Every new model product launch is chock full of information about the presenting company – most of which is not germane to the motorcycle itself. This information is oft ignored, or left on the editing room floor to make room for riding impressions and technical information regarding the motorcycle. With the First Ride Review of BMW’s new R NineT Scrambler in the books, we take a look at a few items of interest from BMW you may not know about the company and the the motorcycles it produces. With BMW celebrating its 100th Birthday, there’s a lot to choose from, but here’s five past and present factoids.

Rail Zeppelin


The Rail Zeppelin, or Schienenzeppelin, was powered by BMW’s twelve-cylinder aero-engine. Known as the BMW VI, the 600 horsepower, liquid-cooled V-12 accelerated the Rail Zeppelin to a world speed record for rail cars of 143 mph in June of 1931. Only one example of the Rail Zeppelin was constructed in Germany due to safety concerns. What could go wrong with an open-blade propeller pulling into a crowded train station? When powering contemporary aircraft, the BMW VI set numerous records for speedy long-distance flight.

BMW VI Specs

  • Type: V-12
  • Displacement: 2,864 cu. in. (46,933cc)
  • Bore/Stroke: 160mm/190mm
  • Length: 5 feet, 9-inches
  • Width: 2 feet, 8 inches
  • Height: 3-feet, 6 inches
  • Dry weight: 1,124 pounds

Land Speed Records


Between 1929 and 1937 BMW works rider Ernst Jakob Henne established numerous speed records on both two and four wheels. BMW used the two-wheeler records to promote the company as “the fastest motorcycle in the world.” Henne’s last motorcycle speed record of 174 mph, in November 1937, was achieved aboard a 500cc supercharged engine with a streamlined fairing. The record stood for 14 years.

First Paris-Dakar Rally Winner


Piloted by Frenchmen, Hubert Auriol, BMW’s new R80 G/S wins the world’s toughest off-road race, the Paris-Dakar Rally, in 1981, the third year of the rally’s existence. BMW would go on to win a hat-trick of Dakar Rally’s in ’83, ’84, and ’85, aboard the R100GS. FYI, the GS in the model’s nomenclature refers to “Gelände/Straße” (off-road/road).

RR Outsells GS in America


Since its introduction, BMW’s GS models have proven to be the most popular model in the company’s lineup. That changed last year, at least in North America, when the S1000RR outsold the GS. This may not come as a surprise to MO readers, as we’ve chosen the S1000RR numerous times as either Motorcycle of the Year or Sportbike of the Year. It is one of the most versatile sportbikes ever built, and one of the fastest as well. Then again, the GS has won many of our adventure-touring shootouts. Maybe we should shootout one against the other?

BMW Tax Brackets


According to BMW, R nineT owners are second only to BMW K1600GTL/Exclusive owners in terms of household income ($150k-$175k). That’s a nice tax bracket to be in! Add to that is the fact that 9% of R NineT buyers are first-time motorcyclists with an average age of 53. Basically, men with the wherewithal to afford a mid-life crisis. BMW’s S1000RR boasts ownership from its most ethnically and demographically diverse clientele, while the R NineT boasts the second-most diverse crowd.

Free Insurance Quote

Enter your ZIP code below to get a free insurance quote.

BMW Dealer Price Quote

Get price quotes for BMW from local motorcycle dealers.

BMW Communities

  • DickRuble

    “9% of R NineT buyers are first-time motorcyclists with an average age of 53. That’s the average.. I wonder what the variance is around the mean and how that impacts motorcycle mortality.

    • Old MOron

      Ha, I wonder how many miles those newbies are putting on their bikes. Prolly not many. Maybe I’ll start checking craigslist for post-midlife-crisis beauties.

  • JMDonald

    The only good tax bracket to be in is the no tax bracket regardless of income. BMW has invested heavily in their motorcycle offering. Hopefully any mid life crisis types will be selling their low mileage hardly used purchases in a year or two for a song.

    • Ian Parkes

      Good luck with living in a society with no roads, education, healthcare, food or building safety standards, police, justice or prisons. People who are rich enough to pay no tax are not heroes. They are leaches, taking all the benefits of a stable society that taxpayers pay for – including protection of their property rights – while contributing nothing.

      • JMDonald

        Mr Parkes. You just cannot resist showing your ignorance. Most of the things you think Government should be responsible for could and should be supplied by the private sector. All governments go way beyond their legitimate functions. This is wrong. Your insistence that the rich who pay no taxes are a burden on society is patently false. It is the lower classes that pay no taxes that are the burden. Feel free to define lower class any way you like. Do you really believe the “rich” contribute nothing? You probably do. When taxes become punitive and government goes beyond any enumerated powers they may be granted by the people they become evil. In a free society their scope should be limited. If you are so comfortable with the state doing everything for you I suggest you give them everything you earn so they can better manage it for you. Good luck with your socialist mindset comrade. You can share equally in the misery that type of society generates. For all those except the ones in government that is. Ride safe. Once a statist always a statist.

      • Craig Hoffman

        Folks who earn a good income via W2 jobs pay plenty in taxes. I have a friend who makes around 200K a year, his wife does not work as the higher resulting tax bracket makes it not worth her time, and that is sad.

        The way to get ahead in America is to inherit millions and live on dividends. Those folks don’t pay much in taxes. It is ironic, that earned income is taxed so heavily and unearned income is not.

        With ya on purchasing a low mileage example from a non riding guy who is having a mid life crisis and makes an impulse purchase. Sounds perfect…