Eighty years ago, BMW revealed the groundbreaking R5—a machine that influenced motorcycle design right up to the 1950s, and still casts a spell over custom builders.
Today, at the Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como in Italy, BMW has just revealed the modern-day Hommage—designed in–house, and built with the help of Swedish master craftsmen Ronna and Benna Norén of Unique Custom Cycles.
The Hommage is an intriguing (and drop-dead gorgeous) blend of historic design cues and modern custom building techniques.
“In today’s world, it is very simple to keep it complicated, but very complicated to keep it simple,” says Ola Stenegärd, BMW’s Head of Vehicle Design (centre, below).
“The BMW R5 captured the very essence of a motorcycle. Our aim was to transport that 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.”
We’re pleased to hear that no original R5s were damaged or pillaged in the making of this machine.
At the core of the build is an original 500 cc R5 boxer engine provided by enthusiast Sebastian Gutsch—an engine that was damaged in a race and is now restored to better than new.
The rest of the BMW R5 has been elaborately handcrafted from scratch. Working off specifications provided by the BMW Motorrad design team, the Norén brothers used their thirty years of bike-building experience to produce the parts needed to bring the Hommage to life.
That includes the valve covers and the breastplate of the boxer engine, which were machined from billet aluminum based on sketches, plus engine and gearbox internals.
The frame, fuel tank and rear fender are unique, though, making this a genuine custom bike that captures the purism of the original R5.
Put the original and the Hommage side by side, and you can see subtle differences. The frame and fuel tank of the Hommage echo the elegant drop shapes of the originals, but with more modern, streamlined shapes.
The steering head has been tilted back slightly, giving the Hommage a more rakish presence and underscoring its place in the custom world.
But the oval shaped frame tubing remains, configured to draw a continuous line from the steering head to the rear wheel hub. The hand-made steel rear fender is classic bobber-style minimalism.