This is a 1952 BMW R25 #232752, one of probably 25,000 of the R25 series built after the war and one of the few to have survived. Recent inquiries through BMW in Germany has informed us that this bike was actually manufactured and delivered to the dealer in Nuremberg in February of 1951. This particular bike has a fascinating story that begins in 1952 in Germany with the original owner, and to the present day, because of his grandson’s labor of love.
In 1952, Hans and his wife purchased this 1952 BMW R25 motorcycle in Nuremberg, Germany and began an extended holiday traveling on the bike through Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France and collecting memories for a lifetime. Among the images above, is their hand-drawn map and some photographs taken along the trip.
In 1960, Hans shipped the motorcycle to the United States and it became his only mode of transportation even during the winter months until 1962 when it was totally dismantled, crated, and stored in his garage as a future restoration project. Like most things that take time and money, the project was put off and the crates were shuffled around the garage for years.
Hans’s grandson, Bill, grew up looking at the photographs and hearing the stories of his grandparent’s extended trip on the motorcycle. He knew that the memories his grandparents had of their time together traveling on that motorcycle were very dear to them. So after 52 years of sitting in crates in the garage, Bill decided that as a tribute to his grandfather, he would pick up the torch and have the bike restored as close to the original 1952 condition as he could.
Bill contacted us with his restoration plan and so we headed to Canada on a cold February morning to take a look at what was packed in those crates. We found Bill and his wife Lizan to be very cordial and they insisted that we sit with them and enjoy a delicious lunch of venison sausage before heading to the garage to unpack the crates.
We began to spread the parts out on the floor to see just what type of a project we were getting into. Looking at an assortment of random parts scattered across the floor, Bill and Lizan were sure that we were going to throw up our hands up and leave. But because our restoration projects usually start with a pile of random parts, we weren’t intimidated at all. We were however, curious, because we had not restored a BMW R25.
The R25 was only built between 1950 and 1951 but this was one of only 10,000 R25s that was assembled in 1952 and only a few have survived. It wasn’t unusual at that time for BMW to use assembly line parts to finish off one model year and then start another model year with the older parts.
Before we knew it, Bill dropped off the parts and the work of sorting, cataloging, and researching began. In order to evaluate what was there, what wasn’t, and what was usable, we needed an exploded parts views. The single cylinder bikes differed from the twins and the R25 was a breed unto itself. It was the beginning of the single cylinder motorcycles that BMW made and because it was the first, it was in many ways a very crude machine.
I knew we needed some technical help with this one, so I reached out to Richard and Vech at Benchmarkworks in Mississippi. Benchmarkworks is probably the most well- known restorers of BMW motorcycles in the United States. And because they happen to have an R25 in their collection they freely passed on a huge amount of technical knowledge and support during this project.
In September Hans and Bill visited the shop to see the progress we had made on the R25. Hans went on with stories and adventures he and his wife Willamina, or Mina as he affectionately referred to her, had experienced on that wonderful machine. The stories got more personal and soon we were all in a very emotional state. Hans’ affection for the bike and the time he and Mina spent with it came out during our exchange and we were all effected by that.
This restoration was one of our most difficult because simple things that we had not experienced on the twins were omnipresent with the single cylinder R25. Parts were ordered and reordered from Germany as we assembled and disassembled, worked and reworked until we got it right.
In November 2015, the R25 was restored and ready for delivery. Bill started the bike with a single kick and drove it into the trailer for its journey home, back to Hans, looking just the way it had in looked back in 1952 in the showroom in Nuremberg, Germany when he originally purchased it, kicked it over, and began his long and loving relationship with it.
- Engine, transmission and final drive were dismantled
- Tank cleaned
- Cases and internal parts media blasted
- Wheels were laced and trued on new rims and new tires installed
- New seals and bearing replaced in engine, final drive and transmission
- Cylinder bored and new 2nd over piston installed
- Head reconditioned with new guides and valves
- Frame and center stand zinc primed and powder coated
- Chrome parts re-chromed or replaced
- New paint and pinstripe on tank and fenders
- All new studs in each unit
- New headlight bucket and wiring harness installed
- All new stainless steel hardware