100 Years of BMW: New Bikes and an Exhibition
In 1923, a little company called BMW Motorrad built its first motorcycle. Now, 100 years later, the company is still going strong—and that’s cause for celebration.
On May 12, BMW opened a new exhibition at the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany. The displays highlight BMW’s centennial journey, alongside its plans for the future.
Although the company highlighted its electric options, its not abandoning the combustion engine. Case in point, BMW unveiled two new motorcycles at the exhibition opening—the R12 nineT and the R 18 Roctane.
BMW R 12 nineT
Since BMW applied for a utility patent on the R 12 abbreviation in the U.S. last year, media around the world speculated about a scaled-down version of the R 18 luxury cruiser with a 1200cc engine. At the Munich museum, the secret was revealed.
BMW unveiled the R 12 nineT, a classic roadster in the best style of the Heritage series with an air-cooled boxer engine. From a distance, the bike on the stage appeared to be very similar to the current production model.
On a closer inspection, though, it is clear that considerable development effort has gone into preparing the engine and the bike for the future.
No technical data was provided at the presentation and it will not be available until fall. The new R 12 nineT is expected to be in dealerships in the spring of 2024.
However, some things were evident. To begin with, the bike has a completely new frame.
On the previous model, the chassis was taken from the R 1200 GS, along with other components such as the airbox. This modular system caused the ergonomics of the current nineT to be a little strange due to the long fuel tank.
On the new model, everything is different. A new frame with a specific airbox and a shorter fuel tank allows for a more front-wheel-oriented riding position.
The gearbox, swingarm, wheels, and brakes appear to have been taken from the previous model, while the engine, with an approximate displacement of 1200cc, has undergone extensive modifications around the cylinder head to ensure the boxer's survival even under stricter emissions standards.
In addition, there is the new intake system with new throttle bodies and a multitude of new sensors, as well as a direct air supply to the cylinder head. The engine remains air/oil-cooled and the redesigned exhaust system still features the connecting pipe in front of the engine block.
The new R 12 nineT is therefore more than just an update of the existing model. With the increased torque due to the larger displacement and improved ergonomics, it should continue the success story of the Heritage series.
BMW R 18 Roctane
The new R 18 Roctane joins the R 18, R 18 Classic, R 18 B, and R 18 Transcontinental as the fifth member of the R 18 family. The 1802cc twin-cylinder boxer engine—the largest boxer BMW has ever built—with a maximum power of 91 hp at 4,750 rpm and 116 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm, remains unchanged.
The front fork with 4.7 inches of travel now guides a 21-inch diameter front wheel, while at the rear, the cantilever suspension continues to offer 3.5 inches of excursion for the 18-inch wheel. The two panniers in the accessory range, painted in the color of the bike, hold 27 liters each.
For longer trips, the windshield can be mounted and equipped with additional headlights and suspended turn signals. The new R 18 Roctane is painted black as standard. Mineral Gray Metallic and Manhattan Metallic Matte are available as optional.
The three ride modes—Rain, Road, and Rock—as well as automatic stability control (ASC) and electronic cruise control come as standard. Reverse assist, hill start control, adaptive cornering lights, and heated grips are available as options.
A new feature is the round headlamp with metal housing, into which the classic round instrumentation cluster is integrated.
The R 18 Roctane will be available at dealers on July 29, 2023, at a base price of $18,695.
100 Years of BMW Motorrad Exhibition
The "100 Years of BMW Motorrad" exhibition opened its doors at the BMW Museum in Munich on May 12. For around a year, visitors will have the opportunity to experience an exciting journey through 100 years of BMW Motorrad history.
For this purpose, more than 55 original BMW motorcycles from 10 decades are displayed on a themed course with 15 dedicated areas. In addition, exciting lines of development are drawn from the past to the present by means of tanks, seats, lights, rider helmets, frames, and smaller technical details.
Special aspects—such as motorsports, e-mobility, research and development, and advertising—are given just as much space as the fascinating world experienced by two globetrotters on their BMW motorcycles.
The concept of the anniversary exhibition is based on motorcycle pairings—a current vehicle is juxtaposed with a historical one. This results in many interesting pairings that showcase innovation, supersports, sidecars, full fairings, and urban mobility.
The most valuable pieces of the exhibition can be found on Platform 2, dedicated to racing. Here, two victorious machines from the Isle of Man TT stand at attention.
Schorsch Meier was successful in this challenging road race in 1939 on his BMW R 255 Kompressor, and 75 years later, Michael Dunlop crossed the finish line in first place on a BMW S 1000 RR.
The BMW Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. German time. Tickets sell for 10 euros.