BMW Part number system

BMW developed and used a few part number systems over the years since the companies original founding. We have incorporated three of these number systems in our online catalogue and have endeavored to explain these systems in this chapter so that you, our customer, may acquire a better understanding of these part numbers when ordering parts for your BMW motorcycle.

Our company does not publish an own catalogue, as there are just far too many parts, too many models and too many eras to put to print. Almost all of the original BMW parts catalogues published are still available either in originals or in reproduction format.

These original parts catalogues are the "Bible" for every BMW motorcycle owner. They contain exploded diagrams of parts, descriptions, model allocation and quantities in matrix form. Of course the original BMW part numbers are the key to any part identification, especially when ordering and purchasing parts, irrespective of which dealer you choose. If you do not have an original BMW parts catalogue for your model, you can order them from our company via our on-line shop by searching under the product category "01.0 BMW Literature"

BMW part catalogues, exploded diagrams

The most important part number system is the current system consisting of 11 digits.

1. 11 digit present part numbers.
The present spare parts catalogues from BMW is divided by registers into main groups and within the latter into sub groups.

The listing of the part numbers is in an ascending sequence.

The BMW part number, being the ordering number, consists of 11 digits with 3 subdivisions.

Graphic presentation of the 11 digit BMW part number system

This part number is for a 68.0 mm Ø R50 piston

A full list of categories can be seen in a pull down menu "Category" in the on-line shop.


2. 7 digit postwar part numbers.
The current BMW part number system described above, originated from a 7-digit number system first introduced in 1955. This 7-digit number system is still valid today. It too consisted of main groups and sub groups leaving only 3 digits available for the ident number. This limited BMW to only 1000 part numbers per group and so the amount of available numbers for new parts was soon exhausted in the early 1960's. BMW solved the problem by lengthening the 7-digit number system by allocating a new main and sub group (4 new digits), which were added in front of the old 7 digit numbers. The old 7 digits then lost their structure of main group, sub group and ident number, and became just one 7 digit long ident number.

The original BMW parts catalogue editions pre 1964 only contain 7 digit part numbers. If you are using such a parts catalogue, you can enter the old 7-digit number in the search engine of our on-line shop, and the new 11-digit number will automatically be displayed (If it is in our data bank). We also still have original old stock of the BMW 7 to 11 digit conversion books. The part number of this book is 01 00 9 796 023.


3. 10 digit prewar part numbers.
In 1934, BMW introduced a new structured part number system, which was used until 1954. In my opinion, this was the most sensible and logical part number system that BMW ever had. An example of such a number is as follows:

Graphic presentation of the 10 digit BMW prewar part number system

2designates motorcycle (Motorcar parts started with "3")
12designates model type (R12 as it was first developed for the R12)
1designates the series (R12, series 1)
3designates the main group (Gear box)
6designates the sub group (kick starter)
0designates a single part (6 would designate an assembled part)
15designates the ident or part number
0designates the original drawing version (0= first version; 1= second version)

BMW continued with this part number system after the second world war until 1954, but added an 11th digit at the end of the part number designating the size of the technical drawing of this item for example, "1" of A1; "2" for A2; "3" for A3 and "4" for A4 technical drawings. If the 11th digit was a "9", that meant that no BMW internal technical drawing was made for example with external sourced items such as from BOSCH or BING.


Obsolete, replaced or exchanged part numbers

We have endeavored to include as many obsolete part numbers in our databank as possible. It takes a tremendous amount of time, knowledge, research and effort to include all parts including obsolete and replaced part numbers in our data bank which slowly and steadily grows when we have the time to do so. Many pre war numbers have been replaced with new 11 digit post war numbers, as the part is identical as that in a post war BMW model.

Many post war 7 and 11 digit part numbers have also been replaced with new 11 digit part numbers for various reasons such as the following examples:

a.New BMW specifications for that same part such as material or surface treatment.
b.Improvement and replacement part specified by BMW.
c.Parts from different BMW suppliers e.g. filters from MAHLE/KNECHT or PUROLATOR.
d.In the case of BMW Mobile Tradition, many of the old part numbers were no longer active in their computer system and/or the 7 digit ident number and been re-allocated to a new part e.g. the old number for a brake cable becomes an System II helmet.

If you are searching for a BMW part and cannot find it in our databank, then please ask us by phone, fax or e-mail.

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