photo from the editorial archive
“Shaw?” Special off-road motorcycle? What the hell is he - special? Yes, my “Ural” will ram any dirt!..”The grandfather in a storm-tailored fire hose sincerely does not understand what it is about: is it true that any motorbike is not obliged to go everywhere ?!
So it was - "in those days, distant, now epic." And even earlier, when motorcycles were just born, it never occurred to anyone to divide them into “for roads” and “for off roads”. Although they had to guess: the cover was such that the paved by the ancient Romans Appia remained an unattainable quality model. And the entrance to each estate was all the more so as no one was going to pave …
But over time, they thought the same. One hundred years ago, road (off-road?) Networks in England and, say, India were very different. And before the First World War, British companies began selling special versions of their motorcycles. They were called - "colonial", that is, for the backyards of the British Empire. They can be considered the first enduro: reinforced chassis, engines of increased displacement, special tires. By the way, in the highly developed Russia at that time, the British delivered motorcycles in this configuration - they got to know, see, our "roads."
And another British invention played a crucial role in our history: trial. That now it has become a motorcycle acrobatics competition, and a hundred years ago the term was understood literally (translated from English as trial, trial). Athletes on production motorcycles were winding circles along a difficult track, which included roads, and the devil knows what’s under the wheels. And so for six days. In 1913, in the north of England, near the city of Carlisle, the International Touring Trial was first held according to this formula. Bckope race was called the International Six Days Trial (that is, "six days of testing"), or, in simple terms, "six days".
And then someone from the British thought of instead of exhausting multi-day races (well, who, except for the “turned” ones, will endure so much time!) Conduct short off-road races. A new sport that originated in the 1920s was called “scramble” (from the word scramble - to climb, squeeze through, and not just like that, but with a fight). Learned? That's it, this is the very thing that is now called motocross.
At first, the machines for all these competitions differed little from the serial ones. The riders themselves strengthened the chassis, took off all the excess and forced the motors. But already in the 30s, some of the English companies began to produce special sports versions of the devices. And the muffler, lifted up to increase the ground clearance, has become a fashion accessory of motorcycle "sportsmen".
And yet, the first motorcycle made “from scratch” purely for off-road competitions was built not by the British, but by the Germans. In the 30s, the Nazi government decided that motorcycling is an effective form of popularizing fascist ideology. Companies received a lot of money from the treasury. With these funds, a unique DKW SS250 was made in 1935: its 2-stroke engine is equipped with liquid cooling and a compressor! The machine met the expectations of the creators: the German team triumphantly won the "six-day".
Jealously watching the success of the Germans, the Austrians stirred as well. In 1938, Puch launched the 350GS, where GS stands for Gelande Sport - “off-road sport.” Moreover, if DKW made its SS250 with a scanty circulation and only for the factory team, then Puch launched its version in wide sale. During World War II, 350GS even managed to “fight” in the ranks of the Wehrmacht. So, it turns out that this is the first dual-use motorcycle.
But off-road competitions acquired a truly wide scope already after the war, then the familiar motocross, trial, and “six days” formed in their present form. Why is this, ask, athletes in a single impulse "climbed into the mud"? Yes, because the highway-ring racing, reigning supreme in motorcycling before the war, became a pleasure too expensive. Speeds increased, which required the construction of specialized (and very expensive!) Tracks, racing motorcycles lost any connection (and unification) with serial production … Off-road competitions are another matter. The track is being prepared in a couple of days with the help of a bulldozer and a handful of enthusiasts, while motorcycles were built on the basis of the road. Many respected companies (not only English, but also German, Italian) produced options with the prefixes Scrambler, Six Days, Trial, Motocross …