1981 Simson Schwalbe KR51/52
Brilliantly simple engineering at its best
Gear lever was almost sheared off when I got the bike, so ordered a new one straightaway. Nothing else.
These bikes are closely related to MZ, also from East Germany, and the 'Schwalbe' scooter is a bit like a cross between a Honda 50 and a Vespa. These scooters were built to last, with simple, almost unbreakable mechanics, and a durability and toughness that comes from rugged, simple engineering.
The engine always starts easily, and you can dispense with the choke almost immediately upon start-up. The two stroke burble is a delightful sound that one never tires of hearing.
The bike has 16" wheels, which is great as I'm over 6 feet tall and heavy build. I can ride the bike fine, which is rarely the case for me and small bikes. My bike is the 3 speed version and seems very fast for a 50cc bike, although the two stroke engine helps.
These scooters a true classic and fast disappearing nowadays. Get your hands on one and cherish it. If thinking of buying a Honda Cub or a Vespa, think again and buy a Schwalbe. They're better built and better to ride, and a lot less common.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th April, 2012