How many of us have heard of Nimbus motorcycles? Not too many I imagine. It might be one that you have seen in a motorcycle museum, or in the pages of Motorcycle Classics magazine but probably not on the road. Too bad. It’s a wonderful machine built by a vacuum cleaner company in Denmark. Interesting thing here…this company built the first vacuum cleaner in Europe!
Around 1910 one of the founders of the vacuum cleaner company decided he could make a motorcycle and by 1918 he had. That was the year the first prototype was built, in 1919 they built two more, mass production didn’t begin until 1920. The new Nimbus was a 746cc air-cooled, shaft driven inline four. The Nimbus put out a whopping 10HP and had a top speed of just short of 55MPH and that was with a sidecar attached.
As advanced and wonderful as it was sales were poor, mostly due to a poor economy so production ended in 1926.But, in 1932 the founder of Nimbus and his son started designing a new motorcycle and in 1934 it debuted. There are a great number of changes to the original design except for the inline Four motor and the shaft drive. Horsepower had upped to 18 and a little later to 22. The new Nimbus acquired the nickname of “The Bumblebee” because of its exhaust note. One of the things I find most interesting about this engine is the exposed valve springs…very cool
The model ‘C’ sold well particularly to the Danish police, the postal service and the military. In 1939 as WW2 was winding up the military bought the majority of ‘C’ models. But as the war went on, getting materials to make the motorcycles became more and more difficult, less than 1000 motorcycles were built during that time. After the war new engine designs were developed but, because Nimbus was already selling everything they could make they decided on minor upgrades instead of retooling the factory.
Nimbus continued production until 1960. The Police stopped using the ‘C’ model in the late 1950’s because it couldn’t keep up with faster cars and motorcycles, however, the Postal Service continued to use the Nimbus until 1972.
I found a really nice 1948 Nimbus on ebay this morning. Mechanically this bike been gone through with a fine tooth comb. The rebuild modernized the bike without taking anything away from its soul. This is honestly one very unique motorcycle that you want to ride, not , I repeat NOT, park in your living room or hide under a blanket in your barn. Yeah it’s a little pricey but when you look at what has been done…it’s worth the Kroners (Danish currency). I only wish it had a sidecar as most Nimbus did, but you can find one.
Click on the pics below for a few more pictures and a boatload of information. And look closely, there is a serious resembelence to a very famous American motorcycle…which one?