Originally Posted by eljeffe
From what I've read (no, contrary to what my son sez, I'm *not* old enough to have witnessed it!
), in the years following 1918, BMW was happy to build anything it could secure a paying contract for -- including bicycles, kitchen utensils, and a lot of motorcycle engines delivered to scores of other makers for installation in their bikes.
Thus, the 1923 boxer wasn't the result of a sudden inspiration "let's build motorcycles!", it was a natural evolution; once BMW had enough money to build something on their own, they did (some argue over whether Max Fritz even wanted to design a motorcycle engine, but that's another debate). What the motorcycle cognoscenti often fail to mention is that the motorcycles at the time were considered a means to an end -- they financed management's real objective -- building cars (something at which they failed miserably for several years, until the arrival of the tiny "Dixie" model). The situation wasn't much different after WWII; the bikes again allowed the company to keep going while the car business was rebuilt.
The bottom line today is that cars again "carry" the company, with the motorcycles continuing to be, IMO, more of an interesting adjunct business. Unlike HD, whose entire business in bikes and accessoies, or Honda, with a large motorcycle division serving a huge demand in motorcycle/motorscooter-centric markets (e.g., Asia), it appears there is little BMW Board Room interest in investing the kind of *serious* money required to become more than a niche player. Can't say I blame them; it's probably the best use of their money -- but unlike the impression left by their marketing copy, this is not a "motorcycle-focused" company.
Ok, pot properly stirred -- next comment??