Electric isn’t the only alternative to traditional petrol-powered bikes. There are a few diesel motorcycles around, and one of my favorites is the Sommer 462. This one is owned by Lars-Hendrik Schneider, a German living near Salzburg in Austria. Since last summer, he’s been riding a Sommer Diesel Scrambler, which he’s had customized by the factory. And although the factory is mostly a one-man operation based in Eppstein, Germany, Jochen Sommer has put more than 200 diesel motorcycles on European roads so far.
This particular Dieselkatze is an Enfield-India frame carrying a 462cc HATZ diesel engine; it has 11hp and 26Nm of torque, which might not sound much but is good for a top speed of around 65mph (105kph). And as we all know, the appeal of diesel is in the power delivery. The Sommer 462 is a four-speed—with a right-side shift—and runs a maintenance-free belt drive. Lars-Hendrik’s bike is fitted with stainless steel rims and Heidenau K66 rubber, a mud-and-snow tire more usually found on ‘big wheel’ scooters in wintry climates. (The rear swingarm has been modified to accommodate the larger sizing.) The bike is finished in RAL2009 orange, as used by KTM, and must be a striking sight as it transports Lars-Hendrik around the mountains of Austria. “It’s reliable and easy to handle,” says Lars-Hendrik, “and fast enough to make me smile the whole day. I will never give it away, I have no need for another bike any more.”