Home » Powering A BMW Motorcycle With An Air-Cooled Volkswagen Engine Is A Thing And It’s Amazing

Powering A BMW Motorcycle With An Air-Cooled Volkswagen Engine Is A Thing And It’s Amazing

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As our readers know, I spend way too much time looking at listings for vehicles that I wish I could own. In the winter, I especially love looking at classic motorcycles while my Triumph Tiger freezes outside. Great news! I’ve found a motorcycle that seems to do so much right. This 1953 Webley-Vickers combines the frame and transmission of a BMW with a 2000cc Volkswagen boxer, resulting in a beautiful machine that was its builder’s joy for five decades, and even served as a platform to help others make Volkswagen-powered BMWs.

This motorcycle has popped up at Mecum Auctions and it’s set to roll across the Las Vegas auction block on January 26. At first, I fell deeply in love with this creation because it’s about everything that I’d want in a vintage cruiser. It’s painted in a gorgeous color, is draped in plenty of brightwork, and even has some practical cases. That’s just the beginning of it, as the frame comes from a BMW while housed under the tank is a 2000cc air-cooled Volkswagen engine. It looks like a Harley-Davidson but could be repaired with zip ties and a hammer.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom
02 1671728458199@2x
John Landstrom

According to the listing, this is the work of California resident Doug Whitson. A motorcycle fanatic, Whitson purchased the tooling and parts from a developer of Volkswagen-powered motorcycles named Rodger Willis. Whitson took what he purchased and opened a business centered around selling Volkswagen-powered motorcycles and kits to convert motorcycles to VW power. His own motorcycle–the one on sale here–was built in the 1970s and was named the Webley-Vickers. When Whitson titled the custom creation, he decided to give it a model year matching his birth year, 1953. Listen to this thing purr:

I had so many questions, the first being “why?” Why does someone swap a BMW boxer for a VW boxer? And what’s the history of Whitson’s venture? I have spent several hours combing through the internet and encountering dead end after dead end. It’s not often that I find nothing tangible about a company, but here we are. It seems that older motorcycle enthusiasts know what these are, but no major site has detailed them before. The Mecum listing says to visit the “VBMW Motorcycles” Facebook page for more information, but such a page does not exist. It’s sort of amazing how little is out there.

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Through further drilling, I did land on the page that the Mecum listing appears to be suggesting, and it’s called “VW Motercycles.” On the page is a nearly eight-year-old article detailing why people swap BMW engines for Volkswagen engines, and Whitson’s involvement in it. Back then, Whitson himself commented to say that the story does an amazing job documenting the era, and the article sources builders from the day. Most recently in 2020, Whitson was praised by V8 motorcycle builder Boss Hoss for taking one of the company’s chunky bikes 3,000 miles down highwayPeeeeeeeees in Alaska.

VW Motercycles, a page run by a builder of VW-converted motorcycles for fans of conversions, presents this as an explanation for why you might want to power a motorcycle with a Volkswagen engine:

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John Landstrom

 

There are a few good reasons why one would attempt to build and own a VW-powered motorcycle. For the builder, a unique challenge to build something different with all the “fun” of overcoming the various barriers that come with a project like this. From sourcing the components, designing the bike, figuring out the mechanical solutions and putting it all together. The thrill of the first time it starts and runs down the street is a memorable event. Owning one and driving it is very enjoyable due to the fact again, it is a very unique bike that arouses all kinds of interest and questions from those who see it.

The beauty of the VW-powered motorcycle is the fact that the VW engine is a very reliable, very powerful low revving engine with a lot of torque. Parts are cheap, it is low tech and so easy to maintain. Unlike a bike today that cost a fortune to service (forget about fixing some electrical problem on the road), it never breaks! It is incredibly smooth, idles flawlessly and when you grab the throttle at highway speeds, accelerates like it is being drawn down the road by a tremendous magnetic field!

[Editor’s Note: That custom dual-port intake manifold runner there is making me swoon. – JT]

Searching through various motorcyclist forums, it seems that one motivation to put a Volkswagen engine in a motorcycle is similar to why the Brazilian AME Amazonas 1600 exists. A Volkswagen Beetle engine was cheap and crazy reliable when a Harley-Davidson engine of the era might have broken down on you. Our Jason Torchinsky wrote about the Brazilian bike before and explains that the country may have also been motivated to build VW-powered motorcycles due to the lack of large motorcycles for police use.

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Back to America, VW Motercycles says that the vast majority of Volkswagen-powered motorcycles started their lives as BMWs, often R60/2s from 1960 to 1969. More searching reveals anecdotes from motorcyclists claiming that they’ve seen or worked VW-converted BMWs in the 1960s and 1970s. VW Motercycles goes on to note that BMW was a popular choice because the motorcycle manufacturer already used boxer engines, making a Beetle’s engine a natural fit, and an aesthetically-pleasing one at that. The page writes that other companies that used horizontally-opposed engines like Ural and Dnepr also gave up their frames to Volkswagen engines. Of course, since we’re talking about a custom motorcycle here, really any motorcycle could give its frame up to fit a Beetle engine.

Listen to a Ural converted with a VW engine:

The creator of the Facebook page then gives an overview on how to build a Volkswagen-powered BMW, explaining that the BMW’s frame needs to be cut in half and then lengthened or widened to house the VW powerplant. Then to mount the engine, custom motor mounts need to be welded in.

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VW Motercycles explains that the next step is to connect the Beetle engine to the existing BMW transmission, and that is done through a custom bellhousing. Doug Whitson is credited for designing a bellhousing that not only does the job, but allows you to install an electric starter. That way, you aren’t left trying to kick a VW engine into life using a BMW kick starter.

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John Landstrom

The page notes that you still won’t be done yet, as the original BMW clutch needs to be modified so that it doesn’t slip under VW power, and the transmission itself needs to be regeared. As the page explains, using the original gearing would result in a low top speed as the transmission was made for the higher-revving BMW engine. The regearing caused fitment issues, so then you needed to relocate the input shaft, which required welding and machining. From there, apparently, things get easier as you mount on a generator, a carburetor, and an exhaust.

Apparently, a number of people in the 1960s were involved in cranking out VW conversion parts and kits. One of those people was Rodger Willis, who is said to have originally worked with Jack’s BMW to build complete converted motorcycles and kits. Eventually, because of an alleged dispute, Willis ended up with the tooling and the rights. Willis then continued making those motorcycles and kits before passing them on to Whitson, who continued to do the same until about 2018. Whitson’s parts included the aforementioned transmission regearing process, but he improved it with computer-aided design and manufacturing software. Whitson also supplied an aluminum billet bellhousing with an electric starter, exhaust manifolds, a generator mount, a clutch button, an oil-filled intake manifold to keep the carb from icing, and more.

13 1671728471006@2x
John Landstrom

[Editor’s note: That’s a real VW taillight there! What a nice touch. It seems to be doing duty as a license plate lamp, too, making me wonder if it’s possibly a cut-down 1954-1955 Heart Taillight with the heart lens area repurposed to be the license plate light opening? – JT]

The page says that Whitson and Willis were hardly the only players, as a number of others got involved in making these motorcycles. It’s sort of wild that there’s not much written anywhere about this, and the only source is one written by another enthusiast and builder of VW-converted motorcycles.

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Whitson’s Webley-Vickers is a testament to how good these conversions can be. According to the Mecum listing, Whitson rode it from California to Sturgis, South Dakota many times. Housed where the BMW mill would normally be is a 2000cc Volkswagen engine. It’s making an unspecified amount of power and is fed from dual S&S carburetors. The listing reports that the other conversion parts include the parts that Whitson sold for kits like the intake and exhaust manifolds. Apparently, Whitson enjoyed this motorcycle from the 1970s all the way until 2018, when he sold it to a dealership. The odometer shows 24,668 miles, but it’s unclear how many of those were pre-conversion. Sadly, engine output and which BMW gave up its frame for this isn’t known.

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John Landstrom

What is for sure is that this is a wild one-off from a time when at least some motorcycle enthusiasts saw air-cooled VW engines as viable power for motorcycles, and this is a gorgeous example. It’s set to roll across the auction block on January 26. I’ve reached out to Doug Whitson to see if he could give me any more information. If you know anything about this period of Volkswagen-powered motorcycles, drop me a line at mercedes@theautopian.com. I’d love to know more about this niche!

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Pedro
Pedro
11 months ago

You could get a 4cylinder Honda Goldwing and fix it up right purty.

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
1 year ago

The dual port intake manifolds are standard VW fare…

Blajghhh
Blajghhh
1 year ago

For people who don’t follow facebook links:

VW powered motorcycles

The purpose of this paper is to provide a overview of the VW powered motorcycle for the enjoyment of those who own one, for those who would like to build one and for those who are “motorheads” and “tinkerer’s”!

There are a few good reason’s why one would attempt to build and own a VW powered motorcycle. For the builder, a unique challenge to build something different with all the “fun” of overcoming the various barriers that come with a project like this. From sourcing the components, designing the bike, figuring out the mechanical solutions and putting it all together. The thrill of the first time it starts and runs down the street is a memorable event. Owning one and driving it is very enjoyable due to the fact again, it is a very unique bike that arouses all kinds of interest and questions from those who he see it.

The beauty of the VW powered motorcycle is that fact that the VW engine is a very reliable, very powerful low revving engine with a lot of torque. Parts are cheap, it is low tech and so easy to maintain. Unlike a bike today that cost a fortune to service (forget about fixing some electrical problem on the road), it never breaks! It is incredibly smooth, idles flawlessly and when you grab the throttle at highway speeds, accelerates like it is being drawn down the road by a tremendous magnetic field!!

The majority of VW bikes utilize the BMW motorcycle as the basic frame to start with, particularly the 1960 to 1969 years. The fact that the BMW is an opposed engine, the VW is a natural for an engine swap. The VW long block (engine without all the cooling tin and heater box’s) looks like a BMW engine on steroids! Aesthetically it fits right in. Many people who see one do not even realize that is it a custom. Other brands have been used such as Ural, Dneper (opposed engines as well) as well as Harley, Indian and then those who build a total custom frames. The BMW is the most popular because of the opposed engine set-up, the availability (at least in the ‘70’s when most of these bikes were built) as well as the fact the BMW opposed engine has a big flywheel with a single disk clutch that allows the VW to easily mate with the BMW transmission via a custom built bell-housing.

In order to adapt a VW engine to a BMW (I will address the BMW since it is the most common and is what I made) the following modifications are necessary.

+Frame- The frame needs to be cut in half and made longer by about 6 inches in the main tube. I have seen this done in 3 ways and I would guess there are more. On my bike, I cut the main tube and created an insert that is a “sleeve” that fit into the main tube. The challenge is that the main tube is elliptical so I had to make the sleeve by cutting a piece of steel pipe in half length wise, then spread it open over a larger round pipe in a vice and then welding it back together again over the entire length. This required many hours of hand filing and fitting to accomplish this. The end result was a sleeve fit that allowed me to adjust the overall length of the frame as I “mocked” it up with the engine. A second way to accomplish this was by the entire removal of the main tube by cutting it at the neck and rear frame and inserting a new piece of tube the correct length. A issue to consider in doing this is that depending on which method you use, you have to consider the fact that you may (or may not) be changing the height of the steering head from the ground. This can affect the choice of front end you will use. In method 1 (sleeve) I changed the geometry a bit that would probably would have prevented me from using the stock Earls fork (which I did not use). With the second method, one could have compensated by changing the angle of the new tube. The third method (employed by people like Roger Willis who mass produced these bikes) was to cut the tube and re-weld a section that looked like a sideways “Z” to compensate for the height with the increase in length. (see pictures later on).

The other frame modification is to widen the frame by cutting the bottom tubes and then pulling them apart the correct width to fit the VW block. Next, one would pull apart the front down tubes (like a big wishbone) and insert new tubes to attach to the bottom tubes.

A front motor mount is created by welding in tubing between the down tubes and adding two tabs that act as a pinch clamp that attaches to the front of the engine via the the bolt that connects the engine cases together under the oil pump.

The rear motor mount is done in various ways. I have a cross piece between the lower frame tubes with two vertical tabs . The lower VW engine bolts then pass thru the tabs and are secured by bolts. This is only one way to do this however.

Bell-housing- To connect the engine to the transmission a custom bell housing is required. I have seen many types. Cast aluminum and billet cut. The majority of the bell-housings are a simple design that will utilize either a stock BMW flywheel or a 180 mm VW flywheel with the started ring gear machined off. Doug Whitson created a masterpiece bell-housing to attach an electric starter. A kick start VW bike at times can be a challenge to start, especially if hot. It is not uncommon to snap the stock BMW kick pedals!

Clutch- The VW/BMW bike typically uses the stock disk and spring. When hot and if one really goes for a “drag run” the clutch will slip. There is to much power. There are a few ways to correct this. One way is to take two stock clutch springs and remove every other finger from the two spring disks. Install the two springs on top of one another. They will “nest” together due to the “finger removal”. The second way is to increase the tension of the one spring by the addition of a “button” (round shim) in the center of the spring disk (see pictures). I have tried (unsuccessfully) to locate a replacement 180 mm clutch spring. An additional way could be the use of a double disk clutch that is found in Chang Jiang’s and I think Ural’s. It is only a thought but I am sure it would work.

Transmission- The most difficult modification is the re-gearing of the stock BMW transmission. This modification is necessary since the BMW engine revs at a much higher rate then the VW. Without this modification the bike would have a very limited top speed. The re-gearing consists of installing a larger gear on the input shaft within the transmission (there are three shafts within the transmission, input shaft, intermittent shaft and out put shaft). The new gear one installs on the input shaft is a BMW second gear that will lower all off the 4 ratios uniformly with a 4th gear ratio being 1:1. The difficult part of this modification is that once the new larger gear is installed on the input shat, the input shaft will not fit back into the transmission! One needs to reposition the input shaft within the case. To accomplish this, one must re-position the bearing bores on either end of the transmission case by first welding up new material in the case and precisely machine new bearing bores. This originally was done using jigs and later by CAD/CAM . If the job is done poorly the transmission will slip out of gear or one could burn the gears if not enough free play between the teeth.

There is a way to change the gear ratios without this modification. At some point a gear set was made to replace the existing set without modifying the case. It however changed the transmission to a three speed transmission.

Once the above is completed, the other things are fairly easy to complete the project. The include:

Generator Mount- One will have to figure out how to mount the generator on top of the engine. I accomplished this quite easily with a some “T” brackets where as I folded the two tabs of the “T” around one of the top case bolts and used two 4 inch hose clamps to go around the stock VW generator and the bracket. Roger Willis and others had a custom cast aluminum mounting plate that also incorporated an oil fill spout.

One builder ( Helmut Busack) eliminated the generator entirely by adapting a alternator from a BSA/Triumph by attaching the rotor to the end of the VW crankshaft and built a custom enclosure that held the stator. Very slick!

Carburetor- Various carburetors have been fitted and it is all personal preference. I have been using dual carburetors, (Solex PDSIT) which were unique in that it was the stock carburetor one the 1967 VW fastback. They work great, have instant throttle response since they sit right on top of the head and have an accelerator pump. I personally experimented with a single carburetor but did not have any success. The long manifold I built would get ice cold (ice would actually form on the side) resulting in a rich mixture. I tried creating a heated manifold by wrapping copper tubing around the intake manifold and taping the ends of the tube into my exhaust port, but it did not work. Doug Whitson however created an oil filled plenum intake manifold that did work.

Exhaust system- Fabricating the exhaust is fairly straightforward. The one issue however are the pipes coming off the rear heads. The most common system is a pipe that curves 180 degrees from the exhaust port running perpendicular along the top of the valve cover and then turning back 180 degrees and connecting with the pipe coming off the front port . It works well (not restrictive) but doesn’t look very good. One also has a tendency to burn the insides of ones inner calf if the bike rolls backward while ones feet are on the ground.

Jack’s BMW (early producer of kit’s and bikes) produced cast aluminum “exhaust box’s” that provided a great solution. They look great, work well but one can tell a difference performance wise since they are somewhat restrictive. Rodger Willis produced them as well and then sold the moulds to Doug Whitson who continues to supply this component.

There are builders who utilized the Type 4 engine that eliminated this issue since the exhaust ports are on the bottom of the head, not front and back as the Type 1 is.

History of the VW Motorcycle
The earliest pictures of a VW conversion that I have seen is of a 1300cc VW engine installed on a British made Douglas motorcycle. I saw this picture in a motorcycle book that was published around 1968. The picture however seems to be at least 10 years earlier then the publication of the magazine. The Douglas ceased production in 1957.

My opinion is limited due to the fact that I am in the U.S. I know that conversion bikes have been created all over the world, but the U.S. however seems to have been a “bee hive “ of activity in this area due to the fact there were a handful of “companies” that sprung up in the late ‘60’s, early 70’s that sold kits and entire bikes. There are many more stories of individuals who also created these machines as well.

I will list those who I have knowledge of and apologize for those who I have left out!

The earliest person who I am aware of who produced a VW bike is Helmut Busack. He had a shop in Norwalk CT (U.S) called “Hamm’s Motorcycles” I believe his first bike was built in 1962. He built a handful of machines that was very different from what was built from other people. His bikes were unique in 3 ways. Number one, he had a electric start. Every other VW conversion built in that era was a kick-start. Number two, he had designed a unique charging system that utilized a alternator from a BSA/ Triumph. The rotor was mounted to the end of the VW crankshaft and the stator was enclosed in a custom made enclosure, there by eliminating the stock VW pulley and generator. Number 3, he made the engine a integral part of the frame! This is something that was 35 years ahead of its time! Hamm said he did this to simplify the removal and installation of the engine. There are no “down tubes” on his bikes. Hamm by the way moved to New Hampshire and owns a campground.

The next notable collection of players is from California. This group (together and then individually) produced well over 100 complete bikes and sold perhaps over 200 kits. The history is via word of mouth.

It seems that around 1968 a group of individuals in Fresno, CA working within the shop of “Jack’s BMW” conspired to make and mass-produce a VW conversion and kit utilizing the R-60 BMW. The individuals are Bruce Butterfield and Jack Pruett (owners of Jack’s BMW) as well as Rodger Willis , Glen Stuart and Ancel Robinson. This group produced over 50 bikes and 100 conversion kits. It seems that at some point there was a legal squabble where as the final outcome was that Rodger Willis became the sole owner of the tooling and ownership of the right to build these bikes.

Rodger Willis then produced entire bikes and sold kits. He seems to be the most known name in this endeavor. His bikes share a common feature, which is the Honda front end.

While “Jacks BMW” was producing these bikes, an additional shop jumped into the market. The name was “Brown’s BMW” located in Pomora, CA. They made about 25 bikes. According to Doug Wilson (owner/collector of VW/BMW conversions) Brown’s made by far the smoothest shifting transmissions.

Delbert Needler from Indiana also made a handful of VW/BMW conversions. It seems he was a master machinist and had a few magazine articles written about him. Duane Auserman, a well known personality in the BMW vintage world , with a wonderful web site covering all types of topics on vintage BMW’s and ex-owner of a BMW dealership owned a bike from Delbert. He credits owning this bike to him opening a BMW dealership.

Doug Whitson from California at some point purchased all the tooling and parts from Rodger Willis. He created a new company and called his bike the Webley-Vickers. Doug created and sold complete motorcycles and kits and is still active in this endeavor. Doug took things to a new level by performing the transmission modification via CAD/CAM vs. jigs and created a new bell housing out of a aluminum billet (via CAD/CAM) with an electric starter. Doug also continued to make other parts for the conversion such as the rear exhaust manifolds, generator mount, clutch button, improved clutch arm and oil filled intake manifold. He was the last person to create entire bikes for sale. According to Doug, one of the reasons for not making entire bikes was the legal ramifications surrounding product liability.

An individual that took VW motorcycles to entire different level is Bud Burkey out of, who specializes in making VW Type 4 show bikes. They not only utilize the Type 4 engine but also use the VW transaxle. Pictures say a thousand words so be sure to take a look at his creations.

Additional information on this topic is available on a “Yahoo” users group that can be found by searching “VW Motorcycles” within the ‘Yahoo” groups section. It is an active site with hundreds of members world wide .

Myself (Richard Hahn) built my own VW/BMW conversion in the early 1970’s. I was a VW lover and had gotten disillusioned with a few Harley’s I had owned (a surplus N.Y. City tank shift 1960 FL Duo Glide and then a 1958 semi-chopper) due to leaking oil, slipping clutches and general lack of reliability. One Saturday afternoon while trying to follow two guys on old BMW’s thru some winding roads on the north shore of Long Island, I almost got killed due to the lack of handling of the Harley, I decided I needed something different. At that time I had read an article on a BMW/VW conversion and decided that is what I wanted.

I purchased a 1962 R-60 without an engine and front end and began the process ending up with a fantastic motorcycle that I rode from New York to Mexico and back. Another trip was from New York to Seattle Washington and back! I have had countless miles over owning the bike for over 40 years!

Over the years I had tried in vain to create a users group of VW Motorcycle Owners by inserting ads in various BMW magazines but had limited success. Thanks to the internet and a few years of searching the net I located Hemut (Hamm), Rodger Willis and Doug Whitson. I then created the “Yahoo Group” and here we are today.

Thanks to the following people : Helmut (Hamm) Busack, Rodger Willis, Ancel Robinson, Doug Whitson, Doug Wilson and Dave Tucker.

Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
1 year ago

Twice the complexity of a BMW airhead, but with more weight and the same horsepower!

What’s not to like?

I guess I get it if you want more juice out of your /2. I have an R60/2 and it’s like 29hp on a good day. But you can buy an airhead for less than a /2 by a mile these days and it has the same power as these VW things with actual brakes and a hundred pounds less weight.

The Amazonas have been around since I was a kid, but even back then, I couldn’t figure out why you’d do this. When I was 17, I had a VW Bug and my dad had a BMW airhead and it seemed to me that putting those two things together was the answer to a question nobody had ever asked.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 year ago

The uncertainty about the power output made me wonder, how on earth do you put a bike on a dyno? Do they have a frame or something to keep them upright?

Mike Pressley
Mike Pressley
1 year ago

Eyes the Super. This is a heck of a rabbit hole.

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
1 year ago

It looks like a Harley-Davidson but could be repaired with zip ties and a hammer.

So, no different from its contemporary (and later) Harleys!

(Full disclosure – I once repaired a Moto Guzzi distributor with a zip tie, no hammer needed. It was still in place a couple years later when my buddy sold the Guzzi.)

David Meyer
David Meyer
1 year ago

I was hoping it would make that chirping sound like a 60’s beetle with the pea shooter exhaust tips

ProudLuddite
ProudLuddite
1 year ago

Thanks Mercedes, that was a fascinating read and some good research. I am sure leaving the BMW twin in place leaves you with a better bike, but symmetry if you will of going from an opposed twin to an opposed four makes for a neat machine, and the VW trim and lights are a great touch.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 year ago

Those crazy French built a few Citroën GS 4 and Visa twin powered motorcycles in the 70s, mostly because escorting the president on German motorcycles felt wrong
https://www.citroenet.org.uk/miscellaneous/bfg/bfg.htm

I also recall some VW powered BMW sidecar rigs from the era when the biggest BMW twin was 600cc but as soon as the R90 and R100 appeared people stuck those in their /2 side hacks instead.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
1 year ago

I saw one of these conversions at a BMW rally a few years ago. The rear exhaust port on these is brutal – it’s basically a hard 90* within an inch of the head. That would definitely negate any flow advantage from that intake.

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago

I don’t think you should ever replace a BMW motorcycle engine, because they’re just sooo good, unless maybe it’s one of the old horsepower lacking single cylinder ones.

On URAL or Dnepr or Chiang Jiang BMW rip-off motorcycles, it makes totally sense, because the engines on those are crap, but the rest is pretty rugged and solid. So go ahead on on of these!

And I know what I’m talking about, having owned an URAL for fun besides my 1977 BMW motorcycle.

I have a spare 1300cc VW engine in the workshop and my very cool 1969 MZ Trophy really won’t seem to start no matter what I do, so maybe…

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago

I think you stumbled onto the line of thinking that led to these conversions….1. Busted bike, 2. VW engine lying around, 3. Why not?

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
1 year ago

I’d go back to the Gen One Goldwing I had.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago

The bike featured looks pretty well done, but no thanks. As a rider of an old BMW airhead (1980 R100), I cannot imagine why anyone would ever do this. All it does is make the bike heavier, slower and uglier. The BMW boxer twin is a GREAT motor in most iterations, with ample torque and great reliability. Why mess with a great thing?

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

My thoughts exactly, BMW is light with many horsepower, VW is heavy with few..

But the low compression and high cylinder volume maybe makes it handle more like an old Harley. But why not just buy one of those then?

Sivad Nayrb
Sivad Nayrb
1 year ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Recent YouTube video points out why the BMW Boxer sucks.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

Gottdang, that thing’s got a bigger VW engine than my VW!

(Also, I gotta ask as someone that laughs at peepee jokes. What’s a “highwayPeeeeeeeees?”)

CSRoad
CSRoad
1 year ago

That one is especially pretty with the attention to detail, I really don’t know how much was gained when it was all said and done though.
There were also a few custom Corvair powered bikes in the 1960’s and ’70’s some of them must still exist somewhere. Probably in a garage corner or in a barn and long forgotten.

ExAutoJourno
ExAutoJourno
1 year ago

Interesting. I still have the hots for a Munch Mammut, though. Would live to find one, shine it up, and name it “Floyd.”

To srosslx1986: I believe the Von Dutch bike that the “American Pickers” guy was so hot for was a Harley with a VW engine grafted on. A photographer I worked with, who had shot some photos for motorcycle magazines in earlier days, said it was, anyway.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
1 year ago

If you remember Mike Wolfe on American pickers bought a Von Dutch VW powered BMW. This one looks a lot cleaner though.

Mike McDonald
Mike McDonald
1 year ago

Please someone make a VW Beetle powered by a BMW motorcycle engine, or provide a link to one!!!!

Gubbin
Gubbin
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike McDonald

All I got is a BMW-powered 2CV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1E3uVNbAas

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike McDonald

Better yet, a twin-BMW-engined, AWD Beetle. Internet, make it happen!!!

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike McDonald

Dude, I was thinking the same thing. I always thought this would be awesome. The 1000cc airhead on my old BMW puts out 80ish horsepower and is significantly lighter than any old VW motor. I’m sure there would be some work to make sure it was getting adequate cooling, but should be more than doable.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike McDonald

How about a BMW 700 coupe? Although you’d want to swap the 600cc /2 engine for a 1000cc R100

Chris Hoffpauir
Chris Hoffpauir
1 year ago

I remember reading about the Amazonas back when I was a rider in my youth. Yes, the bike was created to fill the need for domestically produced big bikes for police use. The choice of using the VW engine was driven by the fact that they were cheap and plentiful, due to the fact that VW started building cars in Brazil in 1953.

SquareTaillight2002
SquareTaillight2002
1 year ago

That looks like a well-engineered swap. And hey, at least it’s not a trike.

RustHoles
RustHoles
1 year ago

Oof, cringing at that Ural conversion running with no exhaust… exhaust valves are going to have a short life!

Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
1 year ago
Reply to  RustHoles

On a URAL everything in the engine usually has a short life, so..

A M
A M
1 year ago

If you’re ever in Atlanta, check out Blue Moon Cycles, John Landstrom’s (the seller) place. I haven’t been in forever, but it was full of cool vintage bikes.

https://www.bluemooncycle.com/our-showroom/

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