BMW reveal supercharged R5 Hommage concept

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BMW have just revealed this stunning heritage-inspired bike with a supercharged, air-cooled 500cc boxer twin yet surrounded in modern parts as a tribute to the 1936 BMW R5 model.

The bike is named the R5 Hommage and has just been unveiled this evening at the annual prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como in northern Italy and like the three bikes BMW has shown over the past three years it’s officially nothing but a concept bike at this stage.

At the heart of the R5 Hommage is an original air-cooled 500cc boxer twin which has been completely rebuilt after sustaining serious damage while it was being raced. Custom building brothers Ronny and Benny Noren rebuilt the motor according to the plans laid down by the BMW Design Team in Munich.

Many of the engine parts were milled from solid billet and they help to give the old engine a more contemporary look with a new frame and fuel tank designed to be a modern twist on the R5 original versions. The cylinderhead covers and the front section of the crankcase are all milled and have been designed with familiar styling to that of the R5 original.

This may just be a concept bike officially but BMW has gone to an awful lot of effort and trouble; even as far as developing a bespoke supercharger for the 500cc twin, new forks that replicate those on the original R5 but have modern performance. The brake and clutch levers are mounted on the outside ends of the handlebars, modern brakes have been fitted along with an up-to-date rear suspension system.

Head of design at BMW Motorrad, Edgar Heinrich said: “The R5 was a masterpiece at its debut. The clarity of its lines and the elegance of the proportions gave the machine a distinct profile and set it apart from the competing field of motorcycles. This is one of the most beautiful motorcycles in the history of BMW.”

BMW’s Head of Vehicle Design and Creative Director Heritage BMW Motorrad Ola Stenegard added: “It is easy to design a motorcycle with a lot of complexity. But it’s very complex to design simplicity into a machine. We have transported the clarity and the aesthetic appeal of the R5 to the present day. This is a respectful combination of old school and high-tech with a dash of high performance.”

In previous years BMW launched the Concept 90 which went on to become the R nineT production model, the Concept Roadster which was a preview of the new R1200R and last year the Concept 101 was shown and we now know that model will be on sale in 2017 as MCN discovered patent drawings for that bike just last week.

Each year BMW have stressed these are nothing more than concept bikes. And each year the production version has followed not that long afterwards. While the chances of a supercharged 500cc air-cooled boxer twin like that used in the R5 Hommage are highly unlikely, MCN’s sources suggest something based on this idea may well spawn from the 1170cc air/oil-cooled motor used in the current R nineT range.

BMW Group is celebrating 100 years since the founding of the company and the R5 Hommage is the BMW Motorrad part of the celebrations that are planned to last all year and all around the world. This new concept bike marks 80 years since the original R5 was launched in 1936; at the time it was a pioneering motorcycle and it influenced bike design into the 1950s.

See the full R5 Hommage gallery

Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter