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1938 BMW R-7 MOTORCYCLE - ART DECO TREASURE - 2

Art Deco treasure

After over seventy years languishing in a box the R 7 has been restored to its former glory. Although the motorcycle, manufactured in 1934, was only ever a prototype and never went into production it is one of the most important, innovative and visually stunning motorcycles ever produced.

In BMW's internal model designation it was referred to as R 205 and in some postwar publications - including those from BMW itself - the bike is referred to as a prototype R17 or R 5. In fact the R 7 was always a distinct model that was the work of motorcycle engineer, Alfred Böning.

Böning produced the R 7 to showcase both the design and engineering capabilities of BMW with the aim of turning it into a production model. It was a radical departure
from accepted motorcycle design of the period, having enclosed bodywork, a pressed steel bridge frame and for the first time, telescopic front forks.

The 1930s was a time of engagement with the fabulous and expressive world of Art
Deco. The integrated design of the R 7, with its extravagantly valanced mudguards, clean flowing lines and extensive use of chrome and steel, perfectly encapsulated this era. It was a motorcycle like no other that had preceded it or, in many ways, has been produced since. Motorcycles had developed from the humble bicycle and that is what, at that time, they still very much resembled.

Böning wanted to challenge that concept with the R 7. Gone was the old saddle fuel tank; in fact it was now hidden under the expansive bodywork - as is the case in many modern motorcycles. The chrome top cover housed the oil-pressure gauge and on the right hand side the 'H pattern', hand gear change. Hand gear change was common at that time but no one had made this form of cog swapping so neat and car like. It was an elegant and functional solution to changing gears.

The rider sat on the sprung saddle and gripped the side covers (that opened to reveal the electrics) with his knees, with his feet housed and protected on the alloy footboards. The rotating disk digital speedo housed in the headlight section again was functional and different; following the style used in some prestige cars of the era. This was a motorcycle that had it been produced would have been aimed at the premium end of the market. A gentleman's express.

The motor and the lower covers, along with the smooth rocker covers formed a visually clean surface tapering down toward the non-rotating rear axle. This ran parallel to the upper bodywork and flowed into the rear mudguard and was highlighted by the uniquely shaped exhaust. It was just one of many examples of form and function in perfect synergy. Even the taillight is sculptured in shape and has the word 'Stop' illuminated in the lens.

The visual presence of the bike and the sleek and beautiful casting of the motor were enhanced by the lack of the usual frame tubing. The motor hung in position from the pressed steel bridge frame - something that was completely different to other motorcycles but again similar in concept to modern machines.
 

1938 BMW R-7 MOTORCYCLE - ART DECO TREASURE - 2






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