BMW /2 Hot Rod

Different people build different BMW conversions for different reasons. The BMW /2 was built to be a hot rod.

| May/June 2014

1965 BMW R60/2 Special
Claimed power: 67hp @ 7,000 rpm
Engine: 898cc air-cooled OHV horizontally opposed twin, 90mm x 70.6mm bore and stroke
Weight (wet/approx.): 450lb (204kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 6.5gal (24.6ltr) 

Depending on your perspective, it’s either sacrilege or the greatest idea ever. We’re talking about a vintage BMW “conversion.”

While there are many ways to go about something like this, this conversion begins with a stout and low-slung mid-Sixties BMW /2 chassis and adds a more modern and more powerful, but still classic, mid-Seventies BMW engine and transmission. This means classic looks and handling with increased power, 12-volt electrics instead of 6-volt, and five forward gears.

But first let’s share a little BMW model background. The /2 (Slash 2) chassis design first entered the scene in 1955, but it wasn’t until 1960 that the /2 designation was applied. Multiple models, including the R50/2, R60/2, and the R69S were built using the same basic chassis design, featuring either 494cc or 594cc engines in various states of tune.

What’s important about the /2 machines is the use of the Earles fork, a leading-link design developed by Ernest Earles and patented in 1953. The Earles fork doesn’t dive under braking and is stronger than a conventional telescopic design, with twin shock absorbers attached to a swingarm. Extremely rigid, the Earles fork made the BMW an ideal sidecar hauler.

The new breed

In 1970 BMW introduced a completely new line of machines, the 498cc R50/5, the 599cc R60/5 and the 745cc R75/5. These were the /5 Series of BMW motorcycles, and they incorporated a lighter yet much taller frame than their predecessors. They were also fitted with conventional telescopic front forks. Engines were much more refined and made more horsepower, and the old 6-volt generator and magneto system gave way to a 12-volt alternator and coil and breaker points ignition. Brakes, too, were improved.

4/26/2014 9:06:22 AM

Nice conversion, but I would think that adding more power is only half the equation. What about upgrading the brakes (which were marginal even with the original engine).

4/24/2014 5:57:18 PM

My brother had an R-60 that he bought, Like me, he was originally into Brit bikes. So the transition was difficult for me not him. You see my Brother was mechanically inept, he could ride and enjoyed wind in his hair but if he heard a sound that was odd. I would get a phone call and he would start with "I heard a noise" which would mean that I was going to his house on my Norton to fix his problem. The R-60 was a dependable fun to ride motorcycle but in my brothers hands it was a mystery. One time while getting ready to get on the Freeway I was in front and Mike was a bit behind. As I entered the turn lane I saw an oil slick and waved to Mike pointing to the oil slick. As I started up the onramp my girl friend tapped my shoulder and said that Mike had gone down. (the oil slick) I parked my Norton and walked back to find the BMW on its right head spinning around with Mike chasing it. When I got to the pair I pushed Mike out of the way and as the headlight came by I pulled the key. Got to replace the right valve cover. Great Bike when not in my Brothers hands. He finally went to a Goldwing but that as they say is another tale.

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

Classic Motorcycle Touring and Events.

The latest classic motorcycle events and tours.