BMW motorcycles are often referred to as the “Rolls Royce” of the motorcycle world and for good reasoning. Since their inception they have packed progressive technology into timeless and elegant design like few other manufacturers have been able to. Early on in their history BMW adopted the horizontally opposed flat engine design that has today become one of their more iconic features. The design allotted the cylinders extensive amounts of cooling since they were hung out in the clean air, as well as provided a uniquely smooth running condition when on the road. BMW’s early adaptation of shaft drive technology has also become a pinnacle component of their offerings, providing the rider with a clean and relatively maintenance free transmission of power when compared to the common chain drive technique. While BMW was quite progressive in some fields of technology, they lagged behind in certain others, mainly in the category of suspension.
The first BMW’s to adopt a classic rear swing arm design appeared in January 1955 at the Brussels motorcycle show. The 494 cc R50 and 594cc R69 not only had new frames that incorporated a swing arm design but also displayed the all new “Earles fork” style front end. This new fork design provided more lateral rigidity while also resisting diving under heavy braking, both very important especially when attaching a sidecar to the machine. The range topping R69 was designed as a relatively high powered, higher compression, “gentleman’s cruiser”, which was capable of speeds up to 102 mph. The R69 also featured surprisingly good brakes for the time period, utilizing a large rear drum brake and a twin-leading-shoe front drum brake. The R69 would stay in production from 1955 through 1960 when it was replaced by the R69S and the R69US for the American market. In total, approximately 2,819 R69 examples were produced for worldwide consumption, making this a very rare machine in the grand scheme of things. The most beautiful thing about a classic BMW, other than their timeless and elegant silhouettes, is that thanks to the progressive technology utilized in their production they remain extremely useable in todays modern world. They make ample power to keep up with modern traffic and their hearty brakes provide excellent stopping power for the era of production.
The example on offer here is a numbers matching 1959 BMW R69, showing chassis number 654222 and engine number 654222. It is finished in the classic BMW motorcycle colors of Black with white pinstriping. This particular R69 was held in long term ownership in the Northeast portion of the US before being acquired in 2000 by marque specialist and then Authorized BMW Motorcycle dealership, Country Rode Motorwerks, located in Fairport, New York. When it arrived to Country Rode, this R69 was in need of some refreshing but they decided to do a thorough and comprehensive restoration on the machine. Receipts for the restoration show that nothing was left untouched, with a total bill of $16,446.66 spent on making this a truly immaculate example. Once the impeccably thorough restoration was completed, the R69 was offered for sale and purchased by the current owner and consignor in October of 2004. Throughout his ownership, he has kept the motorcycle in top running condition, with service receipts and documentation dating back to his purchase. It has been ridden sparingly, showing just over 3,000 kilometers (2,000 miles) since the time of restoration. This bike is equipped with a few interesting features that increase the ride-ability of it including a Denfield solo saddle, a Schorsch Meier 6.5 gallon fuel tank with locking storage compartment, chrome headlight guard, a rear mounted luggage rack, Hella brand bar-end turn signals. A left side bar-end mirror, as well as a stainless steel side stand, both by Kirk Demadaler. In addition to the fitted features, this R69 comes with a few additional parts including a hinged pillion pad, an unused BMW three-point engine guard, and a new Denfield passenger seat.
Cosmetically this R69 remains in outstanding condition. The black paint is smooth and consistent throughout the entirety of the machine and the white pinstriping has been expertly applied. There is some very light swirling in the black paint in some of the higher traffic areas when viewed under direct light, but not enough to take away from the overall fantastic presentation of this machine. The only minor issue that requires note is a small spot on the upper right portion of the tank where the paint has been touched, likely from the handlebars making a bit of contact with the tank during final sorting (as they do not currently touch). Polished surfaces and chrome are clean and bright with minimal spotting or corrosion to speak of. There is some minor scratching on the handle bars as well as some very light swirling in the chrome on both the bars as well as some of the other higher contact brightwork.
The inside of the Schorsch Meier tank appears to have been recoated during restoration and remains in excellent condition, ensuring clean fuel delivery. The engine and fuel system appear clean and tidy with no outward signs of any issues and we have not noticed any leaking from the case or cylinders while this bike has been sitting at our Philadelphia location. It appears that all electronics work as they should, including the bar end turn signals. The single gauge mounted in the headlight bucket appears to read and function as it should. The factory air pump is located in the correct location on the right side of the bike. It should be noted that it was brought to our attention that this R69 is missing its ignition retard lever, however replacements can be sourced.
Mechanically this machine is in top condition, thanks in large part to its fairly recent and thorough restoration accompanied by fastidious ownership since then. More recently, the current owner and consignor has changed the gear oil and swapped in a new six-volt battery in March of 2018 as well as doing a standard oil change in the last 150 miles. Complete service and maintenance records for this R69 are available in the “View Documents” tab located above and cold start test ride video can be viewed below. The combination of a truly exquisite restoration and loving ownership has left this R69 in fantastic condition. It starts with minimal effort and feels solid and responsive out on the road. Despite its classic looks, this BMW rides surprisingly modern. This R69 currently needs nothing and would make for the perfect entry into the world of classic postwar BMW motorcycles while also being an excellent addition to any current BMW motorcycle collection.
Included with the sale of this R69 are a tool kit, BMW shop rag, owner’s and service manuals, assorted spare parts, and records dating back to 2000.