BMW R26 MOTORCYCLE
Text from "Motor Cycling" magazine, April 19, 1956
Introduced for 1956, the R26 BMW model is fitted
with a highly tuned version of the earlier R25 engine and pivoted-fork
front and rear springing similar to that previously confined to the
494cc R50 and the six-hundred R69. Outstanding characteristics of the
two-fifty are its excellent riding comfort, superb steering, smooth,
powerful braking, a remarkably high level of exhaust and mechanical
quietness, goof fuel economy and a fine standard of engineering, detail
design and finish. And, as the data in the information panel shows, the
R26 possesses a high performance for a two-fifty.
On some modern machines a combination of a reasonably low seat and
footrest setting with an ample range of wheel deflection results in a
tendency for the footrests or other components to foul the road on
corners. This is not so on the R26. The laden saddle height is low
enough to permit a short rider to place his feet firmly on the ground
when required and the footrests are sufficiently low to afford a
comfortably wide knee angle; both front and rear springing systems
allow ample wheel movement. Yet the model can be heeled over to an
extreme degree when cornering without the footrests or other parts
scraping the ground, for the width across the footrests is only
twenty-one inches, while the silencer and center stand are well tucked
Width of the tank between the rider's knees is also comparatively
narrow (nine inches), while handlebar width is only twenty-five inches.
The resultant riding position proved extremely comfortable at all
speeds within the model's compass, and many consecutive hours were
spent awheel without a trace of fatigue. Another feature contributing
to riding comfort is a four-position saddle-spring adjustment which
caters for riders' weights from 132 to 220 pounds.
Grouped in two clusters clamped to the ends of the handlebar, the hand
controls were all very conveniently sited and sweet in operation.
Though not adjustable for position, the rear-brake and gear pedals were
also ideally sited.
In both front and rear shock absorbers, spring and damper
characteristics are extremely well blended. Both wheel suspensions
responded remarkably well to all varieties of road shocks from small
ripples to pot holes, yet there was never any pitching. On full
front-wheel deflection, caused by crossing a deep road hole at speed,
the front number plate broke the headlamp glass. Mounting the plate an
inch farther forward would preclude the possibility of its fouling the
glass. (It should be remembered that the front number plates are not
used in Germany.)
Steering of the race-bred variety made cornering a sheer joy, whether
the bend was fast or slow, smooth or bumpy. Unusually little effort was
required to heel the model over. Indeed, once the banking was initiated
the R26 seemed to take matters into its own hands with superlative
results. Of an equally high standard was the braking. Used
independently, each brake could be made to evoke a protesting squeal
from the tire. Applied in unison, they would stop the model smoothly,
safely and, if necessary, rapidly enough for any emergency. Although
the brakes were intentionally not spared, no adjustment was needed
during a test of just over 500 miles. Front brake torque is transmitted
through the pivoted fork so that brake operation tends to raise the
front of the machine, but not unduly so, and certainly not enough to
cause fork judder.
Whether the engine was cold or hot, a first-kick start could virtually
be guaranteed provided the carburettor was not over-flooded. If that
was done the engine would fire readily if the kick-starter were
operated with the throttle wide open. A throttle setting as for a fast
tick-over was normally required for starting, in conjunction with
momentary operation of the float tickler when the engine was cold or
none at all when it was hot. Whatever the temperature of the engine, it
would idle very slowly and reliably when the throttle was closed.
Incorporating bevel gears which actuate the throttle cable through the
medium of a cam, the twistgrip has a differential action giving a slow
rate of throttle opening in the lower ranges and a progressively faster
rate as the grip is rotated further. This delicate control, in effect,
enhanced the natural docility of the engine for traffic work and in
conjunction with a low bottom-gear ratio, smooth transmission and high
flywheel inertia, made it easy to ride the R26 a slow walking pace with
the clutch fully engaged, and to accelerate sweetly from that speed.
With the exception that slight vibration was perceptible between 44 and
48 mph in top gear, and again at an indicated 60 mph, any speed between
the minimum non-snatch figure and maximum was equally pleasant to use.
On long main-road trips fifty miles were often packed into each hour by
cruising on half-throttle or just over. This setting gave an indicated
speed of approximately 70 mph under windless conditions on level roads;
but speedometer flattery was about 10 percent throughout the BMWs speed
range. When tested for stamina, the R26 was ridden for several miles on
end on full throttle without the least sign of distress. Hill climbing
was excellent, thanks to the engine's high torque and flywheel inertia.
An engine-speed clutch and widely spaced gear ratios do not make for
the best in gear changing. Upward changes on the R26 could be made with
lightning speed provided some clashing of the dogs was tolerated.
Alternatively, noiseless changes could be effected by means of a pause
in pedal movement. A slight click accompanied all downward changes.
Engagement of bottom gear with the engine idling was almost noiseless;
neutral selection was child's play and was indicated by the
illumination of a green light in the headlamp shell. Clutch engagement
was smooth but because of the high flywheel inertia, the lever was best
released gently if a slight lurch was to be avoided.
A wide, powerful headlamp beam made daylight speeds safe on unlit roads
after dark. Mudguarding efficiency was above average. At the conclusion
of the test which included much hard riding, no oil had leaked from any
part of the mechanism.
A fine quality tool kit and good accessibility render maintenance easy.
But it is necessary to remove the tank to gain access to the valve
adjustments and this involves draining the fuel. However, adjustments
are unlikely to be required except after decarboizing the engine. The
R26 bristles with attractive features such as quickly detachable,
balanced wheels with polished, light-alloy rims, steering and tool box
locks and rubber sealing of the tool and battery containers. In its
performance, unobtrusiveness, finish and detail design, the R26 cannot
fail to engender great pride of ownership.
Engine: BMW 247cc (68 X 68 mm) overhead-valve single with
fully-enclosed valve gear, dynamo and ignition equipment.
Aluminum-alloy cylinder head. Light-alloy connecting rod; plain big-end
bearing. Crankshaft supported by three ball bearings. Compression ratio
7.5 to 1. Pressure lubrication; oil compartment in crankcase, capacity
Carburettor: Bing with twistgrip throttle control. Air filter.
Ignition and Lighting: Coil ignition with auto-advance. Noris 60-watt
dynamo with automatic voltage control. Bayern 6-volt, 9 ampere-hour
battery. Bosch 6.5-inch diameter headlamp with pre-focus light unit and
35/35-watt main bulb.
Transmission: BMW four-speed gear box in unit with engine;
positive-stop foot control. Gear ratios: bottom, 22.17 to 1; second,
12.56 to 1; third, 8.49 to 1. Single plate dry clutch incorporated in
engine flywheel; fabric friction material. Final drive by enclosed
shaft and helical bevel gears. Engine rpm at 30 mph in top gear, 2,630.
Fuel capacity: 3/25 gallons
Tires: Metzeler 3.25 X 18-inch front and rear
Brakes: 6.25-inch diameter X 1 3/8-inch wide front an rear; finger adjusters.
Wheelbase: 54.5 inches unladen. Ground clearance, 6 inches unladen.
Weight: 330 pounds fully equipped and with full oil container and one gallon of petrol
Price 207 pounds
Braking: From 30 mph to rest, 29 feet (surface dry tarmac)
Turning circle: 13 feet, 6 inches
Minimum non-snatch speed: 15 mph in top gear
Weight per cc: 1.34 pound
Petrol consumption: At 50 mph 80 mpg
Highest one-way speed: 73 mph (conditions moderate side wind; rider wearing two-piece plastic suit and overboots)
Suspension: BMW pivoted-fork front and rear springing employing
multi-rate coil springs and hydraulic camping. Two-position manual
adjustment for load on rear shock absorbers. Two-position load and
trail adjustments on front fork for sidecar duty.
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