from Motorworld by V.Sheyanov
The first thing I want to write: R71 is the legendary BMW top model with a 750cc side-valve engine which became the basis for the Soviet military M72, which distant successor of which is still being produced (*in China). And this statement should be the end of the article. But “the devil is in the detail”. The German BMW R71 motorcycle, presented to the public at the1938 motorcycle exhibition in Berlin remained an “unattainable standard” for its Soviet counterpart.
Serial production of the R71 motorcycle was launched in 1938 and lasted only 3 years, until 1941. Technically difficult, the R71 gave the impression of a very simple machine – thanks to the high-quality standards and the tremendous work that BMW engineers and designers put into the new line of their motorcycles.
In the military training camps of the Wehrmacht, we could find both models – the simpler BMW R12, which had been in service for several years, and the conditionally “tourist” R71, which was equipped with a more perfect and lighter frame with variable section tubes, soft rear suspension, and more powerful 22 hp engine with a compression ratio of 5.5:1. Nevertheless, despite the obvious advantages, the R71 didn’t become a bestseller. The army needed a low production cost instead of a machine with a high-class manufacturing accuracy and one of the most advanced, but expensive frames on the market offering high comfort.
The BMW R71 became the last side-valve motorcycle in the history of the Bavarian brand and the last one that could be equipped with a hand gear lever at the request of the buyer.
A total of 3 458 R71 motorcycles were produced, most of which were destroyed in the war.
contributor: Yna Aleksandrova
footnote: The Ural, now being manufactured in Kazakhstan (2022) as a sidecar rig is a direct descendant of the old R71!