When the BMW R5 rolled out of the factory 80 years ago, the motorcycle—inspired by the 500-cc racing machine of 1935—featured cutting-edge technology that would define sports motorbikes for nearly two decades. In an effort to celebrate its diverse racing history, BMW has unveiled an electric version of this iconic model, called the R5 Hommage.
Combining the world of vintage motorcycle design with contemporary bespoke bikes, the BMW R5 translates the essence of riding classic motorcycles into the modern era. “At its debut, the R5 was not only a masterpiece of engineering, [but] the clarity of its lines and the elegance of its proportions also made it stand out clearly from the masses. To this day, the R5 remains one of the most aesthetically appealing motorcycles in BMW history in my view,” says Edgar Heinrich, head of design, BMW Motorrad.
The R5 Hommage demonstrates how much harmony exists between the worlds of customization and historic motorcycles, with an original two-cylinder 500-cc engine at its core that serves as the bike’s starting point. From there, the rest of the historic bike was recreated from scratch by Ronny and Benny Noren, who’ve built bespoke motorcycles for 30 years. The technical highlight is the specifically developed supercharger, which boosts the R5’s original output to reach modern levels.
All of this serves to allow the custom bike a top speed of 85 mph, making it almost as fast as the contemporary R17. “Our aim was to transport its clarity and elegant aesthetic appeal to the modern era—creating a respectful combination of old-school and high-tech with a dash of high performance,” said Ola Stenegard, head of vehicle design and creative director heritage at BMW Motorrad.
See the fruits of BMW’s labor below.