Report on the 2009 German Diesel Motorcycle Rally, Hamm.

I set off for Hamm rather early this year and arrived at 5pm Tuesday, a full three days before it was due to start. The owner of the venue Willy was most accomodating though and put me to good use about the place.

Wednesday night saw rally organiser Rafael drop by to say hello and we spent the next few hours discussing the state of play as regards the Diesel bike scene.

Thursday morning, with nothing better to do, I took a closer look at a diesel Enfield which had been left in the barn. Apparently it was a non runner and the owner wanted one of us to fix her up. It turned out to run Ok after all but was just a little smoky.

A smoky diesel bike from Luxembourg.

Later the day the first rally goers came in. Adie rolled in on his Lombardini Enfield followed by Wolfgang Kurock affectionately known as Mr Wooli. He comes each year and regularly brings Enfield parts to sell. As is fast becoming a tradition between us he informed me that he had again acquired several packs of Indian Beedies (cigarette's) for me which I duely purchased from him for the princely some of €2. Contact him on 04621-4478.
Luckily the rain is holding off as we come up to lunchtime but the patchy cloud was ever threatening. In the end it held off for the whole event which was excellent.

Next to turn up are Helmut (trailored Fuji Robin) Matt (Sommer Enfield) and Rob, this time on a Ruggerini/Lombardini single (his blue Ruggerini sidecar outfit was off the road as the engine had blown up). They were closely followed by Beckedorf on his amazing V twin Punsen Enfield.

Rob's new Diesel motorcycle.

There was also a chap and his partner both on bikes who came in at this time. His was a Heiko built Royal Enfield diesel creation I think he said and his partners was a standard Guzzi. He was eager to try one of Heiko's Triumph Tigers and did indeed got his wish later on.
I got talking to Adi (Lombrdini Enfield) and he tells me that Bosch India are to make and supply a complete common rail system for the V twin Punsen in Jan/Feb of 2010. But others (perhaps more realistically) say that to expect anything from such a colaboration in the near future may well be wishful thinking. Don't hold your breath in other words.

I was also interested to hear from Matt that to date, Jocken Sommer has produced in excess of 280 diesel bikes and has recently had his hands full wading through German red tape fighting proposed changes to emissions laws. I know from past experience that Jocken is quite capable of taking on and beating bureaucrats where they threaten his livelyhood. More power to his elbow say I!

Thursday night saw a small group of us retire to the bar but not before Rafael had again returned, this time bringing this years rally T shirts. And I was priviledged to get a fore taste of what is to come when he showed me the design for the 10th anniversary shirt to be issued at next years event. You don't want to miss getting your hands on one of those!

And here we see the Punsen V twin from Beckedorf.

Friday morning was a little chilly but at least it wasn't raining. A thin mist hung motionless in the September air covering the bikes and tents alike with a fine layer of ever sparkling moisure. As the sun struggled to get through the patchy clouds an unseen cockeral welcomed the new day with gusto and the first of the nearby residents broke the silence as they drove by on their way to work. Before long I began to hear others stir in the tents about me and someone somewhere far away started up an agricultural machine of some sort. It was time to get up.

UK riders set up their tents after arriving Friday afternoon.

One quick look around the campsite told me that we had had one new arrival during the night, he being on a standard BMW. It never ceases to amaze me as to how such miniscule tents can accomodate such massive bikers. Lunchtime Friday and Diesel Dave arrives on his Tiger along with Neil and Johnny from Northern Ireland. Neil is well on the way to building a Smart engined Mk1 Triumph Tiger and made the trip over to checkout some of the European builds. He was certainly in luck when Andreas Loersch arrived later on his BMW K80 CDI which sported one of the Mercedes engines. After the rally Neil was due to ride out to a German University where the Edimo Smart bike was created.

Andreas Loersch displays his SMART bike. Save picture for bigger view.

Here we see Andreas (red) talking to Vim.

Dave tells me his journey to (and later from) the event was a good deal quicker on his diesel Tiger than on his trusty Enfield, Sluggy. His mpg figures were I believe the best yet achieved on the Tiger (95mpg). It just shows that these are certainly the right bikes to ride when crossing the Continent.

Diesel Dave unpacks his Tiger.

Half an hour earlier Henry Price had arrived from England on his petrol powered Enfield. Henry sells Enfield spares for a living and has attended several Dieselbike rally's in the UK. He also creates/converts some of his bikes to diesel and offers them to UK residents among others. After seeing Mr Wooli in action it looks likely that Henry will bring some spares parts to the next UK rally which will be welcome.
The riders are now coming in thick and fast and I see Dalton and various other riders I've not seen before rolling in. Good to see Dalton wearing a British Rally T shirt that I'd sent out to him by post. You always wonder whether these things reach their destination ok. He'd made the trip over earlier in the year to our event with his partner on his Enfied conversion and likes to inflate his air-bed with his exhaust!

Heiko admires the SMART bike.

Many other guys coming in are here to checkout the scene and get some tips for the bikes they are busy building themselves. As always we hear rumour's about machine's coming together in people's garages and offer as much advice as any of us can.
I meet Henk, someone I've only ever comunicated with by email. He's building a motorcycle and found the dvd's I've sent out periodically both useful and inspiring. Others tell me that these disks are being copied and passed on to anyone who might be interested. I get the impression that they are a kind of 'under the counter' item because of the subject matter, but I welcome the fact that they are circulating in ever wider numbers.

Sunset over the rally. Jeff and Matt kick back a little.

As you would expect at a motorcycling rally Friday night saw much beer downed. It was a warm, calm evening which saw most of the riders sitting outside under the covered area. Many were full from the earlier pork roast which is traditionally served up but still endulged in drinking lots. What an encouragable lot bikers are!

Amongst other gossip I also heard (with growing amazement I must say) is that someone had managed to unearth one of the original Norton Rotary Diesel engines that are mentioned elsewhere on this website. It was thought at one time they may be used to power a Military motorcycle but most (petrol) versions ended up powering target practice drones. Apparently this engine still runs, after a fashion, and the owner is looking for a Norton motorcycle to put it in. Hopefully, if it's done in time, this could be the main attraction at the anniversary 10th rally next year? I look forward to seeing this engine 'in the flesh' as it were. Great stuff!

Helmut gets a closer look at one of the older Enfields.

Late Friday John and Tom (I hope I got that right?) arrived at the rally on their big Harley's direct from the UK. They did what some of us have done before and found they couldn't get off a French Toll road after making a wrong turn. John had attended the UK rally earlier in the year and was looking at conversions based around the MZ (it being considerably lighter than the Enfield).

The Diesel Wiesel stand was very well situated and big!

Saturday was, of course, the busiest day. More riders, mostly on Enfields, 'knocked' their way onto and along the tree lined access road which devided the front of Brauhof Wilhaus and turned off to set up their tents on the righthand field. This year, the lefthand field had been given over solely to the local version of the Scottish Highland games. When we weren't distracted by the bikes our attention was being drawn to kilted figures of uncertian origins tossing large objects about the place. Basically, if your eardrums weren't being impinged upon by the clatter of various size diesel engines then you couldn't help but hear grunting noises followed by thumping sounds. It turns out that in a previous life the Black Watch Regiment had been stationed in the area and it was they who were challenging the local German guys. I was offered a go but declined. Rammimg a pitchfork into a sheep-like sack and 'ooffing' it to a great height wasn't my idea of fun. Besides, Willy the Landlord had a dog which looked remarkably similar to the aforementioned item and I'd had a few beers.

As is usual on the main day the whole site was buzzing with motorcyclists both young and old. Almost everyone was snapping away with their digital or phone camera's while it was possible to see the occassional journalist feverously scribbling notes into their writing pads.
Apart from the sound of engines knocking (and Scotsmen grunting) you could hear a constant stream of questions being asked of bike owners and builders. It seemed that everyone present wanted to know the 'in's and out's' of the unusual machines on show and I thank those guys on the sharp end for being so forthcoming and patient.

Super-chargers or compressors seemed to be the order of the day this year as both Thomas (NSU/Hatz) and Heiko (Triumph Tiger's etc..) had fitted them to their motorcycles. Tom told us he had torn a shoulder muscle at work and then damaged his arm still further when his bike had slipped in the ice at another rally. As a result he was unable to bring his newly modified sidecar outfit along this year and instead travelled over with Horst and family in a car. But he did bring along and displayed some pictures of his handywork for all to see. He tells me he was running it at one bar and that the performance of his machine is much improved.

Four pictures Thomas showed me of his Super charger fitted. Save them for bigger view.

We saw that all three of Heiko's Diesel Tiger's had come along and that he too had fitted a compressor to one of the bikes. Anyone interested in potentially buying one of these Tigers was free to take a bike out for a test run and many did just that. Contact Heiko via our forum if you wish to enquire about a motorcycle. He speaks some English.

Heiko's Diesel Tiger complete with Compressor visible at the front.

It was a pleasure to meet Patrick Cramer for the first time and I thank him for telling me about his homemade motorcycle. Based around a 1970's Ural he constructed it 3 years ago sourcing extra parts from Ural-Hamburg He used the original gearbox and fitted it to a Hatz 462cc engine more commonly found on the machine's produced by Jocken Sommer. Patrick told me he also used the original shaft drive but changed the cogs at the rear wheel to the second largest setup possibly 10-30 or 40. He also said the machine attended the recent dieselbike event in France. by the way, if anyone has pictures or a few words of this event do send them and I'll post them up.

Patrick Cramer's Hatz 462cc Ural conversion.

It was good to see Vim again although he could only stay for the Saturday. He brought both his machines along from Holland in his maroon red van and could be seen periodically thrashing the latest of them up and down the access road with everyone watching on. Unfortunately Sander couldn't make it this year with his Daihatsu chopper, it needing work. And I was also told Sander has a new toy, a hotrod! I hope it doesn't distract him too much from building anymore diesel motorcycles!

Vim's Bike and a Tiger get some attention in the courtyard.

One of the rally goers had brought along a small Lohmann (bottom of linked page) engine produced many years ago. These were typically 18cc but the compression was variable allowing them to run on a variety of fuels. The owner of the rally site, Willy, was coaxed into throwing a leg over a bicycle fitted with this machine and found himself being pushed along his access road at a fair rate of knots. Afterwards he swore to me that it had actually fired up and propelled him some of the distance, but I must say, I was a little sceptical not having heard or seen much to support this. It looked to me as if you would have to expend more energy actually getting these things running than you would conserve once they were able to move you along! Thank God for progress say I.

Landlord Willy try's out a Lohmann engine fitted to a bicycle.

A close up shot of the Lohmann Bicycle engine.

If you are ever in the vicinity of this establishment come the weekend you should swing by if only to try the breakfast (should it be on). Piping hot coffee, warm bread rolls, an almost enless supply of scrambled egg, sausage and cheese makes the vist to the continent worthwhile in itself.
It was at one such breakfast the Reinhard informed me of his next adventure. Having previously ridden from the North Cape to Gibraltar and across the states which make up the entire underbelly of the former Soviet Union he now intends to tackle the Lands End to John 'O' Groats route in the UK. And if I heard him correctly he intends to do this without stopping. Later that day we were all
treated to a slide show presentation by Dietrich of the trip both he and Reinhard Hoetger took out to the East. Both he and Reinhard had taken plenty of notes and pictures of their epic journey and we saw the evidence of this as the show got underway.

The opening picture of the slideshow presentation.

One thing that came across is how ability and personalities are important on such a tough journey. Whilst Reinhard took care of the technical side of things Dietrich was able to charm the pants off anyone they met and frequently used his skills in this area to acquire such important things as welders and spare parts. This is very handy when you have a problem and are situated miles from anywhere!

Specifically on the subject of small diesel engines, Reinhard went on to say he felt it was about time that someone produced a common rail single cylinder lump that would give us something nearer 15, 16 or 17 hp. Then we could start seeing smaller machines capable of performing. I must agree with him there.

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings were remarkably similar as far as the attendees were concerned. The aftermath of the night before was plain to see and indeed hear. Beer glasses lay scattered in the dew laddened grass and heavy snoring came from just about every tent thereabouts. Even the sound of someone starting and revving their diesel moto fails to wake those in the immediate vicinity and the local cockeral had long since given up trying to wake anyone.

No shortage of guys riding their bikes up and down the access road.

One by one a few blearly eyed individuals emerged from their tents and began picking their way through the guy ropes on the way to the toilet; whereas others, more brazzenly, stagger only to the surrounding fence and let go. These posts themselves are randomly topped too with spent glasses and items of clothing hung out and forgotten from the day before. Overhead the sky was covered completely by clouds meaning that it would be sometime before the rising sun would be able to burn off the all pervasive moisture.

The runout began at 1.30pm on Saturday and saw the Landlord Willy lead just about every diesel bike there out and through the surrounding countryside for approximately 1 hour before we arrived back at the site. This year we did not stop off anywhere.

Not one but three Triumph Tiger's, all sporting the 3 cylinder Lombardini Diesel engine, prepare for the run out.

There was a little last minute drama as the rally wound down on Sunday morning. A steady stream of mainly Royal Enfield diesels were rolling off site site and away down the road when eagle eyed Reinhard spotted one machine with an almost flat rear tyre. With his traditional dunkel beer in hand and puffing on a vanilla cheroot he managed to jog to the riders side and warn him of the danger. I too approached and offered my canister of emergency tyre repair solution and a spare tube I had to hand but the rider was in a position to be able to simply change machines, the other being situated there in a van driven by a friend. I wish we could all have that luxury at times!

A flat rear tyre gets a boot!

Once again the Hamm Diesel Motorcycle rally must be judged a success. Despite little advertising we still saw a considerable number of machines journey to the gathering along with others eager to look and learn. I cannot conceive of any other such meeting regularly attended by so many dedicated individualists all so keen to see the latest developments in this, their chosen area of interest.
Next year is the 10th anniverary and as such it will be a special event. The call goes out here and now to all those who have not attended recently to come. The organiser's aim to make this the biggest event to date so if you own a diesel powered motorcycle of any description be sure to come!

Rob leaves upon his Ruggerini machine.

Various scenes from this years rally.

Always a pleasure to see the very well turned out Modite at the Rally.

Increasingly rare, the Centaurus, a bike troubled with frame breaks due to the engine config causing too much vibration.

An original Royal Enfield Taurus in fine form and condition.

Another rally regular, the Royal DÜLLMANN No.1. 1000cc Hatz engine in Dnepr.Ural Frame.

Vim's Diahatsu BMW conversion.

Stephan Sanderse brings his bike over from Holland to eveyones delight.

There was plenty of examples of the Sommer Hatz in evidence.

Good to see Ernie Dorsett's Fuji Robin Royal Enfield's are still on the road. It's a pity some engines had imbalanced flywheels to begin with which caused some bikes to shake themselves to bits.

Something a little different here. The engine is tilted forward as with the Centaurus.

Michael Breoker's Daihatsu Turbo BMW K100. An excellently crafted machine.

Reinhards 'Thrifter' fresh in from a tour of surrounding countries.

I think we've seen this bike before.

The mighty Bulldog Hatz makes another appearance.

Diesel Dave, Rafael and Matt chill out for a bit.

MZ Lombardini conversion.

The ZEUS came in from Holland.

The French superbike makes another appearance.

It looks like a Sommer conversion but it is infact another Vahrenkamp Royal Enfield.

Anyone fancy an old (petrol) Enfield engine?

A closeup of the MZ Lombardini.

The strange trikes are here again! Ford Escort based 1.8 litre engines.

Heiko onboard one of his Tigers. Contact him via the forum if you want one built for you.

My bike, the Ruggerfield, was first to arrive at the rally. The trip there and back was wothout incident.

Perhaps the maddest bike there. Is that the engine - in the sidecar?

My bike early wednesday morning.

I hope this report has given you something of the flavour of the event and will encourage you to journey to the 10th aniversary event in 2010. It will be the biggest yet so don't miss out!

Return to the German Rally index

Return to Rally index


SJS © Copyright All Rights Reserved