Have you ever wondered how BMW names its motorcycles?

What are the differences between each series – and do these letters mean anything?

In this blog post, you’ll discover the differences between each BMW Motorrad series – from the C to the S series.

BMW C Series

The C series is for BMW’s series of scooters and Maxi scooters, such as the C400GT and the quirky-looking C1 (pictured below).
Stefano Bianco, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

BMW F Series

What’s the first engine that springs to mind when you think of a BMW motorcycle? A parallel twin, right? And if your BMW starts with an “F,” it most likely has such an engine. An example of a motorcycle in this series is the F700GS.
Armin Vogel, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

BMW G Series

The G series has single-cylinder engines and chain drives. They also have relatively small engines, which start at 313 ccs. Two examples include the G310R (which, interestingly enough, wasn’t made by BMW but by the TVS Motor Company) and the  G650GS (pictured below).
San Andreas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

BMW R Series

The R series has twin-cylinder boxer liquid-cooled engines with shaft drive and a displacement of at least 1,254 ccs. An excellent example of such a bike is the BMW R1150GS – the same type of motorcycle ridden by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in The Long Way Round.
D-JGS, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

BMW K series

The K series sports straight-six engines with shaft drive and a 1,649 cc displacement, such as the K1600GT.
NSX-Racer, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

BMW S Series

S series motorcycles are performance models with 999 ccs. Unlike the R series, the S series of motorcycles are built with chain-drive, rather than a shaft drive.  Two examples of motorcycles in the S series include the S1000RR and the S1000XR.
Thesupermat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What About the Remaining Letters?

You may have noticed that some models mentioned earlier had a letter at the beginning and the end.

For example, we had:

  • R1150GS 
  • K1600GT
  • S1000RR

What do letters like “GS,” “GT.” or “RR” mean?

  • A: the “A” stands for “Adventure”
  • B: short for “Bagger” – i.e. a touring motorcycle
  • G: stands for “Gelande,” meaning “terrain.”  
      • GS: abbreviation for “Gelände/Straße”, – which translates to “off-road/on-road.” In other words, it’s a dual-sport model
      • GT: describes a sport touring motorcycle, like the K1600 GT
      • GTL: used for luxury sport-touring models
      • L: “luxury” models
      • R: “road” models
        • RR: “Road Racing” models 
        • RT: “road touring” models
      • S: short for “Strasse,” the German word for “street.” 
      • T: a touring model

      X: a letter used for the most extreme of models