Germany is a manufacturing powerhouse, with a reputation for power and quality. Few industries sum up Germany’s place in the world like the motorcycle industry. Ever since Germany started building motorcycles in 1885, it has produced vehicles that are as exhilarating to ride as they are reliable, making them a favourite among motorcycle fanatics. Here are our top five German motorbikes of all time.
1. Daimler Reitwagen
Manufactured by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1885, the Daimler Reitwagen is widely recognised as the first ever motorbike.
It may not bear much resemblance to a modern-day bike, but it was the first to be powered by a gasoline fuelled internal combustion engine. The original motorbike was destroyed in a fire, and no amount of classic bike insurance could hope to replace it, but several replicas exist in various cities around the world, including Stuttgart, Munich, Japan, Ohio, and Melbourne, Australia.
2. BMW RS 255 Kompressor
Built using a fully welded steel frame, with taper and oval sections, the chassis weighed only 302 pounds, making it the lightest of the entrants in the 1939 Isle of Man TT. Ridden by Georg Meier, the BMW man’s victory saw the BMW RS 255 Kompressor become a part of motorcycle racing folklore.
Reaching top speeds of almost 90mph, the bike’s power was unparalleled by its contemporaries, and it is still widely regarded as one of the greatest motorcycle grand prix racing bikes of all time.
3. BMW R90S
Considered to be one of the first superbikes, the BMW R90S is one of the most visually stunning vintage German bikes that you’ll find.
With a top speed of 120mph, its distinctive two-tone paint work ensured that it was way ahead of its peers, both in terms of style and performance. Produced between 1973 and 1976, its place in history was confirmed when the R90S was ridden to victory in the first USA AMA Superbike Championship by Reg Pridmore, in 1976.
Although its panniers and racks actually made it more of a sporty touring bike, the R90S was included as part of the American Motorcyclist Association’s The Dawn of the Superbike exhibit.
4. BMW GS
Primarily designed as touring bikes, the BMW GS family of bikes are the best selling bikes that BMW has ever produced.
In production since the 1980s, the GS series’ longer travel suspension, upright riding position and large front wheels make them instantly recognisable. Known as an excellent long distance, off road racing series, the R80G/S was ridden to a win in the 1981 Paris-Dakar Rally.
5. Zundapp KS 750
The Zundapp KS 750’s appeal lies in its quirky exterior and its durability; you’re certainly not going to find another bike quite like this.
Produced in Nuremberg shortly before the breakout of World War II, the bike was designed to transport the German military around in a quick and convenient manner, no matter the terrain. The bike was equipped to carry the weight of three German soldiers, plus guns and ammunition.
Only 18,000 were produced in 1940 and they topped out at 60mph, but were suitable for any terrain, with their chunky tyres and almost tank-like exterior.
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