Adam Opel of Rüsselsheim am Main founded the Opel Company in 1863 to make sewing machines and bicycles, and by the mid 1920s they were the largest producer of bicycles in the world.
Motorcycle production was over three periods, the first between 1902 and the financial slump of 1907.
The factory experienced a large fire in 1911, and a decision was taken in late 1912 to return to motorcycle manufacture in the new factory. The assassination in Sarajevo in June 1914 which led to war put a hold on those plans.
Following the Armistice, production of motorcycles resumed in 1919, continuing to 1924. The firm built motor bicycles with the engine mounted adjacent to the rear wheel.
Franz Gnädig, previously a partner in the famous K.G. Krieger-Gnädig firm, joined Opel in 1928 and this marked the beginning of the third phase of motorcycle production, short but glorious. The company purchased the rights to Ernst Neumann-Neander's brilliant Neander motorcycle, and they began building it as the Opel Motoclub, a stunning 500cc OHV 1 machine in red and silver. The design utilised a pressed metal frame which allowed drastic reduction of the hours required for assembly.
Adam Opel's grandson Fritz was responsible for the Opel rocket-powered land-speed record project of 1928.
The machine chosen for the task was an Opel Motoclub 500SS fitted with 12 rockets, and the plan was to beat the Zenith record of 200.3 km/h by taking the Opel to substantially higher speed. The first attempt, really a practice run, was made at a velodrome before a crowd of 7000. The motorcycle's engine powered the machine up to 130km/h at which point the rockets were fired, with spectacular results. The machine attained a speed in the vicinity of 220 km/h. However, the record was not officially created, and the authorities in their wisdom banned future use of such "firecrackers". Sigh.
Opel also built a rocket-powered car, and a rocket powered glider!
They built a pacer motorcycle called the Derny, a veritable monster with a 2000cc engine producing 30hp which set a world record at Monthlery in 1928 with a bicycle tootling along behind it at 122 km/h.This wonderful period in the company's history had its balloon well and truly pricked when the financial crisis struck. Opel was acquired by US company General Motors in 1930, and despite positive response to the recently released Motoclub, GM decided to curtail motorcycle production.
On the 8th September 1895 Adam Opel died after a long battle with typhus. His wife Sophie Marie Opel and their two eldest sons continued building the business. Sophie and her sisters Dorothée and Elise Scheller had invested their share of a lottery win in the fledgling Opel sewing machine company in 1869, and by 1870 the company had 40 employees.
Sophie Opel was the chief financial officer and was responsible for the growth of the business from a small sewing machine factory to one which by 1895 had over 1000 employees.
See also Women in Motorcycling
1905 single cyl.
1905 De Luxe twin cyl., 3½ h.p.
1919-1924 Motorfahrrad 137 cc single cyl., ioe 1.6 h.p.
1922 Bahnrenner 198 cc single cyl., watercooled 4 stroke, 4.9 h.p. @ 4.400 rpm
1927 Opel (Diamant-Werke) 500 cc single cyl. 4 stroke, Kühne 16 h.p.
1929-1930 Motoclub 500 "Supersport" (Neander P3) 496 cc single cyl. 86 x 86 mm, OHV, two port 22 h.p.
Photographs and catalogue images show both OHV and SV engines fitted. Some accounts mention an OHC engine - this may be a reference to the Kürchen desmodromic engine which was fitted to Neander.
Sources: heimatverein-ruesselsheim.de, A. Vassiliadis, et al
Sat Apr 28 2012
Does anyone have detailed images of the side and rear badges used on the 1928-30 Opel Motoclub?
Thu May 13 2010
Opel motoclub 500
I want to buy a motorbike
opel motoclub 500, may be original or restored
Sun Feb 17 2008
zaxmax at sezampro.co.yu
opel motoclub 500
Hi, my name is Zarko, and I have an Opel motorclub 500 that I want to restore or maybe to sell, but at first I would like to know something about that motorcycle. I'm missing some parts,and I want to make it original as close I can! Some help please? Send me on my EMAIl somenthing abot motorcycle,technical characteristics, pictures,were to find parts,history of bike etc. THANKS
Mon Apr 23 2007
paul.opel at planet.nl
opel light motorcycle
I have a lot to do with Opel light motorcycle. I have many parts. Look at my website www.opel-motorfahrrad.info (404)
Thanks that you added my site to yours. You also see a few images of the Opel mine. Engine is 140 cc for stroke. In the rearwheel is an cluth, so it is possible to disconnect the engine from the rearwheel, no gearing. Velocity max 40 km/hour (I think that is 25 miles/hour) Wheels are with 28x2 beaded edge tyres
Thanks en good bye, best regards Paul Valkenet
The bike is coming out of the year 1922. Produced by OPEL in the place Russelheim, Germany. (is this what you mean with "designation"?
There is not a specific model type. But in the literature they call it Model 1.6 PS The model I have is for men. There is also a model for ladies (I donnt have such a one)
In 2008 I probably have one for selling.
I hope you have had some pleasure by this bike.
Bets regards Paul valkenet
Mon Nov 20 2006
s.gutmann AT gmx.de
Opel Motoclub --- any Model
Motoclub wanted, any model and condition, also fragments, parts.
Please send your offer and pictures to s.gutmann AT gmx.de
Thu Feb 09 2006
geurts.genk.sales at net.opel dot com
I'm looking for an Opel motorbike, must be in good or restored condition.
Tue Nov 01 2005
zubic-jovan at yahoo dot com
My name is Jovan, I'm from Belgrade, Serbia.
I have a motorcycle and I want to sell it.
Model is ADAM Opel with original parts and working!
I'm attaching the pictures with this message.
Please contact me if there is someone interested.
Fri Nov 04 2005
zulusmail at qwest.net
My email address has changed, and I'm still loking for someone who can rebuild my Opel speedometer and find a few parts. I have a 1930 Motoclub and photos are above in other email. Please update my email address\thanks
Wed Jul 06 2005
zulusmail at cs dot com
opel motorcycles 500cc
I have a 1930 Opel bike and am in the process of restoring it. I would like any info, or places to have speedo and stuff rebuilt.
Also any info on the bike I can find
thanks for answering my email about the Opel.
I am attaching 3 photos for you of the bike as it is now.
I have completed the tank and have found the red tires.
I am english wheeling the fenders but will need help in other areas.
Please let me know if you get the photos.
I also have a Monotrace, Neracar, 2 sunbeams, a few triumphs, 1916 royal Enfield, 1922 BSA, Nimbus, and a few other bikes that I've restored.
I hope your web sight can help me with this one
RAKETEN- MOTORRAD ( 1928 )
The original rocket-powered motorcycle.
Tue Jun 28 2005
cmc59941 at bigpond.net.au
1919 Opel auto cycle
Looking for info on this 1919 Opel auto cycle. Thanks a lot John