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BMW Boxer From /5 1969 to 1985

BMW Boxer From /5 1969 to 1985

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Review Summary
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Volume 1 – All Airheads With Twin Shocks
by: Andy Schwietzer
Hardcover: 170 pages
Dimensions (in inches): 8.375 x 11.187 x 0.625
Publisher: Bodensteiner Verlag (First published in German 2006; English 2008)
ISBN: 978 3 9806631 5 1
List Price: $ 46.00 – € 34.00 – £ 23.00
Retail:  Moto-Bins (UK) (Part # 00940)

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Back in 2006 when I reviewed BMW Motorcycles: The Evolution of Excellence by Kevin Ash, I wondered whether there was still more to tell about the BMW motorcycle story. Well, there was in 2006 and yes, there’s more yet to tell — apparently, this interesting story will never end, which is good news for Beemerphiles!

And the interesting part is that the story just keeps getting better. I’m not sure if we’re the beneficiaries of modern research forensics, of author diligence or a touch of both, but Andy Schwietzer’s “BMW Boxers, 1969 – 1985, Volume 1” has more detail, more photos and more interviews with the people who made it all happen than any other BMW book I’ve read so far.

I say “so far” because Volume 2 is in the works, and I’m expecting that one to have even more detail about the monoshock and Paralever bikes of the modern era.

This book is the first English translation of the German classic that was originally published in 2006. It covers the “golden” years of BMW, from the introduction of the /5 in the Woodstock year of 1969 up to the R 80 RT and R 100 RT of the mid-’80’s. There are many, many color and black-and-white photos, illustrations and graphics included; some are new (to me anyway) and others I may have seen here and there, but the high-quality images in the book are much better than the usual fare.

This isn’t a mass-market “overnight special”, hoping to cash in on the few suckers who want a trophy coffee table book about BMW motorcycles. It was published and carefully printed in Germany, and I think that makes a real difference in the quality of the print and image reproduction; as a result, it’s a much nicer overall package than your average BMW motorcycle book.

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Besides the very sharp and clear photos with excellent color replication, I really enjoyed the “behind the scenes” interviews, with people like Hans A. Muth, the designer of the R 90 S, definitely in my Motorcycle Hall of Fame as one of the most classic motorcycles ever produced. I’ve known about Hans Muth, of course, but never knew the details of his involvement with the R 90 S. He explains how he came to BMW, how he pushed the idea forward and even how the paint colors were chosen. And there’s even a photograph of an R 90 S prototype from 1972!

Other interviews include Ekkehard Rapelius, a test engineer at BMW who worked on chassis development and this one includes some insight into the interesting R 65 LS and Fritz Lottman, an engine development engineer, who worked to make the OHV engine more durable and who also talks about the gearbox revisions in the 1980/81 models.

About 55 pages at the end of the book are devoted to charts and graphics covering all model years with frame and engine numbers; photos of some of the tiny details like reflectors and other bits that help tell the difference; comments on running changes made to various frame numbers; a very nice section on paint and colors for the Airheads with color photographs and reproductions of all of the paint chips; charts with specifications for each model and model year; year-by-year commentary on the evolutionary changes and much more. There’s even a small section on Airheads in the U.S.A.

If you’re a BMW motorcycle owner or fan or if you’re fortunate enough to be an “Airhead”, you need this book. It’s fascinating, it’s informative and it’s a great read. I can’t wait for Volume 2!

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