Recycled Cycle: Simson Motorbikes made in the GDR

Another landing of a vintage wave. Motorbikes by the famous GDR company Simson. Much fitter than the cars (Trabant) from there. And, much cooler, too.

Headquarters of Simson were in eastern Germany. In the town of Suhl, Thuringia. The company survived the German Unification but went bankrupt in 2003. The mopeds and motorbikes, especially the famous Schwalbe have since gained cult status in western Germany.

Under the Third Reich, the factory was seized from the Jewish Simson family, and was renamed several times under Nazi and later Communist control. The Simson name was reintroduced as a brand name for mopeds made at the factory in the former German Democratic Republic (DDR). Simson mopeds were produced in Suhl (Germany) until 2002.” [source]

So what’s up today with Simson and Suhl?

The German TV channel MDR recently shed some light. A documentary reveals how Steve McQueen took part in the only six day race ever held in the GDR and how the Russians built a motorbike that was much better than the BMW produced version. That was after World War II. Today the workshops of the comapny are empty, but still existing.

Why no future? “A number of attempts to modernise the assembly lines were made […] In 1993 the Suhl factory began making the Hotzenblitz electric car. The car had two seats and […] had a range of only 100 km (62 miles) to 150 km (93 miles). The car was a very limited success, and only 140 examples were built by the time production was ended in 1996.” [source]

Below an original report by GDR television back from the time the Berlin Wall still existed. Even if you don’t understand a word – it’s in German, of course – it’s fun to watch. Interesting choice of music and a bit akward, we think…

(video by Youtuber StevenBiel)

To our readers west of the Atlantic: Ever spotted such a bike over there? Maybe even owning one? Tell us in a comment below.

 

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