Germans Give Back


German designs clearly influenced and propelled Japan’s postwar motorcycle industry. It is evident in this DKW. The Germans would provide a two-stroke engine foundation for many companies, including British, American, Russian, and Japanese makers.The Allies deemed the German designs as patent-free as part of their war reparations. Harley-Davidson took advantage of that to introduce the S125, its own faithful reproduction of the great little RT125 commuter bike made by Germany’s DKW. Britain’s BSA also introduced a DKW clone called the Bantam. Yamaha, a company rooted in musical instrument manufacture, did the same by introducing a 125cc in 1954, following a visit to Germany. Named the YA-1, it was remarkably similar to the DKW design. The small two-stroke with its Teutonic heritage brought transportation to a lot of people that otherwise may never have been able to afford it. Photo courtesy of Mike Dunn.

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