History of BMW motorcycle logo, emblems or roundels
The source of the famous BMW emblem
This is an artist’s drawing of the propeller of an airplane. This is widely though to have inspired the current BMW emblem. This may not be accurate.
BMW has changed the emblems many times over the years. The main thing to know about these screw on cloisonne emblems is not to over tighten them. That will distort the base metal and will crack the cloisonne enamel. A rubber gasket is mounted between the emblem and metal to help cushion it. A properly tightened screw can almost be turned with a strong thumbnail. The screw slots shouldn’t be “aligned” because they may crack the enamel. Leave them when the screws come to the proper tension. Many have been cracked because the installer wanted to be sure they stayed on or wanted the slots to be lined up and went a bit too far. I have never heard of an emblem falling off. Some of the tank surfaces are not flat to start with. They must have a curved emblem to fit. The enamel emblem will not conform (flex) to fit a curved surface. You will ruin them.
A history of cloisonne enamel can be found at http://www.everlifememorials.com/urns/cloisonne-urns.htm
BMW used several suppliers in the early days and you may see them from any of the producers. The size also varies slightly from 6 cm.
This shows the emblem that was typical of the tubular frame early models. This beautiful emblem is on an R39 and was supplied by Thomas Welzel, thanks.
This lovely 7 cm emblem is on an R42, thanks Chuck
This emblem is from the ’30s. The metal is copper-colored, probably brass. See the slight font difference from the one above?
This one is from a pre-war R12 and is just over 6.1 cm in diameter. It is a large file and slow to load up. Thanks, Paul Gubbels.
This is the back side showing the supplier. Large file, slow to load up. Thanks, Paul Gubbels.
This is the typical emblem from the late 30’s. It is 6 cm in diameter.
Reported to be from 1940-45. Thanks, Paul Gubbels.
The emblem with copper letters is correct for all bikes from the middle ’50s until the early ’60s. I don’t remember when the copper ended, and the silver color started. Thanks, Paul Gubbels.
This is the emblem that is correct for all bikes from the early ’60s on to mid 66 or so. It is distinguished by the narrow letters with the serifs. It is 6 cm. in diameter. The metal letters were changed from copper color to a silver color and are probably nickel.
In mid or late 1966 (I think), the font was changed to the block style letters without the serifs. All /2 were 6 cm in diameter.
This is a /5 emblem with the screws and gasket. It is 7 cm in diameter.
This is one of the “stick-on” plastic emblems used on the /6. It is 7 cm. in diameter. On all 1974models, but the R90S, the emblems were changed to glue on plastic. These emblems would “yellow” in the sunlight unless they fell off first.
This is one of the “stick-on” enamel emblems for an R90S. It is also 7 cm. in diameter. A few of the Silver Smoke bikes in 74 had the plastic emblems, but most were enamel. All of the Daytona Orange models that we saw had the enamel emblems.
This is a large enamel sign from the ’50s that would advertise a BMW dealership. It is 23″ across and only the second one that I have ever seen, thanks, Chuck.
This is the more common large enamel sign from a 1979 BMW dealership. It is 23″ across. These letters are not yellow, as above. Thanks, Dennis Allstead
This is the high mileage award emblem for documenting 100,000 miles. The factory awards it through a BMW dealer. It is new and still in the unopened cellophane wrapper. This one has silver letters.
Stephen Ascherl sent me the BMW racing roundels that I wanted. These are water-slip decals and are 64mm across. They were used on race bikes because the screw-in roundels could be dangerous on the track….if they come unscrewed. Also, the decals weigh almost nothing.
You would soak them in warm water for a couple of seconds and then apply them to the tank. Peel off the backing paper and blow-dry. They then get covered with a clear coat.
Variations of and additions to the BMW logo
Over the years the BMW logo has been altered or modified for some reason. I hope to collect a few examples and show them. The main reason to show variations is for the restorer to know if the ones on a bike are BMW or some aftermarket item.
This was sold by San Jose BMW for the Motorsport in 1978. Photo donated by Chris Bynum, thanks.
A kneepad from Eisenacher Fahrzeugfabrik, or better known as EMW. During the war (and afterward too) they made the R35.
Some of the current reproduction emblems for the /2 are not very good. The distance between mounting hole centers isn’t correct. When one installs them, the screws don’t bottom out. They are a bevel headed screw, and they must bottom out, or they are obviously not right. It is very difficult to go in and fix the hole.
For additional information go to snowbum’s article.
Updated 10 Oct 2019