Never doubt the popularity of BMW motorcycles. Whenever we feature a BMW custom on the blog, or even a stock standard BMW model on our Facebook page, the response is excellent. I am sure this 1960 BMW R50 bobber will also attract loads of attention.


Motorcycle sales in the 1950s crashed. Many manufacturers which had survived the war, went out of business. In 1954 BMW produced 30 000 motorcycles. In 1957 production was just over 5000 motorcycles. The R50 model was launched in 1955 with a 26hp 500cc boxer motor. The low volumes produced means that these motorcycles are very collectable and valuable today.


We first saw this motorcycle on the BMW display at the 1000 Bike Show. Lets face it, unless you are a classic BMW enthusiast, an array of pristine black ’50s, ’60s and ’70s standard BMW models, although impressive, is more of the same. This bobber may seem sacrilegious in the company of the perfectly preserved original BMW models but this rebel stole the show. Make no mistake, José who owns and built this R50 took no shortcuts with this build. The motorcycle had a complete mechanical and cosmetic overhaul and could have been rebuilt as an original example. José, however, decided that there are enough original R50s around and built his own unique version.


This bike looks so radically different from an original version, it is hard to imagine that it is still actually an original R50. Besides removing the mudguards all the parts are still exactly where the factory put them. The frame, Earles front forks, headlight, tank, seat and plunger rear suspension are all standard. Even the guard over the headlight is a period accessory.The original wheels have had their hub covers removed to reveal the internal pattern. The exhaust pipes and handle bars are about the only non-standard items on this bobber. The whole mean and military character of this BMW bobber is created by the use of motocross tyres and that awesome colour. The whole motorcycle has been finished using gun coating, not paint. Don’t be surprised to see gun coating becoming more common than matt black on future custom builds.


José’s battle-ready beauty proves that building something unique does not always require an angle grinder and a welder. Vision and imagination are however always essential tools in the customiser’s toolbox.