The /5 represented a very abrupt change in the general styling cues of the BMW range, the first new BMW motorcycle design for nearly two decades, and the basic design would last for more than 25 years. Hans-Gunther von der Marwitz left Porsche in the late 1960s to design the new BMW motorcycles under the wing of technical director Helmut Werner Bonsch. Bonsch had managed to persuade BMW not to abandon motorcycle production altogether in the late 1960s in the mist of the Japanese ‘invasion’ after the slow demise of the British establishment. In von der Marwitz’ mind’s eye was a much more modern machine than the previous BMW /2 series. BMW opened a new motorcycle factory in Spandau, a suburb of Berlin, for the necessary renaissance. Fortunately, success was instant, with 1970 /5 production virtually tripling that of 1969 at 12,287 machines.
BMW, from its completely re-designed, stronger, smoother and vastly more modern motor, quoted 50 horsepower at 6,200rpm for the 4-speed, R75/5, some 10 more than the 600cc R60/5, and 18 more than the 500cc R50/5. With a dry weight of 423lb, the now 12 volt, 745cc, electric start machine was capable of 110mph, and being a BMW, could do it for hours on end. The bike’s chrome tank panels have proven to be a frantically popular feature today, though less so at the time, and now known as a Toaster tank.
The bike offered here, originally built in October 1971, has been the subject of a ground-up restoration and customization inspired by BMW’s original GS dual sport machines. Starting with a matching numbers machine, the bike was stripped to the bone. The engine was rebuilt using a rebuild kit sourced in Germany. A new pair of Mikuni carbs were fitted. The gearbox was gone through and a new clutch installed. A truly beautiful and stunningly manufactured exhaust was made by a local expert for $1,500, setting off the look and feel perfetly. Attention was then turned to the cycle parts, starting with wheels rebuilt by famed wheel experts, Buachanans, then shod with new tires. Forks overhauled and a new rear shock keep the bike comfortably attached to the road, while restored brakes will retard the forward momentum. Many parts were sourced from Max BMW. A new wiring harness was installed with LED lighting. Fresh black paint adorns the restored tank for the quintessential BMW vintage look.
However, the bike feels far from a vintage machine. It starts easily on the button, idles well and has good, responsive power. The engine feels taut and the gearbox shifts smoothly. The suspension feels capable of touring or carving up a canyon and the brakes have a modern feel. All electrical systems work as they should.
This is a fine opportunity to acquire a tasteful and purposeful custom machine in exquisite cosmetic and mechanical condition, that is just a blast to ride.
Sold on a clean, clear California title.