The Bavarian Motor Works company was founded in 1916 and produced aircraft engines for Rapp Motorenwerke but under the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty had to cease production after the first world war.
BMW moved to Motorcycle production in 1923 when some of the treaties restrictions were lifted and then cars in 1928.
The motorcycle division is famous for its flat twin touring motorcycles, but in 1976 they entered their 898cc R90S into the very first Superbike racing series held in America. The bike was ridden by British rider Reg Pridmore who went on to win the championship.
In 1999 BMW released a sporty version of the R1100 with an S on the end, it had a series called the BMW Boxer Cup to promote the brand. Although this model was the sportiest in the BMW line up it was still an out and out tourer and no match for the Italian and Japanese competition on the track, the model was discontinued in 2005.
In 2008 BMW released their first serious modern sports bike in the form of the BMW S1000RR, some bikes produced as much as 190bhp at the wheel from the box making it the fastest production bike available. In 2009 BMW entered it into the World Superbike series with Reuben Xaus and 2 time champion Troy Corser. The bikes maiden WSB win didn’t come until 2012 with Marco Melandri on board. However in the World Superstock championship the bike had dominated in 2010 with Ayrton Badovini winning every race but one. BMW have announced that they are pulling out of the WSB championship at the end of 2013 despite regular wins in both 2012 & 2013 so far.
BMW supplied engines to the forward racing team in Moto GP in 2012, Colin Edwards was the first of the new CRT bikes over the line at Quatar finishing 12th overall.
As far as BMW’s reputation for reliability of their motorcycles goes the only competition they have is from Honda. Many of their motorcycles will happily clock up 100,000 miles plus and their practicality has made them a favourite of police forces and ambulance services around the world. In general regardless of the age or model they are a top quality luxury motorcycle, most owners never go back to other brands.