|Restored DKW-IFA 1950,
max 80 km/hour.
click to enlarge
History of DKW
|In 1916, the Danish engineer Jĝrgen 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.
Before World War II, the company had some success with forced induction racing bikes, and during the 1920s and 1930s, DKW was the world largest motorcycle manufacturer. After the war, the company made the RT125, 175, 250 and 350 models.
The motorcycle branch of the company produced very famous models such as the RT125 pre- and post World War II. As reparations after the war, 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. 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. This can be seen in the similarity of many small two stroke motorcycles from the 1950s, including a product of Yamaha, Voskhod and Polish WSK.
RT 125 is refered to as a model of two-stroke motorcycles made by DKW in Zschopau in the 1930s, IFA and MZ in the 1950's and early 1960's, and DKW in Ingolstadt in the 1950's and 1960's. "DKW" stands for "Das Kleine Wunder" or "The Little Wonder". "RT" stands for "Reichstyp" or "National Model".
In the 1930's DKW pioneered the Schnurle two-stroke loop scavenging process to dispense with the use of a deflector piston and improve efficiency of the combustion chamber. DKW also developed a highly efficient arrangement of transfer ports. These two features were included in the RT 125 to great commercial advantage. Competitor companies such as Adler and TWN copied the adoption of flat-topped pistons and strove to develop equally transfer port arrangements without infringing DKW's patent.
IFA: Volkseigener Betrieb Motorradwerk, Zschopau (1945 1960).
Industrieverwaltung Fahrzeugbau (Industrial Association for Vehicle Construction), usually abbreviated as IFA.
1950: The Zschopau works begins production of the RT 125 model, developed before the war, under the trademark IFA (Industrieverwaltung Fahrzeugbau). This model became patent free after the war and was further developed in Britain, USA, Japan, Italian and West Germany.
IFA was the overall organisation of the East-German motorcycle and car industry. In the world of motorcycles IFA was famous with its IFA-DKW, which was just called IFA after legal proceedings taken by the West-German Auto Union, which included DKW. The DKW-IFA was only in production for two years. From 1956 on the make was changed to MZ. During the IFA period models of 123-till 346 cc were produced. The last one had two cylinders on a two-stroke boxer engine with cardan driveshaft.
In 1957 DKW, together with Victoria and Express, joined the
“Zweirad Union ”. In 1966 the Zweirad Union AG was
incoperated by Fichtel & Sachs, as well as Hercules, Neurenberg. Although the
trademark DKW ended in 1970, some Hercules models were
still sold as DKW in England.