Killinger and Freund Motorcycle

This odd looking motorcycle was captured by the US Army at a German military base in 1945.  At first glance, it might remind you of an Indian Chief with it's full skirted fenders, but take a closer look and you'll see that it is very different kind of machine.  Leave it to German engineers to design a motorcycle with a three cylinder two stroke engine mounted inside the front wheel.  The oddities don't stop there either, since the engine was mounted in the front wheel, transmission and clutch were housed up front as well.  That meant the entire powertrain could be removed just by dropping the front wheel.   The motorcycle was actually built by 5 German engineers from Munich in 1935, but WWII got in the way of their production plans.

Mounting the powertrain inside the front wheel created a number of design challenges.  For starters, all three cylinders were connected to a single carburetor which fed the air/fuel mixture through a rotary valve. Called a Drehschieber in German, it was a turning disk with precisely drilled holes to allow the mixture into each cylinder at the correct time.  The three crankshafts all connected to one gear which transferred power to the transmission.  The distributor and points were mounted inside the hub and it had a battery ignition for easier starts.  Even the cast spokes were an important piece of the design as they acted like fan blades to cool the engine while it was in motion.

The transmission was a two speed with standard clutch discs and was operated with foot controls connected via steel cables.

 It's tubular frame was wrapped with aerodynamic sheet metal covers and it had front and rear telescoping suspension along with a sprung solo seat.

After the war, the motorcycle was shipped back to the United States were it still resides today.  If this motorcycle had gone into production, just think of the impact it would have had on motorcycle design around the world....


47str8leg said...

that is wild,great post!