Sweeping the bend
What is so fascinating about motorbikes? Why do people expose themselves to wind and weather and
to the not insubstantial risks to life and limb rather than travelling safely in a well-heated car? Is it the
speed, the wind, the wet leaves, the bends, the journey itself, the screws and bolts, the oil-covered
hands, the makes and models, the technical finesse that make them swap four wheels (or more) for
Focussing on a range of thematic issues, the exhibition traces 50 years of motorcycle history – the
technological evolution of the motorcycle and its changing significance from 1945 to today.
The motorbike – its appeal and the opposition against it, the way it fascinates and is frowned upon, its
transformation from unexciting motorised bike to coveted accessory for a consumerist public that
wants its every whim catered for – is an object that, like few others, serves as an indicator of a
society’s wealth and its dreams and desires.
Motorcycles for work and everyday use
After 1945, pre-war motorcycles dominated Austria’s roads. Domestic production had collapsed, and
the requisite funds and trade relations for imports were lacking. Styrian manufacturer Puch, however,
soon managed to offer reliable and affordable motorcycles in large quantities.
Imports increased with the normalisation of trade links. Especially large-capacity motorcycles from
Britain and Germany were much in demand. The motorcycle was a widely accepted form of transport
in Austria and enjoyed enduring status as a utility vehicle. For quite some time, sidecar outfits
transported entire families and were also used by owners of small businesses, with the sidecar often
replaced with a box for carrying tools, materials or goods (e.g. icecream). In 1954, the Austrian
automobile association, ÖAMTC, started operating motorcycle patrols with yellow-painted sidecar
outfits (Puch 250s fitted with especially designed sidecars filled with tools). For a long time, postal
deliveries in rural areas also relied on light-weight motorcycles, frequently ex-Wehrmacht bikes
(Wanderer-Sachs, Puch 125 and 250), whose yellow-painted tanks signalled their now peaceful
usage. In the cities, heavy-duty trikes were employed, equipped with large boxes for carrying parcels
mounted between the bike’s two front-wheels. From 1958, a large part of the mail was delivered on
mopeds (Puch MV 50). In the police force and the ÖAMTC, motorcycles are still in use today.
The future – Back to the roots?
Huge power, fantastic design and space-worthy materials seem to be pointing the way to the future of
the motorcycle. But manufacturers, engineers and designers are also looking towards an entirely
different direction: China. Especially the densely populated countries of the Far East are faced with the
need to address basic issues of personal mobility. Powered two-wheeled vehicles have proven, and
remain, the most efficient means of mass personal transportation: low cost, optimum use of road
space, efficient fuel consumption. The most costly cutting-edge R&D projects of major manufacturers
now focus on just these characteristics of the motorbike: Tomorrow’s most important motorcycles of
will be moped-like, almost emission-free vehicles for short- and medium-range transport. Innovations
revolve around new propulsion technologies, alternative fuels, novel electronics and lightweight
In the “West”, demand for alternative means of transport is also set to rise to counteract the soaring
number of cars. The sensible use of two-wheeled vehicles suggests itself as a part solution to traffic
and environmental problems. Rising fuel prices and an increase in environmental awareness will lead
to alternative propulsion concepts. With hybrid and electric engines already available, fuel-cell
powered motorbikes are set to follow.
Design studies into the future of the powered two-wheeler focus on issues such as space-saving
considerations, improved manoeuvrability, functionality and practicality.
Another issue to be tackled in future is road safety, with anti-lock braking, airbags and smart braking
systems assuming increasing significance.
In the inter-war period, the designation “dream machine” was doubtless due to the motorcycles made
by Brough Superior. After the War, it was the 1000cc Vincent “Black Shadow” that, equally without
doubt, deserved the title.
Vincent launched its 1000cc machine, with a power output of 55 hp and top speeds of close to 200
km/h, at a time when providing for the basic needs of subsistence determined people’s daily lives.
In 1949, a 500cc motorcycle would have been considered high-performance, and motorbikes rarely
exceeded 25 hp. Soon, the Vincent was shrouded in myth and legend. And while anyone with an
interest in motorcycles would know about the bike, few had actually set eyes on it. As far as is known,
only two Black Shadows were sold in Austria.
But there were also more affordable dreams. In Austria, where British motorcycles had always been
favoured, the motorcycles many riders craved were not the big-engined machines built by Harley-
Davidson or Indian but Ariel’s 1000cc Fours. The sports-loving youth set their sights on more easily
attainable goals. The 500c Norton ”Dominator”, at ca. 30 hp, and the Triumph Tiger 100, at 34 hp, also
constituted “dream bikes” for sporty riders.
Two decades later, from around the 1970s, marketing and advertising strategists adopted the term
“dream bike” for, which has since come to be used rather indiscriminately to boost sales of any bike.
New beginnings in motorcycle racing after 1945
After 1945 regional racing events were organised in many small Austrian towns with the approval of all
four Allied powers.
Sand-track races were hugely popular, with Austrian riders carrying on the successful racing tradition
started by Martin Schneeweiss, the European champion of 1937. Schneeweiss died in a fatal crash in
1947. Fritz Dirtl took over his ”Schneeweiss Spezial” and continued his series of racing victories. But
also other well-known riders, including, Leopold Killmeyer and Josef Walla, managed to follow up on
their previous successes.
In road racing, a national racing scene had developed apart from Grand Prix sports and world
championship races. Numerous manufacturers were already offering race-worthy machines, which
their riders, depending on skill and technical know-how, further improved. Most contestants, however,
had to do with restored pre-war machines. Thus, Alex Mayer accomplished his successes on a Moto
Guzzi from the early 1930s; Rudolf Runtsch and his pre-war Norton managed to keep up with newer
bikes well into the 1950s, and Leonhard Fassl went to fame on his AJS “Boy Racer”. Franz Falk, from
Graz, on the other hand, was given a new Manx Norton. Puch had already begun to enter factory
bikes in road racing events from 1948. These races thus offered motorcycle enthusiasts to see the
various marques in operation and compare their performance under challenging riding conditions.
Presentation ceremonies and end-of-season celebrations were frequently attended by prominent
Rupert Hollaus (1931 – 1954)
A motor mechanic from Traisen, Lower Austria, Rupert Hollaus became the first Austrian-born motor-
sports world champion in 1954. He remains Austria’s only solo road-racing champion to date. Hollaus
was introduced to motor racing by his mentor, multiple Austrian champion in the 125cc and 250cc
classes, Alex Mayer, who handed down two of his Moto Guzzi bikes to his protégé.
On his “Gambalunghino” Hollaus secured his first national 250cc championship title in 1953. Racing
triumphs in Italy, France, the Netherlands and Yugoslavia, and an excellent record in world
championship runs, in which the non-sponsored Hollaus managed to hold his ground against a
phalanx of works teams, paved the young rider’s way to NSU.
Hollaus joined the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer of its time as a works rider for the season
of 1954, making him, with Werner Haas, Hans Baltisberger and Hermann Paul Müller, one of NSU’s
“Magnificent Four”. That season Hollaus won all 125cc world championship events. He took first place
in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy in his very first entry to the legendary race and, with his victory at the
Stuttgart Solitude on July 25, 1954, clinched his world championship title before the end of the season.
The rain-soaked Swiss Grand Prix at Bremgarten, which Hollaus won with a three-minute lead,
consolidated his reputation – upheld until today – as the world’s superior rain specialist.
On September 11, 1954, one week after his 23rd birthday, Hollaus was killed in a fatal crash during
training for the Grand Prix at Monza. His tragic death prompted NSU to completely withdraw from
Motorcycle racing – From the mid- to late 1950s
Until the mid-1950s, sand-track events and regional races held on road and mountain circuits enjoyed
continued popularity. Riders and, in particular, their machines made for a rather colourful picture at
these races, as in the mid- to late 1950s “home-made” machines were still fielded next to factory
bikes. Up to the middle of the decade, regional events drew audiences of more than 10,000, but
interest began to fade after 1956/57. Eventually, a lack of sponsors, new environmental and traffic
regulations as well as the increasing population density also in rural areas put a stop to regional racing
At that time, the Salzburg “Autobahnrennen” and the races at the Zeltweg airfield had already started
to attract the international racing elite. For Austrian riders, it was difficult to gain a foothold in
international racing. Gerold Klinger, Bertl Schneider, amongst others, managed to achieve respectable
results but failed to follow up on the Rupert Hollaus’ major international successes.
Italian manufacturers had started to dominate international racing sports since the early 1950s,
ushering in the decline of British bikes. Norton disbanded its famous factory team in 1955. Between
1952 and 1957, Gilera and Moto Guzzi took the victories in all major European events. The enormous
racing costs coupled with increasingly sluggish motorbike sales in Italy, however, also forced Gilera
and Guzzi to eventually withdraw from racing. At the same time, MV Agusta began its series of
victories in the large-capacity classes.
Off the road – The Austrian Alpine Run and Six Days Trials
Motorcycle racing on unpaved roads and off-road terrain has a long-standing tradition in Austria. The
International Austrian Alpine Run, in particular, frequently attracted famous riders from abroad. Thus,
Briton George Brough, the owner of the Brough Superior company and an enthusiastic motorcycle
racer, rode a “Brough” to victory as early as 1925. Robert Eberan-Eberhorst from Vienna, the designer
of the Mercedes “Silberpfeil”, also claimed a victory in his class: on a 1000cc Matchless, which was to
later earn him fame as an automobile engineer.
Six Days trials were held in what then was the “Ostmark” from 1939.
Both the Alpine Run and the Six Days were resumed after the War. The Six Days returned to Austria
in 1952, 1960 and 1976. Robert Wöhrer and Josef Faber successfully contested on their imported
Triumph and Jawa machines.
Off-road competitions live on in Enduro and Motocross sports.
Today’s Austrian Alpine Run – held in Bad Kleinkirchheim in 2004 – is limited to four-wheeled
Motor scooters – Lifestyle and legend
The emerging prosperity of the early 1950s also led the less well-off to wish for a suitable means of
transport that would take them to work, on weekend trips and on holidays. With cars still unaffordable,
people desired a vehicle that would offer better weather protection than a motorcycle. The idea of the
motor scooter was born.
Italian aircraft manufacturer Piaggio, faced with a loss of lucrative military contracts after the War,
came up with a design that was to shape the look of scooters until today: the Vespa. Some of its
features, including the unibody bodywork and single leading-leg front suspension with eight-inch
wheels owed a lot to aircraft design. Its fashionable Italian styling and low retail price contributed to the
Vespa’s massive sales success.
In 1954, Piaggio and Innocenti produced a total of 300,000 scooters; two years later the one-millionth
Vespa rolled off the assembly line. Austrian manufacturers, especially Puch and Lohner, were also
doing well in the scooter business.
In the 1960s, the Mods movement made the Vespa an icon of youth culture, rediscovered as a
coveted accessory by the German “Poppers” of the 1980s. Top-of-the-line scooters, with their ever
larger wheels and increasingly powerful engines, are moving closer to the motorcycle, while offering
additional riding comfort, such as automatic transmission, storage and weather protection.
In spite of the severe competition of Asian scooters, the dominance of Italian scooters remains
On the road – Production motorcycles of the 1950s and 1960s
Until the mid-1950s, motorcycles still sold like the proverbial hot cakes. Once the small car was
beginning to take over, however, all manufacturers ceased development of standard motorcycles for
everyday use. In Austria, sizable numbers of motorcycles were only purchased by government
authorities, such as the police and armed forces. Only sports bikes derived from factory racers
retained a loyal following of motorcycle enthusiasts who were prepared to pay more for a fast and
The turning point came in 1957: from that year – based on registrations – car drivers outnumbered
motorcyclists on Austrian roads.
The market had shrunk to such an extent that large-scale manufacturers, such as NSU, Horex and
DKW, completely withdrew from motorcycle production. BMW and Moto Guzzi survived on public
In the UK, Triumph, BSA and Norton relied on their popular models to tide them through the hard
times. Especially, the Triumph “Bonneville” stands as a symbol of a decade, or more, in motorcycle
history. Harley-Davidson also got by on government contracts and its worldwide reputation.
By the late 1960s, the strategy adopted by Japanese manufacturers began to pay off: They managed
to directly translate their racing successes into sales successes. A plethora of Japanese models
conquered the world market.
The arrival of the car
In the 1950s and 1960s, the European motorcycle industry experienced a severe slump. The car
superseded the motorbike as a means of transport, and racing activities were reduced to a minimum.
Numerous manufacturers were forced out of business. By 1960, makers such as NSU, Adler, Ardie,
Dürkopp and Horex, had ceased production. In the US, Indian had ended motorcycle manufacture in
1953 and three years later a legendary British marque followed suit: Vincent. whose Black Shadow
had been the dream machine of its time. With the old motorcycling world, a species of motorbike riders
disappeared as well: those who had incredible improvisation skills and rarely resorted to the services
of a mechanic. Motorcyclists survived in small, eccentric groups, braving the inexorable rise of the car.
Car drivers, who had ridden motorbikes themselves not too long before, now turned up their noses
and looked down on their former comrades on two wheels. Motorcyclists dwindled to a group on the
fringe of society. They were called backward, reckless because of the greater risk of accidents and
injuries they exposed themselves to, and inconsiderate because their vehicles were noisy and stank.
Hard times, they say, draw people closer together. What, twenty years later, was to be glorified as a
return to the direct experience of locomotion and romanticised as love of nature, then was defiance of
the universal arrogance the motorcyclists were faced with.
Grand Prix – Motorcycle racing in the 1960s
Two permanent race tracks were built in Austria, Salzburgring in 1968 and Österreichring in 1969, for
the first time allowing international races to be held in the country. In the class exceeding 500cc, Egon
Hat won the Austrian championship of 1970 on a Triumph-Rickman “Bonneville”, one of the last four-
stroke motorcycles. The battles between Mike Hailwood on Honda and Giacomo Agostini on MV
Agusta have also become the stuff of legend.
Although the time of Grand Prix victories was definitely running out for European manufacturers, it was
not until 1975 that the Far Eastern competition clinched its first world champion title in the 500cc class.
Before that time, Italian record-breaking marque MV Agusta had claimed the hotly contested title for
the entire decade. The new victorious marques in Grand Prix sports were Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and
Honda was the first manufacturer to enter the European market. Soichiro Honda, the “spy with a
vision”, had been gathering information for his products on the Continent. He returned home with
suitcases full of motorcycle parts, carefully studying the material. The breakthrough in European racing
sports for Honda’s speedy bikes came in 1961. The same year Suzuki hired Eastern German MZ rider
and engineer Ernst Degner, who had defected to the West, to develop a 50cc single-cylinder. Not
before long, the new bike triumphed in the 50cc Tourist Trophy. Yahama was successful with the
water-cooled 250cc TD1: Phil Read won the 250cc World Champion title in 1964.
No one could have imagined what was to evolve from cross-country races held in the early parts of the
20th century between British riders on horseback and a few eccentric officers on their novel smoke-
Today, motocross is a professional competitive sport held on dirt-track circuits on highly evolved,
almost indestructible machines. The tracks usually feature steep man-made bumps, engendering
jumps of up to 30 metres. High-torque four-stroke single-cylinder engines with a power output of some
60 hp have all but replaced the two-strokes that dominated motocross racing for decades and now rule
all three world championship classes.
The youngest discipline in motorcycle racing dispenses with lap times and race tracks altogether: in
Freestyle Motocross, judges award scores for a series of jumps (of up to 30 metres and some eight to
ten metres off the ground), which come into their own right in a show of acrobatic stunts. Back flips are
now part of the standard repertoire of FMX’s highly paid top pro riders.
Bikers – Culture and Cliché
“I’m gonna get myself a swell machine like Marlon Brando”, Austrian comedian and singer Helmut
Qualtinger had it in his satirical song “Der Halbwilde”.
In 1953 Marlon Brando electrified young audiences in the West in the biker drama “The Wild One”. He
rode a Triumph Bonneville 650 on the silver screen.
Until the 1960s, British motorcycles were considered the best in the world. This was to change with the
onslaught of technologically superior motorbikes from Japan.
Thanks to “Easy Rider” Peter Fonda the American Harley became a cultural icon in 1969. Since then,
the Harley has come to be seen as the bike of rockers and outlaw bikers, continuously feeding the
powerful pop myth of freedom and adventure. Speed also sells: Kawasaki, for instance, pushed
performance to new limits with the introduction of the Z 1000 in 1976. The two-wheeled ‘jet fighter’
became cult among bikers.
In 1976, BMW introduced the R 100 RS, the first production bike to offer full fairing. Since the 1990s,
however, BMW has upped the ante with purist street motorcycles, high-tech enduro bikes and
unobtrusively designed powerful machines, including its recent K 1200 S, which sprints from 0-100km/
h in just 2.8 seconds. Helmut Qualtinger’s lyrics may well have been prophetic, when, in 1957, he
sang: “After all, people today love sports; I ain’t got no idea where I’m going, but at least I’m getting
Soaring sales – The rediscovery of the motorcycle as a leisure-time vehicle
From the second half of the 1950s, the motorcycle was displaced by the small car as a means of
everyday transport. Ten years later motorcycles had become a rare sight on Austria’s roads.
The mid-1960s, at a time when in Europe hundreds of thousands of motorcycles were relegated to the
scrap yard, saw – starting in the US – the “rediscovery” of the motorised two-wheeler: the motorcycle
as a second vehicle and – returning to its roots – as a technical gadget people enjoyed in their free
time. In the large-capacity classes, motorcyclists relied on the well-known models of established
European manufacturers. In the smaller classes, the Japanese manufacturers were quick to adapt
their designs, originally conceived for Asian markets, to the European leisure market.
A battle for market share ensued. Faced with high development costs, the renowned British marques
were doomed to fail. Japanese manufacturers started to participate in international racing sports, their
racing successes securing them a share in the subsequent boom in leisure motorcycles in Europe.
New makes, such as Ducati and Laverda, as well as traditional marques, such as BMW and Moto
Guzzi, managed to defend their market niches in the large-capacity classes.
With increasing prosperity during the 1970s, the “dream bikes” on offer once again were no longer
mere dreams but now were affordable for larger segments of buyers.
The Vienna Triumph Club
In November 1953, the Austrian importer of British Triumph motorcycles, Robert Wöhrer, and
motorcycle racer Hans Bahmer met a few colleagues in a pub near Vienna’s Mariahilfer Straße and
decided to form a club: the “Triumph-Rennsportclub”. Robert Wöhrer, himself successful in sidecar
events with his wife Stefanie, was elected the Club’s president. Hans Bahmer – well-known for his wit
and way with words – was made the Club’s chairman and has been its driving force ever since. For
decades, they – and innumerable volunteers – tirelessly worked to organise trial and racing events as
well as national, European and world championships. The most traditional race still held today is the
“Braunsbergrennen”, in which also non-members are invited to participate. The former road-racing hill-
climb event now is an off-road competition concluding the Austrian racing season every year.
Originally a one-make club, the Vienna Triumph Club has been open to all motorcycle aficionados
since the 1970s. Today, it is Austria’s biggest motorcycle club, dedicated – like in its founding days –
to maintaining the traditions of motorcycling and motorcycle racing.
KTM and the Dakar
Up to 1981, Gilles Francru of France had achieved the best overall Dakar results for KTM, taking a
sensational fifth spot on a GS 495, the only two-stroke machine of the line-up.
1994 sees Heinz Kinigadner’s first Dakar entry on KTM. In 1996, he wins both the Paris-Peking and
the Dubai rally. KTM has high hopes for Dakar victory and starts to seriously invest in the Dakar
After seven tough years of battling against the two-cylinder competition of Yamaha, Cagiva and BMW,
KTM finally saw its dream come true at the Dakar 2001: With the back-up of a finely tuned team,
Fabrizio Meoni clinched KTM’s first Dakar triumph on a 660cc rally single-cylinder, and: the first eight
places went to KTM. In 2002, Meoni repeated his success, this time on a new 950cc two-cylinder
machine. At the Dakar 2003, KTM fielded two sponsored teams and all well-known factory riders to
fight each other for overall victory. And neither in 2004 was there any competition from other
manufacturers. The team is supported by six trucks and eight cars, with a 60-strong crew kitted out in
orange garb taking care of support, logistics and management matters.
Braving the desert – The “Dakar”
Rally bikes are built to handle extreme long-distance stretches in off-road desert terrain at high
speeds. The single and twin-cylinder engines with a capacity of 660cc to 950cc make for breakneck
top speeds of up to 200 km/h on the unpaved pistes. To achieve the required range, the bikes need to
be able to carry large amounts of fuel. Thus, rally equipped bikes, when fully fuelled, can weigh in
excess of 250kg.
The international highlight of the rally season is the Dakar Rally. Initiated by Thierry Sabine in 1978 as
the ”Paris-Dakar Rally”, it covers up to 18,000 km. Mounted on a mere 30hp Yamaha XT 500, Cyril
Neveu took victory in the inaugural Paris-Dakar rally in 1979, winning the Japanese desert enduro its
legendary fame. An attrition rate of close to 60 percent vividly illustrates the toll this gruelling race
takes on riders and machines. In the rally’s second year, Frenchman Hubert Auriol makes his Dakar
debut on BMW.
Punishing stages, entrants who go missing, sandstorms, supply problems, crashes and first political
disturbances whip up media interest in the event. In 1986, Dakar organiser Thierry Sabine and four
colleagues are killed when their helicopter crashes during a sandstorm. He is succeeded by Hubert
Auriol. The rally world is shocked, but the tragic accident soon gives rise to critical voices. For large
stretches, the route passes through economically impoverished countries torn by civil war. In a time of
growing religious anti-Western fundamentalism, which is violently opposed to cultural appropriation of
this kind, it seems important to also cast a critical eye on media spectacles like the Dakar.
Function meets form – Motorcycles and design
Combining functionality, ergonomics and aesthetics, design goes far beyond mere product
styling. Today launching a product like a motorcycle has become a complex process. Before
a product goes into production, there is strategic market research, brand strategy, product
positioning, product and communications design and the suitable advertising strategy to be
The Duke 620 is the first KTM motorcycle created by Salzburg-based design company Kiska. In 1993,
KTM managing director Stefan Pierer approached Gerald Kiska and hired him to design two
off-road machines. He later commissioned Kiska to design the further development of the
overall KTM brand, from restyling its product range to creating KTM’s entire corporate
image. The off-road bikes’ new look, striking orange colour and characteristic use of forms
have played a major part in KTM’s success.
Production of the BMW K 1 started in 1988. In addition to a distinctive styling, special emphasis was
placed on state-of-the-art technology. The K 1 was the first motorcycle worldwide to offer sophisticated
multi-valve technology and an anti-lock braking system.
The Suzuki KATANA, designed by the small Germany outfit “target DESIGN”, met with enthusiastic
acclaim in the early 1980s: a “historical moment in motorbike design”. With an unmistakeable wedge
shape, favourable aerodynamics and centre of gravity displacement, the Katana proved outstandingly
stable at high speeds.
Styled by star designer Philippe Starck, Aprilia’s MOTO 6.5. impresses with a radical new look rather
than power, a design that earned it a place in the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Individual and quirky – You are what you ride.
Seeking to express their individuality, in the early third millennium people have come to use the
motorcycle to make a personal statement. Motorcyclists want something special, distinctive and
unique, rather than a mass-produced machine available “off the shelf”.
Such customised bikes and rebuilds are usually based on used motorcycles, frequently write-offs.
Tuned engines, customised components, artful paintwork, wide tyres, hand-carved handlebars,
miniature indicators or decals ensure that these motorcycles are distinctive and one-of-a-kind. The
creators of these often quirky or even bizarre looking machines frequently invest a lot of time and care
into making their bikes live up to the picture that has always existed in their heads. Rebuilding
NOSfearatu – originally a Kawasaki Z 750 Turbo – for instance, took over three years and some 1,000
hours of work to complete, but now the bike offers nitrous oxide injection and wins drag races. The
“Zebra” – a Honda XRV 650 Africa Twin – had been relegated to the scrap yard for two years before
its nature- and animal-loving owners gave it a new lease of life. The “cuddly” KTM furred out in bright
pink and sky blue fur boasts 660cc and 70 hp and had contested in the Dakar Rally before it was clad
in colourful plush by its owner. Things are quite different with BMW’s C1 scooter: its design offers off-
A dazzling variety of bikes – The motorcycle is back. The market is booming.
The late 1980s saw the start of a trend that continues today: The motorcycle became a leisure vehicle
used during holidays and on weekends. While in 1988, close to 100,000 motorcycles were registered
in Austria, this number rose to 305,481 machines by the end of 2003.
The economy was booming: All of a sudden, everything seemed possible, affordable. Live was all
about work and making money, it was chic to be stressed and in a rush. Lofts and penthouses were
built and the number of Porsches and Ferraris soared. Scores of gyms and squash clubs sprung up.
And the music accompanying this euphoric atmosphere now came – in the highest possible sound
quality – from a small disc called CD.
Motorcyclists had their own way of getting into a good mood. Their sound came from the exhaust
pipes of their large-capacity machines. In such performance-oriented times, performance is what
Despite rising sales, a number of manufacturers were also closed or taken over during the 1980s. In
1987, the established Austrian Puch marque was sold to Italian manufacturer Piaggio.
If speed had been the measure of all things in the 1970s, in the late 1980s the motorcycle also served
its purpose when parked. Owning a motorcycle, rather than riding it, is what counts now. The
motorbike has become a luxury accessory. It is enough to show visitors into one’s garage, show off
one’s newly acquired “hot rod”, twist the throttle a few times, and listen to the suitably impressed visitor
praise one’s excellent choice of bike. That is all the approval the proud owner needs. If he takes his
bike out, it is usually on a Sunday and in fair weather. He is likely to be familiar with the route, which
will very likely take him from his garage to the nearest café.
Motorcycle racing today – Austria among the front-runners
Racings sports is a live demonstration of the latest technological advances in motorcycle design.
Motorbikes were pitting their strengths in competitions ever since they moved beyond Daimler’s
“Reitwagen” more than hundred years ago.
Today contestants fight for victory in a great variety of national and international competitions.
Motorcycle racing is hip. Grand Prix and Superbike World Championship races attract impressive
numbers of spectators to the grandstands, figures that even outshine those of Formula 1 events. Little
wonder, as motorcycle racing has not only – with riders like Valentino Rossi – the “pop stars” to show
for that have been missing in automobile sports, but also breathtaking two-wheeled action. And those
who can’t be at the race-track themselves, can share the excitement from home on Sunday -TV -
After decades of absence from racing sports, KTM returned to Grand Prix road racing in 2003. With
the 125 FRR and a finely tuned team, the Austrian manufacturer took a second place at the Malaysian
GP in its first Grand Prix season, and in 2004, also in Malaysia, Australian Casey Stoner claimed the
victory for KTM. The manufacturer has big plans for 2005: the world champion title seems within
Whether pocket bike, supermoto, motocross, enduro or supersport racing: Motorcycle racing is also
becoming increasingly attractive beyond world championships. Getting started in racing sports these
days does not require huge budgets thanks to the rapid pace of advances in the new generation of
sports bikes in recent years. Just a few years ago, today’s production bikes could have been fielded at
Technisches Museum Wien
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