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KONIG, once again, nautical and motorcycles

KONIG was a German company that produced high performance 2T marine engines. Its founder, Dieter Konig (1931-1991), died in a boating accident and his son sold the company to a company in the Czech Republic (KONNY MOTORS) which still produces original parts.

KONIG's involvement in the world of competition motorcycles is inseparable from Kim Newcombe (1944-1973).


Kim, was born in New Zealand and, in 1963, he moved, together with his wife (Janeen) to Australia with the intention of increasing his career as a motorcycle racer and, also, with the justification of going, living longer. close to your mother-in-law. His first successes were in Motocross where, quickly, he prevailed over much more experienced riders, later, with a JAWA loaned by Jack White, he began a brilliant career at Speedway (he won the first four races in which he participated).

At that time, Newcombe starts working for Bob Jackson as a mechanic for boat engines and it is then that he comes into contact with KONIG engines. The engine, a 494cc four-cylinder boxer 2T, made a very positive impression on him for its simplicity and performance. In 1968, at his request, he was introduced to Dieter Konig and invited to work in Germany. Together with Janeen he moves to Europe.

At KONIG, his first role was to work on the development of the marine engine. Meanwhile, a German rider, Wolf Braun, had built a motorcycle chassis for the 500cc engine, but was forced to abandon the project due to injuries resulting from an accident. For this reason, Dieter invited Kim to take on Braun's project, and from there, he devoted himself heart and soul. Regardless of the enthusiasm, Kim had to face the difficulties inherent in the nautical origin of the engine. The frame was developed from a central column and the bike was very low (like a 50cc). As there is no gearbox in boating, a NORTON gearbox with six speeds was adapted. In the end the engine/gearbox was particularly long. Liquid cooling was a significant difficulty encountered (as was also the case with MONARK's CRESCENT engine). The nautical origin, once again, posed a difficulty. Kim developed a clever solution by introducing a magnesium crankcase bolted to the cylinder head to keep the operating temperature at an acceptable level. This solution created other problems in terms of the placement of the exhausts and, consequently, the carburetors. Intake was through four rotary valves that were belt operated. Today it is common knowledge that the exhausts of 2T engines, to have a good performance, must have expansion chambers of variable diameter, this was one of the first engines to explore this technology. The bike had two exhausts, one for each pair of cylinders, an unusual solution in 2T. At a time when the dominance of the 4T in the 500cc class was evident, KONIG also became one of the first 2Ts to succeed in this confrontation. The prelude to what would become normal until the regulatory change that replaces the 500cc with MOTOGP. The first prototype was ready in 1969, produced 68 hp and immediately showed high-level performance, however the lack of reliability caused a development ordeal. In 1970, the power was increased to 75 hp and later to 80 hp. An important power if we consider that the bike only weighed about 113 kg dry. In 1971, the bike was piloted by John Dodds, while Newcombe was in charge of development and assistance. Reliability remained the issue, and for that reason, Dodds abandoned the project and switched to YAMAHA.

After Dodds left, Kim Newcombe added the role of pilot to engineering and mechanics. However, he had never raced on asphalt and the FIM did not immediately grant him the sports license to race in the World Championship. For this reason, Kim had to start this new phase of his career in national competitions in Germany. His first race was on the Avus circuit in Berlin and he won!!! From then on, he achieved several successes at this level until the FIM granted him the license to compete in the World Championship. In the 70's, the paddock of the World Cup, Continental Circus, was mostly made up of nomads who with their family (in the case of Kim, Janeen and her son Mark) roamed the circuits where they were constrained to perform multiple functions. Money was tight, with a few exceptions: the MV AGUSTA riders and little else. The motivation was a taste for motorcycling at the expense of money. In 1972, the KONIG factory team consisted of: Kim Newcombe, with a ridiculous budget. As the season progressed, he met an old Australian friend Rod Tingate, who from then on became a mechanic. Despite the enormous limitations facing the well-equipped factory teams, as early as 1972, Kim achieved outstanding results. He placed third at the German GP (Nurburgring). The bike was incredibly fast and Kim's talent did the rest against the complete lack of knowledge of the circuits. Unfortunately, he had an accident at the Dutch GP which resulted in a fractured vertebra that prevented him from participating in the rest of the championship that year. Still, he was in 10th place in the championship. The success of the motorcycle was such that KONIG started producing a "ready to race" customer competition or a "do it yourself" kit. In 1973, his (and KONIG's) performance was stunning. It won the Yugoslavia GP, to understand the level of this performance, it is necessary to consider that the last time the supremacy of MV AGUSTA was called into question was by a factory HONDA piloted by Mike "The Bike" Hailwood!!! At the end of the year he was runner-up behind Phil Read and ahead of Giacomo Agostini, both factory drivers for MV AGUSTA!!! Once the world season ended, he was offered a tempting prize to line up to participate in a series (unlimited class) in the UK. A 680cc version of the engine was created for this occasion and Kim headed to Silverstone for the first race.

As was his habit, the day before the race, Kim walked around the track and noticed that one corner in particular (Stowe) was particularly dangerous and poorly protected. Concerned about this fact, he looked for the Race Director, Vernon Cooper, and communicated his impression, asking, also, an extra protection of straw bales in that place. Cooper reacted angrily saying that if he maintained the claim he would be kicked out of the series!!! The next day (September 11th), Kim led the race for the first six laps until he hit the wall at Stowe corner..., never regained consciousness and Janeen authorized life support to be turned off when death was declared. brain. Their organs were donated.

After Kim's death, Dieter Konig became very distraught and ceased development of the bike. In total, about 100 complete motorcycles were produced and the company started, from this unfortunate accident, to dedicate itself exclusively to boats... OTHER USES: The frame builder SEELEY even produced cycles for the engine and BMW started and then aborted the project of a road bike with the KONIG engine.

In sidecars the engine was widely used and won a total of thirteen GP's between 1974 and 1976. In 1975 BUSH KONIG was the Sidecar World Champion among manufacturers.



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