Gottlieb Daimler's 1885 patents include the “Reitwagen”, the world's first true motorcycle. Other people had put steam engines into two wheel frames earlier but this was the first gasoline-driven internal combustion engine to power a two wheeled machine.

   Essentially a wooden bicycle frame with foot pedals removed, but two small spring-loaded outrigger wheels added, the Daimler Reitwagen ("riding wagon") or Einspur ("single track") the machine is actually a hot bed of ideas and was really a stepping stone in Daimler and Maybach's route to creating a motor car.

   The engine was a single cylinder Otto-cycle engine of 264-cubic-centimetre (16.1cu in) mounted on rubber blocks. Power output was rated at 0.5 horsepower (0.37kW) running at 600rpm translated to a top speed of about 7 mph (11km/h). The design had two flywheels and an aluminium crankcase. A float metered carburettor fed fuel through mushroom shaped intake valves, opened by the suction of the piston's intake stroke, and ignited by a hot platinum tube which had an open flame at the outside end which radiated white hot heat ithrough and into the combustion chamber. It was also able to run on coal gas and due to the experimental nature of the machine is rumoured to have later been fitted with a spray-type carburettor.

   Drive to the rear of two wooden wheels with iron tyres was via a belt drive. The twist grip on the handle bar served a dual purpose. When turned one way it released the brake and tensioned the drive belt thus applying force to the rear wheel and of course motion. When the twist grip was turned back the other way it loosened the drive belt and reapplied the brake, thus slowing and eventually stopping the machine.

   On it's first outing (November 18th, 1885) Daimler's 17-year-old son, Paul, rode it a fair distance, estimated as somewhere between 5–12 kilometres (3.1–7.5mi) on the road from Cannstatt to Untertürkheim. A flaw in the design was the positioning of the hot tube burner under the seat, this set the saddle on fire and the machine was reduced to ashes. The design was refined through the winter of 1885–1886, and a second machine was built featuring a belt drive with two-stage, two-speed transmission with a belt primary drive and the final drive using a ring gear on the back wheel. Having served it's purpose as a test bed for motor car ideas the project was put aside in favour of putting the motor into a larger multi wheeled car.

   Fire was once again to claim the Reitwagen when a blaze destroyed the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft Seelberg-Cannstatt plant in 1903. However several replicas have been built and now reside in collections around the world.

Scratchbuild                                                    1/24th scale. 

Built by Rod.

   Rod built during 2011 from Evergreen strip and plasticard, as can be seen in the photo's. It is painted largely with Humbrol, Revell and Tamiya acrylic paints over a Halfords acrylic car paints spray plastic primer. The plans were sourced from the internet as there are several recreations around the world the plans weren't too hard to find. The problem was that they are different due to the development of the machine being represented at different stages in these recreations.

   More photo's can be found amongst the albums on our facebook page.