Laurin & Klement B-Z-N, c. 1905

© Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Traffic & Transport
Road Traffic
1900 - 1909
This machine makes it clear to see that the motorcycle’s antecedents lie with the bicycle. Laurin & Klement initially manufactured bicycles, then motorcycles; today the company remains a player in automobile construction under the name Škoda.

In 1896 the bookseller Václav Klement and the mechanical engineer Václav Laurin set up their own company manufacturing bicycles in the town of Mladá Boleslav, Bohemia (also known in German as Jungbunzlau). Initially they made bicycles under the brand name Slavia, but from 1899 Laurin & Klement also manufactured motorcycles.

Laurin & Klement motorcycles were characterised by a newly developed magneto-electric ignition, which proved highly reliable. The front-wheel suspension was also particularly advanced. By contrast the petrol tank acting as a surface carburettor did not quite meet the technical standards of the day.

In 1902 Laurin & Klement also ventured into motorsport in a bid to boost product sales. Between 1902 and 1908 the company won numerous national and international racing events.

By the time of the First World War Laurin & Klement had become the leading Austrian motorcycle manufacturer. The company made virtually all its parts itself and manufactured on an industrial scale. By 1906 its peak payroll comprised no fewer than 495 employees.

The company Laurin & Klement produced around 3,000 motorcycles up until 1908, after which it concentrated on automobile construction. In 1925 Laurin & Klement merged with Škoda. The works in Mladá Boleslav became the Škoda automobile company.

Inv.Nr. 7532

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