Dubbed a "flashbike" when it was introduced, the BMW R65LS featured an out-of-this-world design on a sport/touring bike

  • BMW's R65LS looks ready to slice the wind, but its performance doesn't quite measure up
    BMW's R65LS looks ready to slice the wind, but its performance doesn't quite measure up.
  • Yamaha XJ650
    Yamaha XJ650
  • Kawasaki GPz550
    Kawasaki GPz550

  • BMW's R65LS looks ready to slice the wind, but its performance doesn't quite measure up
  • Yamaha XJ650
  • Kawasaki GPz550


Years produced: 1983-1985
Total production: 6,389
Claimed power: 50hp
Top speed: 108mph
Engine type: Horizontally-opposed twin
Weight (dry): 189kg (417lb)
Price then: $3995
Price now: $2,500-$5,500
MPG: 45-60

In 1983, George Lucas released "Return of the Jedi," the third movie in his epic space fantasy, Star Wars. And no motorcyclist who's seen it can forget the mach-speed hover bike duel through the redwood landscape on the forest planet of Endor. 

That same year saw the release of the BMW R65LS — a sleek, sporty version of the standard R65. With its out-of-this-world design, you have to wonder if LS designer Hans Muth and Lucas weren't drinking from the same punch bowl. BMW hired Muth, who had already put his stamp on the original Suzuki Katana, to create an edgy, affordable sport/touring bike for a market that was increasingly being won over by an innovative Japan. With its sharp angles and sporting disposition, Muth's creation sparked a definitive "love it" or "hate it" reaction — and it still does today. 

At 649.6ccs and with a compression ratio of 8.2:1, the LS houses the same engine as the standard R65 —a short-stroke version of BMW's legendary air-cooled, four-stroke opposed twin. With a bore of 82mm and a stroke of only 61.5mm (versus 70.6mm in other boxers), the result is a narrower engine with a relatively larger bore allowing bigger valves. 

The LS also shares the standard 65's frame, suspension and shaft drive. In fact, the only functional difference between the LS and the standard R65 are dual disc brakes with Brembo calipers on the front wheel, as opposed to a single disc on the standard, which blesses the LS with excellent braking power. In fact, what puts the LS at arms length from the standard R65 and other motorcycles in its category are exclusive stylistic features. 

Among color options was a brilliant, gleaming henna red set off by white cast-alloy mag-type wheels and black powder-coated pipes. Like biting on a gold nugget for authenticity, it's hard not to want to flick the wheels to make certain they are truly alloy. The eye doesn't linger long on the color scheme, though, before floating to the odd, angular nosecone. The wedge enveloping the headlight provides a perfect, tangible insight to the form-over-function thought process behind the LS's design. 

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