a The BMW R26 Motorcycle

The BMW R26 Motorcycle - 1955

BMW R26 Motorcycle 1955
Photo: BMW R26 Instruction Manual (1955); CLICK IMAGE to magnify

The R26 was the followon to the R24 (1949), BMW's first postwar motorcycle. R26 Specifications: Single cylinder, 245cc, 15 horsepower, 4-stroke, overhead valves. Bing 1/25/46 throttle slide curburetor. 4-speed gear box, positive-stop foot control. Front and rear internal shoe brakes. Drive shaft (not chain) on the port side. Curb weight: 158 Kg. Maximum load: 167 Kg. Maximum speed, single passenger: about 128 Km/h. Fuel consumption: 3.5 liters / 100 Km at 90 Km/h (70 mpg at 55 mph). Acceleration: 0-60 in about an hour.

  1. Ignition and lighting switch.
  2. Speedometer.
  3. Ignition warning light.
  4. Neutral indicator.
  5. Front brake lever.
  6. Twist grip throttle.
  7. Steering damper.
  8. Clutch lever.
  9. Headlight dip switch.
  10. Horn button.
  11. Steering lock.
  1. Petrol tap.
  2. Kickstarter pedal.
  3. Battery box lock (*).
  4. Gear shift pedal.
  5. Air filter.
  6. Rear brake pedal.
*The battery served no discernable
purpose; I didn't have one.
Gear shift pedal operation.
Neutral is between 1st and 2nd.

Frank da Cruz on BMW R26 in 1967
Photo: Tim Lee (CLICK to enlarge).
Me on my 1955 R26 in 1967, when I lived at 170 West 109th Street*, NYC (but I think this picture was taken on 114th Street). Note the bent front-brake lever, a hazard of parking on the street, sideways between two cars — cars getting into or out of spaces always knock the bike over and break the levers, headlight, etc. Parking lengthwise, on the other hand, is a provocation to space-crazed car owners, and likely to get your bike turned around sideways and/or pushed over anyway. In the winter, I just drove it up the steps into my apartment to avoid parking headaches. Prior to the R26, I had owned a 1949 Volkswagen (small divided rear window, flapping turn signals, and non-synchromesh manual transmission requiring double-clutching to downshift; I paid $50 for it and drove it all over Europe while in the Army until it died one day on the Autobahn). Tim Lee, who took the photo, was one of my kids in Project Double Discovery at Columbia, summer 1967

President-to-be Obama lived 2 doors down from my place on 109th Street fourteen years later at 142 West 109th Street; see story.

Index ] [ History of BMW Motorcycles  ] [ Messerschmitt KR ]

Frankfurt Photos / Frank da Cruz / fdc@columbia.edu / 5 May 2004, updated 20 Jan 2009, 5 Oct 2016, 10 August 2021.