Here’s another Beemer
As the world waits for BMW to re-enter the scooter market later in 2012, a rather interesting item has surfaced—BMW had actually developed a scooter prototype in the early 1950s.
BMW was not alone—in the early 1950s just about any company you could think of in the aircraft, munitions or motorcycle business had a scooter on sale or in the works, inspired by the success of Piaggio’s Vespa in a market with a large pent-up demand for cheap personal transportation.
The R10 was developed completly in-house by BMW. Initially conceived with a 198cc engine, later prototypes were powered by a 175cc version.
However, by the time the R10 was deemed ready for production in 1954, the European scooter market had softened considerably. BMW was faced with a choice between the R10 and the Isetta bubble car; the company famously went with the car, which proved to be an enormous sales and financial success.
According to BMW Group Classic historian Fred Jakobs, it was a simple business decision that turned out to be the correct one for the company.
“At the time the R 10 scooter was ready for production, the Board had a difficult decision to make,” he said. “BMW was even back then a company known for its premium products and after many internal discussions it was decided that the scooter just wasn’t special enough, either in terms of its product offering or its features when compared to the competition.”
As you may know, the upcoming Beemer maxis represent the company’s return to the scooter market it abandoned in 2002 when the C1 (left) was discontinued.
The C1 was intended to entice car drivers onto two wheels, and attempted to address such potential buyers’ concerns about safety and weather protection.
As you can see, the C1 not only had a big windscreen, but a roof. It came with ABS, a speed-sensitive audio system and a 3-point seat/shoulder belt for its car-like seat.
However, it was just a little too far outside the box for most people and was discontinued in 2002. The C1 was never officially sold in the U.S., but a few have made their way here, and they turn up at scooter rallies from time to time.
The R10 was not dissimilar to German scooters like the Zündapp Bella and Heinkel Tourist in its size and weight. Big and heavy was a theme in German motorcycles of the time. Not to mention the upcoming C600 Sport and C650 GT.