Singularly Perfect: 1953 BMW R25/2
Better known for twins, the BMW R25/2 with its 250cc single carried the company to prosperity.
In 2007, Tony Hessner placed a request on his company’s internal classified ads system, simply stating he was looking to purchase an old BMW.
Photo By Jeff Barger
If there were just one word Tony Hessner could use to describe himself, that word would be “meticulous.” One look at his 1953 BMW R25/2 supports that notion: Better than when it first left the factory, the machine is a rolling piece of Teutonic art. Surprisingly, the BMW is also his first complete motorcycle project.
Tony’s no mechanical newbie, however. During high school and college he worked at bicycle shops, and even managed the Schwinn store in Waukesha, Wis. He particularly enjoyed building his own custom racing bikes, using exotic Italian frames and choice components, from cranksets to derailleurs to hubs. “I’d build up a 10- or 12-speed bicycle to my specifications, including building the wheels myself,” Tony says, adding, “Even then I was, and continue to be, very, very meticulous.”
Tony owned and rode a few motorcycles immediately after graduating from college, but lost interest following an accident aboard his 1986 Honda CB700SC Nighthawk in 1989. However, when he and his father toured Germany in 2004, Hessner Sr. found himself admiring the motorcycles they saw. Back home, the recently retired Hessner Sr. bought a new Honda Shadow.
“That rekindled my interest in motorcycles,” Tony says, “but, I wasn’t going to be looking for a modern machine.” Indeed, the classic lines of a vintage BMW with its black paint and white, hand-laid pinstripes are what Tony appreciated. “Plus, they seemed pretty elementary in design and I thought they’d be easy to work on,” Tony confides.
The road to the BMW R25/2
His path of BMW discovery started with a friend’s R75/5. “The rudimentary controls and the kickstarter, that all appealed to me,” Tony says. “But the R75/5 is newer and more common. That’s when I discovered its predecessor, the ‘Slash Two’ BMWs.”
In 2007, Tony placed a request on his company’s internal classified ads system, simply stating he was looking to purchase an old BMW. Someone responded, saying there was a BMW languishing in a brother’s garage. Hessner made arrangements and met the son of the elderly owner, who at one time maintained a drinking establishment. Turns out a patron had traded a 1953 BMW R25/2 to settle a debt, but there really wasn’t much other background provided.
With only 11,150 miles on the odometer it was a low-mileage example, but one that had seen better days. It had suffered a piston seizure and was taken off the road in 1974. “It looked like the bike had been laid down on its right-hand side,” Tony says, “and the throttle might have been wide open when the engine seized.” In a box were the cylinder, cylinder head and damaged piston, but other than an errant front mudguard stay the BMW was complete.
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