Singularly Perfect: 1953 BMW R25/2

Better known for twins, the BMW R25/2 with its 250cc single carried the company to prosperity.


| Janurary/February 2013



1953 BMW R25/2

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

1953 BMW R25/2
Claimed power:
12hp @ 5,800rpm
Top speed: 65mph
Engine: 247cc air-cooled OHV vertical single, 68mm x 68mm bore and stroke, 6.5:1 compression ratio
Weight (wet): 312lb (142kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 3.17gal (12ltr)/75-85mpg
Price then/now: $680 (est.)/$3,500-$6,500

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.”

kent perryman
4/4/2013 8:39:24 PM

In your article "Singularly Perfect: 1953 BMW R25/2" , Greg Williams states that BMW's first single was a R4 built in 1932. BMW's first single was an R39 (250cc) ohv built from 1925-1927 followed by the R2 (200 cc OHV) built from 1931-1936. Kent M. Perryman, Ph.D.


gerald estes iii
4/4/2013 1:01:29 PM

thnx greg, ive always found it harder to write up somebody elses project - especially motorcycle ones since im addicted to them. read a finely detailed history with informative specific procedures. the image from the front of the headlight...outstanding workmanship tony!! thanks fellas






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