This big metal hunk was a beast of a machine capable of cruising for miles on the open road. That was its claim to fame and that’s what brought this classic here to stay.
A Long and Glorious Line
BMW’s R-series line is one of the longest-running motorcycle lines in history and the BMW R-90S gets to claim membership in that group. Almost equally as far from the first in the line as it is from the last in the line, the R-90S nonetheless has come to be known as an influential part of the family.
First designed in 1973, production of this motorcycle only lasted until 1976, at which point it was taken off the assembly line to be replaced by newer models.
The 1973 models are quite similar to the 1976 models and each year in between. Only minor edits and alterations were made from year to year, in keeping with traditional BMW Motorrad style. While the specifics of the design may have varied, the general engine design stayed the same.
The original model had a four-stroke, two-cylinder, horizontally-opposed Boxer engine with an air-cooled coolant system. The displacement was set at just about 898cc and the OHV improvements compared to earlier years made this bike a real powerhouse of performance.
Timeline of Versions with Changes
Though there was only one generation of the R-90S, a few minor alterations were made from year to year.
- BMW R-90S (1973-1974)
The first BMW R-90Ss to role off the line exhibited 67 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, a 9.5:1 compression ratio, and a max speed of just about 120 miles per hour. These superbikes had much more power under their belts than many of the previous R-series flat-twins.
- BMW R-90S (1975)
One of the few alterations made to the R-90S model was an improvement to the crankshaft. Engineers reinforced the crankshaft and redesigned the bearings in order to prevent bending and breaking under increased weight.
- BMW R-90S (1976)
The edits made to the R-90S model in 1976 were the first sign of the end of the end. Engineers used the R-90S models as somewhat of a testing grounds for new and improved engine casings that were planned to be used on the R-100, soon to come out of production and hit the showroom floor.
The R-90S in the News
As recently as August 12, 2019, collectors were marveling over a restored R-90S that was being offered for almost $19,000. As of August 14th, the motorcycle hasn’t been sold; however, given the precedent set by other models, there seems to be no price to high for a determined collector.
Unfortunately, while the other members of the R-series line have been featured in countless films and TV shows, the R-90S has not a single credit to its name. Whether this is because of the relatively short period of time it occupied production lines or something else, who’s to say?
One of the most popular social media groups for discussions between fans of the R-90S is Facebook’s BMW R90S Owners group. As of August 14, 2019, this group has more than 1,000 members.
The R-90S – A Forgotten Classic
While collectors and auto-aficionados still hold the R-90S near and dear to their hearts, more casual motorcycle enthusiasts seem to have forgotten about the R-90S. Fortunately, however, models of this fantastic superbike still live to tell their story.