• Frame # 4950164
  • Engine # 4950164
  • Matching Numbers And Showing Just 11,410 Miles From New
  • An Extremely Original Example With Just 2 Owners From New
  • Freshly Serviced And Ready To Be Enjoyed
  • Complete With Saddle Bags, Tools, Manuals, Air Pump, Books, And Period Accessories
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The Overview

During the mid-1970s, BMW was building engaging and dynamic road cars. Models like the 3.0-liter E9 and the first-generation 3-series (E21) were setting benchmarks for performance, comfort, and practicality. BMW’s motorcycle division, however, lagged seriously behind its Japanese and Italian competition from Honda, Kawasaki, and Ducati. The 500cc BMW R50/2 from the 1960s boasted strong build quality but only leisurely performance, though the later R69S and R75/5 models did add a dose of sporting character. As America became more intoxicated by the Japanese hot bikes hitting the market in the late 1970s, it became clear that BMW’s motorcycle division needed a shot in the arm, and fast.

Enter Bob Lutz, one of the most legendary automotive chiefs of the modern era. A former Marine fighter pilot, Lutz joined BMW as its VP of US sales, and he immediately began work on a flagship “sport touring” motorcycle that would boast superbike performance wrapped in a stunning, modern design. To perfect the latter, Lutz hired industrial designer Hans Muth, who conceived a modern re-take on the classic café racer: a two-tone black/silver paint scheme, a space-age-looking front windscreen, and striking chrome exhaust pipes that stood out in early drawings. After teaming up with BMW engineer Hans-Gunther von der Marwitz, who added a 75-hp, 898cc boxer-twin engine, twin front disc brakes, and a 5-speed gearbox, the BMW R/90S was born for the 1974 model year. Right off the bat, its performance was nothing short of astonishing. Contemporary magazines clocked the R/90S at a 13-second quarter-mile on a way to a top speed of 123 mph. That performance didn’t come cheaply with the R/90S retailing for over $3,400 in 1974, 30-40% more than other European sportbikes of the era. BMW could pull off the premium though, as the R/90S was a jack-of-all-trades. Not only could it be a comfortable cruiser when riders needed it and a leading-edge sports bike when they wanted it, but it boasted plenty of storage space, well-designed riding ergonomics, and impressive long-term reliability. The R/90S combined the weekend sports bike and the daily commuter into one elegant package, coaxing buyers to splurge on the “bike to end all bikes.” Importantly, the R/90S set the benchmark for a “sport-tourer” motorcycle, DNA that BMW has weaved into the touring bikes rolling off of assembly lines today.

This particular R/90S, frame #49501640, and engine #49501640 is a matching numbers, highly original time capsule example showing just 11,410 original miles. Believed to be two owners from new and wearing its original factory finishes, this particular R/90S is a rarity as many of these bikes were ridden hard and saw many long-mile road trips. The bike retains most of its original components, stickers, marking, etc. Currently, it is set up with a pair of unique period Bosch horns, which are an excellent custom touch, with the original horn included in the sale. There are some various paint chips, patina, and imperfections scattered throughout the body of this motorcycle which one would expect to find with an example displaying this kind of originality. There are a few paint chips on the front fairing, as well as the leading edge front fender which contains a 2-inch scratch. The rider’s right side of the gas tank has a small area of scratching right where the leg would make contact with the lower edge of the tank and there is a small paint chip on the lower edge of the left side of the tank. There is also some paint scuffing on the plastic trim piece that runs beneath the seat on the rider’s right side. The seat is in good condition, tight with good foam and the only area of note is a scuff mark on the rear right portion of the seating surface. The left side Krauser bag mount appears to have been repaired at some point as there are some weld marks but the repair appears sound and solid. When the seat is lifted up, there is a small area where it has rubbed the paint off of the portion of the tank which tucks under it. 

The original owner, a BMW motorcycle enthusiast out of Minnesota, purchased this R90/S and another identical bike in bright orange, which is documented in period-correct photos of the two bikes. The gray bike was very pampered, spending most of its days away from the elements in the original owner’s living room. Frame #1640 was ridden sparingly in Minnesota throughout its life and treated very kindly as displayed by the fantastic original condition the bike currently remains in. Because the bike was parked in 2008 and subsequently fell out of running order, LBI commissioned an extensive mechanical freshening on March 26, 2020, at Quaker City Motorsport of Philadelphia, PA, an authorized BMW Motorrad dealership. Completed in the nearly $1,750 work order, is a complete carburetor overhaul, a fuel tank flush, an engine & valve seal, a new battery, two new tires, all new fluids, a new final drive pinion shaft seal, a new petcock, and calibration of the point and condenser timing. As it sits today, this R/90S is in good sound mechanical condition. Turn signals work as they should along with the headlight. The bosch horns function and quite loud! The electric starter fires the engine to life with ease and even the dash-mounted analog clock still works. We have test-ridden the bike briefly and the only noteworthy thing we found was possibly adjusting the idle at the carbs as the bike likes to drop the RPM’s a little on the low side when sitting at idle. 

Today, this 1974 BMW R90/S #1640 presents as an authentic, mechanically sound example of one of the great sports tourer bikes. Better still, its rare original options and recent mechanical freshening set it apart from other BMW bikes of the era. LBI is proud to offer frame #1640 for the vintage motorcycle enthusiast who appreciates German build quality, sound ownership history, and historical significance.

Included with the sale of this motorcycle are the original saddle bags, tools, books, original horn, 1 set of keys, original air pump, and a set of period BMW branded visors.