DKW - Cloverleaf threecylinder
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DKW D2-492-25-13
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Capacity : 350
Model : Cloverleaf threecylinder
Production : 1954 - 1956
Category : (R) Racing


350/3 "Cloverleaf' -1956

Unfulfilled promise

DKW's fundamental place in the development of the two-stroke engine is indisputable. Nevertheless, when the marque pulled out of racing at the end of 1956, the promise of its three-cylinder racer was still largely unfulfilled, with only two third-place results in the 1955 and 1956 World Championships to its credit.

Unorthodox Layout

Established in Ingolstadt, since the original factory at Zschopau had fallen under Russian control at the end of WWII, DKW unveiled its new 350cc three-cylinder racer early in 1952. The unorthodox layout, with two inclined cylinders and one horizontally disposed "working cylinder," was intended to avoid the disadvantages of rotary valves.

Light but Unreliable

Though the machine was incredibly light (200 lb), power output (31 hp) and reliability were initially questionable. Up to 1954, its career was a disaster. The DKW was outclassed in terms of sheer speed and its frame was prone to break. In 1954, its development was taken over by Helmut Gorg, who boosted power output by 25 percent, with a fairing developed in a Munich wind-tunnel. The frame was reinforced, the telescopic front fork was replaced by a leading link unit inspired by that of the Guzzi, and huge hydraulically operated magnesium brake drums filled the wheels. But the DKW had peaked too late. In 1956 the factory announced that it could no longer meet the prohibitive cost of racing.


Engine: 349cc (53x52.8mm) air-cooled three cylinder; 120-degree firing interval

Power Rating: 42 hp@ 10,500 rpm

Valves: two-stroke

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive

Suspension: leading links (front); swing ann ( rear)

Brakes: hydraulically actuated twin leading shoe 12.2 inch drums (front & rear)

Wheels: 3.00x19 inch (front); 3.50x18 inch (rear)

Weight: 324 lb

Maximum Speed: 120 mph (unfairecl); 143 mph (faired)


The three-cylinder DKW 350 project took too long to come to fruition, though il foreshadowed the layout of a future generation of racers.


Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

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