BMW R45 vs. BMW R65 vs. BMW R65LS: Best Touring Motorcycles of BMW

Following the success of the R32 and R37 series, BMW became a well-known name among motorcycle enthusiasts. Over the years, the company has consistently followed the path of innovation and excellent craftsmanship. The R series is easily one of the company’s most successful motorcycle lines to date. Beginning with the production of the BMW R52 in 1923, there are many generations of the BMW R series motorcycle. The most recent addition to this series is the BMW R18 which was produced in 2020.

However, our focus for today is not on the latest “rigs” from BMW. Going back a few years, we will be talking about 3 different classic BMW motorcycles. These are the BMW R45, R65, and R65LS. This article will take a close look at these 3 motorcycles and provide as much relevant information about them as possible. So, without further delay, here is what you should know about the BMW R45, R65, and R65LS.

Brief History of BMW R45 and BMW R65 and BMW R65LS


The BMW R45 is a toned-down version of the much larger airheads like the R80 and R90. With the R45, BMW was aiming for a more stylish and sleek design. Its futuristic design is not without some compromise. For instance, the BMW R45 appears smaller in size and has the 247 type engine with smaller pistons and carburetors. The R45 achieves a maximum speed of 95 mph. This may seem low, but the trade-off is that its smaller engine and low power output make it more fuel-economical. It is an excellent choice for long-distance rides.

Furthermore, the R45 comes in two distinct models, which differ mainly by the engine output (horsepower). The power produced by the 473 cc engine of the R45 was a significant disadvantage. Its enormous price tag made things worse, especially with many other motorcycles giving better offers at lower price tags. 

Engine of BMW R45

The BMW R45 has a four-stroke engine with two cylinders and maintains the horizontally opposed boxer design that BMW is known for. To achieve its sporty look and lightness, the R45 comes with a smaller engine with a capacity of 473 cc.

The bore and stroke dimension is also scaled down to 70 x 61.5, and it has a compression ratio of 9.2:1. The higher compression ratio accounts for its excellent fuel economy but still lacks behind in speed. The maximum speed attainable is 95 mph with a torque of 37.5 Nm at 5500 rpm.

The horsepower of the R45’s engine depends on which version you get. The German models have lower power and typically max out at 27 BHP. Other models have a maximum power output of 35 BHP. Valve control is achieved using a pushrod and rocker arm. Also, the engine has a wet sump lubrication system with air cooling.

BMW R45’s Chassis

Weighing about 180 kg (wet), the R45 has wheel dimensions of 1.85 – B18 for the front wheel and 2.50 – B18 for the rear wheel. The front suspension is a telescopic hydraulic fork suspension type, whereas the rear uses an extended swing arm with an adjustable strut. It has a 5.8-gallon tank that fits perfectly into its compact body.


The BMW R45 has a single front disc brake and a drum brake on the rear wheel.


Installed in the R45 is a 5-speed manual transmission with a dry clutch plate for regulating the power.

Top Speed

The R45 has a top speed of 95 mph or 141 km/h.

Fuel Consumption

When it comes to fuel economy, the R45’s engine does a great job. It has a fuel consumption rating of 52 mpg or 5 liters per 100km. This means you can make up to 400 km plus on a full tank.  


The BMW R65 has a similar design language as the R45. Produced a year after the R45, the BMW R65 is also considered a touring motorcycle. The R65 comes in two variants.

The second variant used a mono lever system and was produced between 1985 – 1993. BMW maintained the same chassis used in the R45 until 1985, when the second variant of the R65 was released. This model has an upgraded chassis similar to the type used in the R80) but kept the same engine used in the first generation R65. The R65 also comes with a 248/1 type boxer engine, which has a capacity of 649 cc. This engine offers better performance in terms of speed and reliability.

BMW R65 Engine

The R65 has a 248/1 type which is a variant of the 247 types found on the R45. It has a capacity of 648cc with overhead valves, air-cooled twin cylinders, and a compression ratio of 9.2:1. Initially, the R65 models had a power output of 44 hp at 7250 rpm and a torque of 50 Nm at 5,500 rpm.

However, this all changed after BMW upgraded the R65 to a breaker-less electronic ignition system in 1981. The result was a boost in the power output from 44 hp to 50 hp, and the torque increased from 50 Nm to 52.3Nm at 6,500 rpm.

The German model BMW R65 also had a lower power output of 27 Hp. Instead of the standard 32 mm, the German model has a 26 mm Bing CV Carburettor. The bore and stroke dimensions of the R65 engine are 82 mm x 61.5 mm. The larger bore with a shorter stroke increased the engine rev, giving it more speed and power. 

BMW R65 Chassis

The R65 has a short swing-arm and bolt-on rear sub-frame. It also has a shorter front fork (compared to larger BMW airheads), and it’s front wheel measures just about 18”. This made it look relatively smaller than most other R series motorcycles.

In 1981, the chassis was upgraded. The new R65 now had a similar chassis as the R80 and a single shock absorber on the rear wheel. It also had a wheelbase of 52.12 in (1400 mm). The front and rear tires’ dimensions are 90/90-18 and 120/90-18, respectively. The slightly larger rear tires give it more stability and better off-road performance.

BMW R65 Top Speed

The maximum speed that could be achieved with the R65 is 175 Km/h (109 mph).

BMW R65 Fuel consumption 

The R65 has a 5.8-gallon (22 liters) tank and a fuel consumption rate of 51 mpg. This is equivalent to 4.6 liters per 100 km. Note that the petcock is located on the side of the tank. In some cases, the motorcycle will have to be tilted to get the extra fuel. 

BMW R65 Transmission

The BMW R65 uses a 5-speed manual gear and Cardan shaft for transmitting power, and a single dry-plate clutch is used for control. 

BMW R65 Brake

Single disc front brakes and drum brakes on the rear wheel. 


In 1982, BMW launched another motorcycle that lied somewhere between the R90S of 1971 and the R65. The R65LS was an upgrade to the R65 but for a trimmed version of the R90. It has a larger bore, a bigger engine displacement, and also came with a more reasonable price tag. Designed by Hans Muth, who is well known for his work on the Suzuki Katana, the R65LS is a lot flashier and sporty than the R65. It is capable of attaining speeds of up to 108 mph.

The primary design change of the R65LS is the size of the bore and stroke and the double-disc brakes in the front wheel. Production of the BMW 65LS was discontinued in 1985 with just above 6000 of the R65LS ever produced.

 BMW 65LS Engine

The R65LS has a 649 cc engine. This is essentially the same engine found in the R65. All components, including the bore and stroke dimensions, valves, cooling method, etc., remained the same. It also uses the electric starter introduced in the later models of the R65. The R65LS’s engine can produce a torque of 52.3Nm at 6500 rpm and a maximum power of 50 hp at 7250 rpm.

 BMW 65LS Chassis

The R65LS introduced some new design features. The most noticeable changes were the instrument housing and pod fairing which was now in the shape of a triangle. The rear seat now had pillion grab handles, and the exhaust and mufflers were given black or black chrome finishings. The handlebars of the R65 were lower, with two front disc brakes instead of one, and a different pattern was used on the alloy wheels. The front suspension is a telescopic hydraulic fork-type suspension with two shock absorbers on the rear wheel.

 BMW 65LS Fuel Consumption

The BMW R65LS has a 5.8-gallon tank and a fuel consumption rate of 51 mph (4.6 liters/100km). This means with a full tank; it can cover a distance of about 478 km.

 BMW 65LS Transmission

5 gear transmission with a Cardan shaft and single dry-plate clutch for power control.

 BMW 65LS Brake

The R65LS has two front disc brakes and a rear drum brake.

BMW R45 vs. BMW R65 vs. BMW R65LS – Comparison

The R45, R65, and R65LS have a lot in common. One reason is that they were all manufactured within the same period and, as such, have nearly identical technologies and design features. Here are key similarities and differences between these three classic motorcycles.

Specification Table

 BMW R45 specsBMW R65 specsBMW R65LS specs
Production Year197819781981
Engine Capacity473.1 cc649.2 cc649.2 cc
Compression Ratio9.2:19.2:19.2:1
Bore and Stroke 70 mm x 61.5 mm82.0 mm x 61.5 mm82.0 mm x 61.5 mm
Max. Power35 hp @ 7250 rpm1st Gen - 45 hp @ 7250 rpm.
2nd Gen - 50 hp @ 7250 rpm.
50 hp @ 7250 rpm
Max. Torque37.4 Nm @ 5500 rpm1st Gen - 36.9 Nm @ 5500 rpm
2nd Gen - 38.6 Nm @ 6500 rpm
38.6 Nm @ 6500 rpm
Cylinder2, with OHV2, with OHV2 Aluminum Nikasil Cylinders, with OHV
Top Speed95 mph108 mph108 mph
Lubrication systemWet SlumpWet SlumpWet Slump
IgnitionBattery ignition1st Gen - Battery ignition
2nd Gen - Breaker-less Electronic Ignition
Breaker-less Electronic Ignition
SuspensionFront - Telescopic hydraulic fork
Rear - Long swinging arm with adjustable struts
Front - Telescopic hydraulic fork
Rear - Long swinging arm with adjustable struts
Front - Telescopic Hydraulic Fork
Rear - Dual shock absorbers
BrakeFront - Single disc brake
Rear - Drum
Front - Single disc brake
Rear - Drum
Front - Double disc brake
Rear - Drum
DimensionL - 2110 mm;
W - 688 mm;
H - 1080 mm
L - 2110 mm;
W - 688;
H - 1090 mm
L - 2210 mm
W - 686 mm
H - 1080 mm
Wheel Base1st gen - 1390 mm
2nd gen - 1400 mm
1st gen - 1390
2nd gen - 1400
1400 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity5.8 gallons (22 liters)5.8 gallons (22 liters)5.8 gallons (22 liters)
Weight205 kg207 kg208 kg


The first thing that the R45, R65, and R65LS share in common is the design language. Their sleek and sporty design seems intentional. Perhaps, BMW was testing out the market with these models. The hydraulic fork suspension was used in all three motorcycles. They also use a similar braking system, a disc, and a drum brake. The fuel tank is another thing that is constant between all three motorcycles. Along with that is the wheelbase, which measures about 1400 mm for all three models. 

In the engine section, some things were left unchanged. Some of these include the number of cylinders, the overhead valves, air cooling system, fuel tank, transmission system, lubrication system, and compression ratio.

Main Differences Between BMW R45 and BMW R65 and BMW R65LS


Physically, both R45 and R65 are identical in many ways. The R65LS is the odd one among the trio. It boasts some of the major differences among all three motorcycles. The R65LS has a lower seat, lower handlebars, and pillion bars on the rear seat. These features are absent on both the R45 and R65. The finishing on the R65LS is equally different. The chrome paintings of both the R45 and R65 were replaced with black and black chrome. The pod fairing was changed and an additional disc was added to the front wheel. This improved the braking experience in the R65LS. In later models of the R65 produced between 1981 and 1984, the single disc brake was replaced with double disc brakes similar to that in the R65LS. 


Coming to the engine, the R65LS also has more advanced features. It was launched with a contact-free electronic ignition system. This gave it more speed, power, and torque than both the R45 and R65. The same ignition system was later introduced in the 1981 models of the R65. Also, the R65 and R65LS have the same engine displacement of 649 cc, which is larger than that of the R45. Although the difference didn’t seem much in terms of power, later iterations of the R65 received a boost. The introduction of the electronic ignition changed the power output and torque of the R65. Lastly, the bore and stroke diameter is another key area where the R45 differs from the R65 and R65LS. The R65 and R65LS come with a slightly larger bore and stroke. This is understandable, considering they have a larger engine displacement compared to the R45. 


We can’t conclude this section without mentioning the prices. All three motorcycles were sold at different prices. The R45 which had the least price was sold for about $3535, the R65 comes in second place with a price tag of $4197 and the R65LS took the lead with a price tag of $5400.


The BMW R45, R65, and R65LS showcased the design prowess of BMW. However, they were not without some glitches that left their customers slightly disappointed. First is the hefty price tags. It’s undoubtedly one of the major letdowns of these motorcycles. This could explain the poor sales of the R65LS. 

Also, despite showing so much promise, they all lacked in one crucial area, speed. And for its price, many users were not excited about the lack of speed because there were other motorcycles that would sell for less and easily hit speeds of more than 100 mph. A typical example being the Honda CB650. Because of their low speed, the BMW R45 and R65 were labeled “learner motorcycles”.  

Also, the low power and torque rating played a role in the success of these motorcycles. The R45 especially struggled in this area. However, it made up for it with its reliability and excellent fuel economy. The R65 and 65LS did a better job, but notwithstanding, they still fell below expectation. With that price, one will expect nothing but all-around perfection. 

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