Sometimes at press events, I come upon some unexpected surprises. During a recent trip to Austria to test-drive a Mercedes, one of the stops for a technical presentation was at a ski resort in Hochgurgl. The resort also houses the Top Mountain Motorcycle Museum, with more than 230 historic bikes on display. You didn’t have to twist my arm to take a look.
KTM Comet 500S.
Even in its early days, KTM built more than just dirt bikes. Beginning in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s KTM either produced or licensed small street bikes, like this 1977 Comet 500s. Don’t let the name fool you; it was a small bike powered by a Sachs 50 cc fan-cooled two-stroke with four speeds.
Triumph X75 Hurricane.
If you grew up around motorcycles in the 1970s you’ll remember the name Craig Vetter. He was renowned for designing those funky, angular Windjammer fairings. At the request of BSA-Triumph, Vetter designed the Triumph X75 Hurricane as a factory special. The BSA part of the company folded around the time this bike was produced, in 1973, so it is based on the Triumph Trident triple.
Zenith is a long-defunct English motorcycle manufacturer, operating from 1904 to 1950. The company did not produce its own engines, but rather relied on other companies to supply a variety of power plants. This 1923 Super model is powered by a J.A.P. 980 cc overhead valve V-twin.
NSU Motorenwerke no longer exists, but in 1969 the German motorcycle and auto maker was bought by Volkswagen, which merged it with Auto Union to form Audi. The NSU Sportmax pictured here was one of 30 250cc production racers built in 1955. The Sportmax is notable for being the first bike ridden by a privateer to a Grand Prix world championship. Hermann Paul Muller accomplished the feat, taking the 250 GP championship in 1955.
NSU 500 SSR.
This NSU features a tall, 494 cc bevel-driven, overhead-cam single. It got its nickname “Bullus” in honour of British racer Tom Bullus, who was a factory Grand Prix rider for NSU in the early 1930s.
Excelsior Super X.
Based in Chicago, Excelsior made bikes from 1907 to 1931. The Super X was introduced in 1925 and featured an all-new unit construction V-twin with incorporated three-speed gearbox, displacing 45 cu.in., to go head-to-head with Harley. The Super X remained in production until the company folded. This is a 1927 board track racer.
This grand-prix racer is surprising because of how advanced it was for the time, especially since in the company’s later years, Czech-made Jawas were renowned for their outdated designs. Its 488 cc parallel twin had twin overhead cams and produced more than 50 horsepower, more than a modern, liquid-cooled and fuel-injected Honda CB500 twin.
Douglas 90 Plus.
BMW wasn’t the only company renowned for boxer twins in the early 20th Century. British bike maker Douglas produced its first boxer engine in 1907, though it was mounted with the cylinders in line with the frame. This 90 Plus factory race bike has its 350 cc boxer twin mounted more conventionally across the frame. The name comes from the factory’s guaranteed top speed of 90-plus mph.
Want to see more motorcycles at Top Mountain? Click Page 2.