For almost a century since the launch of the first BMW motorcycle, over one-third of the brand’s two-wheeled model range today is still powered by the iconic Boxer engine. In this video, we explore the reasons behind the enduring popularity and success of the BMW Boxer engine.
I. The Boxer Engine: A Heritage of German Engineering
In the late 1890s, German engineer Carl Benz designed a groundbreaking four-stroke engine known as the Boxer engine. This type of engine features horizontally opposed pistons, arranged in two banks on opposite sides, connected by a shared crankshaft. The unique movement of the pistons, resembling a boxer’s fists in a fight, gave birth to its name.
II. Advantages of the Horizontally Opposed Configuration
While the Boxer engine’s power output and performance are noteworthy, its horizontally opposed arrangement offers significant advantages. One key advantage is the evenly distributed weight on both sides of the motorcycle. This distribution contributes to exceptional handling, stability, and an overall equal front-rear weight balance. These traits are particularly evident in all-terrain adventure motorcycles like the BMW GS 1250.
III. Handling and Stability Benefits
The balanced weight distribution and low center of gravity provided by the Boxer engine greatly aid in maneuvering the motorcycle through corners. With equivalent weight at the front and back, the bike maintains stability and enhances the rider’s control. Furthermore, due to the shared crankshaft, the total engine weight is lighter compared to its competitors, contributing to improved handling.
IV. Smooth Performance and Crash Protection
The Boxer engine’s horizontally opposed configuration results in excellent rotational balance, minimizing unnecessary forces and ensuring smooth engine operation. In the unfortunate event of a crash, the Boxer engine provides additional protection by positioning the pistons on each side of the motorcycle. This layout acts as a barrier, shielding the rider’s lower body to a significant extent.
V. Durability and Aftermarket Support
While the Boxer engine offers robustness, the valve heads, placed at the engine’s extreme ends, can be vulnerable to damage in a crash. However, BMW has taken steps to enhance the durability of the Boxer twin, and there are various official and aftermarket parts available to protect the engine components. These measures provide owners with peace of mind and additional assurance.
VI. Linear Power Delivery and Considerations
The two-cylinder Boxer engine is known for its torque-rich power delivery, making it particularly well-suited for shaft-driven motorcycles. The linear power band and smooth power delivery enhance the riding experience. However, it’s worth noting that the protruding cylinders’ width may pose challenges in tight off-road spaces or while filtering through traffic.
VII. Cost Considerations and Rarity
Due to the complexity involved in its manufacturing process, the Boxer engine is relatively expensive to produce. Consequently, motorcycles featuring the Boxer engine are a rare sight among two-cylinder configurations. Nonetheless, the performance, reliability, and unique characteristics of the Boxer engine justify its position as a coveted powerplant in the motorcycling world.
The BMW Boxer engine represents a testament to German engineering and a symbol of the brand’s heritage. With its horizontally opposed configuration, the Boxer engine offers exceptional handling, stability, and crash protection. While there are considerations to keep in mind, such as the width of the cylinders and cost of manufacturing, the Boxer engine’s enduring appeal continues to captivate riders worldwide. Whether conquering off-road adventures or cruising on the open road, the BMW Boxer engine stands as an emblem of performance and reliability.