I had the great honour to take Christiane’s ’51 Victoria for a spin to a lake in the beautiful countryside around Berlin last weekend. Victoria seems to be a bike manufacturer not many have heard of and I would like to tell you a little more about it, as I personally always find it super exciting to find out about rare motos.
Victoria initially was a bicycle company in Nürnberg, Germany that made motorcycles from about 1901 until 1966 and Christiane’s gorgeous ride is a 1951 KR 25 HM Aero; a two-stroke model that was introduced in 1937, whose engines with flat-topped pistons were developed by Richard and Xaver Küchen.
It is the oldest bike I ever got to ride and wow! you can truly feel its soul and hear it telling many stories from quite a few decades when the engine rattles with its 10.5 horse powers.
Read more about Victoria’s history
below my article.
Christiane owns this elegant girl since 1991 and auctioned it at a German custom office in East Berlin, where it was sitting and probably just waiting for her since 20 years. “It took quite a few kicks” she said, “but then it really just started its engine. It was love!!” Together with two mates she took the Vicky completely apart, upgraded the engine, got it painted and put it back together with only original parts.
Initially I was really nervous to ride the Victoria and had great respect for its age and beauty. But after only a little instruction by Christiane I kicked it on, saddled up and wouldn’t stop smiling anymore. It handled very different to the bikes I got to test ride so far; the knees are sitting really high and are a bit in the way with the handle bars when you have to take tight corners. It also doesn’t have indicators, the gear shifter sits higher than usual and you actually have to take your foot a few centimeters off the peg to pull it in with a fair bit of power. But it runs oh so well, is way less temperamental than you’d expect from such an old lady. It jangles like music, especially the unique sound when you pull in the clutch and the bike is in neutral. With a 180-degree smile on my face and the seat swinging comfortable in the rhythm of the road, it was the most enjoyable and most special ride for a swim that I could imagine! I parked the bike ride on the grass in the little bathing area and I probably don’t need to mention how many dozing heads lifted up from their blankets, when we arrived…
Christiane’s tip for two-strokes:
As it seems harder and harder to get mineral oil but the new synthetic ones everywhere, she buys lawn mower mineral oil to mix it with the fuel for her Vicky.
History of the Victoria Works
1886 – Foundation of the Nuremberg Company and start of bicycle production.
1901 – Manufacturing of the first motorcycles with purchased engines from Cudel and Fafnir.
1920 – Motor cycle production started after World War I with the use of BMW „M 2 B15″- 494 ccm sv-engines in the KR I.
1923 – Martin Stolle came from BMW and developed an ohv Boxer engine for the KR II, exactly one year before BMW`s ohv boxer appeared.
1925 – Engineer Steinlein built the first German supercharged motors at Victoria.
1926 – Adolf Brudes set a new German speed record with a 497 ccm supercharged-Victoria at 166 kph.
1928 – 350 cc-ohv, 200 cc-sv and from 1930 on, 500 cc-ohv and sv-engines from the English company Sturmey Archer (part of the Raleigh group) were imported to complete the smaller range of machines.
1931/32 -Victoria won the European Mountain Championship „Bergmeisterschaft” in the 600 cc side car class, the new boxer model was immediatly named the Mountain Champion „Bergmeister”.
1937 – Richard Küchen designed the new Victoria model range (Aero, Lux, Fix, Pionier)
1939 – Production of civil vehicles almost stopped until 1945. The German Army ordered 4000 so called Pionier models with special equipment (the bike in the front – see photo).
1945 -Factory facilities are almost completely destroyed.
1946 -Engine production started again with the 38 cc, 1 bhp bicycle auxiliary engine.
1948 – The KR 25 „ Aero” was built again and together with the „Vicky” they were among the bestsellers in the years after the war.
Boom and Collapse
1951 – Georg Dotterweich set a new World speed record with the 38 cc „Vicky” on the “Autobahn” motorway Munich-Ingolstadt at a speed of 79 kmph.
1953 – The newly developed KR 26 and 350 cc ohv V 35 Bergmeister twin appeared.
1954 – Rudi Ebert wins the 500 cc-side-car-class of the 2500 km long distance event (Liege/Belgium – Milan/Italy – Liege/Belgium) with the Bergmeister.
1957 – The 175 cc ohv „Parilla” with italian Parilla engine from the Milan company became the last Victoria motor cycle ever built.
1958 – Victoria merged with Express (Neumarkt) and DKW (Ingolstadt) to the „Zweirad Union.
1988 – The first meeting of the Victoria Interessengemeinschaft founded by Thomas Hey`l was arranged in Idar-Oberstein.