Most motorcycle marques can point to a single early model that set the tone for those that followed and established the brand. In BMW’s case it’s the R32. It was unveiled at the Berlin motor show in 1923, and it was a good fifty years later before BMW Motorrad shook off the R32’s iconic black-paint-and-pinstripes look. This ‘R1232’ is a very unusual custom built by a team led by Jean-Luc Dupont of the French BMW dealer Panda Moto 89. Jean-Luc is based in Villeneuve-Sur-Yonne, south east of Paris, and he’s known for creating BMW customs based on current production models.
According to the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America website, ‘Jean-Luc had the idea of creating a modern interpretation of the R32 using current technology. This would be a complete motorcycle design and production exercise, and would require everything to be fabricated … “Harley-Davidson has built its reputation on having their motorcycles as a modern interpretation of the past. I wanted to do the same for BMW, and where better to start than BMW’s first motorcycle, the R32?” said Jean-Luc.’
It’s interesting to compare the specifications of the original R32 with Jean-Luc’s creation. The 1923 bike had 8.5hp and weighed 122kg. The R1232 has 107 horses and weighs 235kg (520 lbs), which is reasonable by today’s standards. So the power-to-weight ratio has increased by more than six-fold. (The six-speed gearbox will ease progress even further.) If there’s a question mark, it’ll be over the braking system and the 2.5” wide tires, which roll on 21” rims at the front and 19” at the back. But then again, you can’t have everything. The R1232 took US$95,000, 16 months and over 600 hours of work to create. [Images by David Ducastel.]