DKW - RM Reichsfahrt
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DKW D2-492-54-16
Photo ou archives : D. Ganneau

Capacity : 148
Model : RM Reichsfahrt
Production : 1922 -
Category : (R) Street Bike


148 RM (Reichsfahrtmodell) – 1922

From steam to motorcycles

In 1916, Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen, a Danish-born maker of boiler fittings in Zschopau, Saxony (Germany), founded a company to make experiments with steam-powered automobiles. He called the firm "Dampf Kraft Wagen" ("steam-powered vehicles"). In 1918, the company was renamed, using the same initials, when it launched a toy engine designed by Hugo Ruppe under the name "Des Knaben Wunsch" ("the kid's wish").

The Small Wonder

In 1919, a third change of meaning for the initials came when DKW launched a little 120cc clip-on engine for pedal cycles and called it "Das Kleine Wunder" ("the small wonder"). It was aptly named, and 25,000 units were produced up until 1923. In 1921, DKW produced a curious little scooter with this engine, the Golem-Roller. It was not very successful, nor was a 148cc derivative – the Lomos – which was also built under license by Eichler of Berlin.

Brilliant Victory

The first real DKW appeared in 1922, designed by Hermann Weber, who succeeded Ruppe as technical director. He held this post until 1945, when he and several of his team went to the USSR to relaunch motorcycle manufacturing. His "Reichsfahrtmodell" was sporty as well as a sales success (20,000 were built up to 1925) and took its name from its first brilliant victory, at the 1922 Reichsfahrt, against opposition from much more powerful machines.


Engine: 148cc (56x60mm) air-cooled single-cylinder; flywheel magneto

Power Rating: 2.25 hp

Valves two-stroke; ports controlled by piston skirt

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: direct-belt final drive

Suspension: pivoted girder (front); rigid (rear)

Brakes: rim (front); belt rim (rear)

Wheels: wire clincher (front & rear)

Weight: 93 lb

Maximum Speed: 37 mph

Over the years, the RM underwent a number of changes, such as the switch from a leading-link fork to the pivoting girder pattern and the adoption of a band-operated clutch.

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

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

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