WAFFENRAD HISTORY III
In 1912, the Puch Company produced 16,000 bicycles and more than 300 motorcycles and cars per year. During World War I, Puch became an important vehicle supplier to the Austro-Hungarian Army. But with the imperial collapse after the War, the market for cars shrank and production ceased. In 1928 the company merged with Austro Daimler and became a new part of Austro Daimler Puch Werke AG. The company eventually joined Steyr AG to form Steyr Daimler Puch Werke AG in 1934.
The existence of a qualified advertising strategies to help bicycle products made ÖWG a successful competitor on the rapidly changing market of technological inventions. They quikly provide successful publications in the media, and rely on the nobility as advertising media.
Around 1905, bikes in Austria are full of fashionable embellishments for the caulk (chain lid) and art nouveau ornament gear (front gear). The outbreak of the First World War in 1914, put an end to this luxury.
Josef und Franz Werndl & Comp changes company policy! To establish it’s position as a large company the Werndl brothers change the name of Josef und Franz Werndl & Comp to Steyr Werke AG in 1924. The now reestablished manufacturer is ready for increasing it’s production!
From the 1950s on it is becoming increasingly popular to add a so called „Hilfsmotor” (Side engine) to the design. Bicycles for this specific purpose (extra durability because of vibration and + weight) can be found to this day with or without an intact engine on the veteran markets of Europe. These Hilfmotors were produced mostly by Firma Rex.
Waffenrads were built in the Puch-Werke (Puch Enterprise) in Ganz-Thondorf (Austria) from 1934 till when Piaggio is buying out Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG in 1987. After that production continues in Piaggio, Italy, but with exponentially less admirably results, especially regarding the overall quality.
Waffenrad. This simple and robust bicycle has kept it's popularity and is considered to this day a precious collector's item. Most important features are:
● Pitch-black paintjob
● with green or golden stripes
● the Steyr emblem with a bullseye / crosshairs in the center
● 3 spheres on the crank plate (Kettenblatt)
● the typographic Waffenrad logo in form of a sticker
(resembling the name and a rifle running through it)
● The special engineering of the Glockentretlager - the most sensitive part of the bicycle!
On the frame mounted up front we also find a Waffenrad insignia. This has two types over history: one on a thicker metal plating and the thin version. The logo plates are considered collectors items. The thick ones resamble the old school production and high quality before Italian intervention and are as emblematic as in certain cases (depending on the year of production) the shape of the frame, certain curves and other details. These can give the cunning eye enough information to be able to catalogue a particular bycicle and to even date it with pinpont accuracy!
We need to bring back the ornate Kettenblatt and Kettenschutz
The history of Steurkopfschildern is a big topic - we should post separately on this! We also need to investigate the related topic of mounted figures (not sure what the German is for this)...
The use of metallic Steurkopfschildern stopped around 1973/4 I think. They were replaced by stickers (note this significantly predates the Piaggio acquisition). This change was probably motivated by practical considerations e.g. lower cost and theft prevention.