The first serious motorcycle BMW produced was the 'R 32' in 1923, which was a huge market success. A few years later, a racing version was introduced, along with the 'R 39,' BMW's first single cylinder motorbike.
In the 1930s, BMW produced mostly smaller, more efficient bikes, many for the government, which ordered them en mass. One notable model was the 'Kompressor,' which was popular for its style and racing capability. The postwar economic slump was a difficult time for BMW, which didn't get its next big break until the 1960 introduction of its R 69, which took it through the 1960s.
BMW saw its motorcycle business grow in the 1970s and 80's, and in 1983 introduced the K-Series, featuring an electric starter and a number of other changes. Vintage BMW models are today highly sought-after by both collectors and mechanics.