BMW Motorrad has been producing motorcycles for nearly a century, and as a company, is well aware of its heritage. This legacy includes some of the most iconic motorcycles ever to grace the motorcycle world, including the R /6, R 100 and the legendary Gelande/Strasse – no, not the GS-series as you know it. As BMW prepares to celebrate its cetenarary, its Motorrad division has prepared a homage to the R 5, which made its first appearance 80 years ago, in 1935.

Called the BMW R 5 Hommage, this re-imagining and re-engineering of a classic BMW Motorrad racing motorcycle of the 1930s is meant to evoke the essence of motorcycling, combining a part of BMW’s history with the modern motorcycling world. Beginning with an original 500 cc two-cylinder boxer engine – provided by Motorrad enthusiast Sebastian Gutsch – this race-damaged engine became the basis of a hand-crafted custom motorcycle.

Siblings Ronny and Benny Noren of Swedish custom shop Unique Custom Cycles were drafted in by the BMW Motorrad design team to bring its vision of the quintessential R 5 motorcycle to life. Starting with the engine, the boxer-twin – which put out 24 hp at 5,500 rpm back in 1935 – was given valve covers and a breastplate machined from billet aluminium.


Working from sketches provided by the BMW Motorrad Design Team, components such as the frame, fuel tank and rear fender were hand-crafted by the Norens, giving the R 5 a truly custom touch. The lines of the R 5 Hommage combine the oval-tubes of the frame together with the tear-drop fuel tank on a line down to the rear hub.

While the original R 5 was a converted race-bike, with a steeper steering head angle for its then new design telescopic fork, the R 5 Hommage has its fork kicked-out a little, giving the bike more of a custom stance. The hand-built rear fender hugs the rear wheel closely, giving the bike a very ‘tight’ look.

Other design touches include fork upper covers that blend into the headlight – something that is common in the cruiser world today, but was considered to be aerodynamic innovation 80 years ago. The brake and clutch levers are mounted on the handle-bar ends, using modern components.

The engine was not neglected during the build, with the addition of a specially designed supercharger to bring power output up to contemporary levels. This would mean, based on current middle-weight motorcycle output, around 45 hp or so.


A single brake-disc adorns the spoked front wheel, while the rear hub incorporates wheel spokes and activates the rear suspension via a “Soft-tail” type swing-arm. To round-off the minimalist looks of the BMW Motorrad R 5 Hommage, there are no instruments, and the custom bike is finished in a traditional Motorrad gloss black with white pinstripes, harking back to the days when you could have a motorcycle any colour you wanted, provided it was black.

The hand-stitched embossed leather seat completes the look of the R 5 Hommage, with the glass-bead blasted aluminium engine cases evoking the the lustre of the original R 5. This particular bike will probably never go on sale, and is likely to find a permanent home in the BMW museum in Munich.