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Jackman
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Do the model numbers and letters have any meaning? Trying make sense of this does R60/6 decode to 600 cc, 6 speed transmission ? and what about the R?

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1975 Kawasaki S3 current rider
1974 Kawasaki H1 project in the workd

schrader7032
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San Antonio, TX
Joined: 10/27/2006
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They make sense to some

They make sense to some degree. The "R" basically stands for Rad or short for Motorrad, ie, motorcycle. You're right about the 60...it does represent a nominal 600cc engine. The /6 is meaningful as sort of a series identifier. Preceding the /6 was the /5, produced for the 1970-1973 model years. /6 came along, with upgrades, over the 1974-1976 period. /7 after that, and depending on which side of the fence you're on, was only produced for 1977 and 1978. BMW abandoned the / designation after that.

The 1970-1973 bikes were all 4-speeds and after that, to the end of Airhead production for the 1995 models, all bikes were 5-speeds.

Before the 1970 bikes, there was commonally know as the /2 series, however there was no /3 or /4 in between. If you go back in time, enough, you will find other /2 bikes along with /3. Typically, if a model came out and their was significant changes to the engine or other features, it might warrant a new number after the /, or they might just call it a new R number. It can be confusing.

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Kurt in S.A.
'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

Jackman
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Thanks, that helps make sense

Thanks, that helps make sense of things , just getting started here in the BMW world.. Appreciate the info!

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1975 Kawasaki S3 current rider
1974 Kawasaki H1 project in the workd

Darryl.Richman
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Surf City, USA (Santa Cruz, CA)
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BMW Model Naming Explained

The model names begin with a letter that indicates variations in the drivetrain:

  • R: From Rad, short for Motorrad, or motorcycle, in German. Up through 1967, this included singles as well as all the Boxer twin models through the present.
  • K: Originally from the designation Kompakt drive, used to describe the laydown 3 and 4 cylinder bikes introduced in the mid 1980s, and now for the inline 4s and 6s.
  • F: Originally used to describe the line of water cooled singles introduced in the 1990s, but now applied exclusively to the vertical twins.
  • G: The new designation for singles.
  • C: Scooters.
  • S: BMW's inline 4 superbikes.

After that, there are a series of numbers and optionally letters and even possibly a slash (/). The meanings of these designations has changed over time and there are, maybe, 4 or 5 model naming eras for BMW.

  • 1923-1941 (but really, up to 1936): The numbers represent generation numbers. 3x is the first generation (eg, R32, R37); 4x is the second generation; R5x is 3rd generation 500cc, R6x is 3rd generation 750cc; R11 and R16 are the 4th generation and R12 and R17 are the last of these.
  • 1936-1969: The first digit gives the nominal engine displacement. So, R5, R51, etc. are all 500cc. Any slash numbers, eg, /2 or /3, indicate updates to the original model.
  • 1970-1993: The number gives the displacement of the engine, with the last 0 dropped. Eg, R60 = 600cc. Slash numbers from 1970-1980 gives a generation number: /5, /6 or /7. After 1980, the slash numbers were dropped. Suffix letters, like S, RS, RT, GS, etc., indicate model variations.
  • 1994-present: The number gives the full cc displacement, eg R1100RS = 1100cc; but note that BMW marketing has recently decided to use numbers that don't match, like the F650 twins and the C600 scooter.

I tried to make this as clear as I could...

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VBMWMO Webmaster,--Darryl Richman
http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

schrader7032
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San Antonio, TX
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Darryl - I didn't know that

Darryl -

I didn't know that about the 3x, 4x, 5x numbering...that's interesting...might help to keep things in time perspective. Kewl...

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Kurt in S.A.
'78 R100/7 '69 R69S '52 R25/2

khittner
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Joined: 02/15/2012
Posts: 371
Then there are the letters

Then there are the letters that follow the numbers (suffix letters) that designate different models of airhead bikes of a particular displacement.

A bike that has no letter(s) after the numbers is typically an unfaired bike of whatever displacement (an "R100", or an "R100/7" is a plain-jane 1000cc airhead twin; an R80 or an R75/7 is a plain-jane 800cc or 750cc airhead twin). The suffix letters most often distinguish how much fairing a model has, but there are other equipment variations (carbs, brakes, luggage, etc.) that also follow from letter designations. The suffix letters usually mean the following:

"S"= small, bubble handlebar fairing, lower handlebars, a seat cowing, some higher performance features such as triple disc brakes, larger carbs, and different final drive ratios. The only airhead factory models with this suffix were the '74-'76 R90S, and the '77-'84 R100S. Sometimes, owners who've added an S-fairing and bars to a bike that was not originally built with this equipment, will call their bikes "S" models---if you see someone selling an "R75S", it's one of these that's been added onto after its manufacture. Sometimes owners of bikes with larger fairings will downsize to the smaller "S" fairing, and call their modified bikes "S" models.

"RS" (R100RS) = 1000cc bikes with the full RS frame-mounted fairing, manufactured from late '76 (a '77 model) through '84, and again from '88-'92.

"RT" (R80RT and R100RT) = 800cc and 1000cc bikes with the full RT touring fairing, manufactured in one displacement or the other in all years from '79 through '95.

"CS" (R100CS) = 1000cc bikes with "S" fairings, handlebars, etc., but lacking some other bits of "S" model equipment (i.e.: no rear disc brakes on CS models). CS ostensibly stood for "Classic Sport" in the early '80s and was a bit of an homage to the earlier R90S.

"R" (R100R) = 1000cc bikes made late in the airhead runs that were un-faired, but had frames, fuel tanks, Paralever rear suspensions, and cross-spoke tubeless wheels of the later "GS" models.

"GS" (R80G/S and R100GS) = 800cc and 1000cc airhead dual sport models made from '81-'95.

"ST" (R80ST) = a "street-ified" R80G/S, made in '83 and '84.

"LS" (R65LS) = an '82-'84 R65 with low bars, a small fairing/instrument nacelle, seat cowl, etc.

Most of these suffix letters carry over to current oilhead models, so it's sort of simple to get what the design intent of the model is (naked, sporty, touring, dual sport) from the suffix applied to it . . . usually. Hope this helps more than it confuses.

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Konrad

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