Easy Being Green: 1968 BMW R69US

For motorcyclists who really want to put some miles on a classic, 1960s and 1970s BMWs are hard to beat, including this 1968 BMW R69US.


1968 BMW R69US

Engine: 594cc air-cooled opposed twin, 72mm x 73mm bore and stroke, 9.5:1 compression ratio, 42hp @ 7,000rpm
Top speed: 103mph (period report)
Carburetion: Twin 26mm Bings
Transmission: 4-speed, right foot shift, shaft final drive
Electrics: 6v, coil and breaker points ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Double loop cradle frame/56.18in (1,427mm)
Suspension: Telescopic forks front w/hydraulic damping, dual shocks rear
Brakes: 7.8in TLS drum front, 7.8in drum rear
Tires: 3.5 x 18in front, 4 x 18in rear
Weight (curb): 439lb (199.5kg)
Seat height: 29.1in (740mm)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 6.5gal/40-45mpg (est.)

Most people who own vintage bikes put, at most, a couple hundred miles on them a year. George Canavan has put over 6,000 miles on this 1968 R69US, and he continues to ride it on a regular basis. “The ride is rewarding — it’s very, very smooth, and reasonably quiet.”

Before BMW started building sport bikes in the late 1970s, most North Americans who bought the German-built twins did so because they wanted to go from Seattle to Pensacola on two wheels, with maybe a little side trip to the Yucatan. In an era when motorcycles were expected to make noise, break down and leak oil, BMWs had a reputation for comfort, reliability and clean operation.


Few BMWs were imported to America before the late 1940s. Interest was sparked by American GIs, who were impressed by the sophisticated motorcycles of the German armies of World War II. Some bikes were liberated by the Allies and made it over to this side of the Atlantic. After the war, the Munich-based company did not have permission to manufacture motorcycles until 1947, and when motorcycle production did get the green light, it took some time to get up to speed, since all the blueprints were in East Germany. Finally, production restarted in 1948 with a reverse-engineered single. Manufacture of BMW’s signature flat twins resumed in 1950.

11/9/2020 6:23:29 AM

Very nice bike. I own this exact same model, and same year except in black. I purchased it in 1970 when I was 17 years old. I still own the bike today, unfortunately it is not running. PS I notice you stated the top speed was 103 mph, when I purchased this motorcycle I was 130 pounds and I had mine on numerous occasions over 115 mph.

2/6/2020 1:40:08 PM

Very nice write up,have never even seen one up close. Certainly now on my wish list.Well Done, R.Tillery

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 $5.00 and get 6 issues of Motorcycle Classics for only $29.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $34.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter