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Classic Velocity Blog

Filtering by Tag: Adler

An Extra 50cc

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The Adler M200 was introduced at the Frankfurt show in 1951. It was a twin cylinder with alloy heads, helical gears connecting the primary drive to the gearbox, a wet clutch, and an innovative approach to sealing the crankcase. The M200 was well regarded by the press, but just 2 years later, Adler bumped the displacement up to 250cc, and created a real star. The perfectly square bore and stroke created a smooth engine, and a more rigid frame enhanced handling.

In 1954, sporting versions of the 250 run by privateers managed multiple top ten finishes. Those RS250 versions reached top speeds of 120mph. A few of them added water cooling to maintain full performance as the engine got hotter. By 1955, this began to change top tens into podiums and victories. However, the timing was bad. Adler was battling the rapid decline in motorcycle sales as cheap cars became available. They had also absorbed a struggling TWN in 1956, exacerbating the decline. They eventually were absorbed by Grundig, who only wanted the typewriter portion of the business and ceased motorcycle production in 1958. 

But that is not the end of the story. Amazingly, tuners and privateers continued to campaign the RS250. Men such as Dieter Falk, and Willi Klee pushed performance and created more top tens in the Isle of Mann TT, and the 250cc world championship. For more on Adler see Flight of the Adler.



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Siegfried Bettman co-founded Triumph bicycles in Coventry, England in 1886. He returned to his native Germany 10 years later to start a Triumph factory in Nurnberg. The British and German factories produced almost identical products, and when they began producing motorcycles in 1902, the Nurnberg factory started producing the same item in 1903. Engines from Peugeot and Fafnir were mated to Triumph frames. This continued until the late 1920s when Germany's exports with the name Triumph caused issues for the British who were trying to do the same. Germany briefly used the name Orial for exports, but that conflicted with a French firm. A legal battle over the name ensued, and the German factory eventually settled on TWN for Triumph Werke Nurnberg. The British and German models quickly began to drift apart as local sources were used for parts. The Nurnberg factory leaned toward 2-stroke engines vs 4-strokes in Coventry. This divergence grew wider until WWII. 


Following the war, TWN produced 100cc, 200cc, and 250cc models. These were twin pistons in a single combustion chamber, sometimes referred to as "twingles" . The Cornet was a popular model in this configuration. As the 1950s began, they also introduced 350cc engines including a handsome model called the Boss. Sales wer strong for a while, but they declined for TWN, and many others in the mid 1950s. The company was forced to merge with Adler in 1956. Some mopeds continued to be produced for a short time using the TWN name, before it disappeared for good.

Flight Of The Adler

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Adler (German for eagle) is yet another of the German marques that produced both Cars and Motorcycles with a proud history on both fronts. The company was founded in 1886 by Heinrich Kleyer, and like many others was a producer of bicycles. This was supplemented in 1896 by producing typewriters, which turned out to be a good choice for diversification. Their first motorcycle was produced in 1899 and used a De Dion engine, and then they developed their own engine just after the turn of the century. The early years of Adler were dominated by the car division where they were renown for their coachwork. They also concentrated on smaller lighter vehicles. Popularity reached a peak in 1929 when Clarenore Stinnes (already a well known racing driver) completed a trip around the world in her Adler Standard 6.


With the economic collapse in the early 1930s, light cheap motorcycles regained some emphasis from the cars, and a number of models all under 250cc were produced. In particular, Adler reverted to putting a small engine (in this case a Sachs 98cc) into a frame combined with a number of bicycle parts. Small cars were also produced until the beginning of the war. After the war, Adler looked at the market, and decided not to resume the production of automobiles. This was arguably their critical error. They felt that the market would be flooded by cheap cars from everywhere (particularly America). They decided instead to concentrate on motorcycles, and produced small two-stroke machines up to the limit allowed by the Allied restrictions.


Soon 60cc motorcycles became 100cc, and Adler enjoyed good sales results. As capacity increased, the M200 of 1951 was praised by the press, but it was quickly joined by the M250 in order to match the competition from Horex and NSU. Unlike others, Adler concentrated on 250cc and below. In this era, Adler really enhanced the small capacity market, and entered the scooter and moped markets as well. They took the RS 250 racing in 1954, and in 1955 converted to a water-cooled version. They enjoyed some success with privateers in endurance events, but could not mount a good factory effort due to rapidly declining finances.


In 1954 their motorcycles received a new front fork which depleted R&D funding and left them with a plunger rear end when everyone else was introducing a swingarm. In the big decline of the motorcycle market in the mid 1950s, Adler found themselves in the same boat as BMW, DKW, etc. However, with no car division to help sustain them, and only bicycles to fall back on, they were in worse shape. They absorbed TWN in 1956 in an effort to keep motorcycles afloat, but ultimately closed the doors in 1957. With clubs in England, the Netherlands, Australia, and elsewhere, despite the doors closing some 50+ years ago, the eagle still flies.