The BMW R60 /5

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BMW R60/5
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Moto Guzzi V7 Ambassador

BMW R60 /5
Years produced: 1970-1973
Claimed power: 46hp @ 6,600rpm
Top speed: 102mph
Engine type: 599cc air-cooled OHV opposed twin
Transmission: 4-speed 
Weight: 440lb (wet)
MPG: 45-50
Price then: $1,548 (1970)
Price now: $1,500-$3,500

It seems incredible now, but in the mid-1960s, BMW came close to abandoning motorcycle production completely. Motorcycles were suddenly becoming a losing proposition, so BMW decided to focus on developing its more profitable automobile business, a move that in time revived the company’s finances: It also meant that the BMW motorcycle range got somewhat neglected.

The then-contemporary BMW R60/2 was badly outclassed in power and handling by Italian, British and Japanese bikes. The sportier BMW R69S was available with lighter telescopic forks and a few more horses, but it was still pretty sluggish. Both bikes retained such anachronisms as a DC generator, 6-volt electrics and magneto ignition. If BMW was to continue building motorcycles, a radical change was needed. Fortunately, what the company came up became a classic BMW motorcycle – the BMW R60 /5.

New designer, new designs for the BMW R60 /5

In 1964, BMW made the decision to stay in the motorcycle business, and lured Hans-Günther von der Marwitz away from Porsche. It was his job to design the new bikes, which would be built at Spandau, near Berlin, instead of Munich. The Slash 5 series (R50/5, R60/5 and R75/5 of 500, 600 and 750cc) was announced for the 1970 season, and represented a revolution in BMW motorcycle design. Though the flat-twin BMW boxer engine layout remained, just about everything else was new.

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