1994 – 2004 BMW Motorcycle History

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Filed Under (BMW) by admin on 17-11-2010

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1994 brought many changes to BMW, most obviously by the introduction of the “R259″ series twins and the elimination of the old standby “Airhead” twins that had been BMW’s trademark for seven decades. While it is interesting to look at all the technologies introduced during the 1994 to 2004 time block, it is also exciting to look into what was going on as far as changes in BMW more esoteric than measurable. In this author’s opinion there were unspoken changes in BMW’s mindset and philosophy. BMW had forged it’s reputation for long lasting, simple machines built to the highest standards and quality; aimed at a dwindling, older (OK, Jeff, more mature) market of enthusiastic but eccentric riders. They built motorcycles that were easy for the owners to maintain and modify to fit their specific wants. BMW had always built their bikes their way; often it seemed like they did so in spite of what the younger and upwardly mobile riders were looking for. By 1994, the airhead was simply not a sellable motorcycle; the buying market was younger and wanted performance in line with what the Japanese products offered at much lower prices. The K 75/100 series that were so far ahead of their time in 1984 when they were introduced were also showing their age. No doubt, BMW knew this was coming many years before the new “Oil Head” was introduced. They knew that the riding community had reduced its mean age substantially. The younger riders had money to spend on a bike that had to be BMW, yet had to be totally more modern both in performance and in perception than what BMW had been selling. Thus, the R259 was born. The Birth of the R259 Twins The new BMW corporate mindset, if you will, was no longer concerned with selling motorcycles that would be handed down from one generation to the next, nor was BMW concerned about ease of maintenance with standard hand tools. Although the new bikes were still able to outlast the riders, the concern for building units to last a quarter-million miles was not so much in the forefront of the design. The new models would have to be powerful, fast, handle better than anything on the road; they would need to offer a standard of technology that the Japanese would never build. They should be complex pieces of rolling art. Most obvious, though, was that they would build a product aimed at an entirely new market of riders who would likely not be interested in maintaining the bikes themselves or really understanding the nuances of design. The new customers BMW was looking for were serious riders who were more interested in the fun and excitement of riding than they were in savoring the history of the older designs

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