BMW R60/6 Introduction

All R series motorcycles are powered by BMW's iconic flat twin engine. This engine layout was first used by BMW in 1923 and it is still in use today in a modified form.

Engines up to 1995 were all air cooled (air heads). From 1995 the engine changed to have 4 valves per cylinder and had oil cooled cylinders (oil heads). Later still water cooling and fuel injection was introduced.


The BMW R100RS

The classic /5, /6 and /7 bikes were produced between 1969 and 1985. The bikes were very similar but with gradual improvements being made and appearances being updated over the years. Over time, drum brakes gave way to discs, engine capacities increased, points were replaced with electronic ignition and later on full fairings were introduced.

The table and images below sum up the key differences between these classic models


BMW R50/5


BMW R60/6


The chart below shows a year-by-year comparison of the air cooled BMW models from 1970 to 1984.

Click for a readable PDF file

BMW 247 engine cutaway.

R series bikes from 1969 to 1995 were powered by BMW's type 247 engine.

This engine was different from its predecessor for having the camshaft mounted below the crank rather than above. This raised the cylinders slightly to give better cornering clearance, whilst still maintaining a low centre of gravity for the overall bike.


Model opinions and comments.
Air cooled BMW twins are held in high regard, there not being a bad bike amongst them; but below are some general comments and opinions gathered from road testers and owners, about some of the more favoured bikes in the range.
The fastest performing of the /5 range whilst still being true to the original drawing board design. A 750cc flat twin BMW was therefore arguably the quintessential BMW and considered by enthusiasts to be a Zenith for the manufacturer.

For this reason the 75/5 can be regarded among the best of the air cooled twins, a demonstration of BMW's design intent and still a fine touring bike today, despite its age.

The Original BMW. R75/5
Later models with increased engine capacities pushed the chassis and engine housing beyond the original design, requiring larger bearing surfaces, increased oil capacities, stronger casings etc.... Although many of these bikes had improved performance over the original R75/5 they were viewed by some as just derivatives of the original DNA.

In 1974 BMW introduced the R90S to the /6 model range. Primarily designed to take on the Japanese sports bike industry it was a fast, capable and good looking bike.

These days the most valued bike in the range and able to provide unbeatable levels of comfort and performance.

Top speed of the R90S was 124mph and 60mph took less than 5 seconds.

Arguably the best looking BMW twin with performance and handling to embarrass any Japanese superbike of the era.
A race tuned R90S developed by Butler & Smith won the 1976 AMA Daytona Superbike race, adding racing heritage to the R90S' credentials.

The 750cc engine was used up until 1979 and although there were faster bikes in BMW's line up, this mid-sized unit was often cited as the best compromise between power and smoothness.

Being a /7 model this bike benefited from the latest improvements developed from the larger bikes and the result was a fine performing bike with an under stressed engine, able to provide years of reliable biking. 

The BMW R75/7 Claimed by some traditionalists to be the best BMW twin ever.
A late 750 BMW is a good choice for anyone seeking longterm ownership of a classic BMW twin.

Some viewed the 1000c bikes as rough running, but when combined with the Pininfarina designed RS fairing, it all made sense. The extra torque produced a touring machine like no one had seen before. When it was launched there were faster bikes in the same category but nothing you that could criuse at 100mph all day without breaking a sweat.

Although it couldn't keep up with the super bikes from Japan the R100RS soon found its niche as the world's first GT bike; it was subsequently adopted by police forces across Europe.

R100RS. A fast comfortable sports touring motorcycle
The Faring on the RS (and RT) models set them apart from the rest and turned the humble R100 into a legendary tourer; the fairings set a benchmark in motorcycle aerodynamics that is still used today.

Between 1979 and '84 BMW produced some boxer twins with a different engine. Originally conceived in 450cc (27hp) form to fall inside an insurance class in Germany, it was also offered with a 650cc motor. The all new engine had a shorter stroke and lighter flywheel giving a faster throttle response. The chassis was also shorter and the consequential bike was a sweet handling, free revving machine; in a smaller, less intimidating package.

These much ignored bikes from the air cooled boxer range are disliked by many, but those that have ridden them rate the R65 highly for it's handling and performance.

R65LS. The unloved Boxer BMW
In 1981 the R65LS was launched. This gave the bike twin front discs, a larger rear drum wider tyres and a quirky bikini fairing. Questionable styling, but undoubtedly a capable motorcycle.

My /6 BMW was purchased with 80,000 miles on the clock in part exchange for my much loved Honda S90. The Honda had been fun and reliable but was lost on the open road. The larger BMW also opened up the possibility of adding a sidecar.

Being a '76 model it possessed some small improvements over the earlier /6 range including deeper oil sump, larger camshaft diameter, strengthened gearbox housing and improved/lightened valve gear.

It also came with Krauser panniers and was finished in Avus Black with white pinstripes.

1976 R60/6


Old BMWs Motorcycles are popular classics so there is good support with numerous forums to help new owners, good spares service and an active club with tool lending scheme.

The UK BMW club forum can be found here :

There is also a very comprehensive list of BMW bikes, including specifications, paint codes and photos at :

Duane's BMW site have many good maintenance tips and documents : check the "/5 and later models" section.

There are also a huge number of technical articles on this website by Snowbum :


To find out more about all the Boxer BMW's this book by Ian Falloon is a good read.

It covers bikes from the 1923 R32 to the 2004 R1200GS, including the well respected road bikes and also the adventure models, cruisers, racers and tourers

The book covers the models chronologically. There are lots of colour photographs of all the bikes in the boxer range and good technical write ups on the differences between models.

ISBN-10: 1859609635
ISBN-13: 978-1859609637