Chasing Perfection: 1937 BMW R5

This BMW R5 is refined and ready to roll thanks to help from the vintage motorcycle community.

| July/August 2016

1937 BMW R5
494cc air-cooled OHV horizontally opposed flat twin, 68mm x 68mm bore and stroke, 6.7:1 compression ratio, 24hp @ 5,500rpm
Top Speed:
84mph (approx.)
4-speed, shaft final drive
Dual downtube steel cradle frame/55in (1,400mm)
Telescopic hydraulic forks front, rigid rear
3.5 x 19in front and rear
Weight (dry):
364lb (165kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG:
4gal (15ltr)/40-50mpg (est.)
Price then/now:

Pursuing perfection when restoring a motorcycle is a bit like waltzing with a porcupine. It’s a prickly proposition, and if any of the details are incorrect there will be barbs of criticism from the experts. But BMW enthusiast Philip Richter isn’t one to shy away from a dance, and he’s consulted those in the know to bring his 1937 BMW R5 as close to 100 percent perfect as possible.

Case in point: In the photographs accompanying this story, Philip’s R5 looks refined and ready to roll. It is, but the machine had earlier been restored with incorrect fenders. Philip says he recently “paid through the nose” for an exact set of reproduction R5 fenders, hand-formed by a German panel beater. At the time of writing, the R5 was in the workshop with installation of the new fenders progressing apace.

He’s going one step further, ensuring all fasteners, springs and other metal parts are up to spec in terms of finish, whether it’s black oxide, cadmium or chrome plated or natural aluminum. In fact, pre-World War II BMW specialists and enthusiasts including Mike Dunn of Vintage German Motorcycles and collector Brian Schneider have all spent plenty of time helping Philip get things just right.

It’s the people

Ride 'Em, Don't Hide 'Em Getaway

Classic Motorcycle Touring and Events.

The latest classic motorcycle events and tours.


The sound and the fury: celebrate the machines that changed the world!

Motorcycle Classics JulAug 16Motorcycle Classics is America's premier magazine for collectors and enthusiasts, dreamers and restorers, newcomers and life long motorheads who love the sound and the beauty of classic bikes. Every issue  delivers exciting and evocative articles and photographs of the most brilliant, unusual and popular motorcycles ever made!

Save Even More Money with our RALLY-RATE plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our RALLY-RATE automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $4.95 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $24.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $29.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265