1966 BMW R50/2
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In 1966, you could buy the Honda CB450, a.k.a. the Black Bomber, for about $1,000. Honda’s first “big bike” had a DOHC engine that made roughly 1hp per liter and sent the bike screaming past the 100-mph mark. Or you could spend $1,138 for a 1966 BMW R50/2. Its overhead-valve, horizontally opposed 494cc twin produced 26hp at 5,800 rpm, and when the rider flattened out over the tank the top speed was 87 mph. More than 2,500 discerning motorcycle buyers chose the BMW’s mellowness and extra cost over the Honda’s intensity.
With a bore and stroke of 68 x 68mm and a low 7.5:1 compression ratio, the boxer twin was fed by a pair of inclined 24mm Bing carburetors. Unitized construction mated the engine to the four-speed gearbox. The R50/2 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 10.3 seconds, which was about as quick as the average six-cylinder car of the day. Like its R60/2 and R69S siblings, it had a six-volt, 60-watt Bosch electrical system with magneto, as electric start was still a few years away for BMWs. Tank capacity was 4.5 gallons, but an oversize 6.5-gallon tank was available.
The R50/2 had all the brand’s characteristic attributes: twin-loop steel frame, cylinder heads poking out into the wind, shaft drive, link-type front and rear suspensions with hydraulic dampers, and a conservative stateliness of appearance. Black with white stripes prevailed as the standard paint scheme, but buyers could be special-order any color used for BMW automobiles.