Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Notable engineers - at #2, Walter Kaaden – doubled the horsepower of two-stroke motors

As the head of engineering and racing at MZ in communist-controlled East Germany, Kaaden faced challenges that dwarfed those of engineers on the other side of the iron curtain – materials shortages, travel restrictions, and a dispirited workforce, to name just a few. Despite those handicaps, in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, he made some of the world’s fastest motorcycles. His secret was the expansion-chamber exhaust, which doubled the power output of two-stroke motors. 
For years, Kaaden (right) alone understood the arcane math of expansion-chamber design. Then one of his riders, Ernst Degner, also seen in this pic, escaped to the west bringing the knowledge with him. The next year, Degner rode a Suzuki (bearing a conspicuous resemblance to an MZ) to a world title. Virtually every two-stroke motor built since then used an exhaust based on Kaaden’s research.

1 comment:

  1. This one man has done more to contribute to my continued happyness than anyone else on earth.