1964 BMW R69S


2-cyl. 594cc/42hp

#1 Concours condition#1 Concours
#2 Excellent condition#2 Excellent
#3 Good condition#3 Good


#4 Fair condition#4 Fair
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Model overview

Model description

By the mid-1960s, BMW motorcycles had gained the reputation as a premium alternative to the bikes from Harley-Davidson and Triumph. This was achieved in no small part thanks to the efforts of Butler & Smith, the New Jersey-based importer, which engaged in vigorous promotion. Introduced in 1955, the BMW R69 gained special luster in 1959 after John Penton’s record coast-to-coast ride in 52 hours and 11 minutes. Thanks to savvy marketing and Penton’s iron backside, more than 85 percent of R69 bikes were being sold in the United States.

Unlike many of their competitors, R69s were smooth, quiet, well-finished, and leak-free motorcycles. The R69S debuted in 1960, and its air-cooled, overhead-valve, horizontally opposed 594cc twin produced 42hp at 7,000 rpm thanks to a 72 x 73 mm bore and stroke, a 9.5:1 compression ratio and two 26mm Bing carburetors that managed fuel delivery. A pair of fins on the valve cover contributed just a little extra cooling effect. Top speed was 109 mph.

Improved from the R69, the close-ratio four-speed transmission still operated slowly. The R69S included sidecar-mounting lugs on the twin-loop steel-tube frame, suggesting its heritage as a wartime and postwar-era transportation solution. Hydraulic dampers were included to quell the high-speed behavior of the Earles-type leading link front suspension. Solemn and stately, the 1964 BMW R69S was nonetheless handsome in black with white striping and piping. Long, gleaming exhausts added a delicate contrast to the powertrain’s mass and odd shape. Efficiency, comfort, and durability if not outright beauty were the attributes of the R69S. Historian Darwin Holmstrom writes that it gained the reputation as “the definitive touring bike”, and showed that customers would pay extra for premium features and finishes.

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