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A Straightforward Guide to BMW Motorcycles for Sale in UK

Established in 1916, Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) first produced airplane engines, but added motorcycle engines to its manufacturing line in 1921. It introduced its first motorcycle, the R32, two years later. Its bikes are available throughout Europe, including the BMW R90 6 for sale in UK.

Naming conventions of BMW motorcycles

As it nears its 100th year making BMW motorcycles, the company understood they needed a way to organise their catalog. BMW developed an intricate alphanumeric naming system to differentiate between motorcycles. The first letter corresponds to the engine type. The number corresponds to the engine’s displacement expressed in cubic centimetres. The letters following the number corresponds to the bike’s purpose. Not all bikes have the trailing letter. The letters before the numbers stand for:

  • C - parallel twin-cylinder engines with a variable clutch
  • HP - high-performance four-stroke four-cylinder
  • S - four-cylinder sport motor
  • R - opposed twin-cylinder
  • G - single cylinder
  • F - parallel twin-cylinder
  • K - three or more cylinders

The letters after the numbers stand for the bike types and include A for Adventure, S for Sport or Strasse (street), G for Gelande (terrain), GT for sport touring, RR for road racing, RT for road touring, L for luxury, T for touring, GTL for luxury sport touring, B for bagger, R for road, X for extreme, and GSA for grand sport adventure. That means that BMW R65 you saw for sale is an opposed twin-cylinder bike with a 65-cubic centimetre engine. The BMW K1100, though, is at least a three-cylinder bike with an 1,100-cubic centimetre engine.

BMW and EMW

You may see some older motorcycles that carry the BMW emblem which were built in East Germany. You will also find motorcycles that use an EMW emblem very similar to the BMW one. Before World War II, BMW produced motorcycles throughout what was then unified Germany. Post-World War II, Germany was divided into East Germany and West Germany. The plans and blueprints for the original BMW motorcycles remained in what became East Germany, so the plant in West Germany had to re-engineer everything from scratch in 1947. Until 1952, both plants used the BMW logo – the blue-and-white roundel. In a 1952 trademark lawsuit, the courts determined the company must differentiate between the two. Thereafter, the motorcycles crafted at the East Germany plant were branded Eisenacher Motoren Werke (EMW) with a red-and-white roundel. Pre-World War II bikes are very rare and quite expensive, as are the ones crafted as BMWs at the East German plant. Although Germany re-unified, both brands continue to exist. This means that vintage BMW motorcycles for sale in the UK may instead feature an EMW emblem.

What BMW motorcycles can you find for sale on eBay?

Typically, you will find bikes from 2010 to 2018 for sale. This includes the BMW R80, the BMW R65, and the F650 Funduro. You can also obtain larger bikes like the R1200RT and R1150R Rockster or smaller bikes like the BMW R75. Although not as frequently available, some sellers do list older bikes, such as those from the 1980s and early 2000s.

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