c.1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller Replica
Manufactured in Germany, the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller is of the utmost historical significance as the first powered two-wheeler to enter series production, and is the first such vehicle to which the name 'motorcycle' (motorrad in German) was ever applied.
The Hildebrand brothers, Heinrich and Wilhelm, developed their motorcycle in partnership with Alois Wolfmüller and his mechanic, Hans Geisenhof. Their design was powered by a twin-cylinder, water-cooled, four-stroke engine displacing 1,488cc, which until relatively recent times was the largest power unit ever fitted to a motorcycle. Despite a maximum power output of only 2.5bhp at 240rpm, the H&W was capable of speeds approaching 30mph, an exciting prospect at a time when powered road transport of any sort was still a novelty.
Patented in January 1894, H&W's motorcycle was greeted with considerable enthusiasm and plans were drawn up to build a factory in Munich to produce it. It was also licensed to a firm in France and marketed there as 'La Petrolette'. Despite some impressive demonstration performances by factory riders the H&W's shortcomings became all too apparent once deliveries to paying customers commenced, and early in 1897 both the German and French ventures collapsed. Opinions differ with regard to how many machines were produced, figures ranging from as low as 800 to as high as 2,000 being quoted. Survivors are, needless to say, exceedingly rare.
This 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller recreation was built by Mike Kron, a German engineer. It is a full scale and true reproduction (one of 15) created after careful technical and historical research and inspection of the few Hildebrand & Wolfmüllers still in existence. Virtually every component is hand made, right down to the cast-iron engine block and pistons, as no suitable existing parts could be found. Only the tyres and saddle are readily obtainable. We are advised that, although it has not been started, this replica has nearly all the necessary parts to do so. A short film is available to view on YouTube showing a similar 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller running: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbbsDds1tbU.