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Simson Classic Motorcycles

In 1854 the brothers Löb and Moses Simson bought one third of a steelhammer works in Suhl (Germany). The production of carbon steel began and the firm Simson & Co. was founded in 1856. The factory produced guns and gunbarrels in the years following. In 1871 the first steam engine started its service and the enterprise established production of bicycles in 1896, which was followed by the start of automobile production in 1907. The racing car Simson Supra is famous.

Simson S 51Adolf Hitler's dictatorship forced the Jewish family Simson to flee the country in 1936. Under the framework of dispossession of Jewish industrialists a trustee took control of the firm, and so by merger with other factories the "Berlin Suhler Waffen- und Fahrzeugwerke" (BSW) was formed. In the same year the first motorbike came off the assembly lines whose name was BSW 98. After the politically determined emigration of the Simson brothers the factory intensified weapons production and so from 1939 the company was called "Gustloff-Werke - Waffenwerk Suhl".

The factory continued to build bicycles, weapons and cars until 1945. Then, in 1946, by order of the Soviet military administration the manufacturing plant was partially dismantled and transported to the Soviet Republic (USSR). This was as part of the reparation programme for the damage caused by Germany during the second war and in 1947 the factory was integrated into the Russian "SAG Awtowelo" (state stock company motorcycle).

Simson DUO 4/1 tricycleLater, the USSR handed back control of the factory to the German Democratic Repuplic (GDR) and in 1952 it was renamed "VEB Fahrzeug- und Gerätewerk Simson Suhl". Production of sporting guns, prams and bicycles slowly resumed, but the main focus was again on motorcycle manufacture.

Simson produced more than 300,000 motorcycles of the type AWO 425. This was a shaft driven, 250 cc four stroke motorcycle that enjoyed high reputation within the eastern bloc countries. There were two main models of AWO 425. The T (touring) had plunger rear suspension, while the S (sport) model had twin-shock swinging arm rear suspension.

Simson DUO tricycleSimson motorcycle manufacture ceased in the early 1960s when the GDR government decided that from then on all new private cars and motorcycles would be two-strokes. The GDR already had a two stroke motorcycle factory: the former MZ works at Zschopau. The Simson factory was therefore given a new task of building two stroke mopeds. From the 1960s moped production grew steadily in Suhl; up to 200,000 mopeds per year came off the assembly lines.

Series manufacture of the scooter KR51 "Schwalbe", fitted with a 3.4 hp engine, began in 1964. The year 1968 saw the merger of Simson and "VEB Ernst-Thälmann-Werk Suhl" to "VEB Fahrzeug- und Jagdwaffenwerk Ernst Thälmann Suhl". Subsequently, the Schwalbe helped the company to worldwide and fame in the GDR the scooter stood for the success of East German two-wheeler motor manufacturing.

After the political changes in East Germany in 1989 a number of attempts to modernise the assembly lines failed. Several investors tried unsuccessfully to keep production going and to bring new developments on market. Consequently, production finally ceased in autumn 2002 and on 1 February 2003 bankruptcy proceedings were held in the wake of which the remaining 90 employees were made redundant without any form of compensation.

Bike Image Description
1952 AWO 425T 1952 AWO 425T
1954 AWO Simson 425T 1954 AWO Simson 425T
1955 Simson AWO Racer 1955 Simson AWO Racer
1957 Simson SR2 1958 Simson AWO 425 Sport
1958 Simson AWO 425 Sport 1958 Simson AWO 425 Sport
1959 AWO Simson 425 S 1959 AWO Simson 425 S 250cc.
1960 Simson AWO 425 S 1960 Simson AWO 425 S
1960 Simson AWO 425 Sport 1960 Simson AWO 425 Sport
1969 Simson SR 2 E, 50cc 1969 Simson SR 2 E, 50cc
1974 Simson Schwalbe, 50cc 1974 Simson Schwalbe, 50cc
1974 Simson SR4-4 1974 Simson SR4-4
1974 Simson Habicht SR4-4 1974 Simson Habicht SR4-4
1975 Simson S50, 50cc 1975 Simson S50, 50cc
1976 Simson Schalbe KR51/1K IFA Scooter Simson Schwalbe 50cc, 3 speed manual clutch.
1978 Simson S50 B2, 60cc 1978 Simson S50 B2, 60cc
1978 Simson S50B1 Simson S50 B1


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1978 Simson KR51/1, 50cc 1978 Simson KR51/1, 50cc
1978 Simson SR 4-2/1 1978 Simson SR 4-2/1
1985 Simson KR51/2 1985 Simson KR51/2
1985 Simson S51 B2-4 1985 Simson S51

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