If life really is what happens when you are busy making other plans than this journey truly was life – because I had planned to write more than one post about my beloved Simson S51. Alas, my friend of far too few months was taken away from me far too soon as I woke up one not so fine morning to find it no longer occupying its usual place in front of my home.
But I still want to share this little journey with you, it was really fun and I got to spend a weekend camping wild, metaldetecting the beach and in fact I found a gold ring that I could even return to the owner. All that and some sweet pictures are to come, I hope you enjoy tagging along on a memorable ride.
Just the day before I had gotten the bike back from the mechanic, after a 2 months-long attempt to get the engine working properly I had caved in and involved a professional. The Simson was still brand new to me then, barely three months since I had purchased it from the previous owner and barely three decades since it first rolled out of the factory.
Maybe it’s time for a little look at the history this bike had at this point, most people outside of Germany have probably never heard of it or how much of an impact it had on our country. These were produced in the former GDR back when Germany was still „the Germanies“ and there was this tiny wall with soldiers and mines between people speaking the same language. I was not alive then, nor would I have gotten to ride one as a kid since I was born in the West and so I had to turn 25 before I got the chance to buy one.
The question might logically arise as to why one would purchase a bike more than thirty years old, a single cylinder two-stroke with a whopping 50cc at that. Well, the answer to that is complex and for most people boils down to a lack of a motorcycle licence.
You see, these bikes run as scooters as far as licence and insurance goes, which means that I do not have to spend roughly 5,000€ to get the licence and gear required to go motorcycling. I didn’t have the money back when I made my car licence and frankly I don’t have that kind of cash at hand now, certainly not for a luxury. So that leaves me with scooters that anyone with a car licence is allowed to drive. But here the problem arises: Due to some insanity in a European committee scooters are limited to 50cc and 45kph, which is complete insanity as the legal speed limit within cities is 50kph. That means they are so artificially limited that riding a legal, unpimped scooter is downright dangerous. If you have ever been overtaken by a truck pulling a trailer, then realizing he won’t make it in time just to pull back to the right you’ll know what I’m talking about, it’s just insanity.
But, in a rare case of common sense someone in the GDR decided that 60kph was a sensible speed that even juveniles can handle and once the wall came down they retained that right because it was unlawful to restrict what was lawful at the time of purchase. That, coupled with the simple technology and ease of maintenance makes the Simson a real gem for anyone who wants a legal way to travel on two wheels without dying from „safety improvements“.
Over time these bikes have turned into real classics, there are whole meet-ups with weekend-spanning festivals and enduro races and you can still buy every part needed to rebuild them. Frames are getting scarce though, which makes these bikes really hard to find and even though the theft and this journey are both four months in the past I have yet not managed to find an affordable new one.
But back to the journey, as I said I had just received the bike back and it was running incredibly well.
There is something about the look, the sound and the way it handles that I find stupidly enjoyable. More than anything they are fun bikes, quick and nimble enough to get you everywhere and sturdy enough to take a beating off the beaten path. For the time being though I intended to stay on the road, even though I had to take back roads on my way to the coast.
When travelling by car the whole journey takes just an hour, but that is almost completely Autobahn without a speed limit. Worse yet, there is a stretch where the speed limit is 80kph, you drive along with 140kph and get overtaken on the right. I’m not kidding, if someone were to install a speed camera there every single driver would lose their licence but you just can’t adhere to the rules there as even the right lane travels at well over 100. Anyway, I was happy to take the slow road for once.
I do not have any pictures of the actual ride, this was well before I purchased my action cam but I can show you this rest stop I took.
A journey that I usually complete without a break took me several hours, I think it was five if I recall correctly but it was great fun. Thanks to the upgraded ignition and brand new carburetor I had not a single issue during the journey, quite nice because I would only learn after my safe return that I had forgotten my tool kit at home.
Once at the coast of Scharbeutz I spend the evening walking along the beach, my detector along with me as I hunted for coins and rings and of course blue sea monsters.
I have a love-hate relationship with the coast and beaches, I can not stand them during the summer heat but when it gets colder and I have a detector in hand I can spend hours over hours doing nothing but walk, dig, collect some pebbles I’ll never use. Plus it’s not so crowded and you only get asked if you found any gold rings every ten instead of five minutes.
And well, waddayaknow, for the first time ever I did indeed find a ring. Not just any either, this is a story I will tell for a long time.
The story for this was really fun. I was making my way through a set of beach seats (no idea what they are called, but you know what I mean) when I was approached by the owner. Knowing German mentality I was sure she would tell me to fuck off, in fact a few miles down a different owner had already told me I could not detect on the part of the beach where his seats were standing. Well, I was about to be surprised as she told me a woman had lost her wedding band earlier that week, asked me if I could give it a shot and showed me the general area where it most likely happened.
For over an hour I searched, to no avail and with more bottle caps than sanity by the end of it. I was just about to tell the woman that I had no luck when I dug out yet another nice sounding signal that of course turned out to be another bottle cap. But then the surprise, as I turned it around I saw something golden smile at me, it seriously was inside that bottle cap and there were about a hundred different ways in which I could have missed it. Just imagine if I had thrown the cap into my trash pocket without taking a closer look, I might have never known I had found it.
With my fingers shaking I managed to take the picture, then turned the ring over to the woman and a week later I got a call from the owner who told me that she had gotten the ring back just in time for her 25th anniversary and I got fifty bucks as a thank you.
So all in all I had one really fun trip that paid for itself and that I will be able to talk about for a long time to come, also a great way to remember the bike by. With a bit of luck I’ll be able to afford another one soon, but this time I will install a tracker and seriously fuck up whoever tries to steal it.
I hope you enjoyed coming along on this journey, just in case you need some more entertainment why not check out this magnetfishing video where my best buddy and I find a phone, knife and money: