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DKW Classic Motorcycles


    Dampf-Kraft Wagen (German: steam-powered vehicle) or DKW is a historic car and motorcycle marque. In 1916, the Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen founded a factory in Saxony, Germany, to produce steam fittings. In the same year, he attempted to produce a steam-driven car, called the DKW. Although unsuccessful, he made a two-stroke toy engine in 1919, called Des Knaben Wunsch "a boy's desire". He also put a slightly modified version of this engine into a motorcycle and called it Das Kleine Wunder "a little marvel". This was the real beginning of the DKW brand: by the 1930s, DKW was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer. In 1932, DKW merged with Audi, Horch and Wanderer to form the Auto Union, and all brands continued until World War II. After the war, Auto Union changed ownership a couple of times, first passed into the hands of Daimler-Benz in 1957, and was finally purchased by the Volkswagen Group in 1964.

    DKW motorcycles used 2-stroke engines which were technically advanced; the best-known one in the UK is the RT 125. As reparations after World War II, the design drawings of the RT125 were given to Harley-Davidson in the US and BSA in the UK. The HD version was known as the Hummer, while BSA used them for the Bantam. Designs from the DKW 2-stroke engine was also used in the Ariel Arrow and Leader.

    During the War, DKW engineers also created the Cyclemaster (which was essentially a redesigned 1938 Sachs Saxonette auxiliary unit). The plans for that were also confiscated, and the contract for production awarded to EMI in Great Britain. As has been remarked before, from German engineers, America got the H-bomb while Britain got the Cyclemaster…

    IFA and later MZ models continued in production until the 1990s, when economics finally brought production of the two stroke to an end. Other manufacturers also copied the DKW design, officially or otherwise, including Yamaha, Voskhod and Polish WSK.

    Vintage DKW motorcycles enjoy an excellent reputation for design and engineering and are sought-after machines today. Spares are obtainable from Germany (some components were used in later MZ motorcycles, which makes spares availability much easier). There’s an active club in Germany, and Bernie of the British Two-Stroke Club runs an enthusiastic section for German machines in the UK.

    Bike Image Description
    1920 DKW 1ps 1920 DKW 1ps
    1928 DKW 200 Blutblase 1928 DKW 200 Blutblase
    1931 DKW Block 200 1931 DKW Block 200
    1934 DKW SB 350 1934 DKW SB 350
    1937 DKW SB 500 1937 DKW SB 500
    1938 DKW ULD 250 1938 DKW ULD 250
    1938 DKW SB250 1938 DKW SB250
    1939 DKW 250 Production Racer 1939 DKW 250 Production Racer
    1940 DKW RT125 1940 DKW RT125
    1954 DKW RT125 DKW RT125 Image supplied by
    1954 DKW RT 175 1954 DKW RT 175 117kg.
    1955 DKW 175 VS 1955 DKW 175 VS
    1956 DKW RT200 1956 DKW RT200  
    1956 DKW RT175 VS DKW RT175 VS Russian army trim.
    1956 DKW RT 250 S 1956 DKW RT 250 S
    1957 DKW Hobby DKW Hobby  
    1958 DKW 175 1958 DKW 175  
    1958 DKW 175cc 1958 DKW 175cc
    1959 DKW RT175 VS DKW RT175  
    1960 DKW Manurhin Hobby Scooter DKW Manurhin Hobby Scooter 74cc.
    1960 DKW Hummel Super 1960 DKW Hummel Super
    1981 DKW Scooter DKW Scoter Made under licence in france under the name of Manurhin.
    1964 DKW Hummel Kavalier DKW Hummel Kavalier model 155 Zweirad Union. 50cc, 3-speed. They were also sold under the Zweirad Union umbrella as a Hummel, Victoria and/or Express. From what I have read fewer than 200 were ever made and very few were imported to the US, apparently a little ahead of the style curve. This bike is about 95% complete.
    1964 DKW DKW Motorcycle 49cc.
    1964 DKW DKW Classic Bike 49cc.
    1965 DKW RT200/2 1965 DKW RT200/2
    1968 DKW 502, 47cc 1968 DKW 502, 47cc
    1968 DKW 139-004, 49cc 1968 DKW 139-004, 49cc
    1968 DKW 139-004, 49cc 1968 DKW 139-004, 49cc
    1970 DKW RT 139 1970 DKW RT 139
    1970 DKW 125 1970 DKW 125
    1970s DKW 125 1970s DKW 125
    1975 DKW 175cc 1975 DKW 175cc

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