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

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine
Motorcycle Classics Magazine Featuring the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!