Monday, July 5, 2010


Here's an intriguing specimen from deep in the Bavarian woods; a lonely Bison.  A solitary example of this noble beast was born in 1967, from the talented hands of Fritz Nass, whose concept from the mid-60s was similar to many other constructors - a four-cylinder ohc machine.

Such a specification was very rare in the mid-60s, as at the time only the MV Agusta Touring 600cc fit the bill, and that was an exceedingly rare vehicle, with strangled performance, at least compared to the World Championship stablemates from which it derived its basic spec.

Nass used the most likely engine candidate available to a German constructor, the 4-cyl ohc 1000cc engine from an NSU Prinz, just as his imitator (!) Friedl Münch did a year later.  Whether Münch actually saw the Bison is debatable, but chances are he knew of the machine's existence, as the Bison would have earned press in the day.

It seems Fritz Nass was a man of slender means, and hand-constructed his machine over a period of time, using as many components as possible from salvaged cars and motorcycle.  Thus, we see doubled-up NSU hydraulic front drum brakes within the home-made Earles type leading link forks.  The frame looks to be a copy of a Seely item, with straight tubes running from the headstock above and below the engine, which is, critically, canted forward.

Moving that mighty lump of a motor downward and leaning it over created a motorcycle with normal dimensions, as opposed to elephantine.  The saddle height is very low for an early 'four', and more importantly the center of gravity is kept low.  Aesthetically, having the engine in line with the angled frame tubes makes for a motorcycle which certainly looks more integrated and rideable than freakishly tall for clearly car-derived.  Nass made the right design choices when assembling his dream bike, and it looks terrific.