The story of the split between BMW and EMW after WWII is well known, but a similar story impacted other manufacturers as well. The Simson (see The Simson Saga) factory was badly damaged during the war, and part of the rebuilding effort moved under Russian-control in the Suhl area of East Germany. They founded Awto Welo (car and motorcycle) which became abbreviated to AWO, but essentially they made Simsons. Tooling was also shipped back to Russia where more replicas were made.

The main products under the AWO brand initially were small mopeds.  In 1950 at the Leipzig Spring Fair, AWO introduced the 425T model, which was a single cylinder, 250cc, 4 stroke, shaft drive machine producing 12hp. It featured a plunger rear suspension, and bore more than a passing resemblance to the BMW R26. They entered production in 1952, and were generally well-regarded. They also produced a Sport version called the 425S. This version had a rear swing arm and dual shock suspension. It also produced an upgraded 15.5hp. Variations of the machine were also produced for road racing, enduro racing, and special uses. A uniquely faired version was successful in competition in East Germany. It was modified with dual overhead cams to produce over 30hp. In total, the factory produced somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 of the 425 models over its ten year life, mostly for distribution throughout the eastern bloc.

The combined use of the Simson, AWO, and Simson Suhl brands, caused a real mixture of machines using either or both to be released, so it is common to see both AWO Simson and Simson AWO, as references. However, the East German government ended production in 1962 when it decided that all future production would be two-stroke. The Simson brand continued, but AWO was officially over.

2 Replies to “AWO – Simulating Simson”

  1. I came close to buying a Simson Suhl 250 single on two separate occasions. Both were vintage 1955-56 if I recall. The first one was located in Nebraska in unrestored original condition with only 1100 miles. It was a dealer leftover/demo and never titled, but it showed it age with fading paint and peeling chrome rims. I was still interested in restoring the bike, but the asking price was too high.
    About six months later, I came across another Simson Suhl 250 in excellent restored condition and a one owner machine. The good news was the asking price was even less, but the bad news was the bike was located in Budapest, Hungary and I could not find a shipper to transport the bike back to the U.S. for a reasonable amount of money. Maybe someday!

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