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Book Review – BMW: Motorcycles of the Century

Craig Fitzgerald
February 15, 2014

Coffee table motorcycle books are usually (A) ridiculously expensive (B) light on actual information and (C) about Harley-Davidsons. The new book BMW: Motorcycles of the Century is none of those things. It’s a comprehensive catalog of specific details about every model produced between 1923 and today, married with beautiful photography of the individual bikes. The R32 arrived from BMW in 1923, and it established BMW as a legitimate producer of high-quality motorcycles. For a time, it duked it out with the Zundapp and NSU for supremacy in Germany, but following the second World War, BMW became the brand to beat for stout, mile-eating, reliable shaft-driven motorcycles.

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BMW: Motorcycles of the Century was produced in Italy by Massimo Bonsignori and Claudio Somazzi, the former a noted BMW restorer and the latter, an entrepreneur and BMW enthusiast.

Inside Page
Inside Page

Photography is generally what makes or breaks a restorer or collector resource like this one, and here, it’s exquisite. Each model gets its own page, broken up into sections by decade, making it easy to flip through chronologically.

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The bonus here is the quick specification guide, which includes information on the chassis and engine numbers, engine specs for every model, dimensions, years of production and more.

Inside Page K100RS K1
Inside Page K100RS K1

We have one criticism here: The book tries to serve as a value guide, which is almost pointless in a print volume like this one. Values on these bikes fluctuate wildly — especially on the newer bikes — and plenty of online resources can serve that need without becoming obsolete before the ink is dry on the paper.

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With that exception, it’s a marvelous book that any BMW enthusiast would love to have in the library.

The book is scheduled to be released in April of 2014.

BMW: Motorcycles of the Century
by Claudio Somazzi and Massimo Bonsignori
Hardcover / 9 1/2″ x 11″
256 Pages with 400 Color Illustrations
US Price: $60 / Canadian Price: $60
ISBN: 978-88-572-1954-7
Published by Skira, distributed by Rizzoli New York