You might be wondering how it is that the love of motorcycles is still unbroken. One of the answers is possibly right. There are no other technical equipments where human and machine are in such a dense contact. They rely on each other, the success and failure is mutual. This is particularly true for the “heroic age” of the motorcycles, which was in the middle of the last century, when individuals made incredible machines.

Come and be part of this extraordinary time-travel. Visit our open days and learn about the history of Hungarian motorcycle production from the beginning of the century to the seventies!

Open day

Donát BÁNKI (1859-1922) and János CSONKA (1853-1939) were the pioneers of Hungarian motorization. The invention of the Bánki-Csonka carburettor in 1893 is linked to their names. The Ganz-factory began manufacturing Bánki-Csonka engines in 1893. The structural novelty of these engines was the carburettor type mixture generation. The twin cylinder motorcycle of Donát Bánki, with water-cooled engine and enclosed valves, was completed in 1894.
Motorcycle manufacturers in Hungary at the beginning of the century: the two-wheel vehicle design of Nándor Hóra was constructed in 1902. János Száritsproduced similar motorcycle engines until 1906. At the beginning of the twentieth century, good results were also achieved by the designs of Géza SzámJenő MuskátJános Adorján and János Posszert.
In 1906, The Hungarian Motorcyclists’ Association was formed The number of registered motorcycles did not reach one hundred.

Csonka János

János Csonka

Bánki Donát

Donát Bánki

Ganz-Bánki sorozatgyártású porlasztó 1892-ből

Mass-produced Ganz-Bánki carburettor from 1892
(Haris Museum)

Engine-assisted tricycle made based on the design of János Csonka, with carburettor made by the manufacturer and with high-voltage ignition
(Haris Museum)

The first motorcycle-manufacturing factory in Hungary (from 1923). Engines were bought abroad (Villiers, Moto-Réve, Blackburne, JAP), and the running gear was their own development. Categories: from 150 to 1,000 cc, performance from 4hp to 15hp.
By the 1930s, JAP engines were also manufactured in Hungary; in fact, engines of domestic development were also manufactured in the factory of János Csonka.Méray motorcycles equipped with two-stroke Puch engines were very popular.

50cc, 10hp Méray-Jap motorcycle from 1928
(Photo: Transport Museum)

Méray-JAP 500 cc motorcycle with sidecar attached
(Photo: Transport Museum)

200 cc Méray-Puch motorcycle from 1939 
(Photo: Maróti photo collection)

  • The motorcycles of the Dormán brothers equipped with Villiers, MAG, and JAP engines in the early 1920s
  • 350cc motorcycles manufactured under the name F. P. in the Frohner-Pásztélyi Factory in 1924-25
  • Manufacture of NOVA motorcycles with JAP and Blackburne engines in Kistarcsa (Engine and Rail Equipment Factory) from 1927
  • Béla Lőrincz founded the First Hungarian Motorcycle and Component Factory where two-stroke engines were manufactured in mass-production..

NOVA- 500 JAP motorcycle manufactured in Kistarcsa, from 1927. 
The rider is Antal Rauchbauer
(Photo: Transport Museum)

670cc, water-cooled, two-cylinder EMMAG motorcycle
(From the photograph collection of Ferenc Váradi)

The successful motorcycle racer and importer started manufacturing 100cc motorcycles developed by him in 1938. By 1942, some two thousand of these motorcycles were produced to standards which surpassed the knowledge of their time and good results at races as well. Of the numerous original designs applied, the telescopic front fork and telescopic seat suspension are both well worth mentioning.
Its larger sibling, the 125cc motorcycle had a final speed of 80 km/hour..

Mátra (Turul), 1939
(From the Maróti photograph collection)

Sectional view of the engine designed by László Urbach, from 1939
(The engine of the ‘Turul’ and then the ‘Mátra’ models)

MOGÜRT-Urbach advertisement from 1947

The manufacture of affordable small motorcycles in Csepel started following the years of the 1929 great depression.The first success was achieved with the so-called ‘red’ model, also referred to as the motorcycle ‘with a heart-shaped fuel tank‘, in 1931.Approximately 1,100 examples were manufactured of this motorcycle which had no gearbox.
This was followed by the TURÁN (referred to as the motorcycle ‘with a cigar-shaped fuel tank’) in 1936. The new 86cc model had a performance of close to 2hp and a final speed of 50 km/hour.This was already a real engine-assisted bicycle. Close to 1,800 examples were manufactured of it until 1937.
The Turán was followed by a true small motorcycle, the CSEPEL 128. It had a 3hp engine, two-speed gearbox and a maximum speed of 65 km/hour.The successful continuation, however, was not provided by this, but rather by a new engine-assisted model, the WM-98, in 1939. Motorcyclists simply called this model the ‘nickel tanked’ or ‘silver tanked’ (bottom picture).The back wheel was driven by two chains:one from the pedals and another from the engine.A two-speed gearbox could also be installed on demand.
The last model version before the switchover to war production in Csepel was the WM 100/L. It was a lot more modern than the earlier models, but only 30 examples were manufactured of it.The story continues after the war.

The prototype of the WM engine-assisted bicycle ‘with a heart-shaped fuel tank’ from 1931
(Photo:Transport Museum)

Csepel Turán
(Photo: Maróti photograph collection)

“Csepel-100 small motorcycle ‘with nickel fuel tank’ in the Maróti motorcycle collection 
(Photo: Maróti photograph collection)

The end of the second world war meant the beginning of a peaceful era, but the economic and social conditions changed fundamentally:

  • Production plans were destroyed as a result of the war and its consequences
  • EA new era began in Eastern Europe, behind the ‘iron curtain’ and this fundamentally changed the conditions of economic life.
  • A new era began in Eastern Europe, behind the ‘iron curtain’ and this fundamentally changed the conditions of economic life.

A larger, eighth-litre sibling was born very soon.The performance of the engine, rebored from a 100, was 4.5hp. A final speed of 80 km/hour could be achieved with it.The front plate fork and the back wheel without suspension remained.
The first step towards improving comfort was the replacement of the pressed steel front suspension with telescopic fork – already commonly used at the time (the photo on the middle shows the model version marked Csepel 125/50).
On the last picture the model is the 125/T which already had telescopic forks front and back.The introduction of better suspension was a pressing necessity.

WM-Csepel Túra
(Photo: Maróti photo collection)

The Csepel 125/50 motorcycle with telescopic front fork 
(Photo: Maróti photo collection)

Csepel 125/T
(Photo: Maróti photo collection)

The last model to carry the WM name and the first model in Csepel following the end of the war. Strong bucket frame, kick-starter, two-speed, foot-operated gearbox, 3hp, 45 kg, two-stroke engine.
The Aurél Jurek team designed a construction that proved to be very successful on the long-term and to provide a good starting-point for future developments. This was the CSEPEL 100. The advantages of this simple, but reliable structure were proven by a number of race results.

WM-Csepel Túra
(Photo: Maróti photograph collection)

Csepel 100/48
(Photo: Maróti photograph collection)

The designers of the 100 and 125 Csepel motorcycles: elöl at the front: Aurél Jurek (later to become senior lecturer at the TechnicalUniversity), behind him: János Pentelényi. 
From the photo material of BME

The smaller machines were followed in 1950 by the 250cc model, which, according to Hungarian standards, was considered a large motorcycle. The first version offered a twin-piston design, well proven with Puch engines (photo on the middle), but the quarter-litre Csepel motorcycles became single-piston constructions within a very short time.
Its technical characteristics ensured several sport successes and they also made it possible to export the motorcycle.

Only 500 examples were produced of the twin-piston 250cc Csepel motorcycles, which should have deserved a better fate. 
Owner: József Pőcze

(Photo: Maróti photo collection)

György Csepregi, Károly Teleki, Sándor Máté and Károly Nagy on Csepel 250 on cross-country motorcycles before the race in Finland
Press photo

In response to the demands of the masses, a number of small motorcycle versions – mofa, moped, mokick – were introduced into circulation throughout Europe in the 1950s. The simplest ones were motorized bicycles which had tiny engines driving directly the front or back wheel.

Preproduction of the DONGÓ auxiliary engine, which later became very popular, was completed at the Hungarian Sporting Cartridge Factory in Székesfehérvár in 1955. The two-stroke, 38cc engine, mountable under the pedal drive, was produced based on an Italian sample. It drove the back wheel with an adhesion disk clamped to the tyre.

BERVA moped

A two-stroke, 49cc, 1,5hp engine, with two-speed, hand-operated gearbox was started with bicycle pedals.
Suspension: at the front: with short swinging arm, at the back: pivoted fork with telescope. Drum brakes. Speed:45 km/hour.
Manufacturer: Eger Fine Equipment Factory – Sporting Cartridge Factory Székesfehérvár (60-70 thousand examples).

PANNI miniscooter

The engine is almost identical, with that of the Berva, but the starting pedals are replaced by a hand-operated starter crank. Suspension: at the front: rubber spring short swinging arm, at the back: pivoted fork. 20” wheels, aesthetic case. Manufacturer:Csepel Bicycle Factory – Sporting Cartridge Factory Székesfehérvár (15-20 thousand examples).

Photo: Maróti photo collection

BERVA moped
Photo: Maróti photo collection

PANNI miniscooter
Photo: Maróti photo collection

In 1954, the production of the 125 Csepel motorcycles was transferred to the DANUVIA Tool Factory with the model code D-Csepel. It had a three-speed gearbox and a final speed of 85 km/hour. The model was considered modern due to the back pivoted fork, the double seat and the aesthetic look it had.

(Photo: Maróti photograph collection)

The ten thousandth D-Csepel motorcycle was produced at the Danuvia Tool Factory in 1956
(Press photo)

Danuvia 125
(Press photo)

1954 brought a significant change at the CsM (at the time still called Rákosi Mátyás Factory) Motorcycle Factory: the development and production of the quarter-litre PANNONIA motorcycles began using the experience gained with the Csepel 250 machines, after the production of the 125 models was transferred to the Danuvia factory. The then leading ‘Red Csepel’ factory became the home of the biggest chapter of domestic motorcycle manufacture for the next 20 years.
They took the first step with the introduction into production of the TL model which had telescope at the front and pivoted fork at the back. Some important characteristics: 10-11hp, four-speed gearbox, 19” wheels, 135 kg bear weight, final speed of 100 km/hour.

(Photo: Maróti photograph collection)

Gyula Balogh, the manager of the Product Development Department is in the middle, with Endre Vígh, the manager of the Race Department
(Factory photo)

We have never really been one of the great motorcyclist nations. There are very few people outside Hungary, who are familiar with at least a fraction of Hungarian motorcycle history. Some relics of this history can be seen in the Maróti motorcycle collection. Still, we should be proud of all the motorcycle products of these long-past eighty years. They were made possible by the undying interest of Hungarian constructors in technology – to the delight of motorcycle fans.
We hope that the possibilities to continue this tradition will be there in the twenty-first century.

The last public appearance of the Pannonia motorcycles on the 1st of May, 1974

Written by: dr. Miklós Kováts
Author of the book “Hungarian Motorcycles”

Open day