BMW founder: Franz Josef Popp, Karl Rapp, Camillo Castiglioni
BMW headquarters: Munich, Germany
BMW Motorrad AG is a German manufacturer of motorcycles, a division of BMW. In 2013 celebrated its 90th anniversary. The history of BMW bikes started on January 2nd, 1917. It is the date when Max Friz (then 33 years old) started working for the German automaker. Before long he was appointed the company’s head designer. His main interest was developing motorcycles, later he became known as the father of the boxer flat-twin. In 1923 the first bike, R32, was released.
BMW motorcycle logo Meaning and History
In 1925 the R 37 opened the door to racing, and only four years later Rudolf Schleicher’s model broke the absolute speed record, becoming the fastest motorcycle in the world. By 2000 BMW sold over 74,000 bikes.
The BMW Roundel appeared over 95 years ago, a little bit earlier than the history of BMW Motorrad began. In July the name of BMW’s motorcycle division, Bayerische Motoren Werke, was registered by Franz Josef Popp.
Four months later, on October 5, BMW Motorrad logo was registered. The circular design featured the word “BMW” at the top of the outer ring. The company’s designers chose the colors of the Bavarian Free State (blue and white). However, they were used in a different order, as far as using national symbols in business was against the law.
It is interesting to know that in fact the logo was used before it was officially registered. For instance, you could notice it at the document that confirmed Popp’s appointment as the General Manager.
The spinning propeller myth
A lot of people are sure that BMW Motorrad logo appeared from an image of aircraft propellers. This myth has an interesting history.
Back in 1929, the company published an advertisement, in which the BMW Roundel was placed in the rotating propellers of a plane. The same year the automaker purchased the right to build Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines, so the ad was meant to establish the image of BMW as an aircraft engine maker.
In 1942, an article appeared in a BMW magazine, claiming the idea of the BMW Roundel was actually taken from a spinning propeller. This explanation looked so realistic that the legend became official, and it was only several years ago that it was proved to be just a myth.
How did the BMW symbol change over time?
Although the very structure of the symbol has remained unchanged for 100 years, one can definitely notice minor differences between the badges installed on motorcycles of different years.
The first registered version actually did not coincide with the badge on BMW’s first motorcycle, R32, launched in 1923. Letters moved a bit closer together, while the font became bolder. This version was registered as a trademark in 1933 in Germany.
The badges installed in the BMW motorcycles and cars differed in the following details: overall proportions, the shade of blue, the color of the letters (in some versions was gold, in others white or silver), type of font (serif or sans-serif) and its size.
In the 1950s, the white lettering was standardized, but if it was put on a motorcycle badge, it was silver. In the 1960s, sans-serif font was used.
In the early 1970s and ’80s, a Motorsport Roundel appeared, featuring Motorrad colors.