BMW /2 motorcycle bench seats (dual), solo seats, and fender racks
Bench (dual) seats for the /2 BMW motorcycle
The /2 BMW (55-69) came with a variety of seats. The basic price included only the rider’s solo seat. Any seat for the pillion position was an accessory. All of the dual seats were an accessory in the early years. The bench seats are normally divided into three sizes, wide, medium, and narrow.
Photo by Joel Rapose, thanks.
The wide seat
The seat on the left is the “extra wide” one. It was often referred to as the US seat. It was an accessory and cost an extra $25 in the mid-60s. Many bikes were delivered with it as stock, but the invoice added on the extra charge. More and more bikes came with the wide seat, and by the late 60s, more than half seemed to be supplied with the wide seat.
It is the only /2 seat with grab handles or vertical supports. The vertical supports are just a long flat bar going from the rear of the seat directly down to the bolt at the fender hinge. These vertical supports are necessary, as the side brackets are not strong enough to hold the seat. They are part of the seat and are not listed separately in the parts book.
The grab handles are of two varieties. The early ones were cast aluminum, and the later ones were chromed steel. The aluminum polished up fairly well but could corrode if left out in the weather. The chrome steel looked good until they started to rust. They were cheaper to make and looked cheaper too. Warning. Never allow a passenger to grab them for safety. In any sudden shift or take-off, the passenger will hold on too far back and fall off the motorcycle’s rear. Don’t ask how I found that out.
This seat has the strap going through the grommet. It also has the later chrome handrails.
Wide seat info from Jeff, thanks
I’ve been following the “Seat” thread on the /2 chat group, which led me once again to your wonderful website. As I was looking at your /2 “bench seats” page, I noticed your request for the dimensions of the “wide” seat. I dug out the example I have and made the following measurements:.
The width of the seat at the widest point is 13″ (33cm), which tapers to 12″ (30.5cm) for the pillion.
Width from the piping to piping while following the contour of the seat is 14.5″ (36.9cm) at the widest point, tapering to 14″ (35.6cm) for the pillion.
The seat is from an Earles fork R50 that left the factory on Feb 28, 1967. It has aluminum trim on the bottom, chrome grab handles, and a strap that extends completely around the seat and fastens underneath. The rear displays a metal tag imprinted with “Original Schorsch Meier, Made by Denfeld, West Germany.” It has not been recovered, and I am almost 100% certain that this dual seat is the one that came with the bike.
Your site has saved me much anguish as I have worked to restore my R50/2. I appreciate all of the time and effort you’ve put into assembling the web pages and look forward to your contributions to the chat group.
Recovering the wide seat
This article might help you with recovering the wide seat. Thank Jim in Australia, for this article.
The medium (middle) seat
The middle seat is what was provided as standard on US delivery bikes. Photo from Mark Coholan, thanks. It measures about 11″ between the piping at the widest point, which is about midway, front to back. The distance between the piping at the pillion part is 9 1/4″, and the length of the piping is 27 1/2″. This seat can come with a few varieties of springs and rubber.
The narrow BMW bench seat
The seat on the right is the narrowest one and seems to be little known in the USA. The cover on this example isn’t correct at all and should look exactly like the middle one. This one is only about 9″ or so at the widest part. I seem to remember that the emblem was Denfeld, not Schorsch Meier. Does anyone have proof, either way? That seat was on all BMWs imported privately by a “pirate” BMW dealer in Mountain View, California, in the late 60s named Siraky Motors.
Mr. Siraky was a recent immigrant from Hungary and brought in many BMWs “under the table,” which infuriated Butler and Smith. I also saw some of these seats on /2 bikes that were imported privately by military personnel that had been stationed in Europe. The main thing about this seat is that it is not only narrow, but the sides are more parallel. It just isn’t much wider in the midway area.
BMW bench seat characteristics
All came with a strap for the passenger to hold. The early ones had the strap going through a metal grommet on the side of the seat. The later ones had the strap going all of the way down to the bottom of the seat and wrapping back up to its mounting point. Other minor variations exist.
The early strap and grommet. The seat is the medium-sized one. Photo from Mark Coholan, thanks.
The later strap.
The suspension on the bench seat
A variety of manufacturers made seats for BMW, and they varied over the years. One variation is what is under the bench seat for suspension. Some had a hard rubber pad and two coil springs to hold it up. I have only seen the rubber pad on the middle-sized seat. Some had a variety of many coiled springs running from front to back. The coils were “smashed” down so that they would not be so thick.
This is a shot of a bench seat with the flat “smashed” springs. The spring is wound and then “smashed” flat. I hope that you can see that in the photo. The seat is mounted upon a bike, so I just jammed the camera under it as best as possible. That is the fender on the lower right. This was probably the best suspension for the bench seat. The other type was a hard rubber padding. It worked well, but after some 30 years would start to crack and break up.
This one is typical of the hard rubber pad and two coil springs, one on each side. Photo from Mark Coholan, thanks.
An email from Pierre Michaud talking about his seats.
Well, I finished restoring my SM (Schorsch Meier) narrow bench seat, which is beautiful! One thing I discovered doing it is that the Denfeld felt padding and the SM molded foam has the exact same padding contour even though when reupholstered, the SM is 12 inches at the widest and the Denfeld is (I forget) 11 inches.
The frames for the Denfeld and the SM are identical in every respect and are therefore interchangeable (An SM with a molded rubber seat base, however, is different)
The Denfeld has coil springs, while the SM has crushed springs front to back. The SM is wider at the midsection and wider all around because SM has 2 metal strips on which the flat springs clip on and cause them to spread wider to the exterior.
Both Model SMs I have share the same foam padding and have the same vinyl upholstering. Everything else is different except maybe the 2 suspension coil springs on each side.
Both Model SMs I have, have a rear tag mentioning only Schorsch Meier. However, they were made by Denfeld.
The problems with all these seats are the deterioration of the molded foam padding and or the rubber seat pad. All foam that is exposed dries up/oxidizes/crumbles. Any foam not exposed but in contact with metal springs also deteriorates big time. Even if you were lucky enough to find a NOS, I am sure the foam and rubber would be in poor shape. On the Schorsch Meier with rubber padding, the foam is almost all undercover….in this case, the foam is remarkedly in great shape, but the rubber is cracked and dry.
Trademark plates for the dual seats
All of the dual, or bench, seats on the /2 BMW motorcycles were made by Denfeld.
From a 1965 medium seat.
Another example of a plate. Photo by Lawrie Bradly
Two or three bench seats?
Our best source of info (usually) on these matters is Mark Hugget from BMW Mobile Tradition at http://www.bmwbike.com/. Here is his unedited quote, in red, on this issue as a response to my inquiry on the /2 Yahoo list. I have posted this to be fair to Mark, as his information is of very high quality, and his view should be represented.
The following text by Mark was edited by Grammarly. I am mostly changing Brit English to American English.
You are confusing people even more regarding how many types of bench seats were available. BMW had two bench seats, namely narrow and wide. Check your old BMW parts catalogs, and you will find three part numbers, namely:
52 53 9 034 021 Narrow bench seat R26; R27; R50 – R69S
52 53 9 034 020 Wide bench seat (US) R50 – R69S
52 51 7 002 160 Narrow bench seat with attachment parts R50 – R69S.
This is the same 52 53 9 034 021 plus additional mounting hardware.
BMW had two suppliers, namely Denfeld and Schorsch Meier.
BMW used the same part number for corresponding products from both suppliers.
During the lifespan of these saddles, their production also underwent changes. Originally Denfeld used crushed spring for their bench seats.. They then went to a rubber molded support instead of the crushed spring, probably due to cost reasons which were, as you rightly mentioned, supported by two coil compression springs on either side.
Schorsch Meier only used crushed springs in their bench seats.
The company Denfeld filed for bankruptcy in the late 1970s, and what was leftover and the name Denfeld was bought by the company “Schwartz.” The original toolings, drawings, and molds for the Denfeld bench were no longer around, and so “Schwartz” had to start from scratch. Due to the investment costs, Schwartz went back to the crushed spring concept. He also made new jigs for the frame, which are not perfect, and that is why the replacement Denfeld bench seat does not fit the original contours of the BMW; the space between the rear fender and the rear of the saddle is about 4,5 to 5 cm whereas the original Denfeld and Schorsch Meier bench had an all-around snug fit.
Here is a later post by Mark on this same issue.
According to BMW’s internal production lists, both Denfeld and Schorsch Meier were parallel suppliers. SM seats were made by Denfeld. Similarly, BMW had three parallel rubber seat cover suppliers: PAGUSA, Denfeld, and SFS Franke. Like with contact breaker points, Bosch, Beru, and now Noris from Mark Huggett GmbH.
All the changes and slight differences that you mention are no more than subtle changes over the years of a product is improvement and further development during its life. If you guys knew how many changes a product goes through, material spec, surface spec, hardness, tolerance, etc.
Fact is. There are officially only two Bench seats made for the Earles fork BMW models, namely the narrow and the wide US version. The differences that you are on about or the mysterious “third” type is simple evolution and changes from one batch to the next.
My old parts books are all in the 7-digit part system, so I can’t check these numbers. Since I have seen dozens of these very narrow seats, I know that they exist. I asked for input from others. I received several replies from current owners of the very narrow seat. We still don’t know the full story about them. I was never able to find new original covers for this very narrow bench seat. Owners of these seats have no choice but to deal with them as a different seat. It matters none to us because BMW had suppliers that allowed the seats to be different but with the same part number.
BMW motorcycle solo seats for the /2
This is a very rare solo seat in the first year of the Earles fork models.
This is a close-up of the seat spring mounted in place. In the lower right, you can see the battery strap. Photo by Richard Sheckler, thanks.
This BMW motorcycle passenger seat was made by Pagusa. It has two long parallel springs for suspension. Denfeld made them, and they were nearly identical. Depending upon the year, other companies made them too. It is a rear solo seat mounted on the rear fender rack. Photo by Steve Sawtelle, thanks.
The seat on my restored R25/3. The coil spring is horizontal.
The stamped steel fender rack
This photo shows the side view of the fender rack that was made to mount at least two types of pillion seats.
This is the rear view of the same rack. This R69S was restored by Marco Hyman and contains a lot of great information.
The rear rack should be stamped steel, and it has 3 holes in it. The original racks had nuts welded under the rack for bolt mounting of the solo seat. The reproduction racks do not have the nuts welded on the underside of them, but they can be added.
Photos of the leather-covered swinging pillion seat.
Photos by Scott Williams
This seat is attached to the back of the front solo saddle. As the solo saddle goes up and down, the front of this one rises and falls. I owned a 1962 R69S that was supplied with this configuration from BMW. Passengers reported that it wasn’t comfortable for more than 1/2 hour. The white piping is identical to that found on the bench seats. The leather was rather thick and of high quality. The stitching was usually the first thing to go on a well-taken care of motorcycle.
The restorer may want to see other early aspects of the /2 and more details.
Various emails providing BMW motorcycle seat information
Installing the solo seat covers
Yes, there is an easy way to stretch them out. You will need at least two nylon straps or motorcycle ‘tie downs’ and a workbench or something to fasten the outer ends of the straps to. (I like dangling prepositions). Using some lubricant, such as dish liquid detergent, slop some of it around inside the rubber saddle cover. Insert the rear curved tube with the two studs inside the rubber cover and force it inside close to where it will be when under tension. The two studs should now be sticking down through the rear holes of the saddle rubber. Devise a way to fasten one of the straps to those two studs. Next, force the front part of the seat frame in place until the stud is sticking down through the hole (if you have a Pagusa, there will be two tabs on the wireframe that will pivot around underneath the bottom front of the saddle top through which two bolts go).
Either way, fasten the remaining strap to the front bolt(s) with the outer end fastened to something that won’t move, like the other end of your workbench. If you have ratchet straps, begin ratcheting. If ordinary straps are fastened, there will be a loop through which to slip a two-foot-long stick (60cm for our European friends) about halfway between the loop and begin turning. The tension will draw the two parts of the seat frame apart so that you can slip the wireframe into the rear tubing. If you intend to replace more than one of these, suggest you make up a pair of steel plates about 4 or 5 mm thick, drill holes to align with the studs on the seat frame, bolt the pieces to the studs, and fasten the straps to the plates. These plates will aid in stabilizing the two parts of the seat frame when drawing them apart.
Hope that helps.
The Steiger is an Asian reproduction of the Denfeld/Pagusa seats. The only difference is the rubber top, which is too thin and uncomfortable. You can buy a Denfeld rubber top and put it on the Steiger frame, but it is physically challenging to do this. It requires warming and lubing the rubber and applying some leverage.
One recommendation involved two people in a hot soapy tub. Another recommendation from a newsgroup back in 2001 was: “Start in a good location with concrete. Insert both the front and rear pieces of the frame into the saddle w/o attempting to connect them. Fold the front 1/2 back over the rear of the saddle up. Place the assembly on the floor and put all your weight on the rear bar. Then force the front half over. Do this with some precision, and the front 1/2 will line up with the holes in the rear part of the frame. Once they are lined up (this is the tricky part), give it a final push, and the frame will snap together. If you failed to line them up, take them apart and try again. Soaking the saddle in hot water will make it cooperate a little.”
Mark Huggett, Huggett Forum, Sept 2000:
All pillion rubber seats were Pagusa, and that is why we only sell Pagusa. Even when an R50 or R60 was shipped from the factory with a “Denfeld” or “Franke” driver’s saddle, only the Pagusa was offered for the pillion. The only Denfeld products that were fitted and sold by BMW until 1969 were the dual bench seat, the rubber driver’s saddle cover mounted only on the boxer Earles fork models, and the pillion cushion to be fitted on the rear rack, and the foldable briefcase carrier.
All other rubber saddles were only the original Pagusa (PAtent GUmmi SAttel). Other makes were pure license agreements. The whole issue about American customers thinking that Denfeld is original for all models is simply because the US importer Butler & Smith did a great job of importing and selling Denfeld products in the USA. Denfeld is a licensed production of the PAGUSA saddle cover, as was also Franke, SFS, Leper, etc. PAGUSA is the originally patented rubber saddle from 1935. The name PAGUSA is derived from “PAtent GUmmi SAattel). Other makes were pure license agreements. The whole issue about American customers thinking that Denfeld is original for all models is simply because the US importer Butler & Smith did a great job of importing and selling Denfeld products in the USA.
The Denfeld is a licensed production of the PAGUSA saddle cover, as was also Franke, SFS, Leper, etc. PAGUSA is the originally patented rubber saddle from 1935. The name PAGUSA is derived from “PAtent GUmmi SAttel”. BMW drew off saddle covers from PAGUSA, SFS, FRANKE, and DENFELD. Oddly enough, SFS, FRANKE, and DENFELD were specified on most export models of the R50 to R69S models, and the R27 were as European models preferred PAGUSA. All other models also had PAGUSA. The fitted PAGUSA and Denfeld seats have identical dimensions and inner frames. Today, the rubber of the PAGUSA covers are better quality and lasts longer than the Denfeld. SFS FRANKE has disappeared into oblivion. Leper (Holland) still makes great leather bicycle saddles but no rubber saddles.
In the early ’60s, BMW had a small falling out with Denfeld (so I have heard). At that time, they couldn’t get any silent blocks, so they made up a rather nice coil spring arrangement that worked well. I have one I use on one of my bikes, and I have only seen one other, but they are out there. They tended to make the seat a bit lower. I did duplicate a similar setup using a rear coil spring cut down to the correct length, and I made a bracket to attach it to where the silent block bolted. I think I still have a parts book that shows the setup and may be able to scan it to show how it looked.
Dale Monson, MI
Huggett indicates that the solo seat with the horizontal chrome spring only fits pre-1955 twins and all the singles: 52 51 7 002 009 Pagusa driver’s seat complete R25/2-R27; R51/2-R68.
On page 133 in “How To Restore Your BMW,” Slabon similarly says that the horizontal spring was used for the 1950-1954 twins and the later R26 and R27 singles.
The single vertical spring seat in your picture is not shown in Slabon’s book. Your filename says “55 seat” implying 1955 – if so, perhaps the spring is an aftermarket adaptation.
Hi Gang, Denfeld, Franke, Wittkopp, and several other companies made saddles under license from Pagusa, which was the name of the saddle, not the company that made them. Today, Pagusa is owned by Wolfgang Ahrendt, GmbH Before the swingarm models came out and after the introduction of the plunger framed series, Pagusa was the name that appeared on most but not all saddles mounted on BMWs. If you have an original 1950s Pagusa saddle top, you can find the name of the company that manufactured and owned the patents to that design. Offhand, I don’t remember it. Now here’s an interesting thought: If Pagusa saddles are still being manufactured by the company that owns the patents, and you install one on your restored bike, is it an original or a reproduction?
Is the R26-27 driver solo seat frame exactly the same as the R51/3-68 counterpart?
52 51 7 002 115 Seat carrier, R25/2; R51/2 – R68; 8mm, 105.00 52 51 7 002 116 Seat carrier, R25/3 – R27; 10mm, 105.00 From Huggett’s Site. Apparently different.
Confirmed: diameter 8 mm on my R 51/2 seat.
Steve, The seat carrier bolt hole diameter is the only difference I know of. You could easily drop collars on each side of the pivot point of the saddle yoke if you are installing a later yoke on an older frame. In 1954, the factory changed the seat post on the frame to accommodate a silent block or rubber sleeve. At this time, they increased the diameter of the saddle carrier bolt to 10mm. Not counting the bikes that were returned to the factory for the new model upgrade, the full hub R51/3 and R25/3 models were made with the larger silent block for the seat carrier. The factory continued with this set-up on the R67/3, R26, and R27. The silent block replacement inserts are still available. Cheers, Richard
Tips on how to make a solo pad for the BMW motorcycle luggage rack
Sorry, but I do not have any dimensions. I want to add that in making the seat. Use high-density foam with a top layer of 1/2″ thick medium-density foam. Before slipping the cover over, make sure you use a small piece of plastic thin film and wrap up the foam pieces’ top and sides, leaving an opening on the bottom to breathe. The plastic is to keep the foam dry as moisture does and will penetrate through the stitching. As for stitching, use csb 69 UV thread for years of use. Also, use a heat gun to heat the seat cover when installing, as this will make it more pliable. DO NOT install it too tightly, as this will tend to look bad over time. Use 1/2″-3/4 ” treated plywood, painted or marine plywood, to protect against moisture. Drill two 1/2″ holes in the plywood to allow decompression of the seat when it’s under pressure! For mounting, install 4, 1/4″ T-Nuts in the plywood before assembly, and use stainless fasteners to mount. Note: I usually staple a piece of plastic cut from a pop bottle over the top backside of each T-Nut, so they do not pop out when installing the fasteners. USE Stainless steel STAPLES!
Expect to spend $30-$50 and no more than two hours of labor. Not bad!
Here are some shots of the sports seat. I believe it is a reproduction of a “guillare bump stop”? I ordered it from Hans Lowe, “Hucky,” down in Florida, who imports all kinds of stuff from Germany. I have only put a few hundred miles on it but seems comfier than the stock seat as it is a little wider and flatter metal pan, and is well made. I haven’t modified it yet to pull straight up but did my wife’s SWB by using a 90-degree piece of stock mounted to the right shock bolt inside the frame and fixed a pin to it with a corresponding hole in the seat. Works great! Let me know if you would like more specific photos, and thanks again for all you do.
What I did is really simple, and if it failed, I have the option to go back and revert to BMW’s original configuration (hinges). So far, I like it this way if the hole in the fiberglass elongates and becomes unacceptable, I have the option to glue in a metal bushing or fill in the hole and move elsewhere.
The only tricky part in my simple installation is when the stud (bolt) is in place to mark a witness on the top. By witness, I used some nail polish and pressed the seat in place to transfer a mark on where I should drill my hole in the fiberglass seat. This is a no-brainer, but often the simple tricks are overlooked.
Regards, Rich (Merlin)
QSL Means: Quality Service Longevity QSL They were also named The 1000 mile (meaning 1000 miles in one day and comfortable) Teutonic solo saddle The original price was $100.00 for everything the guy made, His name was Gary?????, he handmade each solo seat, the riders one, had a long nose, the passenger, had a short nose, so it would fit behind the riders. The riders came with a bracket to fit /5 /6 /7 BMWs the passenger’s seat was to be mounted to a rack. There were 2 racks: the pickup rack and the extra long cargo rack. Each item was to sell for $100.00. This Gary, whatever made these seats for some time, He had an accident, fell out of a tree, and passed away. Someone else continued to make these seats and racks for a few years. You could tell the copies from the originals because the copies had chrome trim around the bottom of the seat. NO, they haven’t been made for years! I had one and both types of racks as well, sold the seat as I found a Harley Davidson Police solo saddle to be much more comfortable, and you don’t need anything to install it on a BMW.
I have a QSL on my 68 R-60 sidecar conversion rig. Very comfy, great for the long ride. I’d buy another in a flash. I think all were originally made for /5 bikes. My mounting bracket is homemade but works well.
Additional information is always welcome. Thanks.
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Updated 16 July 2022