OH YES - BIKE OF THE WEEK
DKW HUMMEL (BEE!)
Wow! Cliff Richard! Summer Holiday!
I really love this...and this, although a bit less.
We're all going on a summer holiday
Let's talk about bike design, or styling - different things, but related.
These two motorcycles are from the same country, same era, and share lots of similarities in design - both 2 stroke singles, both have earles fork front suspension, both have the same faired in cohesive look about them.
They aren't styled to look butch or tough or brutal, and unlike virtually every modern bike, they don't look like insects or crumpled paper.
We're going where the sun shines brightly
Flash Gordon and welcome to the jet age, where streamlining and clean convenient power is at your fingertips... amazingly beautiful and a bike which should make most bike stylists hang their heads in shame. Why don't all bikes look this amazing? Because the people who give the go-ahead to new designs are conservative cowards, that's why.
Never mind focus groups, they are all “normals” and they always steer anything innovative towards the bin, the lowest common denominator trumping daring progress.
Personally I would love it if a major (or any) manufacturer had the bottle to make something like this now - I bet they would sell a shed load.
Given the recognition of older classic styling (Peugeot Django among many others)-
We're going where the sea is blue
There is obviously a market and a demand for well styled bikes with a very particular oldie look of their own - I would love to see a madly over-styled Flash Gordon spaceship looking bike. I would build one myself, but as we all know, the bodywork is the hard part of making a super styled bike. Wish I had an English wheel..oh well.
Anyway, now we have established that modern KTMs are hideous, awful, predictable and boring looking, let's have a look at that triumph of style, the DKW Hummel.
The DKW badge is not currently used by its parent group, Auto Union. DKW originally stood for “dampf kraft wagen” or steam driven car, then after producing a 2 stroke engine - “the boy's desire”!, made a tiddler dubbed Das Kliene Wunder. I love translations.
We've seen it in the movies
You've all read and re-read about the all conquering British bike industry right? Well by the 1930s DKW was the world's biggest bike manufacturer. There you go. Villiers were a thousand years behind in 2 stroke design.
The DKW 125 2 stroke design was taken and shared out to the allies after WW2, spawning tons of variants the world over, BSA Bantams still being made in the early 70s. Schnurle!
So they were massive and knew how to make a 2 stroke decent - their old factory at Zschopau became East German MZ after the war, with DKW production legging it to West Germany.
All DKW bikes are smooth looking and are tidy, neat, and well proportioned – forerunners to the spaceship Hummel were more ordinary looking with 1.5hp and 3 gears on the left grip.
To make our dreams come true
1959 saw the introduction of our true love, the model 155, known as the Banana, or variations thereof.
It had a standard piston port single 2 stroke engine, 25;1 premix, 4.2hp.
This was more powerful and apparently got up to 45mph quite easily, very respectable then and even now.
The bike was not a sales success for DKW, and today they are rather uncommon, and pristine examples tend to live in museums, unfortunately. There are, at the time of writing, none for sale on German ebay.
Spare parts are almost all available still from specialist suppliers in Germany, so if you could find one, a rebuild or restoration isn't difficult, though expensive.
But! If we can't get hold of one of these beautiful rarities, what is the next best thing?
The MZ ES250/2 Trophy.
This is the East German take on the space race and modern jet-tastic stlye. Unfortunately they got it slightly wrong, just by a bit, and it looks instead like a porker that's been at the cider apples.
Well any comments folks? Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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