1936 BMW R12 – Bike Find of the Day

This is the pre-war BMW model you generally see in the old WWII newsreels, and it was a seriously advanced piece of iron for it’s time.

Both beautiful and featuring and engine as solid as an anvil, this BMW represented the state-of-the-art for its era.

Due to the reliability of its design, the US Army had Harley Davidson make copies. Not many still exist because the initial run of the design wasn’t finished until after the war.

Some people believe this model was the first bike to feature telescopic front forks, but Nimbus rolled out their version of that front end a year earlier.

1936 BMW R12


Start of Production1936
End of Production1942
Number Produced:36,000 (single and twin carb versions)

Internal DesignationM 56 S 6 or 212
Motor TypeFour Stroke two cylinder flat twin
Bore x Stroke78 x 78 mm (3.07 x 3.07 in)
Displacement745 cc
Maximum Power20hp at 4,000 rpm
Compression Ratio5.2 :1
Carburetor System2 x Amal 6/406/407
Engine Lubricating SystemForced Feed Lubrication
Oil PumpGear Pump
ClutchDouble plate dry clutch
Number of Gears4
Gear ShiftManual
Gearbox Ratios3.18/ 2.06 / 1.42 / 1.09
Rear Wheel Ratio1 :4.07 (1 : 4.75 with sidecar)
Bevel/ Crownwheel14 /57 teeth (12 / 57 with sidecar)
Electrical System
Ignition SystemMagneto or battery ignition
GeneratorBosch D 245 RS 108
Spark PlugsBosch M 175 T1 or Bosch W 175 T1
FramePressed steel twin loop frame
Front SuspensionTelescopic fork
Rear SuspensionRigid
3 x 19
Front Tire3.5 x 19
Rear Tire3.5 x 19
Front BrakesDrum brake 200 mm / 7.87 in diameter
Rear BrakeDrum brake 200 mm / 7.87 in diameter
Length x Width x Height2100x 900 x 940 mm (82.67 x 35.43 x 37.00 in)
Wheel Base1380mm / 54.33 in
Fuel Tank Capacity14 litres / 3.07 gal / 3.69 gal US
Weight with full tank185 kg approx / 407 lb
Permitted Weight Limit300 kg / 660 lb
Fuel Consumption4 – 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres approx / 70 – 62 mpg / 58 – 52 mpg US
Oil Consumption1 – 2 litres per 1,000 kilometres
Top Speed120  kph / 74 mph

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