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DkW Hummel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Europeans have long understood that even inexpensive necessities should reflect a sense of style, and nowhere is that more apparent than in personal transportation. Most German motorcyclists of the late '50s and early '60s with 995 deutschmarks to spend—about $1,650 in current greenbacks—desired an eye-catching ride with a distinct style.

Enter the DkW Hummel ("Bumblebee"). With a sleek, science-fiction shape and well-placed brightwork, it was a definite step up from the humble moped. Its stamped-steel frame was gracefully sculpted, the engine sat concealed under a stylish shroud, and the fuel tank hid beneath the back of the extravagant headlight pod.

Underneath, the Hummel was all practicality. A 49cc two-stroke single and four-speed transmission sent five small horses to the rear wheel via an enclosed chain. With a little help from a following wind, it might have attained 50 mph.

Sadly, the Hummel—dubbed "Tin Banana" by owners—was not a success for DkW, which retreated from the motorcycle business at the end of the 1950s. Production was taken over for a time by Victoria/Fichtel & Sachs, which sold DkW-branded bikes into 1970s. By then, however, the futuristic Bumblebee had long since buzzed into the past.