1954 BMW R 51/3

While manufacturing planes during World War I as BFW, BMW and its partners started manufacturing motorcycle engines and then motorcycles in 1923, due to the Allied ban on the production of planes in Germany. BMW is the oldest German motorcycle brand, in existence since 1920s.

Known for its shaft-drive system instead of chain drive, the brand continued to produce the pre-war models with slight modifications after World War II. Of the models in our Museum, the R 24 was followed by the second, 30.5 cu.in. engine

post-war model, the R 51/2. Introduced in 1938, the R 51 was produced as the R 51/2 with rear suspensioned first post-war model with no new plans or drawings in 1950, after the Allies took control of West Germany and allowed the manufacture of large engines. Marketed only for a year and in very small numbers, the R 51/2 was updated to the R 51/3 and introduced in February 1951 at the Amsterdam Show alongside its 36.6 cu.in. sister R 67.

The most significant modification for the R 51/3 was the use of light alloy rims instead of steel in 1954. When the fishtail mufflers were replaced by cigar-shaped mufflers, the engine acquired a very different look to the R 51. It was manufactured from 1951 to 1954 and sales reached 18,420 numbers.

1954 BMW R 51/3

  • Make BMW
  • Model R 51/3
  • Model / Body Number Touring Sport
  • Body Style Classic Bike + Sidecar
  • Year 1954
  • Origin Germany
  • Production Total 18,420
  • Rider Capacity 1 (+1 sidecar)


  • Engine 252/1, Flat Twin (Boxer), OHV, Gasoline, 4 stroke, 30.1 cu.inch, 24 bhp, 5800 rpm
  • Bore x Stroke 2.68 x 2.68 inch
  • Transmission Manual, 4-speed, single-plate, dry, foot shift
  • Top Speed 84 mph (with sidecar 59 mph)
  • Fuel System 2 carburetors
  • Primary Drive Kick starter, shaft
  • Final Drive Shaft
  • Frame 251/4, steel, twin-loop, tubular
  • Suspension Front Telescopic fork, double-action shock absorber
    Rear Telescopic fork, swingarm, twin shock absorber
  • Electrical System 6 Volt, 45/60 Watt, Noris, magneto, ignition
  • Brakes 2-wheels drum
  • Wheelbase 55.1 inch
  • Overall Length 83.8 inch
  • Overall Width 31.1 inch
  • Saddle Height 38.7 inch
  • Ground Clearance 4.2 inch
  • Shipping Weight 419 lbs (with sidecar 705 lbs)
  • Tires Front, rear: 3.50 x 19