1937 Presto Gents ‘Model 72′
fitted with a 1954 MAW Cycle Attachment Engine
I sold this pre-war German Gents bicycle with East German motor-power in 2011.
The MAW cycle attachment engine has become quite rare in Germany now. It’s a very efficient engine that helped transport thousands of East Germans for several decades before the Berlin Wall came down.
This one is attached to a very attractive pre-war German bicycle. As you can see in the photos, the bicycle was restored some years ago, and the engine is unrestored but in good working order.
PLEASE NOTE – the bicycle has been restored in a way we personally like: it has been repainted with the original transfers intact, and the chrome has been left untouched to maintain its patina. The engine is unrestored cosmetically. This is called ‘patina’ or ‘scruffy’ according to your perspective
In the poster above, the Model 72 is the second one up on the left, above the Model 208 motorcycle. In the price list below, the cost of this Gents version was RM 78, or RM 83 if fitted with balloon tyres (which made it Model 72B).
Presto Werke, Chemnitz, 1910
Before WW2, Chemnitz was one of the main centres of the German transportation industry.
Georg Günther established ‘Presto Works Guenther & Co’ in 1895. At that time there was only one other bicycle manufacturer (Winklhofer & Jaenicke) in the city. From 1901, the company experimented with motorized cycles and, in 1907, they also built and distributed Delahaye cars under license from the French company. Cars were subsequently built and sold under their own name. The bicycle receipt below is dated 1928.
Mergers followed the economic crises of the 1920s, car production ceased, and the company became ‘National Motor Company A-G’ or ‘NAG-Presto.’ NAG also had financial difficulties, and its premises were sold to Auto Union. Presto focused again on production of bicycles motor parts and, like most of their competitors, also marketed a lightweight motorcycle with Fichtel & Sachs engine (below).
In 1939, Presto had around 850 workers. Very few German manufacturers made bicycles during the war, due to a shortage of materials. Presto turned mostly to war production, but as they were a small company, until 1942 they were still able to make bicycles for the civilian market.
The company ceased trading on 30th April 1943. The Presto works were destroyed. After the war, a company resurrection was attempted with around 30 employees to manufacture bicycles, but it came to nothing.
Though it’s usually difficult to date bicycles with any accuracy when we find them, at least we know that all Presto bicycles are pre-1942.
MAW ENGINE, NUMBER 17291
THE MAW HILFSMOTOR
MAW engines were manufactured between 1954 and 1959 in Magdeburg, in what used to be East Germany. They were quite common in rural areas, still being used up to the end of the Communist regime.
The MAW (pronounced ‘MAV’) was, like all Eastern Bloc cyclemotors, a knock-off Western machine. The original German ‘hilfsmotor’ (‘help-engine’) equivalent was the AMO (see advert below). The 50cc Amo FM 50 was manufactured between 1949 and 1950, and the 60cc Amo FM 60 from 1949 to 1951.
Here’s a comparison so you can see similarities and differences.
A 1950 AMO FM 60 is pictured above; this one was for sale, for restoration, in Germany. My MAW is below.
Below you can see the AMO again from the other side.
There’s a tendency in Great Britain to disregard Eastern Bloc motorcycles as simply ‘poor copies’ of better Western European motorcycles. But we can’t simply write off the MAW as just an East German bootleg …because the AMO sold poorly. As we can see in these reviews, there was a lot of competition for cycle-attachments in the early 1950s in Germany, and there were plenty others with well-known names, as well as good advertising, distribution and after-sales support.
In East Germany, however, the MAW sold very many thousands of units – it was a complete success. The poster below illustrating various applications for the MAW engine provides an interesting insight into East Germany in the fifties. So perhaps it’s more realistic to look at the MAW as a well-made updated version of the AMO?