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.

| March/April 2020

bmw-canted

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.



bmw-tachometer

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.

RTillery
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




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