Hildebrand and Wolfmüller

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Hildebrand-Wolfmuller 1894.jpg
Hildebrand and Wolfmüller
Production 1894–1897[1]
Bore / Stroke 90x117mm
Top Speed 28mph[1]
Horsepower 2.5bhp @ 240 rpm[1]
Ignition Hot tube
Transmission Direct drive via connecting rods
Frame Steel tubular
Brakes spoon brake, friction against front tire
Weight 110lb[2] (dry),
Manuals Service Manual

The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller was the world's first production motorcycle.[1] Heinrich and Wilhelm Hidebrand were steam-engine engineers before Alois Wolfmüller agreed to finance them to produce their internal combustion Motorrad in Munich in 1894.[3]

Alternate claims[edit | edit source]

The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller is credited as the world first because other possible claimants tend to be based on a bicycle chassis (e.g. de Dion-Bouton and Orient Aster,[4] and the E. R. Thomas[5]) or were never put into production. Or both, e.g. Gottlieb Daimler’s Reitwagen of 1885 was a one-off test-bed for an experimental engine in a bicycle chassis. The Felix Millet designed 'Motocyclette,' of 1893 used an aviation-style radial five-cylinder engine, but never went into mass-production.[6]

Gottlieb Daimler is sometimes known as the "Father of the Motorcycle" but supporters of H & M point out that his Einspur "boneshaker" motor bike was actually a "hybrid" motor-driven bicycle with a wooden bicycle frame, and wooden wheels.

Mechanical Details[edit | edit source]

The motorcycle featured a water-cooled engine (the coolant tank/radiator of which is prominent over and around the rear wheel) mounted in a purpose-designed tubular frame. The rear wheel was directly driven from the connecting rods (a similar arrangement to that of steam locomotives). There was no flywheel other than the rear wheel, and it needed heavy rubber bands to provide the return impulse.

Diagram of 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller.

The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller patent of 20 January 1894, No. 78553 describes a 1489cc two-cylinder, four-stroke engine, with a bore and stroke of 90x117mm. It produced 1.9kW @ 240 rpm[1] propelling a weight of 50kg[2] up to a maximum speed of 28mph[1].

Examples exist today in the Deutsches Zweirad- und NSU-Museum in Neckarsulm, Germany, Science Museum in London, The Henry Ford in Detroit, Michigan, the Wells Auto Museum in Wells, Maine,[7] and the Museum Lalu Lintas in Surabaya, Indonesia.

Production run[edit | edit source]

Several hundred examples of this motorcycles were built but with a high initial purchase price and fierce competition from improving designs (this model was entirely "run and jump" with neither clutch nor pedals) it is not thought to have been a great commercial success. The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller factory closed in 1919 after WWI.[8]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Walker, Mick; Guggenheim Museum Staff (1998), Krens, Thomas; Drutt, Matthew, eds., The Art of the Motorcycle, Harry N. Abrams, p. 103, ISBN 0810969122, 9780810969124, http://books.google.com/books?id=J8pIJQAACAAJ 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Page1924
  3. Vintage Motorcycles: Hildebrand & Wolfmüller The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller was the world's first mass-production two-wheeled motor vehicle to be dubbed a "motorcycle," or "motorrad" in German.
  4. Antique Motorcycles: Charles Metz & Waltham Mfg. Aster built motors based on the revolutionary design of the 1895 French DeDion-Buton motor, which was one of the first mass-production gasoline engines.
  5. Vintage Motorcycles: E. R. Thomas 'Auto-Bi' Motorcycle The "E.R. Thomas Motor Company" located in Buffalo, New York, was founded by Erwin Ross Thomas in the late 1890s.
  6. Vintage Motorcycles: Hildebrand & Wolfmüller The Felix Millet designed 'Motocyclette,' of 1893 used an aviation-style radial five-cylinder engine, but never went into mass-production.
  7. Wells Auto Museum Our Collection.
  8. Vintage Motorcycles: Hildebrand & Wolfmüller In total, several hundred Hildebrand & Wolfmüller motorcycles were sold.

External links[edit | edit source]