During the 40′s and 50′s, many motorcycles looked more like large bicycles with motors attached, and some were just that. I’ve always been a fan of the “stripped down” look from that era and I decided to take the plunge and find a motorcycle project.
Recently I traveled to a very large collector car and motorcycle show and swap in northern Germany to find my dream motorcycle. I’m a classic German car enthusiast and it only made sense to look for a bike that shared the same heritage. DKW and Auto Union were companies that eventually became what we know as Audi these days. In fact each of the companies that merged are marked by a ring in the Audi logo. Back in the 40-50′s DKW was one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world and they had a huge impact on the looks of motorcycles at that time.
I was after their bread-and-butter bike, the RT125W. This bike is by far the most copied motorcycle in history. I recently stumbled across an article on Vintage Veloce where they listed and detailed all of the iconic motorcycles that were direct copies of the RT125 and RT200. Even Harley Davidson used the RT125 to make its Harley “Hummer”. Many other “big boys” like BSA, Maserati, Moto Morini, Kawasaki, Peugeot, Triumph, etc all copied The RT125 and made their own version.
After some searching and some translation help, I found the bike I wanted and a stack of Euros were exchanged. The motorcycle I ended up with is a 1952 RT125W that has some light patina. A nice Dutch collector was selling it along with 5 other similar style vintage motorcycles and they all were equally as nice! Even though the bike is missing the key, has flat tires, worn out grips, and has been sitting for quite some time dry, I saw potential. The key elements for me were there- it’s mostly original with all of the key rare parts still intact including the tank, badges, headlight with speedo, engine, and fenders. It was love at first sight!
Once I got the bike back to a friends shop, we quickly tore into the bike priming the carb and kicking the engine over until we got it to fire to life. SUCCESS! Once we knew the engine was good, we began tearing the bike down and boxing it up to ship back to the states. I’m patiently waiting as I type and I can’t wait to start doing a light restoration on it. The first plan of action is to clean and reseal the original gas tank with one of our Gas Tank Sealer Kit for Motorcycles. Then I’ll move on to degreasing the engine and mechanical parts with Chassis Kleen and getting things mechanically sound.
Stay tuned for some tutorials as I work on the bike, and be sure to ask questions and make suggestions along the way!