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 Production 1936
End of Production 1942
Number Produced: 36,000 (single and twin carb versions)

Internal Designation M 56 S 6 or 212
Motor Type Four Stroke two cylinder flat twin
Bore x Stroke 78 x 78 mm (3.07 x 3.07 in)
Displacement 745 cc
Maximum Power 20hp at 4,000 rpm
Compression Ratio 5.2 :1
Valves SV
Carburetor System 2 x Amal 6/406/407
Engine Lubricating System Forced Feed Lubrication
Oil Pump Gear Pump
Clutch Double plate dry clutch
Number of Gears 4
Gear Shift Manual
Gearbox Ratios 3.18/ 2.06 / 1.42 / 1.09
Rear Wheel Ratio 1 :4.07 (1 : 4.75 with sidecar)
Bevel/ Crownwheel 14 /57 teeth (12 / 57 with sidecar)
Electrical System
Ignition System Magneto or battery ignition
Generator Bosch D 245 RS 108
Spark Plugs Bosch M 175 T1 or Bosch W 175 T1
Designation F66
Frame Pressed steel twin loop frame
Front Suspension Telescopic fork
Rear Suspension Rigid
3 x 19
Front Tire 3.5 x 19
Rear Tire 3.5 x 19
Front Brakes Drum brake 200 mm / 7.87 in diameter
Rear Brake Drum brake 200 mm / 7.87 in diameter
Length x Width x Height 2100x 900 x 940 mm (82.67 x 35.43 x 37.00 in)
Wheel Base 1380mm / 54.33 in
Fuel Tank Capacity 14 litres / 3.07 gal / 3.69 gal US
Weight with full tank 185 kg approx / 407 lb
Permitted Weight Limit 300 kg / 660 lb
Fuel Consumption 4 – 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres approx / 70 – 62 mpg / 58 – 52 mpg US
Oil Consumption 1 – 2 litres per 1,000 kilometres
Top Speed 120  kph / 74 mph

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