Lion RoarLion Roar
R75 with Sidecar
Great Wall Hobby 1:35 kit #L3509 & L3510
Review by Terry Ashley

Lion RoarLion Roar
The heavy off-road motorcycles BMW R75 and Zündapp KS750 were designed specifically for military use with larger off road tyres and the powered sidecar along with greater ground clearance plus forward and reverse gears were first delivered into Wehrmacht service in 1941. As well as the powered sidecar and gearing for off-road use they also included features such as handgrips and footrests heated by warm air as was the sidecar, this feature being well received in the Russian winter. 

Lion Roar has followed the excellent Zündapp KS750 with Sidecar (kit #L3507/8) with this kit of the BMW R75 with Sidecar.

As with the Zündapps two separate kits have been released, Kit #L3509 with the R75 on it’s own without the sidecar and Kit #L3810 which has the R75 with Sidecar and a choice of two trailers. But it should be noted that like the Zündapp KS750, the BMW R75 was never factory produced without the sidecar which was also powered through a differential linkage from the rear wheel of the bike.

There could well have been expedient field mods to give a standalone cycle but all wartime documentation and photos I have seen show the official configuration of cycle and sidecar.

Kit L3509 actually includes two R75 cycles with kit #L3510 a single cycle with sidecar plus the two alternate trailers and the comments here on the cycle apply to both kits.

The Kit:
This represents a later production R75 with the later metal map cases and later style covers for the valves on the cylinder heads. There are also a few parts that are museum additions and not seen on wartime photos but these are easy to leave off the model and the inclusion of the two trailers adds value to the kit.

The kit has 180 parts in light beige plastic, 4 in clear plastic, 31 etched parts plus 8 pre-formed etched wheel spoke discs and a small spring for the riders seat as well as a small decal and instruction sheet.
Sprues B and C are the sidecar and trailer parts the same as in the Zündapp KS750 kits with sprue A new with the R75 parts and as such the comments on the sidecar and trailers are the same as with the Zündapp review.

The standard of plastic moulding is excellent and as good as you find from any manufacturer today with clean crisp details free of any major blemishes, there is some very fine flash on a few parts and the occasional pin marks but overall the standard is excellent.

There are many small parts due to the overall small size of the R75 that will need care removing from the sprues and during assemble but many of the sprue attachments overlap the parts so the detail in not compromised as the sprue bur is removed, this is especially helpful with parts such as the cylinder heads and tyre segments.

I don’t have any accurate plans for the R75 at this time so I can’t give any info on the kit dimensions, apologies for that but things certainly look in proportion when referring to photos.

The standout feature is again the design of the wheels which have these in 5 sections with preformed etched spokes which are trapped between the sandwiched wheel sections to produce superb looking wheels. There are also other tyres parts included on the sprues not used and it seems Lion Roar originally designed the wheels in a conventional manner and then redesigned them with the etched spokes leaving the original wheels on the sprues. But I am sure modellers will appreciate the extra effort as the final wheels are superb but not without some minor issues during construction to get the appearance right.

The engine has the block in two halves with the cylinder blocks also in two halves that include the cylinder heads with the carburettor added as a separate part to the side of the cylinder block. You also get the spark plug cable as an etched part but you may want to replace this with thin wire to eliminate the 2D look of the etched part?

The cooling fin detail on the cylinders is very finely done and free from any pin marks but there are some quote substantial ejector pins to be removed from the inner cylinder mating surfaces but this is minor compared to the overall cleanly moulded cylinders. You must ensure the mating surfaces are perfectly smooth otherwise there will be gaps between the cooling fins when the two cylinder parts are joined but if careful this join is almost invisible after assembly.

Other separate items added to the engine initially are the dynamo, gear shift pedal and the exhaust stubs with additional items added after the engine is mounted in the main frame which we’ll get to shortly.

As mentioned these are superbly done with four wheels for the cycle and sidecar and spare with each wheel made up of 5 segments that are sandwiched together resulting in very well defined tread pattern with the grooves between each tread row for a very good representation of the off road tyres fitted to the R75.

It is best to use a fine felt pen and number each wheel segment before removing from the sprues to avoid confusion and as the sprue attachment overlaps the tread detail so this is not compromised after cleanup.

The pre-formed etched spokes do need care when handling and these are designed to fit into the small recess inside the outer tyre segments (part E1, E5) and the fit is good with only the smallest amount of movement.

The only issue when fitting the etched spokes is to get them to align correctly with each so when the wheel is fully assembled the effect looks right, the spokes actually do not aligned evenly on both rims but are offset from each other around the outer rim.

There are three stubs on the inside face of the wheel segment E1 to ensure the tread aligns correctly and so aligning the etched spokes before final gluing is important for the best appearance and I found it easier to glue the two etched spoke ‘rings’ together with cyanoacrylate before fitting to the wheels to ensure the correct alignment.

You then glue three wheel segments together from one side (parts E3, E4, E5) then glue the other two segments (parts E1, E2) to form two separate wheel sub-assembly. The etched spoke ring is then sat into the recess inside part E1 and the other wheel sub-assembly is attached trapping the etched spokes between the two to form the full wheel. It wasn’t necessary to actually glue the etched spoke ring once trapped between the wheel segments but a small dab of cyanoacrylate is all that would be needed if you wish to.

Once assembled you then add the appropriate brake drum and hub for the wheels you are building but note all four wheels have different parts for the brake drums/hubs so ensure you use the correct parts together and note which wheel goes where on the final assembly.

The only other detail required is to add the tyre valve to each rim using thin sprue or the like to finish off the superb looking wheels.

The front forks are nicely done and trapped between them is the assembled front wheel, the front fender with etched number plate, the main head light which has a choice of clear plastic glass or blackout slit cover, this also has a decal and clear plastic disc cover for the instrument dial on top of the headlight. There is also the rear guard and front fender brackets as well as the two foot pegs on the front wheel hubs for a very detailed little sub-assembly.

The handle bars that fit on top of the forks are especially finely moulded with well defined brake and clutch handles and all that is needed to finish off is the addition of the cables from thin wire, note the handlebars are not fitted until you attach the front forks to the main body assembly later in the construction.

The main body has the fuel tank and frame which has a small join seam to be removed after assembly and this traps the assembled engine and rear wheel between the two frames with a good fit of the parts, additional items such as upper fuel tank filler cap and distinctive large air filter cover added on top of the tank. The exhaust pipes, collecting cylinder and rear muffler which has the perforated heat shield included with the muffler and would look better with a separate etched shield which is surely to come in aftermarket etched sets.
Some of the locating holes may need to be opened up a little to best fit the corresponding locating pins but test fitting will determine if this is needed.

A decal is provided for the BMW crest on the fuel tank which is usually embossed on the sides of the fuel tank and the rider’s seat fits to the seat base. The single large seat spring in moulded in plastic as part of the main engine and you also get a real metal spring to replace the plastic item if you wish.

This is easily done by cutting away the moulded spring and adding the metal spring but care is needed as the spring is slightly compressed to fit between the seat base and lower mounting and if this slips while gluing in place with a dab of cyanoacrylate either end it will go into a shallow Earth orbit, so take care.

The rear fender has the rear pillion seat with grab handle and another etched number plate for the fender as well as the rear taillight coaming and this assembly attaches to the rear of the frame on the two mounting posts provided.

Added to this assembly are two small gear shift quadrants and linkages to the right side as well as additional foot pegs and gear change foot lever in etched brass.

This is a fairly simple assembly with the central floor and front section in one part and duckboards included on the floor with two separate side panels and rear panels, this assembly is added to the lower frame with separate springs.

The sidecar wheel and fender with separate reflector and convoy light is attached to the frame axle with the frame attached to the rear wheel differential and front mounting bracket.

Additional items are included for the sidecar such as the MG34 mounting and finely moulded MG34 with separate ammo feed cover, folder front bipod and drum magazine but this was not a standard fitting and checking references will determine if fitting to the R75 you are modelling is appropriate.

The two large map cases are the later metal type with hinged lid with separate small attachment brackets with earlier versions using leather map cases, there is a nicely detailed Jerry Can provided with separate handle, pour cap and central etched bracket but this seems to be a museum addition as it is not present on most wartime photos of the R75s.

There are two alternate attachment frames fitted to the sidecar frame to go along with the two different trailers provided, there are also two styles of trailer wheels provided, a fully pressed wheel disk and one with open spokes for a very good choice and you can use the “left over” trailer for any other purpose, a nice bonus.

These are the usual exploded view drawings seen in other mainstream kits and are very clear, easy to follow and shouldn’t pose any problems with the assembly sequences.

The small decal sheet printed by Cartograf has good colour register with thin carrier film cropped close to the printed image and has a selection of unit insignia, vehicle licence plate numbers, instrument dial and stencilling for the tyre pressure data. Markings are included for 2 R75s with only general unit information provided;
Decal sheet and clear parts
Lion Roar

As with the Zündapp KS750, Lion Roar has produced another stunning motorcycle kit with excellent moulding quality and good fit of the parts overall with the treatment of the wheels being the standout feature although not for the inexperienced modeller. There is plenty of detail for such a small kit but still leaves room for the finer touches such as the control cables and engine wiring.

The added bonus of the two alternate trailers offers more value for the kit which should be welcomed by German vehicle fans and along with the Zündapp are clearly the best German WWII motorcycles available in plastic form today.

Highly recommended

Notes on kit L3509:
This as mentioned has two R75 cycles without any of the additional sidecar, trailer or MG34 parts, it also has a smaller etched set and a different decal sheet with markings for 4 R75s. Other than that the comments above apply to the cycles in this kit but having the two R75s in the one kit offers excellent value.

Markings include:

Decal sheet and etched parts for kit #L3509
Lion Roar

The Sprues:

Click on thumbnails for larger view
Great Wall HobbyGreat Wall HobbyGreat Wall HobbyGreat Wall HobbyGreat Wall Hobby
Detail images
Lion Roar
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Zündapp KS750 in detail
Special Museum Line No.15
Wings & Wheels Publications.
ISBN 80-86416-04-6
Heavy Sidecar Motorcycles of the Wehrmacht 1935-1945
Schiffer Publications
ISBN: 0764312723
Motocykle Wehrmachtu
Tank Power Vol.LXVIII
Wydawnictwo Militaria No.300
ISBN: 9788372193001
German Military Motorcycles in the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht 1934-1945 Schiffer Publications
ISBN: 0764301926
Motorcycles of the Wehrmacht
Horst Hinrichsen
Schiffer Publications
ISBN: 0887406858
Thanks to Lion Roar for the review kits

Page created December 28, 2008