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Two Thirds, Two Years

I´m narrowing the scope of this blog to motorbikes for the time being as I´ve made a dream of mine come true, which I will report about not for the usual readership I guess, but for others who have asked me to write things down when they learnt I am back in motorbikes again. So here will be a live report of my adventure with an NSU Konsul restoration, for which I´m giving myself a two thirds chance of success in a timeframe of two years.

Starting a long time ago, more than 40 years ago actually.

When kids of about 14, and growing up in a rural area, a few pals and sometimes me went round the farms in our vicinity to see if the farmers had old motorbikes stashed away in their barns. I can remember finding 250cc DKW, 98cc Sachs engined marvels, the odd 125 Ilo or Sachs engined bike by for example Geier or other long and rightfully forgotten brands. We always dreamt of a big BMW or NSU, but it never came to that. Farmers had been poor in our area in the 30s and 50s, and were impervious to the fact that NSU were the largest motorbike factory in the world at the time, had won countless races, had put a 500cc compressor engine on wheels that pumped out 98 bhp and was good for 339 kph. I wasn´t, neither impervious, nor suitable for 339 kph.

When we had talked some bike out of some farmer (who could be mean and horrible to us boys), then we would try to get the machine running by the most primitive means and would ride it on small farm tracks, meadows, which the farmers didn’t like for fear of the cows being poisoned by the oil our bikes were losing, or harvested off fields. Ever so often a man from a neighboring city would come in a VW split screen panel van and buy our bikes for 20 or 50 Marks, keeping us in petrol for the next adventure, and laughing all the way to the bank. Also sometimes the local policeman would come and make us push our bikes home, no mean feat for a 15 year old encumbered by a, say, 250 DKW.

But no NSU, until I had an offer by a neighbour. It was an utterly and wholly run down 98cc four stroke NSU Fox made in 1950. It had been owned by about half a dozen owners in its day, and the last one had painted it bright red, but it was my first own bike, and one of the legendary brand I had lusted after. Then there was another neighbour who knew the answer to how to make it roadworthy again. He worked with a well talented mechanic who had had many NSU bikes in his day and could show me what to do, and so for about a year I spent many an afternoon with this man and built up the bike from scratch. The nastiest shock we got was when we found that someone had WELDED the directly driven flywheel magneto onto the crankshaft instead of bolting it on. My by then friend took a normal hacksaw and sawed the weld off, saving the crankshaft free hand. Amazing.

He then sent me off to buy rubber. So I went to the local tire company to buy tires, proudly naming the correct size, and they asked me if I didn´t need inner tubes too, so I narrowly escaped being shamed there and then, but shame followed close when I came back to my friend´s and he laughingly found that I hadn´t gotten any rim tape. Oh to be young again… But after a while, encompassing sandblasting, painting, shaking the tank filled with lead pearls about until all of me hurt, rivetting brake shoes, sourcing bits all over, wiring, reassembling, tearing down again and re-reassembling, in summer 1980 the machine passed its TÜV test first try.

Litte Fox on a long journey – longer than mine in any case

And I went to England on the 98cc with six brake horse power. Unbeknowns to me I returned from the trip the day after the Isle of Man TT had ended, and the Big Bad Biker that I was, was sent to the special bike only ferry that had been arranged for the TT crowd, where for the first time I found that bikers are nice people really. Far from being teased about my bike´s six hp, I was congratulated on the fact that I had taken it on a major trip.

Next bike was a 200cc NSU Superlux, two stroke, also in need of restoration, but as it had been painted black by its last owner just the mechanicals and the brakes were done, and I ran it for years when at uni. In between there was an array of other bikes, too, of course.

But: I had wanted a Konsul ever since a neighbour of my parents told me when I was a kid how dangerous it was and how he crashed one. He kept telling me that story later when I had bikes myself, and I just thought ´It can´t be that bad, I have to try eventually` but then life intervened, you know how it goes. Girlfriends being afraid of riding pillion, and what not.

NSU built two versions of my coveted bike, the Konsul 1 at 350cc rated 17.5 hp, and the Konsul 2 at 500cc at 22 hp, with none of them ever doing any racing of note. They were workhorses, sidecars were attached frequently, and so on. They were intended to give BMW a run for their money, but NSU failed quite miserably at that, BMW having the resources to design modern two cylinder engines soon after the war, whereas the Konsul was basically a pre-WWII design and less powerful into the bargain. Less costly too, by far actually, but still, only about 13.000 were made of both capacitiy engines together.

A certain Walter William Moore had been head hunted away from Norton by NSU in 1928, and all his engines for NSU looked like Nortons, excepting of course the wonderful competition specials he made, like the world record one mentioned above, but that will be next month´s story.

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54 Zoll und Karbidlampe

One more German language post about a meeting in Germany. Asked to publish the text by the organizers I thought I´d better not translate it.

Historisches Radrennen beim Jugendstilfestival Bad Nauheim

„Es gibt davon vielleicht noch fünf fahrbereite Räder in ganz Europa“, Wolfgang Fickus vom Radfahrer-Verein 1893 Gross-Gerau ist stolz auf sein Opel Kettenlos. Gebaut 1903 stammt es aus der Blütezeit des Jugendstils. „Die ‚Kardan-Technik‘ machte es damals extrem teuer und nur für die gut betuchte Gesellschaft bezahlbar. Deswegen existieren nur noch ganz wenige davon.“ Zusammen mit vielen anderen Rad-Raritäten aus der Zeit um 1900 ist das Sammlerstück beim Jugendstilfestival in Bad Nauheim zu sehen. Vom 9. bis 11. September zelebriert das „Weltbad der Belle Epoque“ die Lebensart des Jugendstils mit Architektur, Mode, Musik, Kunsthandwerk und einem besonderen Höhepunkt am Festival-Samstag – dem Historischen Radrennen.

Beim Rennen tritt Raritäten-Sammler Fickus auf einem „Opel II“, einer „Leichteren Tourenmaschine“ aus dem Jahr 1898 und in Kleidung von anno dazumal an. Mit Kerzenlampe vorne, einer Öllampe mit rotem Glas hinten, einem kleinen Rennlenker und noch ohne Freilauf zeigt sich das Gefährt im originalen Zustand. Das Rad und sein Fahrer müssen beim Rennen nicht besonders schnell, sondern besonders gleichmäßig ihre Runden im Kurpark und dem angrenzenden Sprudelhof drehen, um zu gewinnen.

Die Kulisse für das Spektakel ist einzigartig. Die historischen Kuranlagen gelten als größtes geschlossenes Jugendstilensemble in Europa. Da ist es stimmig, dass auch das Outfit der Fahrerinnen und Fahrer zum Baujahr ihres Vehikels passen soll: Die authentischste Erscheinung bekommt den Publikumspreis. Radfahren galt zur Zeit des Jugendstils ohnehin eher dem „Sehen und Gesehen werden“. Damen und Herren, die sich ein Rad leisteten, fuhren damit in feinem Zwirn zur Promenade in den Park aus.

So besteigen auch Udo Kühnel und Sohn Michael in Frack und Zylinder ihre Hochräder. Sie messen 54 Zoll und sind mit Karbidlampen bestückt. Die Vereinskollegen von Wolfgang Fickus bauen Hochräder der Jahre 1880 bis 1890 nach historischem Vorbild eigenhändig nach.

10. Jugendstilfestival Bad Nauheim vom 11. bis 13.09.2015 2015 mit dem 1. Historischen Radrennen am 12.09.2015

Kühnel & Sohn: Udo Kühnel baut mit Sohn Michael Hochräder nach historischem Vorbild. Foto: Fachdienst Kultur und Sport Bad Nauheim, Oliver Groß (Und sie können´s nicht lassen mit Frack und Zylinder zu fahren… Anm. d. Red.)

Teilnehmen dürfen am Historischen Radrennen alle, die mit Vehikeln bis Baujahr 1935 antreten. Neben Hoch- und Niederrädern, sollen auch Laufräder, sogenannte Draisinen, Velocipedes sowie Drei- und Vierräder an den Start gehen. Anmeldungen sind bis 30. Juli möglich.

Jugendstilfestival Bad Nauheim, 9. – 11. September 2016, Historisches Radrennen am 10. September. Programm und weitere Informationen: Bad Nauheim Stadtmarketing und Tourismus GmbH, Telefon 06032 / 92 992-0

 

 

10. Jugendstilfestival Bad Nauheim vom 11. bis 13.09.2015 2015 mit dem 1. Historischen Radrennen am 12.09.2015

Hingucker: Das Outfit der Fahrer passt zum Baujahr der Räder. Foto: Fachdienst Kultur und Sport Bad Nauheim, Oliver Groß

10. Jugendstilfestival Bad Nauheim vom 11. bis 13.09.2015 2015 mit dem 1. Historischen Radrennen am 12.09.2015

Mit Blütenschmuck: Auch die jungen Fahrer haben mächtig Spaß. Foto: Fachdienst Kultur und Sport Bad Nauheim, Oliver Groß

10. Jugendstilfestival Bad Nauheim vom 11. bis 13.09.2015 2015 mit dem 1. Historischen Radrennen am 12.09.2015

Stramme Waden: Knickerbocker verheddern sich nicht in der Kette. Foto: Fachdienst Kultur und Sport Bad Nauheim, Oliver Groß

Bad Nauheim/Sprudelhof/8.Jugendstilfestival/Hochrad/Radfahrer-Verein Opel 1888 Rüsselsheim e.V./fotografiert am 08.09.2013

Tarnung: Damen auf dem Hochrad waren seinerzeit verpönt. Allenfalls durften sie das Rad bestaunen – oder sie tarnten sich als Herr, um fahren zu können. Foto: BNST

Text und Fotos: Jugendstilfestival Bad Nauheim

Miele Time Again

So it´s the beginning of May, and Gütersloh beckons again. No long ride this time, sorry to say, only from neighbouring Halle to Gütersloh which is about 20 km. The reason was a really awful weather report, with forecast rain and high winds, which turned out to be incorrect after all. Ah well. My son and myself arrived in Halle by car and met a friend who had taken the train.

Soon after meeting up with the friend at Halle train station we set off. It only took three quarters of an hour to cover the short distance to the meeting point, Gütersloh Stadtmuseum, which had had a marquee erected by Gütersloh Stadtmarketing, and a number of bikes had already assembled. We arrived just in time to listen to a speech made in honour of the original organizer of the event who had died earlier in the year.

Xrack

XallesMiele Xcockpit

Xmuswall

This time there were not so many very old Miele cycles, but some nice original condition ones, like this late thirties dumpster find:

Xprewfull Xprewsaddle Xprewmasc Xprewheadlamp Xprewheadl

 

The oldest known Miele bike had also found its way to the meeting. Its frame number is five digit and starts with a “13”, which means that chances are slim that an older one will ever surface.

Xhajobb Xhajosks Xhajofull

 

However, some very typical German ideas of what an old bike should be like or have as an accessory were also there. I must admit that I don´t like either aftermarket kick stands

Xprewstand

or the proverbial milk container or fire brigade bike. These more often than not show what owners think bikes should be like, but miss historical reality by miles.

Xmilk

A really weird and wonderful speciality from the early fifties is this Rex Hilfsmotor. Rex was one of a whole array of auxiliary engines made to fit bikes more or less well, like the Lohmann Diesel, the MAW or the Steppke. These engines had a very short tenure as Germany´s way into mass motorization as mopeds took over soon, being much more practical and a good way of showing that one earned enough money to do without the old-fashioned bicycle.

This Rex is in a marvellous condition and emits a sound not unlike that of a Velosolex.

Xrexmasc

Pre-WWII mudguard mascot

Xrexfull

Soon after 12, a 36 strong crowd assembled in front of the museum to set off on a 20 km tour though the countryside surrounding Gütersloh.

Xroadblock

The ride, as usual well planned and led at a pace of about 12 kp/h, culminated at a restaurant where Gütersloh Stadtmarketing invitied all participants to a meal and a drink. En route there had been numerous opportunities for interesting conversations with many riders.

After having partaken in the welcome refreshment, our small group of three people set off, deliberately missing the 4pm return to the Stadtmuseum because we thought we´d better get going as the weather was deteriorating. Our friend had a satnav fitted to has late fifties Miele sports bike, and asked it politely to show us the shortest way back to Halle train station. The little machine on the handlebars must have sensed that I detest such apparatus, and led us far astray, making our friend miss his train by two minutes. What the satnav had obviously not taken into account was the ice cream parlour next to the station, where we settled down to have a great time waiting for the next train, so we did get the better of it after all.

In all, the Sunday turned out to be a very nice day out, hopefully to be repeated next year, when I also would very much like to cycle the whole way from home to Gütersloh again.

 

Not About Bikes, But Necessary

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Jolly Green Giant

As an example of a German racing bike frame from the early sixties, this bike can´t be beat.

It was built by a small Cologne based builder who obviously knew his job, using Reynolds tubing and Nervex lugs. The great thing about the frame is that it is in original condition and as a bike it was built up by the current owner sparing no expense. The frame size of 58 cm c/t means that it was first built for someone rather tall for his day.

Of course time and use have left their traces, but all in all it´s rather presentable still.

Also the component combo is choice; one might say pro quality.

Some of the spare parts that come with the bike.

Here´s a component list:

Rufa-Sport ca. 1964, frame size c/t 58cm

-Bottom bracket end chainset Campag Record, 175mm, 151 bcd, 44/53

-2 additional chainwheels 45/51

-Campag Record bronze rear mech

-Campag Record front mech, cable-stop type

-Campag seatpin 27,0mm

-Campag “non-record” Record hubs LF

-Mafac Dual Forge brake calipers c/w correct levers

-new Lyotard Berthet pedals

-new Titan Maes handlebars and extension

-period correct Brooks B15

-Mavic Module E rims

-period correct REG bottle cage

 

+ parts:

-Stronglight Depose chainset with diverse chainwheels, all hardly used or new

-Campa Record steel pedals, chrome plated

-Campa Record Nabe LF rear w/o skewer

-Mafac brake levers c/w news rubber hoods

-diverse parts like headbearing, shift levers, etc.

Before you think that my photography skills have improved by leaps and bounds let me tell you that the Rufa owner is a professional photographer. Rest assured that the following posts will return to the snap quality you´re used to.

Crows and Hind Legs

On a fleamarket I found a number of vinyl discs some days ago, among them Hannes Wader´s 1974 Plattdeutsche Lieder, (Low German Songs). Having grown up in the sixties in a high German speaking family, but in a village where native speakers of Low German abounded, I can understand a lot of the lyrics on the disc as the dialect Waders uses (grew up in Bielefeld, but learned a Northern German dialect later in life – a bit artificial if you ask me) is roughly similar to the one I know.

There´s the song about the vain hare called Matten who tries to dance on his hind legs. Along comes the fox offering to take the lady´s part, and bringing the crow to play the fiddle. Here´s the wonderfully laconic last stanza:

“Lütt Matten gev Pot, de Voß beet hem dot;     Little Matten gave him his paw, the fox bit him dead

un sett sik in Schatten, verspis de lütt Matten:    and sat down in the shadow to eat little Matten:

un de Krei, de kreeg een van de achterste Been”   and the crow got one of the hind legs.

That´s basically what I busied myself with on Sunday afternoon, taking both the crow´s and the fox´s parts. Lütt Matten was played by one of the recently acquired Lüders bikes. While the bike hadn´t tried a wheelie it still had been so vain as to pretend to be a nice racing bike.

First, the frame still retains its original 126 mm rear dropout width while sporting Campag 9 speed parts requiring 130 mm. Next, there was no complete groupset, but a mixture of Veloce, Racing Triple, older Chorus and very old Super Record. Also there were some really horrible bloopers like confusing brake and gear outer cables, having the rider running the risk of bursting a gear outer with the brake inner inside when braking hard and needing the brake most. Makes your hair stand on end.

As the paintwork hadn´t survived too well, I decided to give the bike the chop and sell on the frame and those parts I can´t use, which has since happened. I have also used the Edco Competition b/b bearing for my Ellis Briggs Randonneur. This is a definite inprovement over the old and somewhat shaky Veloce cartridge.

Here´s an example of the paintwork.

Just like the red one.

Something that went into my box; it´s Record, I think.

This will also go onto my Ellis-Briggs Randonneur very soon; it will replace the inferior Veloce unit. Have to clean the road rash up, first, though. The brifters also were good, they also are spares for my son´s and my bikes.

And something else for the spares box.

Sold on already.

So, all in all, having had the yellow Lüders for a few weeks (the red one will stay until further orders) and having been able to explore Lüders history as far as I got was a nice experience plus the Lüders will leave traces on the bike I use most as well as in my spares box. Success.

Oh, re little Matten: In real life I´m a vegetarian.