Friday, 20 April 2012

Simson AWO 425

The AWO 425 has the distinction of being the only four stroke motorcycle manufactured in the former East Germany. In production from 1950 to 1961, the AWO was a popular base for choppers and custom bikes during the 1970s and 1980s,  retains a cult following both as custom bike and classic restoration right through to the present day.
Following WW2, the gun factory in Suhl was converted into the Soviet controlled Avtovelo bike company, in order to raise funds for war reparation payments. Later, Avtovelo turned into the German-owned Simson company (more famous for making 50cc mopeds) and to distinguish from the mopeds, enthusiasts always referred to the large bikes as AWO.
Despite the 425 in the model number, the Simson has a 250 cc engine, foot-operated 4-speed gearbox with auxiliary hand shift, and shaft drive to the rear wheel. Popular legend has it that the machine was originally planned with chain drive, however in the post-war economy there was a lack of good quality chain so shaft drive was used instead.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Honda NTV, Revere and Deauville

The Honda NTV was introduced in 1988 as a follow-up model for the VT 500, to recapture some of the success of the legendary CX 500 series. In a way this makes the NTV the last shaftdrive UJM.
The original NTV650 (sold in some markets as "Honda Revere") was a naked bike with a 57 horsepower 650cc water cooled V-Twin engine, mounted in the traditional position with one cylinder in front of the other, and a technologically advanced single-sided swingarm suspension known as "Pro Arm".
The engine shares many similarities with those in other Honda V-Twin models like Africa Twin, Shadow or Bros/Hawk. In fact, the Bros/Hawk series sold in North America and Japan is in many ways simply a chain-drive version of the NTV.
The bikes have a reputation for extreme reliability, with many examples covering in excess of 250,000 miles without any major repairs. Once things go wrong however, the revere is not an easy bike to work on! How about removing the water cooling system just to change a spark plug?

Friday, 30 March 2012

MZ BK 350 Two Stroke Flat Twin

The MZ BK 350 (short for "boxer kardan 350 cc") was produced from 1952 to 1959, by Motorrad Werk Zschopau in East Germany. The BK 350 was the first new design to come out of the former DKW factory after World War 2, and was initially offered under the IFA (Industrieverbad Fahrzeugbau) brand.

Contrary to the popular claims, the two cylinder oppossed piston two stroke engine isn't a Nazi-era aircraft donkey engine (jet starter), even though DKW had designed a 250 cc boxer donkey engine that never reached production.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Yamaha XS750 and XS850 Triples

The three-cylinder, shaft drive Yamaha XS750/850 was produced between 1976 and 1981, and while it was one of the most technologically advanced motorcycles of its day, the XS Triple never enjoyed the success of comparable bikes from other Japanese manufacturers.

Driven from the superbike market after the Yamaha TX750 twin proved unreliable, Yamaha faced the challenge of producing a new bike that was unique but not too radical for the mainstream market. Their solution was a 750cc DOHC inline three cylinder engine, producing 65 hp in standard form, in a fairly run-of-the mill "big bike" chassis.

Early bikes suffered from a number of problems which diminished their reputation and popularity, and when the four-cylinder XS1100 was launched a few years later, the triple was quickly forgotten about.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Triumph Tiger 1200 - a Step in the Right Direction

The brand new Explorer 1200 is the flagship model of Triumph's Tiger range of adventure bikes. With a 1.2 liter 140 horsepower engine and 1 kW electric generator the bike is perfectly suited to long distance rides in excess of 1000 kilometres per day - and after 14 hours in the saddle, who wants to adjust a dirty greasy drive chain?
That's why Triumph sensibly fitted the Explorer with a shaft drive transmission - a first in the Triumph range of sporty across-the-frame triple cylinder machines. Maybe we can hope that this set-up will eventually trickle down to Triumph's road-oriented touring machines such as the Sprint ST. Hell, even the Speed Triple/Street Triple range would benefit from Shaft Drive - while they are fast motorcycles they hardly are race bred sports machines where chain drive would offer a real benefit.
official photo by Triumph Motorcycles Ltd