1955 Victoria Bergmeister Motorcycle Sold January 9, 2005

FRAUD ALERT February 21, 2011: I was told that someone may try to sell this bike using information or images from this web page. If you are visiting this page because you are considering an offer to sell this bike, be careful. Make sure the seller really has possession of the bike. This is a common scam and this advice applies to any collector vehicle -- and you have been warned.

Victoria Bergmeister Brochure showing solo seat model (see text).

My name is Ralph Walker. I created this little website for two purposes - to describe my Victoria Bergmeister motorcycle and facilitate the sale of it, and to provide some images of this model for other enthusiasts. I shall leave this site up for several years now that the bike has been sold.

I sold this bike once before, in August 2004, to a buyer in Liverpool, England, and received full payment. But I ran into a snag when preparing to ship the bike, and refunded his money. My experience may be useful to others selling a motorcycle to someone in the European Union.

THE PROBLEM: I built a crate with plywood top, bottom and sides, but I used coniferous wood for the internal frame and the skid rails. The EU has adopted emergency measures to prevent the importation of the Pinewood Nematode, which is carried by wood-boring beetles. Crates to the EU from the US and other countries where this pest is found must be made entirely of hardwoods, engineered woods like plywood, or other materials like steel or plastic. When I started to ship the bike I was told that the crate was unacceptable. Because I was leaving for vacation in Europe the entire month of October, 2004, and could not undertake the rebuilding of the crate until November, I offered to refund the buyer's payment rather than have him have to wait for such a long time. He accepted my offer. I could have rebuilt the crate substituting poplar for the offending coniferous woods. The skid rails were made of hemlock which is not specifically banned but could easily be mistaken for pine, so the rebuilding of the crate would have been extensive.

The subject bike was a major project, and I realized I was not going to be able to complete it, since most of my free time is taken up with Marusho and Lilac motorcycles and managing the Marusho/Lilac Register. If you like quirky motorcycles, please visit my site at WWW.MarushoLilac.com to learn about these classy, shaft-driven bikes produced in Japan in the 50s and 60s.

The subject bike is an essentially complete 1955 motorcycle DISASSEMBLED, with much of a spare 1954 bike of the same model. The Victoria Bergmeister was built in the early '50s in very limited numbers. One magazine article I read stated that 6000 were built and another source claimed 5000, but, based on my experience maintaining the Marusho/Lilac Motorcycle Register, I am extremely skeptical. My gut feeling is that hundreds, not thousands, were built. Best information is that production started in 1953 with frame 35-121 and that between 50 and 80 were built that year.

The bike I sold is frame 35-2740, motor 35-2740 and the nameplate reads '1955'. The parts bike no longer includes a frame, but the frame was 35-2719, the parts motor is 35-2719 and the nameplate reads '1954'.

If you want to skip right to the photos without reading my ramblings, CLICK HERE!

The Victoria Bergneister ("Mountaineer") is a 350cc transverse V-twin, shaft-driven, plunger rear, extremely robust, with excellent castings and a classy deco design. Think of it as an upscale BMW. The original color is an unfortunate shade (editorial opinion) that does not exist in nature, being sort of a greenish-bluish-grayish, called "Capri". There is no evidence that any bikes were produced in black or azure, though these options have appeared in print. When I was still planning to restore the bike I had chosen a dark gray with maroon pinstriping for the paint scheme, which I believe is wholly appropriate for this aging bike. I had the seat restored in a light gray with white piping. The wheels were originally chromed with a stripe down the middle. The rims have a nice pebble grain in this middle area. I had them chromed and fitted with stainless spokes. I polished and lacquered the hubs and painted the centers gray. You can readily remove the centers and re-paint them to suit your color scheme. The front tire is original and the rear tire is probably the second one. Both are presentable for show only, of course.

The Bergmeister was available with a solo saddle and a teardrop tank, or with a dual saddle and big, unattractive 4 gallon tank. This one has the latter style. It is possible the small-tank model doesn't actually exist except in prototype, as every shot of a restored VB which I have seen was of the "sport" tank model. The small tank itself existed, because it was used on a different Victoria model and was mounted on the display model of the proposed Bergmeister (with wooden engine) exhibited in 1951. And, speaking of tanks, mine has been fully chromed, where only the side panels were originally chromed. Kneepads and badges are actually included!! I do not have a key for the gas cap, which is unlocked.

The motor is a thing of beauty and included were all the cast cover parts, and the chromed steel cone-shaped air cleaner cover. My spare motor is missing these cover parts. I traded a good chunk of the transmission (the shifter mechanism and cover) so it is incomplete.

The exhaust nuts and pipes are present, but the mufflers included are homemade stainless affairs. New manufactured mufflers are available from Germany.

Included was a NOS and somewhat shopworn hinged rear fender which I purchased from Accessory Mart / DomiRacer back in 1984 for $119. The front fender is in good condition but with a crack in each stay (design defect). Other sheet metal (tool boxes, headlight) are certainly restorable. I obtained new hand-made tool box locks from an enthusiast in the UK. As mentioned above, the seat is restored.

You'll have to look at all the photos to inspect the myriad little fitments - electrics, cables, plungers, brakes, horn, pump, controls, etc. In many cases there are spares which you may find useful as trading items.

The bike has a clear Virginia title, which is somewhat unusual for an old, peculiar bike. The serial number even matches! To transfer title in Virginia you simply sign the title - notarization is not used. We are supposed to date it and enter the mileage, but we never do, since the new owner might re-sell the bike before registering it. Unlike most States, all motor vehicles in Virginia require a title.

To make life difficult for car thieves who ship American cars overseas, there is a new requirement that the title accompany the shipping papers. I doubt that this will have any effect on professional thieves, but it does point out the value of actually having a title when selling overseas. If you are thinking of buying an American vehicle and you are outside the USA I highly recommend demanding that your seller send a copy of the title to you. Make sure the identifying number, usually a frame number, matches the bike you think you are buying. If the seller claims the bike only has registration (many States do not issue titles for older motorcycles) do your research to learn whether this scrap of paper is adequate to satisfy your shipper. This is important. Do not just assume that your transaction will go well. Get copies of the documentation before you pay. Get a photo of the frame (or in some cases the motor) number to be sure it resembles that on the documentation. If there is a question about whether the State in which the bike is registered, or resides, is a title state, go to their website. Just search for 'department motor vehicles Texas' (or whatever). If you have to have a title your seller can buy one for an older motorcycle for under $200. If you know what State the bike was probably last titled in your seller can do a title search for $8-$10 to learn who the owner of record is. Sorry to go on so long about this subject, but you don't want to have your bike held up at the dock for lack of proper paperwork.

Who am I? My name is Ralph Walker and I have lived in northern Virginia, USA all my life (60 years). Both my wife Jan and I are retired Federal government workers (Smithsonian Institution (US National Museum)). You can send me e-mail if you want to ask who bought the Victoria (he's in Pittsburgh). I am updating this page on January 9, 2005.

Some of the photos below have text associated with them. To see this text, hold your mouse over them.

Victoria Bergmeister Magnificent streamlined motor and transmission, with vestigial shift lever. This allows direct shifting into neutral from any gear. Victoria Bergmeister Motor right hand view. Victoria Bergmeister Motor left hand view. Victoria Bergmeister Motor Front view. Victoria Bergmeister Motor top view: shows Fully-enclosed carburetor. Victoria Bergmeister Motor ignition system. Victoria Bergmeister Carburetor. Victoria Bergmeister Restored seat, excellent padding. Victoria Bergmeister Seat Bottom View. Victoria Bergmeister Seat Rear View. Victoria Bergmeister Tank: Mine is the larger of the 2 tanks. Victoria Bergmeister Tank Side View. Victoria Bergmeister Tank Bottom View. Victoria Bergmeister Tank Badge: Yes, both tank badges are present. Victoria Bergmeister Rechromed rims, new stainless spokes, original tires. Victoria Bergmeister NOS hinged rear fender. Victoria Bergmeister Front fender, some black paint removed showing original color, one cracked stay. Victoria Bergmeister Frame: Again, black paint partially removed. Victoria Bergmeister: 2 sets of forks, extra wheels. Victoria Bergmeister: Beautiful bevel case and right-hand plunger. Victoria Bergmeister Spare bevel case and plungers. These are complete but parts have been removed and are in other photos. Note the threaded rods through both - this is how you compress them to remove or install them. Victoria Bergmeister Front brakes, outside view. Victoria Bergmeister Front Brakes, inside view. Victoria Bergmeister Left-hand plunger. Victoria Bergmeister Armature: Just one armature for 2 motors. Victoria Bergmeister Cables. Victoria Bergmeister Electrical equipment. Victoria Bergmeister Exhaust: Both pipes and nuts are present, with homemade stainless mufflers. Victoria Bergmeister Manuals: Included were my invaluable notes, and reproductions of service, parts and owners manuals. Victoria Bergmeister Miscellaneous parts. Victoria Bergmeister Miscellaneous parts. Victoria Bergmeister Miscellaneous parts. Victoria Bergmeister Tire pump (replacement). Victoria Bergmeister Sheet metal. Victoria Bergmeister: More sheet metal. Victoria Bergmeister Speedometer, foot pegs, grips, etc. Victoria Bergmeister Spare motor. Victoria Bergmeister Spare motor. Victoria Bergmeister Spare motor. Victoria Bergmeister Spare motor. Victoria Bergmeister Spare motor top end. Victoria Bergmeister Spare transmission. Victoria Bergmeister spare transmission, missing side cover and shifting parts, which I traded. Victoria Bergmeister spare transmission. Victoria Bergmeister spare transmission. Victoria Bergmeister: Transmission is chain-driven (gears do not mesh! Victoria Bergmeister in crate. Victoria Bergmeister in crate. Victoria Bergmeister in crate.

This website was last updated June 5, 2012.