The first part of our feature on the 2013 centenary of the 1913 Johannesburg to Durban Race focussed on the 1930s British made motorcycle entries. This time we will have a look at the German made machines of the same era that entered this event. I am personally a great fan of the British motorcycles but nobody can deny the beautiful styling, engineering and finish quality of the German motorcycles. It is hard to believe, when looking at these motorcycles, that the newest examples were made 77 years ago


1934 Zundapp K800 4 cylinder with Steib sidecar

As with several of the British manufacturers, the main German motorcycles were also born out of companies which made weapons and ammunition. The Zundapp company was founded in 1917 to manufacture detonators but by 1921 had become a motorcycle manufacture.

1934 Zundapp K800 4 cylinder with Steib sidecar
The Zundapp K 800 with it’s flat four cylinder motor was their flagship model from 1933 to 1938. It has the typical pressed-steel frame which was the signature of the Germans in the 1930s. The reason for using this form of construction was not cosmetic but German practicality. Mass production is cheaper and faster when parts are pressed by machine. Assembly is also less skilled. The Art Deco look of the German motorcycles of the 1930s is just a fortunate coincidence.
1935 Zundapp two stroke
Besides their range of four stroke boxer motors, Zundapp made a series of two stroke engine powered motorcycles from 172cc to 350cc. After WWII they focussed on two stroke production and eventually stopped four stroke production completely.
1928 NSU 501T 500cc
The company which became NSU was founded in 1873.  Although an unknown name to most modern ears, they produced their first motorcycle in 1901 and in 1955 were the biggest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world. The 501T was a 500cc producing 11hp and was manufactured between 1927 and 1929.
1928 BMW R62 750cc
The BMW motorcycles’ history is closely tied to weapons and war. In 1916 BMW was formed as an aircraft engine manufacturer. After WWI aircraft manufacture was banned in Germany and by 1923 BMW was producing their first motorcycle, the 500cc R32. This motorcycle already had the BMW trademark boxer motor with shaft drive. Development of models was rapid, as is well reflected by the different models on this years rally.
The R62 model, pictured above, was produced in 1928 and 1929. Only 4355 units were produced. It had a 750cc engine which was still mounted in a tubular frame.
1934 BMW R11 750cc
The BMW R11 was manufactured from 1929 to 1934. The 750cc motor was now installed in a pressed-steel frame. The change of frame construction was because BMW had recently moved into car manufacture which used pressed steel technology. It was rated the best touring machine of it’s time.
1935 BMW R12 750cc
1935 BMW R12 750cc
The BMW R12 was the first ever production motorcycle to be fitted with telescopic front suspension. The rest of the machine was very similar to the R11. They were produced from 1935 to 1942.
1935 BMW R12 750cc
Good looking from any angle, there were five R12s entered in the 2013 DJ Run
1935 BMW R12 750cc with Steib sidecar.
It was common for BMW R12s to be matched to a Steib sidecar. Could you show me a more gorgeous combination?
1935 BMW R12 750cc
Simon Fourie from Bike SA rode a BMW R12 on the 2013 DJ Run.
1936 BMW R5 500cc
The BMW R5 500cc was their performance machine upon which many post WWII BMW models were based. The R5 was produced in 1936 and 1937 and only 2652 motorcycles were produced, making these sports machines very rare. The light tubular frame was fitted with a 500cc engine producing 24hp and a top speed of 140 km/h. Many BMW fans believe the R5 to be the ultimate BMW model.
1936 BMW R5 500cc
WWII left the German motorcycle industry in ruins. After WWII BMW had to start from scratch. All their production facilities, drawings, prototypes and dyes were in Russian hands. The DJ Run is a showcase for the golden years of German motorcycles.