The German motorcycle industry has an interesting and long history of development. Many of its brands are the most important part of the country’s history while leaving a mark on world history. German pedantry and quality played an important role in this. However, the motorcycle industry played the most significant role in the early 30s to the late 40s, when production focused on making practical, durable, and durable models for the Wehrmacht. At this time, original design solutions were developed, which could be useful in various cases. A striking example of such achievements was the emergence of tracked vehicles. The Second World War proved the serious advantages of the German production of motor vehicles over the world one.
What is German Motorcycle Brands?
On the German domestic market, several successful motorcycle manufacturers have proven themselves well: BMW Motorrad, Zundapp, Sachs, Adler, Brennabor, DKW, Hercules, Horex, Kreidler, Munch, MZ (Motorenwerke Zschopau), GmbH, Simson, NSU, Maico, Kalex …
Today the German motorcycle industry continues the tradition of the past. However, having lost its dominant position in the post-war period, the production of motorcycles in the country continues to preserve a high level of quality and reliability, a strict manly design. This is evidenced not only by the real figures of production volumes and the service life of the equipment but also by the growing volumes of sales of German equipment in the fastidious American market. Today motorcycle production in Germany is represented by several successful renowned and newly formed brands.
1 BMW Motorrad
The undisputed leader of the German motorcycle industry is the German brand BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke). Founded in 1916 in Bavaria, the concern had several different production areas, mainly aircraft engines. The first motorcycle appeared in 1922. Thanks to innovative ideas in suspension, frame, and engine, which at that time was unparalleled, this model immediately won worldwide recognition. This has become the hallmark of every brand product. The history of BMW Motorrad is civil and military motorcycles, the best sports models, enduro, motocross, and touring races.
The brand logo is one of the ten most recognizable brands in the world. The history of its creation dates back to the distant 1917. It adopted the circular shape from its progenitor, Rapp Motorenwerken. By removing the image of the black horse and the name of the old brand from it, replacing it with its abbreviation, the color scheme referred to the flag of Bavaria. But the ban on using state symbols in advertising had to be circumvented by placing these colors in a different order. The logo did not undergo major changes until 2020, when the sector with a black background was made transparent with a white border. A modern minimalist style was applied, symbolizing openness and accessibility while signaling the onset of an “electric revolution” within the brand.
The company Zündapp – Zünder und Apparatebau G.m.b.H is found in the documents of the German War Office in 1917 as a manufacturer of projectiles and detonators. Founded by Neumeier in Nürnberg, it was a joint venture with the state to fulfill defense orders. After the First World War, it was taken over Neumeier. From this point on, production moves to motorcycles. During the Second World War, the Wehrmacht ordered motorcycles with a sidecar. The Zündapp KS 750 model was in particular demand. The post-war period was marked by the production of Zündapp Elcona sewing machines. In 1984, the company went bankrupt and was sold with all its facilities in the PRC, where Tianjin Motorcycle Co. motorcycles production continued.
The logo was a sign in the form of a heraldic shield with rounded corners, which symbolized protection and strength. The inner field was finished in cobalt blue. The edges of the shield had a white edging. To the left and the right of it, there were unfolded stylized wings. A composition was placed inside the shield, including a zigzag arrow, a symbol of an electric discharge, which sends to historicity – the production of generators, electrical appliances for military needs, as well as a demonstration of the desire for new frontiers – the creation of an electric motor, which was applied in 1972 at the Mokiki with 500 -watt electric motor.
1886 was the year of the founding of Karl Marshutz, the world-famous today Sachs company for the production of motorcycles (since 1904) and quality auto parts. It all started with bicycles. The development of the motorcycle industry in Germany led to the need for spare parts, which the company immediately began to produce thanks to the arrival of Ernst Sachs, a toolmaker who later gave the brand name. The brand was officially registered only in 1995. The company began to specialize in sporty off-road models, but not very successfully. The list of her motorcycles includes scooters and mopeds, as well as heavy Rodster.
Today the brand is widely recognized due to its simple and concise emblem, made in blue. It is a sign made of 3 characters, and the text below it is the brand’s name. The sign consists of two elements located below and above the central accent point. The elements symbolize a spiral rotation; their shape expands towards the center and narrows towards the ends, resembling a crescent moon. The name is a lowercase font of the type Britanica Semi Expanded Heavy.
German motorcycle manufacturer Adler, which started with bicycle production in 1880, lasted until 1957. Its founder, Heinrich Kleyer, is a bicycle manufacturer that was assembled in a home workshop. A few years later, who became the director of Edmund Rumpler, he began to develop cars, which was carried out until the First World War. Since 1902, the brand has been installing its power plants. World War II led to a decline in production. The company is shifting to typewriters and motorcycles. The MB 250S model has become especially famous. Championship races are won with Adler motorcycles. In 1957 it was absorbed by Trumpf.
The company’s logo has retained its historical identity throughout the entire existence of the brand. A blue shield with a gray metal edging was typical for many German brands of the early 20th century. Its lower part was made in the form of a smooth arc without sharp edges. The top was also made in the form of an arc but passed into the shield’s sides at sharp angles. Inside the emblem, a stylized image of a gray heraldic eagle spreading its wings is typical of German heraldry and the country’s coat of arms, demonstrating the brand’s origin.
The origins of the brand were the three Reichstein brothers who founded the company in 1871. The company produced cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and strollers in “Brandenburg an der Häfele.” Motorcycles were a complementary focus. The first motorcycle was produced in 1901. Since 1908, a sports team has been established based on the enterprise, which successfully participated in motorcycle races at international competitions using its equipment. From 1930 to 1942, Brennabor produces lightweight motorcycle models on which it installs its engines. After the Second World War, the enterprise was dismantled.
The emblem was different from the traditional execution of German logos of the time. It consisted of two circles of different sizes inscribed in each other—both with gold trim. The area between the outside and inside was filled with black. In it, the inscription of the brand name, separated by a line, was applied in lowercase letters along the circumference above and below. The font stood out in gold. The inner space of the small circle was dark red. In the center was a white letter “B” – the first of the brand name. Its white color attracted attention, making it an accent element. Black, red, and gold created the effect of aristocracy and luxury, which manufacturers sought to reflect in their products.
Dane-born Skafte Rasmussen and his German partner Karl Ernst founded in 1916 a company called Ernst und Rasmussen. Located in Chemie, it was created to manufacture steam engines and parts for them. But the partnership fell apart. Rasmussen, in 1916 received funding from the state for a steam engine project, which was patented by his brand – DKW. In 1921, the development of motorcycles began under this brand. The first model is the Reichsfahrtmodell. But the best was the 1925 DKW E 206. After the war, production expanded and divided. Since 1950, motorcycles have been produced under the IFA and MZ brands. Only the Ingolstadt company retained the brand name.
The emblem represented the traditional shield image. The upper part with its arcuate edge was narrower than the lower one. It was connected with a wider bottom by small segments of the lateral sides, depicted at an angle to the center. The bottom had a swept shape. The outlines have been highlighted in gray. The inner space was occupied by an element that looked like an arrowhead. Its upper part was arched. The outlines were highlighted in black. The interior space is filled with several shades of green, which, from left and right, waved from light green to darker. In the upper part, the abbreviation of the brand was applied in white.
What is the most popular motorcycle in Germany?
Of the motorcycles made in Germany, the Germans prefer BMW. But statistics for 2021 show that the Italian company Piaggio is the leader of the motorcycle market in this country, while BMW is only in second place. They are followed by Japanese two-wheeled vehicles, which are produced under the brand name Honda.
Hercules is a German motorcycle company founded in 1886 by technical engineer Karl Matuschz in Nuremberg. It was registered as a brand on September 10, 1910. The brand’s specialization was in the direction of the sport – motorcycles for competitions, distinguished by the highest level. In the post-war period, its main customers were sports teams from the Warsaw Pact countries. After the complete collapse of this union, the company existed until 1997 and was closed.
The latest logo of the brand was presented shortly before the closure of the plant. It was a circle symbolizing constancy, integrity, and perfection, into which the rest of the emblem signs were inscribed. The circle had a yellow border and a white field, which created a harmonious combination and attracted attention. The interior space was occupied by a sign – the stylized first letter of the brand name “H,” which had the ends of the legs beveled outward. On both sides, stylized wings were depicted in two lines, demonstrating speed and movement. These elements have been done in deep blue color and are placed in a white rhombus. The latter was placed in a dark blue square, which turned into a rectangle with rounded corners with the same shade. It contained the text name of the brand, made in lowercase letters in white. The entire edging was yellow, which visually distinguished each element of the logo. This composition was a stylized version of the image of the front of a car with a radiator and bumper, the production of which was carried out in parallel with motorcycles.
Horex is one of the rare German brands that did not supply their equipment to the Wehrmacht troops. Its founder in 1920 was Fritz Kleman. As a sports racer in 1923, he created a sports bike for himself in 1923, winning prizes on it. This marked the beginning of wider motorcycle production. The outbreak of World War II ceased production, which was restored only in 1948. But in 1960, the brand became the property of Daimler-Benz, which was not interested in motorcycles. But in 1977, Friedl Münch became the copyright holder of the company name, releasing the Horex 1400 TI, and in 1989, Japan continued the baton with its Horex 644 OSCA. Serial production was discontinued in 2014. Today, only the VR6 is produced in small quantities by the 3C-Carbon Group.
The brand’s emblem was luxurious and somewhat bombastic. Its outer element was a circle made in the form of a bronze laurel wreath, a regalia characteristic of the times of the Roman Empire. This circle is crowned with a stylized crown imitating the headdress of the German emperors with a cross at the top and around the circle of the diadem. The crown has some bright red elements where the gems were placed in the original. There are stylized white outstretched wings on the sides of the badge, whose contours are trimmed with bronze. The inner space includes – in the upper part, the inner space of the crown in scarlet “satin.” Along the perimeter – the edges of the white mantle, covering a dark blue field, in which the Latin letter “H” is located in the center – the first letter of the brand name. Its outer and inner edging is made of bronze, and the middle part is filled with white. The brand name is inscribed in dark blue Latin lowercase letters at the very bottom of the laurel wreath.
Among the most famously global brands of the 20th century for the production of motorcycles, the German brand Kreidler stands out. Known as a quality and stylish motorized bike manufacturer since 1888, based in Kornwestheim, it has become synonymous with quality and brand identity. His motorcycles and mopeds have retained these properties until today. In 1951, the company moved to Stuttgart, where it already founded the mass production of light motor vehicles. 50cc racing bikes have made a name for themselves in championship victories from 1971 to 1983. But already in 1982, the company ceased to exist. Today she is experiencing birth.
The brand logo is simple and concise. Made in an attractive bright red color – a symbol of liberation, strength, and masculinity, it represents two elements. The first is a sign in the form of a circle, in the center of which is the letter “K” with a mirror image, located at some distance from each other. An arrow with plumage crosses them from left to right in the center. To the right of the sign is the brand name, executed in lowercase letters, in a reworked Integral CF Bold typeface, which, with its simplicity, makes it easy to remember all the symbols.
The Münch Mammoth motorcycle brand is the most famous in the history of the global motorcycle industry. Founded in 1940, the company gained wide popularity in 1968, when the former Horex designer Friedl Münch created the most successful model – the TTS Munch-4 1200th Mammut. This model used the engine from the NSU Prinz car, which made the motorcycle a real-world sensation. But the future turned out to be less promising, and Friedl Münch sold the company in 1971.
Nevertheless, most motorcycle enthusiasts and professionals remember well the original company logo – simple and concise. It was made in a rectangle with an upper line in the form of a back-arc. The figure had a black border. Moreover, the entire logo was presented in two colors – black and white. A smaller element was placed inside the larger rectangle, completely repeating the shape of the outer one. Its field was filled with black, along which there was an inscription – the name of the brand in lowercase Latin letters, made in contrasting white. At the same time, their graphic representation created a visual sensation of the distance of the center of the text, creating the appearance of its bending in the center.
11 MZ (Motorenwerke Zschopau) GmbH
One of the German motorcycle brands – the MZ company (Motorrad Zschopau), was formed in 1956. It was formed in MZ Motorrad: Zschopau, based on one of the oldest German bicycle manufacturing enterprises created in 1906. After two years, it became a member of the Zweirad Union concern, which united three more German brands – German Express, Victoria, and DKW. One plant was named VEB Motorradwerk Zschopau – MZ, after the brand that joined. Motorcycle production continued with mixed success. The changes made in technology led to a change in name – the plant became MuZ (Motorrad und Zweiradwerk) from 1992 to 1999. At the end of 1999, the company was acquired by Hong Leong Industries Berhad, returning its former name. But after nine years, motorcycle production under the MZ brand was phased out.
The merger of the company with DKW influenced the formation of the brand logo. It was created based on the DKW logo and echoed its motif. In contrast to the first version, only an arrow-shaped shield without a “top” was left in the logo, in which an inverse cone was inscribed, resting its top against the lower center point of the shield. The base of the cone crossed the top edge of the shield. The outline of the composition was made in gold. In the design of the free field of figures, two colors were used in a gradient design—Shield field in green. The cone field is in black and steel. Closer to the top of the shield, across the entire composition, the brand abbreviation MZ was applied in an oblique lowercase white font with a black shadow. Its right slope symbolized speed and movement. The left leg “M” and the upper right line of the head “Z” went beyond the borders of the shield and were included in a single composition with a common golden edging.
The end of the 19th century was marked by the company’s birth, which left a significant mark on the history of Germany. It was Simson & Co, founded in 1856 by Jewish industrialists Löb and Moses Simson. Until 1936, when the Nazi government expelled the family from the country, the company was engaged in the production of hammers, carbon steel shotguns and barrels, steam engines, and in 1896 – bicycles, for which in 1907 it was the turn of the Simson Supra racing car in 1907. The First World War demanded establishing the production of combat rifles and pistols to carry out its repair and re-equipment. Only in 1936, after the merger in BSW, the company’s new manager stimulated the development and production of the first motorcycle – BSW 98. In the German Democratic Republic, the company received a new name – Volkseigener Betrieb Fahrzeug- und Gerätewerk Simson Suhl with the main priority motorcycle production. In New Germany, the company was renamed Simson Zweirad. In 2000, it entered the Kontec concern.
The Simson emblem is largely characteristic of the car and motorcycle industries in Germany. Its sign, made in monochrome black, is distinguished by its conciseness and simplicity of perception. A black circle with outstretched to the right and the left of it stylized black wings with their ends cut off at a certain angle encloses the stylized Latin letter “S” in its inner space. Its performance resembles the zigzag of a racing track. Above the sign is the brand name in black lowercase type Arial Nova Bold.
NSU Motorenwerke AG dates back to 1873 from the Mechanische Werkstätte zur Herstellung von Strickmaschinen, which manufactured Christian Schmidt knitting machines. Having moved to Neckarsulm in 1880, the company added pedal bicycles to its products, and subsequently, cars and motorcycles. At the beginning of 1901, the company released the first motorcycle under the NSU TM. World War II saw some of the company’s rise in orders for the half-track Kettenkrad and OSL 251. The NSU Fox did not appear until 1949. In 1955, the brand took the leading position in the world. In 1969 the company was taken over by Volkswagenwerk AG.
The entire successful period of the brand’s existence was accompanied by the emblem known at that time throughout the world. It was a stylized image of a gold-edged fuel tank, the inner field divided in half black (top) and blue. This combination provides a strong visual impact. Blue is the color of organization, steadfastness, and fortitude. Black is strength, creativity, and content. Together, they symbolize unity and confidence in the performance of all characteristics inherent in each of them. The accent element of the logo was the brand’s text abbreviation – NSU, executed in the center of the sign, crossing the border of colors. Its graphic representation creates a visual bulge of the name due to the increase of letters from left to the right and from right to left to the largest center. The letters are in light yellow. Their outlines are marked in gold. This makes the text especially catchy against the general background and easy to remember.
The Maico brand was renowned for producing great racing motorcycles in the mid-20th century. Against the backdrop of mass-produced light motorcycles, scooters, and bicycles with a motor in Germany after World War II, Maico developed and produced racing models for motocross, which is remembered in the history of motorcycle racing construction. The Maico brand (Maicowerk AG) was founded by the Ulrich Maisch family as Maisch & Co from Pfäffingen in 1926 to produce engines. In the late forties, the company completely switched to motocross and enduro equipment production, adding the popular Maicoletta scooter to the range. The company went bankrupt in 1983.
The brand’s emblem is composed of several elements – a triangular isosceles shield in the background, stylized unfolded wings in front of it, and a stylized image of a shield installed on the front fender motorcycles during the Second World War, directly above the wings. He and the letter “M” – the first letter of the brand name, applied over the entire composition from the shield’s lower edge to the shield’s outer edges, are the central accent figures. Except for the letter and the shield, most of the elements are made in green protective color. The letter is in white and black, which visually highlights its edges. The shield is in bright red. On the free field of the shield, in black, a font tilted to the right, symbolizing the forward movement, is the brand’s name.
Kalex Engineering is a product of the 21st century, a renowned manufacturer of motorcycle parts. Its name is an abbreviation of several letters of the founders’ names – K LAUS Hirsekorn and Alex Baumgärtel. It was founded relatively recently – in 2008 in Bobingen. But not as a motorcycle manufacturer. In 2010, Kalex took the lead in the Pons Racing team on the chassis. The chassis also won the 2011 Moto2 World Championship. Today it is a leading manufacturer of racing chassis that has consistently won all championships both in 2011 and since 2013.
The company logo has no elements other than the textual brand name enclosed in a rectangular frame with rounded corners. It stands out for the presence of a two-color range – black and orange, the combination of which was especially revered by knights in the Middle Ages. It symbolizes valor and honor, which are characteristic of the spirit of the company. The outline of the frame and the first two letters of the brand name, and the second one under the first word – “engineering” are made in black. The line under the black letters “KA” and the following letters “lex” are orange. This diagonal arrangement of colors has a very strong impact on the viewer, making it especially memorable. The font is modern, technological, and “cut,” without roundness and only with right angles, even in the letter “A.” The letter “X” at the point of intersection of its legs has a space in the form of a diamond.
What is a European motorcycle?
Motorcycle manufacturers are considered European if they are registered in Europe and manufacture their products in the EU. The leading motorcycle companies in Europe are BMW, Piaggio, KTM, and Ducati.
Are motorcycles common in Germany?
Yes, many Germans own a motorcycle and use it daily. The country’s legislation encourages two-wheeler driving, so passenger car drivers can upgrade to 125cc motorcycles and obtain an A1 license without a driving test.
Who is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe?
The largest motorcycle manufacturer in Europe is KTM Sportmotorcycle AG. It is an Austrian company headquartered in Mattighofen.