Vintage 1960 BMW R69S Motorcycles

NEW YORK | Monday, March 22nd, 2010 8:39am EDT

Throughout the brand’s history, BMW has produced a lot of breathtaking bikes. We have also written some articles about vintage BMW’s motorcycles here on, especially the retro 1937 BMW R7 motorcycle.

Throughout the brand’s history, BMW has produced a lot of breathtaking bikes. We have also written some articles about vintage BMW’s motorcycles here on, especially the retro 1937 BMW R7 motorcycle. Continuing our retro BMW’s bikes category, here’s is the vintage 1960 BMW R69S motorcycle.

The BMW R69S is an exceptionally attractive representation of the “swinging” generation of BMW motorcycles, so named because of their swingarm suspension on both the front and rear wheels. Highly praised as a totally reliable, comfortable tourer, the R69S model also earned accolades as the fastest “boxer” in the market, reaching a top speed of 109 mph.

The R69S, R69US, and R69 are motorcycles, fitted with 594 cc boxer twin engines, that were manufactured by BMW in Munich, Germany.

From 1955 to 1969, 15,347 of these 594 cc shaft-drive, opposed twin motorcycles were built. The 35 hp (26 kW) R69 was produced from 1955 to 1960, the 42 hp (31 kW) R69S was produced from 1960 to 1969, and the 42 hp R69US was produced from 1968 to 1969.

These models were designed as relatively high powered, high compression sport bikes, although the Earles forks R69 and R69S came with sidecar lugs installed on the frames. These lugs were deleted from the telescopic fork “US” models. The low compression 30 hp (22 kW) R60/2, produced from 1955 to 1960, was designed primarily for sidecar use, though it was popularly used as a solo bike, along with the 30 hp R60US, which was produced between 1968 and 1969.

In June 1962, Cycle World Magazine published a review of the R69S. Its initial and concluding paragraphs read:

Ask any motorcyclist what he considers to be the two-wheeled equivalent of the Rolls-Royce and you will almost certainly be told “BMW”. That answer will not be too far wrong, either, except that the products coming from the Bayerische Motoren Werke incorporate a good deal more in advanced engineering features than the famous English car. Actually, the BMW motorcycle is more like the Mercedes than a Rolls-Royce: conservative in many respects, but quite advanced nonetheless. In any case, the BMW has attributes that make it unique, and it has acquired a reputation that makes it a “prestige” motorcycle — even among people who ordinarily don’t give two wheelers a second glance…

Whatever the BMW’s merits in a contest of speed, it is still the smoothest, best finished, quietest and cleanest motorcycle it has ever been our pleasure to ride. To be honest, we think that anyone who would worry much over its performance-potential is a bit of a booby. The R69S is fast enough to handle any encounter, and it has attributes that are, in touring, infinitely more valuable than mere speed. All things considered, if we were planning a two-wheel style vacation/tour, the BMW would have to be our choice of mount.

There are a lot of BMW R69S’s on the road nowadays. While finding an R69S model on the market can be difficult, many do change hands each year, regularly exceeding about $20,000 for a well-maintained model. [via TheCoolist; images via Andrea Cavazzuti]


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