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The Riedel Imme R100 - An Unlikely Design Icon

Many of you may have seen the great interview with one of the most controversial figures in motorcycling, ex-Ducati/MotoGuzzi/Norton (for a little bit) designer Pierre Terblanche.
When quizzed on the 'most beautiful production motorcycle ever built' his answer was surprising.
Rather than a Manx Norton, Vincent Black Shadow or a Ducati 916, Terblanche responded with this strange creation; the Imme R100.
On first glance it seems a quaint little thing with art-deco-esque styling and an engine seemingly more suited to motorised-toothbrushes than hauling grown men around at high speed, however the avant-garde details on this thing are amazing and it soon becomes apparent why this little German bike remains inspirational to one of today's best known motorcycle designers.
For us, as everyday, run of the mill motorcycle riders this wouldn't be our first choice for most beautiful motorcycle ever built, but it would have to be right up there for 'most interesting'.
The bike was designed by German Norbert Riedel who began production post WWII.
The frame and fork tubing is all the same stock; Germany's steel supply having been thoroughly diminished through the bombing of steel works by the RAF.
The economy of materials used is incredible with the bike featuring single fork legs front and rear- the rear also acting as the exhaust pipe! The engine which moved the 57kg Imme is a 99cc 2 stroke which produces 4.
Not bad considering the post-war BSA Bantam produced the same horsepower with 125cc.
The cylinder and head were the one casting and there was no neutral gear at all- why bother when the clutch is all the neutral gear you need! (kind of..
) Around 12,000 Immes were made.
Riedel eventually designed an updated 150cc version of the engine however in 1951 the factory was closed.
Interestingly, after the closure, Riedel worked for Triumph- not the English Triumph, but the German based company which had split from the English company and has been running independently since.
Many of the things designers strive for today; finding new ways to consolidate the variety of materials, components and production processes used, combining parts where possible, re-evaluating the necessity of features taken for granted etc are exemplified by the Imme- it's as though it has been created with half the parts of a normal motorcycle! Hence it's beauty in the eyes of a designer.
We thank Pierre Terblanche for making us aware of this little gem.

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