BMW Motorrad Spezial

The White Mars motorcycle

Mars motorcycle by Claus Franzenberg
The ‘White Mars’ is legendary within German motorcycling circles. It even featured on a Deutsche Bundespost stamp in 1983. So what’s so special about this motorcycle? Although it first appeared in 1920, the styling still looks radical today. And at the time, the 986 cc sidevalve flat twin engine—built by Maybach—was considered enormous.

The two-speed Mars MA21 was also available in red and green, but it’s the stark, minimal white option that has become intrinsically associated with this bike. It’s just so different from the usual motorcycles produced between the wars. Mars was based in Nürnberg, Germany, and built motorcycles on-and-off between 1903 and 1958. Small machines such as the ‘Stella’ kept the factory humming after WW2—but it’s the Claus Franzenburger-designed heavyweight that’s revered today. Head over to Design Boom for more images.

  • Eskild

    I looked at the referenced design boom and noticed an ad from Solidthinking with an interesting bike called morphogenesis (i think). Highly recommended animation!
    rgds Eskild

  • Kozzy

    It looks like a moped. With a 1000cc. Bizarre.

  • pushrodmofo

    I like the flat twin aligned along the frame – keeps it narrow.

  • kim scholer

    Hand crank starting, rear chain enclosed by frame, possibly the longest floorboards seen on any motorcycle, pinstriping that never ends. Really a cool bike and – as the name suggests – from another planet.

  • Any performance figures for it? It looks like they really tried to keep the centre of gravity low, does anyone know if that is front suspension I see there?

  • JS

    Strangest thing is, that by today’s standard, IT IS SMALL.

  • scritch

    Man, that thing screams Bauhaus and Constructivism. Still crazy, man, after all these years!