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BMW R 5 Hommage: Tribute to an Icon


In 1936, BMW presented the BMW R 5 to the international public. Inspired by the 500 1935cc factory racing bike, the R 5 pioneered with a newly designed lightweight frame. It was an exciting new technological development that influenced motorcycle construction until the 50s.

In its debut, the R5 was not only an engineering masterpiece, the clarity of its lines and the elegance of its proportions also made it stand out from the rest. That makes the R5 one of the most aesthetically appealing motorcycles in BMW history to this day.

To celebrate its 80th anniversary, BMW Motorrad paid tribute to this icon at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2016 with a special model: the BMW R 5 Hommage.

“Its fascinating and unique beauty is based on its simplicity,” explained Ola Stenegard, Director of Vehicle Design and Creative Director of Heritage BMW Motorrad. “In today's world, it is very easy to make it complicated, but it is very difficult to make it simple. Our goal was to bring that clean and elegant appeal into the modern era, creating a respectful combination of old school and the latest technology with high performance. "

The BMW R 5 Hommage shows how well they harmonize the world of historic motorcycles with the custom world. In the center is an original 500cc two-cylinder engine from motorcycle enthusiast Sebastian Gutsch. This boxer engine was damaged in a race and was the starting point for creating the BMW R 5 Hommage.

As befits a custom bike, the bike has been handcrafted from scratch. Ronny and Benny Noren were asked to prepare the parts to the specifications of the BMW Motorrad design team - the two brothers have been making custom parts for custom bikes for more than 30 years.


The R4's two-cylinder, 5-stroke boxer engine was a completely new design for its time and delivered 24hp at 5.500rpm. The valves were driven by two crankshafts controlled by a chain. Thanks to the also new frame design, made with electrically welded oval tubes, the lightweight R 5 reached a top speed of 135 km / h, making it almost as fast as the R 17 with 33 hp and 750 cc. For the tribute bike, many components, such as the valve cover and engine housing, were made from aluminum which gave the bike's historic heart a modern look.

Two icons of the custom motorcycle scene, Ronny and Benny Noren, were the perfect partners for the BMW R 5 Hommage project to provide a suitable exterior appearance for its historic heart and to make the missing parts for the engine and transmission. The rest of the parts were shaped in the workshop of the Noren brothers based on drawings by the BMW Motorrad design team. All parts such as the frame, tank and rear bumper are unique, handcrafted components. Most importantly, the new parts clearly reflect the original purist character of the R 5.

The result is impressive: even from afar, the proportions reflect the timeless beauty of a reduction to the essential - in the spirit of the R 5 - and carry that idea into the modern era. The frame and fuel tank mimic the elegant teardrop shape of the original, albeit in a more modern interpretation. The upper part of the steering, for example, is more inclined, to give the R 5 Hommage a greater presence and expressive poise, and at the same time underline the fact that it belongs to the world of custom motorcycles. As for the frame, the focus there was on the oval tubes that were an important feature in the original. Together, the frame and tank draw a continuous line from the steering to the rear wheel, giving the side view a touch of elegance. The handcrafted steel rear bumper continues the minimalist design.


One feature that especially defined the look of the original R5 was the telescopic fork - a first for the time - in which the fork covers had been aerodynamically modeled at the height of the headlight. The BMW R 5 Hommage takes that element back and interprets it in a modern style based on the tailor-made fork. The upper part of the forks recalls the “wrinkle” in the housing and valve covers in an interpretation of the typical “R 5 rib”. Handlebar-activated brake and clutch levers also mix the past with the latest technology - these custom-made components combine the look of historic inverted levers with the adjustment options of modern controls.

The heart of the BMW R 5 rests in the minimalist proportions of the tribute bike. The outstanding feature of the engine is the specially developed tube, with which the BMW R 5 Hommage considerably increases the delivery of the original 500cc 26hp engine to achieve a modern level of precision. A completely new exhaust made of stainless steel ensures that this increased power is adequately reflected in your sound.

Other modern accents are the new rear suspension, modern piston brake system, and elaborate front and rear wheels. The rear combines the brake system and the spoke rim in a single unit - a detailed reflection of the minimalist concept that the BMW R 5 Hommage represents.


The BMW R 5 Hommage is presented in a classic style in terms of color. The basic theme is the typical BMW - black with white lines, but interpreted in a contemporary style. Additionally, opaque surfaces, so-called smoked styling on the fuel tank and rear bumper allow the steel underneath to partially show through. Along with the white lines, the black finish of the tank and bumper is shown in perfect custom style thanks to the metallic finish and the cape effect. The aluminum engine and gearbox housings provide the perfect environment for polished aluminum parts such as the valve cover with its “R 5 wrinkle”. The smooth luster of the polished aluminum is especially reminiscent of the original BMW R 5. The joint image is completed by the hand-stitched leather of the high-quality saddle.

The BMW R 5 Hommage undoubtedly brings the essence of motorcycling into the modern era, combining the world of historic motorcycle design with the modern world of custom motorcycles.



Automundo is the blog about news from the automotive industry, motorsport and the culture of the region. Director: Diego Durruty.

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