• Make:
  • Hildebrand & Wolfmu00fcller
  • Model:
  • & Wolfmu00c3u00bcller
  • Year:
  • 1900

A German made bike, the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller was produced from 1894 to 1897. It has a water cooled, two-cylinder four-stroke 1,489 cc engine and a top speed of 28 mph (45 km/h).

Photo credit: TheWorldofMotorcycles.com

The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller was the world's first production motorcycle and the first machine to be called a Motorrad (German for motorcycle). The bike also had the largest engine for the first 90 years of motorcycle history.

The motorcycle featured a water-cooled engine (the coolant tank/radiator, located around the rear wheel) mounted in a tubular frame, with one of the tubes housing the oil tank. The rear wheel was directly driven from the connecting rods (a similar arrangement to that of steam locomotives). There was no flywheel other than the solid disc rear wheel; it needed heavy rubber bands to provide the return impulse.

Photo credit: TheWorldofMotorcycles.com

The Motorrad was so successful in its first weeks it had to be built in second plant in France. Several hundred models were made, totalling over 2 million Deutsche Marks. In May 1895 a pair of the Motorrads came in second and third in Italy's first car & motorcycle race.

Problems began to surface for the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller. The hot tube ignition was so unreliable and difficult to operate; costumers started asking for their money back. The German and French factory also soon discovered the selling price was lower than the cost to manufacture, causing them to close in 1897.

The bike can be seen on display at the Deutsches Zweirad-Museum in Neckarslum, Germany.

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