Hildebrand & Wolfmüller

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hildebrand-Wolfmüller 1894.jpg
Manufacturer Hildebrand & Wolfmüller
Production 1894–1897[1]
Engine 1,489 cc (90.9 cu in) two-cylinder water-cooled four-stroke, surface carburetor
Bore / stroke 90 mm × 117 mm (3.5 in × 4.6 in)
Top speed 28 mph (45 km/h)[1]
Power 2.5 bhp (1.9 kW) @ 240 rpm[1]
Ignition type Hot tube
Transmission Direct drive via connecting rods
Frame type Steel tubular
Brakes spoon brake, friction against front tire
Tires pneumatic, front 26 in (66 cm), rear 22 in (56 cm)[2]
Weight 110 lb (50 kg)[2] (dry)

The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller was the world's first production motorcycle.[1][3][4] Heinrich and Wilhelm Hidebrand were steam-engine engineers before they teamed up with Alois Wolfmüller to produce their internal combustion Motorrad in Munich in 1894.[1]

Mechanical details[edit]

Diagram of 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller.

The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller patent of 20 January 1894, No. 78553 describes a 1,489 cc (90.9 cu in) two-cylinder, four-stroke engine, with a bore and stroke of 90 mm × 117 mm (3.5 in × 4.6 in). It produced 1.9 kW (2.5 bhp) @ 240 rpm[1] propelling a weight of 50 kg (110 lb)[2] up to a maximum speed of 45 km/h (28 mph).[1]

Some design details were carried over from a steam-powered prototype made by the Hildebrand brothers in 1889, including the water tank shaped to form the rear mudguard and the connecting rods of the engine driving the rear wheel directly. The water tank was repurposed to supply water to the cooling jackets surrounding the cylinders.[5] The steam powered prototype had a double-acting cylinder, applying power to the piston in both directions.[6] With no double action available in the petrol engine, and no flywheel effect apart from the movement of the rear wheel, the return impulse for the piston was provided by heavy rubber bands.[4]

Production run[edit]

Several hundred examples of this motorcycle 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 the First World War.[1][2] The motorcycle was also built under licence in Paris by Duncan and Superbie.[4]


Examples exist today in the Deutsches Zweirad- und NSU-Museum in Neckarsulm, Germany, the 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.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Walker, Mick; Guggenheim Museum Staff (2001) [1998], Krens, Thomas; Drutt, Matthew, eds., The Art of the Motorcycle, Harry N. Abrams, p. 103, ISBN 0810969122 
  2. ^ a b c d Pagé, Victor Wilfred (1924, 2004 reprint), Early Motorcycles: Construction, Operation and Repair, Dover Publications, pp. 23–25, ISBN 0-486-43671-3 
  3. ^
    • Brown, Roland (2004), History of the Motorcycle: From the first motorized bicycles to the powerful and sophisticated superbikes of today, Bath, England: Parragon, pp. 10–11, 14–15, ISBN 1-4054-3952-1 
    • Brown, Roland (2005), The Ultimate History of Fast Motorcycles, Bath, England: Parragon, p. 6–7, ISBN 1-4054-5466-0 
    • de Cet, Mirco (2001), The Complete Encyclopedia of Classic Motorcycles: informative text with over 750 color photographs (3rd ed.), Rebo, p. 121, ISBN 90-366-1497-X 
  4. ^ a b c Wilson, Hugo (1995), "The A-Z of Motorcycles", The Encyclopedia of the Motorcycle, London, UK: Dorling Kindersley, pp. 82–83, ISBN 0 7513 0206 6 
  5. ^ Partridge, Michael (1976), Motorcycle Pioneers: The Men, the Machines, the Events 1860-1930, David & Charles (Publishers), pp. 8,11, 16, ISBN 0 7153 7 209 2 
  6. ^ Partridge, Michael (1976), "Introduction", Motorcycle Pioneers: The Men, the Machines, the Events 1860-1930, David & Charles (Publishers), pp. 8,11, ISBN 0 7153 7 209 2 
  7. ^ Wells Auto Museum Our Collection.
  8. ^ "Kereta Setan" Bikin Takjub Warga (in Indonesian), 7 August 2009, retrieved 2011-07-11 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Fastest production motorcycle
Succeeded by
Werner New Werner