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Abbreviated Bikes: Cuz You’ve Always Wondered

Motorcycle Abbreviations

For years, you’ve seen those cool emblems on vintage gas tanks consisting of just two or three consonants. Or maybe you’ve read about brands in recent magazines that look like a funky foreign word-mash. Ever have someone ask what it means? You know, because you’re the motorcycle guy? Well, here’s a rundown of some acronyms, abbreviations and portmanteaus to keep you on your moto-trivia toes:

AJS LogoAJS: Albert John StevensIn 1909, AJS cars and motorcycles were made by English company, A. J. Stevens & Co., based on the initials of the founder’s son.

ATK LogoATK: Anti-Tension KettenantriebThe name “ATK” comes from a device patented in the 1980s by ATK’s founder, Austrian-born engineer Horst Leitner, that eliminates chain torque for improved handling (translation of kettenantrieb is “chain drive”).

Beta LogoBETA: Enzo Bianchi and Arrigo Tosi,
Beta originated in 1904 as a bicycle manufacturing company. It began making motorcycles in 1948. The name Beta comes from the initials of the men who ran the company at that time.

Bimota LogoBimota: Bianchi Morri Tamburini.Bimota is a small, Italian motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1973 by Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini. Bimota concentrated initially on building high-quality motorcycles around existing engines.

BMW LogoBMW: Bayerische Motoren Werke (English:Bavarian Motor Works) BMW originated following a restructuring of the Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft engine manufacturing firm in 1917. They began building complete motorcycles after WWI.

BSA: Birmingham Small ArmsBSA was a group of business that manufactured military and sporting firearms, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, buses, and many other metal-related products. It began in 1861 by 14 gunsmiths.

Bultaco LogoBultaco: Francisco “PacoBultó The Bultaco motorcycle company started in 1958 by Francisco Bultó. The name comes from combining the first four letters of Sr. Bultó’s surname with the last three of his nickname “Paco.”

Cagiva LogoCagiva: Castiglioni Giovanni VareseThename is derived from the founder and the founding location. Cagiva was a manufacturer of small metal components founded in 1950 by Giovanni Castiglioni in Varese, Italy. It went into the motorcycle industry in 1978.

CCM LogoCCM: Clews Competition MotorcyclesA British motorcycle manufacturer based in England. CCM was born out of the collapse of BSA’s Competition Department in 1971. Alan Clews, founder, was a successful Trials and Scrambles rider in the late 1960s.

CZ LogoCZ: Ceská ZbrojovkaCZ is a Czech firearms manufacturer also known for making CZ motorcycles. It was established as a branch of the Skoda Works Armament in Czechoslovakia in 1919.

DERBIDERBI: Derivados de BicicletasThe name Derbi acknowleges of the company’s history and is an acronym for DERivados de BIcicletas (derivatives of bicycles) It began as a bicycle workshop near Barcelona in 1922.

DKW: Dampf Kraft Wagen After creating a dampf kraft wagen (steam-driven car) in 1916, Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen created a motorcycle called Das Kleine Wunder (the little marvel). By the 30s, Germany-based DKW was the largest motorcycle manufacturer.

HHRD LgoRD: Howard Raymond Davies HRD Motors Ltd was a British motorcycle manufacturer in the 1920s. HRD was later sold to OK-Supreme, who then sold the name to Philip Vincent, who started the Vincent HRD Company Ltd.

JAP: John Alfred PrestwichJA Prestwich Industries, or J.A.P., was an English engineering company founded in 1895 by John Alfred Prestwich that produced cinematographic equipment and internal combustion engines.

Jawa: Janecek Wanderer
Based in Czech republic, Jawa’s founder, Frantisek Janecek, bought the motorcycle division of Wanderer, in 1929. He used the first two letters of Janecek and Wanderer. Jawa is pronounced (roughly) “Yava.”

KTM: Kraftfahrzeuge Trunkenpolz MattighofenKTM is an Austrian company started in 1934 as a metalworking shop by engineer Hans Trunkenpolz in Mattighofen. KTM began producing motorcycles in 1954.

MV Agusta: Meccanica VergheraThe initials MV stand for Meccanica, or mechanics, and Verghera, the city in Italy where the first MVs were made. The company began as an offshoot of the Agusta aviation company, which was formed by Count Giovanni Agusta in 1923.

MZ: Motorradwerk ZschopauGerman for “motorcycle factory at Zschopau.” From 1992 to 1999 the company was called MuZ, an acronym for Motorrad und Zweiradwerk (German for motorcycle and two-wheeler factory).

NSU: The Neckar and Sulm (Rivers)NSU began as a knitting machine manufacturer in 1873. In 1884, it moved to the city of Neckarsulm, where the river Sulm flows into the river Neckar. The letters N and SU come from these two rivers.

OSSA LogoOSSA: Orpheo Sincronic Sociedad AnónimaThe original Ossa company got its start in 1924 making movie projectors for its home market in Spain. The company was known originally as Orpheo Sincronic Sociedad Anónima.

Zundapp LogoZündapp: Zünder- und Apparatebau
Zundapp was a major German motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1917 by Fritz Neumeyer that began as an industrial conglomerate that produced detonators. Its name: Zünder- und Apparatebau G.m.b.H.If you know any more, add ’em to the comments!
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