The S1000RR of its day. Yes, seriously

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Lists of weird motorcycles always feature a machine called the Megola – a bike with a banana-shaped chassis and the engine in the front wheel. It's good for a chuckle before moving on.

But far from being a novelty, in its day the five-cylinder Megola commanded the greatest respect. It was a race- and indeed a championship-winning bike in the first year of the German domestic series – what we know as the IDM championship today. Toni Bauhofer triumphed in the 1924 season's largest (500cc+) class, tugged by his Megola's radical, radial engine.

Each of the five air-cooled cylinders was 128cc (640cc total) and, free of a clutch or gearbox, rotated together with the front wheel. The crankshaft, acting on a planetary gearbox, span six times as fast in the opposite direction. The engine made 14bhp at 3000rpm and powered the bike to upward of 65mph. Lacking the usual space for a front brake, the Megola instead had two brakes on the rear. 

Megola designer Fritz Cockrell assured riders of the road bike: "The weight of the complete front wheel is only 30kg. And it is far less burdened than other bikes of similar strength. Therefore, the engine weight may not be noticeable in the steering wheel."


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