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Classic Velocity Blog

Filtering by Tag: Kreidler

The Kreidler Chronicles

Classic Velocity


We have shared many posts about companies that met their demise in the immediate postwar era due to the German economy, misjudging the market, sticking with prewar product ideas, and other factors. However, there are always those that seem to flow against the current, and Kreidler is one of them. The company was founded in 1903 as a metalwork and wire manufacturer, and they did not begin producing motorcycles until 1951. Like everyone else at the time, they produced small displacement scooters and motorcycles. They managed to leverage their long history in manufacturing to produce good quality machines that did very well in the marketplace. So much so, that in 1959 after only 8 years in business, Kreidler was the brand on one third of the motorcycles on the road in Germany.


Unlike many other manufacturers, Kreidler never progressed to larger and larger displacement machines (125cc was the largest). In fact, 50cc machines in particular were where Kreidler was king. The most popular model was the Florett. It had elements of the scooter bodywork combined with a bulbous tank atop the main frame spar. A precursor perhaps to the Honda designs a few years later. Kreidler also produced a very popular 49cc scooter from the beginning that continued to sell well with very little change over time. In 1959, they began racing, and were competitive, but did not rack up many victories. They did establish a land speed record for 50cc machines at Bonneville in October 1965. The Kreidler Zigarre went 210.6 KPH (134.6 MPH). Their greatest competitive achievements came beginning in the early 1970s, when Dutch importer Henk Van Veen put together a team which scored an incredible six successive world championships in the 50cc class. In total Kreidler amassed eight world championships in the 50cc class.


Financial problems (as usual) caused Kreidler to go out of business in the early 1980s. Rights to the name passed to Italian firm Garelli, who used it on Mopeds until the late 1980s. In 1995, rights to the name returned to Germany via bicycle maker Prophete, and scooters are again bearing the name. However, it is name only, as the machines are asian-sourced. While scooters continue to thrive in general, the world of small bore motorcycles has all but disappeared in the west and is vanishing in the East as well. The Kreidler name is certainly not alone in being a once-proud motorcycle name that now adorns scooters sourced from Asia.